a quick life update
how I won a writing award on Medium, LA tech week, and the pre-sale launch of my course "how to be an engineer influencer"
Hope you’re having an amazing week. It’s been a while since I sent the last newsletter, so I wanted to update you on what’s been going on in my life.
1. Winning a writing award on Medium
I won a writing award on Medium for “Best Story.” This was with a publication I partnered with called “Entrepreneur’s Handbook” (or EH for short).
Publications are like magazines on Medium where stories go through an extra round of curation before getting published. The benefit of working with them is that they often have large followings (eg EH has 220k followers) so you can piggyback off theirs if your initial following is small.
The editors at EH invited me to a virtual ceremony where they did a Q&A session in front of a live audience with each award winner. I also won $100.
My biggest tip for growing on Medium? Focus more on your headline.
I see a lot of authors spend most of their time on the article and treat the headline as an after-thought right before publishing. But 80% of people don’t read beyond the headline, so there is nothing more important than optimizing it for clickability.
I met a professional copywriter who told me that he spent 50% of his time just on the headline alone for an article. I personally spend about 2 weeks writing each article, and I spend a full day tweaking the headline.
An easy way to find a winning headline is to search for other articles that are popular in your domain and tweaking their headline to match yours. For example, I saw a popular article called “Amazon Sr. Software Engineer at 27 — 8 important lessons I’ve learned so far in my career.”
If you wanted to write a story on your career lessons, you could just tweak this winning article to say “Google Sr. Software Engineer at 29 - 7 Killer Lessons That Will Change Your Career.”
Here are all the stories that won an award. All of them are worth a read:
Winner overall: Michael Lin Why I Quit a $450k Engineering Job at Netflix
Crypto Winner: Arthur Hayes Number Three
Power Writer: Rachel Greenberg (82 posts published August 1, 2021 - August 1, 2022)
Editor's Choice 1 (Dave): Spencer Scott Spending $280k on MicroAcquire
Editor's Choice 2 (Amar): Alex Yelenevych How To Run a Ukrainian IT Business When the World is Falling Apart
Editor's Choice 3 (Stephen): Lauren Kay My Startup Failed Six Years Ago. I’ve Been Hiding from My Shame Ever Since.
Most Creative: Joseph Mavericks If You Can’t Buy It Twice, Don’t Buy It
2. LA Tech Week
I just flew back from LA Tech Week, and I feel so inspired!
This was a week-long networking event for founders, creators, and investors.
Here’s what I learned:
➡️ How to network - People want to talk to you, so don’t feel afraid to mingle around with people you don’t know. An easy way to introduce yourself is to say, “Hey I don’t think we’ve met before,” or for larger circles ask, “Hey can I join you guys?” as a way in.
➡️ Online presence matters - Many events ask you to input your Twitter/LinkedIn to apply and have a set number of spots. So the bigger your presence online, the higher the chance of getting in. Also you often will connect with people on social media after, so it’s important to clean up your profile before going.
➡️ Preparation is key - Before you go, it’s useful to write down how you are going to introduce yourself to people concisely in one or two sentences. I settled on introducing myself “as an engineering consultant for early-stage startups, I advise CEO’s and CTO’s on their engineering strategy,” which people understood quickly.
Even if you’re not a founder, I highly recommend attending these in-person networking events, if only to feel inspired seeing everyone hustle for their dreams.
You can hear about events like this from VC’s announcing it on Twitter.
3. Pre-Sale Launch of My Course: “How to Be an Engineer Influencer”
When I quit my job at Netflix, I thought that the only way to make money was either through:
Another W-2 job or
Building a VC-scale startup
But soon after, I discovered a network of entrepreneurial engineers who took a different approach by becoming “engineer influencers” instead.
These engineers focused on building an audience on social media first. Then they later used that to kickstart their future startup or business.
This helped them build a distribution channel for their future product and laid the foundation of their future entrepreneurial success.
Every engineer can be an engineer influencer. Yes, that means YOU!
With that said, I’m excited to announce the pre-sale launch of my course, “How to Be an Engineer Influencer.”
In this course, I’ll show you how to leverage your existing experience, talents, and interests as an engineer influencer to find your niche, build your following, and monetize your brand.
Here’s a link to my intro video, where I discuss an ideal example of an engineer influencer, and how it paved the way for him to get into YCombinator.