Clients sometimes ask how I got started writing in the B2B SaaS industry, so I thought it would be fun to put this story down in writing.
Y’all know I can crank out 5k quality words for ebooks and pillar posts, but I don’t want to be too “me me me” so hold on to your mouses and get ready to scroll, because this story is going to go fast.
Learning how to do web design via the Everett Program at UC Santa Cruz
I grew up in Fresno, not a nice or fancy part of California. Every year at the fair, someone dies by stabbing. At least once a month there were “ghetto birds” (helicopters) flying over our neighborhood looking for suspects, and sometimes the gas station by our house was roped off with yellow caution tape because of crime.
My high school had a 30% graduation rate and just 1 counselor for the school of 2500 kids.
There was no program to learn tech or be good with computers.
In college, someone told me about the Everett Program, which gives students tech skills for them to take to a nonprofit in a third world country during an internship.
I learned webdesign. This was 2008, and I learned HTML, CSS and Joomla! (gotta love the explanation point, right?)
My internship in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
I used my new web design skills to build a networking site using Joomla! for the Riecken Foundation, which builds community libraries in Honduras and Guatemala.
I was working out of the headquarters in the capital of Honduras (Tegucigalpa) and I went on some weekend trips to the small rural villages to visit the libraries and I gave workshops on how to use the internet.
I also taught basic webdesign to the IT department in the office.
Back then, my Spanish was totally on point.
Using cold email outreach to get a job in Honolulu, Hawaii
In 2010, I moved to Honolulu with my husband, who was pursuing his master’s degree in Civil Engineering from UH Manoa.
Manoa is a small part of Honolulu and I wanted to find a job in Manoa, not some other neighborhood in Honolulu.
So I had my first foray into the world of cold email.
There was a business complex a 3 minute walk from my house, and it was filled with mostly tech companies. I sent a cold email introduction to EVERY SINGLE COMPANY in the complex sharing my resume and desire for a part time job.
Manual QA testing: learning to bang on apps and log issues in Github
I got a job as an office manager and QA tester at a boutique webdesign and software development firm. Because of my experience with the Everett Program, I was comfortable learning how to test.
The developers taught me how to log issues in Github with screengrab images and videos and to appropriately detail the steps so they could reproduce the issue.
In addition to learning webdesign from the awesome geeks from the Everett Program, my experience with manual testing got me comfortable learning how to speak with developers.
Most importantly, I understood that there were other roles than coding which were required in the tech industry. And I was never intimidated by technology, or by what I don’t know.
Deciding to get paid for writing (instead of just getting inked)
In 2014, when I was 26, I decided I wanted to figure out how to get paid for writing.
Between the job as an office manager/manual QA tester, I had experienced bouts of unemployment, secretarial work and stay-at-home motherhood.
I knew that I was meant for more than secretarial work and that I had so much to give. I graduated suma cum laude with a 4.0 from UC Santa Cruz and also felt that I was ready to meet and great with my potential.
I made a commitment to figure out how to get paid for my talent and skill.
Moving on gradually from stay at home mom life
The first two things I did after I decided to get paid to be a writer were…
- Fact check and copyedit content for a local magazine as a paid intern (Big ego check to be a 27-year-old intern! Bringing my daughter to the office on occasion helped me feel like less of a dweeb, because everyone loved her. I felt kind of like a badass…the mom who was ready to embark on a new career.)
- Earn a copyediting certificate from UC San Diego Extension
I knew in my heart that I wanted to figure out how to be a copywriter. I remember always reading the back of shampoo bottles and wondering who was lucky enough to write them.
But I was afraid, and I convinced myself that starting a business as a copyeditor would be an easier start. It’s never easy to start a business you don’t really want, so I pivoted quickly and decided to go for copywriting instead.
Getting my first client, a software development firm
I told the editor of the local magazine where I copyedited and factchecked that I was starting a business as a copywriter.
Lo and behold, a few weeks later, she said heard of someone who was looking for a copywriter to write a brochure.
I did a damn good job on that brochure and would still happily put it in my portfolio if I did brochures (I’m pretty much just digital now).
I was comfortable taking on a client who built apps for governmental agencies, because of my previous experience as a webdesigner and a QA tester. I at least understood his business as a software developer and I knew how to research what I didn’t understand.
Picking B2B tech and SaaS for my niche
I enjoyed that first client project so much, that I went all in with B2B tech as my niche.
For a while I called myself a “tech copywriter.”
I was afraid that “SaaS copywriter” sounded too douchey. Now I use that term proudly and happily. Organic search traffic leads for the win!
Questioning my niche…is it the right one?
There were definitely times that I wondered if I had chosen the right niche.
I like mascara…shouldn’t I copywrite for beauty products?
I like meditating…shouldn’t I copywrite for spiritual healers and coaches and such?
Every time I tried writing in a different niche, I didn’t love it nearly as much. I felt a big disconnect, like we were speaking another language. I felt like a fish out of water. I felt like anyone else could be doing the copywriting work. When I work with SaaS and tech companies, I feel like I have something truly special and unique to offer.
Loving my niche, recommitting to it and building my brand
For whatever reason, I feel like I can be 100% myself in the tech industry.
I can be smart and geeky and funny and weird. I can be technical and creative. Strategic and intuitive.
I don’t have to try to fit myself into a box. I can be seemingly opposing things at once.
So in the past year and a half, I’ve doubled down on my niche. I’ve invested time in creating gated assets like these templates.
I’ve hosted webinars for SaaS entrepreneurs and marketers. I’ve branded myself as a B2B SaaS copywriter on LinkedIn.
There’s no other niche for me.
When I work with SaaS clients, I feel so lucky. The people I work with are intelligent problem-solvers who want to help others. In digital marketing, there are plenty of selfish people. I’m not into the guru hype.
I have a ton of respect for people who see a problem and carry their vision through to life. The people I work with are builders, not just dreamers.
The cool thing is my husband is going to be launching a startup in the construction/building space, and I’ve learned so much that I can use to help him.
To be in the tech industry, you don’t have to be a man. You don’t even have to code. The tech industry touches just about everything these days. This industry needs so many types of people and types of talent. I’m thrilled to be a tiny piece of it.
And now that I have two daughters, I hope that at least one of them will be in the tech industry as well. 🤞
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