As I said earlier, there are lots of ways to build a career. There’s no predefined path and it’s important to find out what works for you. That being said, I’d still like to share the story of how I got into the field — hopefully it can help with finding your own way.
In short, here’s what I learned from my freelance journey:
Freelance writing can offer a great opportunity to get into UX writing with little experience.
- Find clients who want to hire you for what you’re good at
- Deliver high quality work in order to build trust with your clients
- A strong client relationship can allow you to do different kinds of work
- Small projects will eventually lead to bigger jobs in the future
Now here’s the long version.
Back in 2016 I was working as a journalist at The Next Web
, one of the world’s leading tech news websites. When I left the company, I wanted to try freelance journalism — the same thing as I was doing at The Next Web, but now for multiple different clients.
It wasn’t easy. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t just be writing articles as before — I now also had to find clients, pitch stories, write and rewrite them based on client feedback, and then perhaps I would have finished one story at the end of the week. I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t for me.
Meanwhile, I started picking up some content marketing jobs, which had me writing articles for company blogs. This work was more consistent, which offered me a chance to build a close working relationship with my clients. Some of them would eventually reach out to me for related work, like building the brand’s tone of voice or thinking about the company’s content strategy.
There still was a specific kind of job that I was aiming for, but didn’t get yet. During my first years as a freelancer I saw UX writing come up in the design field, and as a writer who has always been enamored by technology and design, I thought it was incredibly exciting.
I knew the basics of UX principles, and I knew how to use words to build easy-to-use, accessible, and enjoyable digital experiences. I just needed to figure out a way to get my first UX writing job.
That’s why I checked in with clients who I had done similar work for in the past — working on a tone of voice, for example, is also part of UX writing. Fortunately, some clients were so happy with the work I had done for them before, that they were willing to give me a chance to tackle UX work, too.
And that’s how I got my first UX writing job — thanks to the trust of my freelance writing clients.
After the first couple of small projects, it was easier to get more similar work by referring to my portfolio with previous projects
. Fast forward a couple of years, and today I’m fortunate enough to work with incredible, industry-defining clients like Spotify and Minecraft. Start small, deliver great work, and slowly grow bigger.