My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Joynels always wanted to be a celebrity. But that dream was often deterred by her parents. So she followed her parent’s dream to study microbiology. A couple of volunteering roles later, and a stint with a reality star, she eventually found her spotlight writing brand copies. Here is Joynels Ogbogu’s pivot journal.
How it started
My first ever career dream as a child was to become a lawyer. I was fascinated by the idea of telling the truth in court, even if it meant making powerful people angry. My mother, who in a weird turn of events is now studying to be a lawyer herself, told me that lawyers never lived long because they tell the truth in court and vengeful people are always out to get them.
I was terrified of dying, so I decided to do something else in art class. I loved anything that had to do with the art industry. I loved theatre arts and dreamt of being a celebrity. But my father wouldn’t let me. He said that if I wasn’t studying to be a lawyer, I had no business in art class. That’s how I ended up in science class. I tried my best to cope. After secondary school, I applied to study medicine at the University of Port Harcourt. I got admission to study microbiology instead. I could have easily swapped course but my parents were not going to support my theatre arts dream for any reason.
When I was still in school, my mentor Beauty Wakama started a volunteering organization called 360 Volunteering Network. She picked a few people whom she felt could help her grow the network. I joined the team and was put in charge of social media. This was my first experience with anything remotely artistic. I started learning social media management, how to create content, and how to put it out in the best possible way. I realized that I had a knack for social media and that I could use my skills to help others. However, at the time, my father was covering my expenses in school, so I didn’t see the need to actively seek employment. All the while, I still nurtured the dream of being a celebrity. In 2019, I got a little taste of the experience when I hosted a movie premiere. I later got the opportunity to handle the social media page of a celebrity, a housemate on the Ultimate Love TV show. I was working as an usher at the auditions, and I met Chris Adah, one of the contestants. At the time, it wasn’t even certain if she had gotten into the show. But I approached her and told her that if she got in, I would love to handle her social media page. Thankfully, she got in, and I got to co-handle her social media. Again, it was a volunteer role. I remember even struggling with my “push and start” phone. But the experience gave me a taste of what it was like to be a celebrity manager. I learned how to create engaging content, how to interact with fans, and how to manage a celebrity’s online reputation. And I was good at it. My parents were also surprisingly supportive at that time.
After my experience with Chris Adah, I didn’t have a gig for a while. Then I came across the Rivers State government ICT scholarship program and I applied. Initially, I started learning product design. But I struggled. I did not like colours and struggled with auto layout. A friend of mine noticed and suggested I do UX writing. When I did my research on UX writing, it looked beautiful, it looked like something I would love. I decided to give UX writing a try. And I found that it was comfortable. I could ease into it seeing that I had a background in content writing.
The first thing I did was find people that could help me with resources. I looked for UX writers in Nigeria on Twitter. I didn’t find a lot though. I continued carrying out a lot of research online. The Career Foundry blog was really helpful with this. I also took a free course on UX writing hub. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on UX writing. Then I came across the Microcopy the complete guide. That book was very instrumental to my transition. It broke down complex things into their simplest form. It’s usually my first recommendation to people who are just getting into UX writing. Next, I reached out to my friends who were UI/UX designers. I offered to create copies for their dummy designs. It was sort of a collaboration. It was a way for everybody to build their portfolio. It took about three months to learn.
I started talking about my career on Twitter. I started talking about what to expect from UX writing and it helped me understand exactly what I was selling to the people, who my target audience was, and how best to reach them. I also realized that People didn’t know a lot about UX writing or why they needed a UX writer. Some didn’t understand why they needed a separate person from the UX designer to handle the copies. So I started by pitching to founders, project managers, and product designers who also had no idea of the importance of a UX writer. Then I started volunteering to work with product designers on their projects. It was easier for me to continue the volunteering process because that’s where I started. Yet, it was an interesting time for me. I was working but not working. Most times I could be on three projects and I will have to deliver because I wanted to grow my career fast.
How it’s going
I currently work in a full-time role as a content executive, using my skills in UX writing, content strategy, and user research to create effective user experiences. Last year, I co-founded a community for UX writers called UX Writers Africa. During my transition, there was hardly a community for people to grow with. And this was a challenge. That is why my co-founder and I decided to establish one for UX Writers and Content Designers to connect, learn, and grow. We have grown an impressive following and membership. We just graduated our first set of trainees. And the second batch of trainees has started taking classes.
A typical work day usually starts with my laptop. I would read briefs about the product I am working on. Next, I research to understand the target audience, who are the competitors and understand the value proposition I would need to offer with my product to stand out. My job is to ensure the products are presentable in terms of words. Apart from business sales, it is important to pay attention to the user experience of a product. You have to ensure your user enjoys using the product. Because no matter how many solutions you think you’re bringing to the table, if your product use is not seamless, it will be a problem for your user. Most users will rather use a product that has a 100% seamless experience and a 75% solution than the opposite. That’s why we ensure our words can easily guide the users through their journey. Next, I research the audience and what they like. For example, the terms a Gen Z audience will be accustomed to, wouldn’t be the same for a Gen X audience. After that, I go through the testing phase, where I test my copy with the audience to find out their actual user experience with my copies before the product goes into the market.
Use social media in a targeted and intentional way. Don’t use social media to be a nuisance, use it as a tool to reach people better than you. Be strategic about how you use it. Look out for people who know the ins and out of the industry you’re interested in. Most times, these people aren’t always on social media but they have social media accounts and they are very ready to help. Don’t just send them a random message. Let them know what you’re interested in, how much research you’ve done in that field, and what particular aspect you have a challenge and want them to help with. That way, they know how exactly to help you.