Become a successful Data Science writer
So you are Data Scientist and you have consumed hundreds of tutorials, read tons of Data Science books, and never contributed a single sentence to help others?
That was me about two years ago! I have been using all possible internet resources to further my knowledge of Data Science but never have written a tutorial on the topic myself.
At that time when I was reading the work of others and being a passive consumer, I have realized that I also have the knowledge and I could share it. Finally, I have been working as a Data Scientist for over five years I must know something in the field. Additionally, I knew that Medium is paying their authors for the reads they get so I was hoping for some side money from the writing I could do.
Unfortunately most of the time I was just thinking about becoming a contributor but not taking any action. Most people stay at this stage, therefore, I want to share some tips that will help you become a successful Data Science author.
There is never a perfect time to start. People tend to wait until they have more free time, or until they learn just a bit more, or until they complete a certain course.
If you do wait you may realize that the perfect time just never comes. If you are serious about trying to write the perfect time is now. Swap an hour of TV watching for writing and believe that no matter what stage in Data Science you are you should have something interesting to share with others.
Choose a topic that you feel you are an expert on(in comparison to others) and start writing. I usually start with an introduction and bullet points that later become sections of the article. You can copy this approach.
The next step is filling in the sections with content. This is when bullet points become sections and where the real information is shared. As you are an expert on the topic you are writing on this step should be relatively easy.
Depending on what you are writing on you could include general information about the library or technique that you are describing. Also, remember to add your personal experience. This is what will make your articles unique.
2. Use high-quality pictures and screenshots.
The article is not just text. You need to add some relevant visuals first to catch the attention of the reader and then to keep him engaged throughout your article.
Almost every blog and Medium will ask you to include a cover photo. This should be the best photo in your article as it will usually help the user to decide if they are going to read it or not. You can browse for photos on Unsplash and Pixabay. You can use them for free but cite their authors to help them with their work.
Usually, your article will need more than one photo. Depending on the article you could find more relevant royalty photos or add your own screenshots. Every time I describe a service or something that I am doing on my computer I take relevant screenshots and include them in the article.
3. Embed the code and make sure it works.
You are writing a Data Science article. This means most of your articles will be guiding someone on how to use a certain algorithm, tool, or technique.
You will need to add relevant code so the reader can reproduce your steps. I usually have a jupyter notebook for each article and I edit it along when writing.
Even the simplest code that does not work because of the typo could throw off a newbie and cause him endless hours of debugging. Therefore I always run the code in Jupyter notebook before embedding it in the article. I suggest you do the same.
4. Check your grammar and spelling mistakes.
This is very important. There is nothing worse than an article that is full of typos and grammatical mistakes. I am aware that this may be very difficult for some people, especially for non-native speakers.
I am not a native speaker and this has been definitively one of the biggest challenges for me. Fortunately, there are many online tools that could help you with correcting mistakes.
I use a free version of Grammarly and I love it. It highlights the typos and grammatical mistakes and suggests the correction for them. The screenshot below shows how it corrected my grammatical mistake while writing this article.
Grammarly works as a plugin on your browser. It is very easy to use and it is definitely the best free correction tool that I have found.
There is also a paid version of Grammarly that is supposed to correct even more complicated mistakes. I have not been using it yet as it seems that the free version has been sufficient for me.
5. Reread your article.
Before publishing your work you should always reread the article. You want to check if all the sections of the article connect well and if there is anything missing from the article that could prevent the user from understanding the topic.
This is also the last-minute time to correct some typos and grammatical mistakes that have not been discovered previously.
At this point, I also usually decide on the article title. I normally have a general title from the beginning which is just the main topic that I am writing on but it is at the end when I decide on the final version of it. This is because I want the title to reflect the content well.
6. Write for Publications on Medium.
Once you have your first Data Science article you need to publish it. Medium is a great place to do it. I actually suggest that you use this platform to write your first articles. You do not need to have your self-hosted blog at the beginning.
The medium editor is great and allows you to easily intuitively write articles. You can write, edit the existing text, add photos and embed code. This is pretty much what you need at the beginning. Also, drafts are saved online, so you can access and write from any device.
You also want to write for Medium publications. As someone who is starting a writing career, you do not have your own audience yet therefore you should leverage the audience of big publications.
The three big publications you could write for are:
You can do your own research and find other slightly smaller publications that would be relevant to the topic you are writing on.
My first article (Start learning Data Science) was published in Towards Data Science. Note that before you publish your first article with a publication you will need to write a small pitch or send them your resume so they accept you on their author list. Once you are an accepted publication writer the process is much easier and you only submit the draft of the article that you want to publish.
Writing for publications has one more advantage, you get your work read by someone else before the big audience sees it. If your article is not accepted by the publication it may mean that the article does not have the required quality and you may think about improving it before publishing.
In this article, I have shared six simple tips that will help you to become a successful Data Science writer. This advice is based on my own experience and research I have done prior and during to my writing journey.
If writing Data Science articles has been something you have been thinking of for a while now it is time to take action. Hopefully, the tips that I have shared in this article will it easier.