Andre Newman has been a technical writer at Gremlin for just over three months. In that short time, he’s had a huge impact on the creative output of the team, writing articles about doing Chaos Engineering on Kubernetes, why testing doesn’t stop at staging, and talking about the importance of resilience with The New Stack.
The idea behind creating an employee spotlight is to give you a behind the scenes look at the people that make up Gremlin. We believe in community, in transparency, and in building connections. With that said, here’s some more information about Andre and what he’s all about.
How long have you been a technical writer?
My first job out of college was doing some development work for a company called LabTech, which is based in Tampa, FL. I worked on a remote monitoring and management tool, which IT folks could use to manage a fleet of computers. I did that for about two years before I realized I wanted to challenge myself and explore an interest in writing, so I started freelancing.
When Gremlin found you, you were freelance writing and working for yourself. Can you tell us about that?
Yea, so after I left LabTech I started exploring freelance writing. I had saved up enough money to feel secure working on my own terms, and it gave me the flexibility to pursue topics I was interested in and expand my knowledge base. I started to learn and write about DevOps and cloud computing, covering trends ranging from containerization and Kubernetes to observability.
I’ve worked with a bunch of great companies, but one of my favorite gigs was working with Loggly, which is a log management and analysis tool out of San Francisco. They needed help with documentation and thought leadership, so as new trending technologies came out, say the rise of Docker, I would be the one to write the content explaining how to do effective Docker log management.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in freelance tech writing?
Well, let me answer this question in two parts. Obviously, the world is going through a strange time at the moment due to the global pandemic, so this advice is more for when things go back to normal. First and foremost, I can’t stress enough the importance of networking. We like to think of freelancing and entrepreneurship as very self-driven, but ultimately the connections that you have, build, and maintain are incredibly important. So you should be joining local meetups that are relevant to what you are interested in, and even investigate if your city has a small business development group, which can be incredibly helpful.
That said, a lot of these groups and networking opportunities are currently on freeze. But that means now is a good time to focus on building yourself up and expanding your portfolio. When I first got started, I went on freelance writing exchanges where you can bid on jobs and just get in the habit of taking on work, meeting deadlines, and ultimately building up your credibility. Once I had built up a portfolio with published work I could link to, I started working with clients directly.
Fast forward to Gremlin -- What made you join the company after 5 years of freelancing?
I had gotten other offers throughout those five years, but Gremlin was the only one that really checked all of my boxes. For one, I was excited about the opportunity to help establish a new space. When I was writing about logging, even though I was writing about these new technologies, at the end of the day logs have been around for decades. Chaos Engineering is still new to a lot of folks and it’s fun to be a part of that. Another big factor is that Gremlin is fully remote, so I could maintain the same lifestyle I already had, with the added benefits of a salary and benefits.
What are some of your hobbies outside work?
Unsurprisingly, I write a lot. In my free time I’ve been working on a novel, which is a mix of historical fiction and fantasy. I also like to do a lot of outdoor activities like running and biking (while social distancing, of course), to get away from the computer a bit.
For a while, I messed with Arduino. If you’re unfamiliar, Arduino is a company that makes open-source single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits. They’re great for building small hobbyist electronic projects and Internet of Things devices. I built a library that made it simple to create custom, animated graphics for LEDs. You could download a desktop app to make the animations, then send it to your Arduino over USB or WiFi. It was a fun way to learn about electronics and C++ programming.
Can you talk a little about your volunteer work?
When the COVID-19 outbreak first hit Florida, there was a shortage of masks and gloves for healthcare workers. I’ve been involved with local 3D printing groups that actually run the local maker space here in St. Petersburg, so when they put out a notice that they were looking for help, I jumped on it. To date, we’ve delivered almost 3,000 face shields throughout the Tampa Bay Area to hospitals, pharmacies, and assisted living facilities.
To keep up with Andre you can follow him on LinkedIn💚