Brafton Senior Writers Elizabeth Jenike and Jessica Wells have been avid writers their whole lives, but never expected that they’d be heading into Brafton’s Chicago office each day to write for the top influencers in the tech industry.
Like many college graduates beginning writing careers in the 21st century, nothing in print or journalism seemed safe for Elizabeth or Jessica. With the traditional news industry on the brink of some dramatic pivots, it quickly became clear to them that the future lay with digital content. And ironically, one of the constants that writers can rely on is the industry that sees the most rapid change – technology. And it also happens to be the industry that’s been responsible for shaking up the traditional news media space.
“Advancements in the tech industry are often nothing short of mind blowing,” Jessica said. “Innovations are being made every day. It’s definitely never boring!”
Technology writers at Brafton aren’t just interested in what they write about. They live it. To Elizabeth and Jessica, researching in their industry is a holistic, 24/7 job, and it’s baked into their lifestyle. Tech writers are immersed in their work: listening to podcasts on the morning commute, constantly checking news alerts throughout the day and even going to in-person client visits.
Did you ever think you’d be writing in-depth content for the technology industry?
Elizabeth: I’ve been writing for as long as humanly possible. My parents joke that I was born early – with a pencil in my tiny mitt – because I was too impatient to get writing NOW. It’s been a constant throughout my life, beginning in kindergarten with stories about princesses, and continuing on through short fiction and poetry and novels – and now tech marketing content.
I got to try my hand at each of the four main editorial desks in the Chicago office during my first three months at Brafton. As I began to work with tech clients and dabble in a little bit of the content, I realized that this stuff was really cool. It’s amazing that I can go to Google News and type in “technology” and something new, exciting and real will appear, something that has a bearing on the world we’re interacting with. I mean, I’m typing this on a computer. You might be reading this from your phone. Technology is incredible and it’s brought the world closer together.
How do you keep up with such a fast-paced industry?
Jessica: It can be really difficult sometimes. But, as this job often requires writers to be experts in an array of topics, I like to look to a few key publications to keep me informed about what’s going on in the industry. From there, it’s just a matter of doing your research and making sure you understand all aspects of a concept or technological solution – especially as it relates to what the client is looking for. I would consider myself very much self-educated in that way. And, when all else fails, there’s always Google News.
What’s the one newspaper, blog or magazine that you always read every day?
Elizabeth: I often find myself getting lost in TechTarget, one of the go-to resources for technology writers. There’s an amazing amount of stuff on there. Today I read an article about blockchain regulations just for fun.
Lately, I’ve also been reading The Verge and listening to its podcast. This is a news website dedicated to all of the cool things happening in the tech universe, and there are a lot of great articles on there every day. Like, real tech journalism at its core. The Vergecast is a group of funny tech journalists talking about the latest and greatest, and it’s really fun to listen to during the commute.
What did you study in school, and how did it prepare you for writing in the tech industry?
Elizabeth: I have two degrees in English/Creative Writing (BA/MA). On the surface that may seem counterintuitive, because I think there is a stigma that tech writing has to be dry, stuffy, news-y type stuff about how “cloud adoption is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, and some sources project…” Blah blah. In actuality, this work can be as creative as you make it – and I love that flexibility.
Jessica: In college, I majored in journalism and also studied a bit of public relations. I have a minor in Spanish, which really hasn’t done much for me beyond being able to read and recognize items on restaurant menus.
This biggest benefit of my studies was gaining skills in flexibility, learning quickly and being able to identify digestible tidbits of information. Tech writing can very quickly evolve into long-winded, jargon-filled posts. But my background in journalism helps me break down an otherwise complicated topic, and convey it in the most meaningful way for my clients’ audiences.
What was the most challenging topic you’ve written about? How did you approach it?
Elizabeth: My most challenging (and fun, actually) client is one that specializes in cloud sandboxing, which is (in a less convoluted, way less complicated nutshell) a way to develop and test software. Custom software development in general has always gone right over my head, so getting this client was a way to kind of dive in the deep end right off the bat, and it’s been interesting so far. In situations like this I usually take the client’s keywords, plug them into a search engine and see what people are saying about the topic.
Jessica: Oh man, there have been quite a few. As I said, I had no tech background whatsoever before working at Brafton. When I looked to write my first few posts, it was definitely a bit of a struggle to learn about a concept while in the process of writing about it. Thinking back, one of the most challenging topics has been application development, including strategies like agile and DevOps as well as specific languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Ember and Angular. My process here isn’t too complicated – I just do a BUNCH of background research to make sure I know the definition of that topic and the main considerations, benefits, pain points and what-have-you involved. Basically, I just want to make sure that I can write from a position of knowledge and authority. It’s all about that confidence.
What are you most excited about in the tech industry?
Elizabeth: Elon Musk said recently that there’s a good chance we’re all cyborgs living in a simulation of reality. Like, what?
In all seriousness, I am most fascinated by bitcoins right now. It’s something I don’t know too much about – a digital currency that’s gathered via solving algorithms built into something called the “blockchain.” I wish I knew more about it, because it’s so fascinating to me that, as a global society, we came together and decided that, yes, bitcoins were arbitrarily worth some kind of value – so I might start trying to write about it for one or more of my clients. It’s the best way for me to learn about everything I’m interested in within the tech industry.
Jessica: Right now, I’m definitely most excited about the Internet of Things. This refers to the concept of equipping items with Bluetooth connectivity, and making everything from refrigerators to cars to baby monitors to coffee makers accessible from a smartphone. This means that before you even get home after a hard day, you can make sure your thermostat is set to the perfect temperature, your fridge is stocked with beer and your dryer is heating up your favorite jammies. The possibilities are mind boggling!