Member profile: Goli Mohammadi, content editor and strategist

Goli Mohammadi is informal’s resident content editor and strategist. After editing the first 40 volumes of Make magazine, Goli exited the 9–5 world and began her freelancing career. Since then, her client list has grown to an impressive size, including companies such as Apple, Popular Science, and Maker Education Initiative. Based in the Russian River Valley north of San Francisco, Goli loves spending time snowboarding and backpacking, while also caring for senior rescue dogs. 

Read on to hear Goli talk about her freelance journey and why more documentation is so important for both new and established companies. 

Tell us your freelancing story! Where were you before freelancing? How long have you been at it? What got you into freelancing? What keeps you in it?

This June will mark 10 years of my freelance journey. Before that, I was one of the founding editors of Make magazine, working on the first 40 volumes and the first 9 years of Maker Faire. Our offices were based in Sebastopol, California, at the O’Reilly Media headquarters, and at the time, our editorial team was being moved to San Francisco. I wasn’t interested in the long commute and 40 volumes seemed like a nice round number, so I decided to try my hand at freelancing.

I’ve had the pleasure of working on so many interesting and fulfilling projects over the years, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities. I’ve helped produce makerspace playbooks, create technical documentation, tell user stories, edited a number of books, written for magazines, developed content strategies, and built style guides. The variety of work and flexibility of hours makes me really happy.

What are the top three skills you think freelancers need in order to be successful?

Organization, communication, and positivity. You have to be highly organized to stay on top of juggling clients, projects, and deadlines to avoid dropping any balls. Being a clear communicator is key in client relations. And it always helps to have a positive attitude. As a freelancer, you’re often dropping in on projects run by full-timers, and it’s great to come in energized and ready to help take the load off.

What freedoms has freelancing allowed in your life that a more traditional 9–5 may not have allowed?

Being freelance afforded me the opportunity to find my calling in rescuing senior dogs. I’m home and have the flexibility to tend to them when needs arise. Freelancing has also helped me discover ways to tap into the peak performance of my brain. We’re often shoehorned into standard business hours, but I’ve found that my brain doesn’t always work best during the 9–5 hours. My clients always get my best work because of this flexibility.

What’s your role on the informal team? 

I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with the core team to create the style guide and content strategy. Style guides are often overlooked, but consistency in communication is so important. And content strategies help define a road map that aligns with overall goals. I also work with writers and edit all content that comes through.

Talk a bit about why documentation at companies, especially startups, is so important. 

We live in an age of information sharing, and whether a company provides documentation or not speaks volumes to how they view their products and community. There’s product documentation in the form of guides and how-tos, and there’s also documenting the company through storytelling. Both are important. A well-thought-out technical documentation library deputizes the community to make the most of your products. Telling the story of your company and the people behind the scenes humanizes what you make and helps foster community.

Documentation is often viewed as outward-facing, but internal documentation is also really important. Documenting internal processes, product specs, assembly drawings, bills of materials, and the like are essential to maintaining a healthy business as it scales, but many startups overlook this from the start.

If a company has no documentation and can only invest in one piece of documentation or one aspect of documentation, what would you recommend they do?

That largely depends on what the company makes or what service they provide. But I would argue that at the bare minimum, they should have two pieces of documentation on the site: the story of the company and the people behind it, along with a basic usage guide. Beyond that, building out the product documentation library and sharing case studies is always helpful.

We’re always looking for engineers, designers, brand strategists, and writers to join our team. If you’ve got a skill that you think we need, let us know! We’d love to chat. And of course, if you’ve got a hardware product or product idea you want to bring to market, we have just the experts to help! Fill out this quick form and we’ll be in touch!.

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