What Does a Freelance UX Writer Do?
Companies are looking for a freelance UX writer to an increasing extent who can transform complex conceptual ideas into simple and easy-to-understand content for customers and stakeholders. If you have a writing background but are looking for a flexible career option, freelance UX writing is an excellent choice. This career enables you to become your own boss and work from anywhere. To put it another way, you can turn your expertise into a flexible, productive, and rewarding career.
In this post, we cover the role and responsibilities of freelance UX writers, in addition to discussing how they land on great gigs.
Freelance UX Writers' Roles and Responsibilities
A freelance user experience (UX) writer crafts pieces of content throughout the digital product to help users complete their desired actions. These small pieces of text are called microcopy, which includes text on buttons, error messages, menus, loading screen messages, instructions, notifications, etc. The fundamental duty of a UX writer is to help end-users understand the why and how at every step of the task for making the entire journey simple and uncomplicated.
On the whole, UX writing is a subset of UX design. Also called content designers, UX content strategists, or product writers, UX writers focus on the written interface copy, and there is a lot of overlap with UX design. Similar to a UX designer, user experience writers test multiple versions of their work, carry out user research, and interact with product teams as they find the best ways to write useful copy. They also use similar design tools like Sketch or Figma to plan and design copy.
Beyond creating copy and improving user experience, the UX writer also helps develop the brand voice for a product or company. They also create writing style guides to offer guidance on how to use this brand voice across the entire organization’s content. In addition, UX writers develop content strategies, messaging hierarchies, and consistent experiences. All in all, user experience writers write copy for product and web experiences and collaborate with other teams. In addition, they perform research, understand best UX practices, and create user experiences from end to end.
There are many tasks remote UX writers are responsible for since they work with clients, other writers, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders. While the role and responsibilities will vary across projects, companies, and industries, there are some duties user experience writers should anticipate taking on.
- Plan and write clear, consistent, and concise copy for different product experiences, including interface language, product names, and navigational nomenclature, along with in-product education and marketing messaging
- Write and improve compelling content for a number of formats
- Work through projects with strategy and creativity, from ideation to production, and with partners in design, research, data analytics, engineering, product, and marketing
- Help define guidelines governing tone, style, localization, and content reuse
- Assist with strategizing, implementing, and maintaining a consistent content strategy throughout the product experience
- Collaborate with data analysts and researchers to carry out qualitative and quantitative research, including in-person research and split testing, to produce meaningful copy that drives product adoption and generates brand loyalty
- Ensure that product copy is complete and contextual by researching features and interviewing subject matter experts
- Understand customers interacting with clients, use data to make decisions, and form alignment between user experience and marketing content
- Develop mockups, wireframes, and task flows to communicate UX content ideas in an effective way
- Audit current content and make recommendations for improvement
Freelance UX Writers' Qualifications & Skills
For those wanting to become a user experience writer, the optimal education and work experience are similar to that of many professionals in other areas of writing. In these instances, it is good to get some form of formal education from an accredited university or college. Hiring managers prefer a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer design, development, or related fields. But some UX writers also come from a general copywriting background.
A degree in journalism or psychology can also work if you complete online courses and are familiar with user research and user-centered writing. Taking the market competition into account, entry-level UX writing jobs in some companies also demand at least a year of experience.
All users need some kind of help while using a site, an app, or software, and a UX writer forms a bridge between them and the product. So, creating such content that will help give confidence to users while using an app is an essential part of quality product management. To do this, the writers need different amazing skills. The most effective UX writers possess a unique combination of hard and soft skills. Following are some must-have skills for a user experience writer to succeed:
UX Writing Skills
Perfect language and grammar knowledge is a must for every professional writer: a UX writer, copywriter, tech writer, etc. As UX writers work with words, like other types of writers, they need strong writing skills. They see the words as part of the design and know how to translate complex concepts into plain language. Also, user experience writers know how to infuse their writing with the company’s brand voice and the right tone.
Getting into user experience writing gets much easier if you can explain how to use a feature using clear and concise language. UX writers should have some technical skills and understanding of how things work and what they can do, as there is a good deal of coding behind every interface that seems pretty simple. This helps them in explaining technical things to end-users. Besides, a user experience writer should know about the tools: design, project management, time and task tracking, etc.
User research and user-focused thinking are the basis of UX writing. User experience writers must know how to keep track of users’ actions and what are their intentions. They should also see what can become a source of frustration for users. But, at the same time, a UX writer should know that there is no need to provide additional explanations for everything as some visual elements are pretty straightforward.
Without a content strategy, user experience writing is just guesswork. UX writers must know what to achieve with the words and which actions the users should take. This involves awareness about the goals of the organization, its products, individual screens, flows, and call-to-actions (CTAs). Different branding documents guide them in the right direction. In other cases, they collaborate with the organization or project content strategist.
To guide users through an experience, UX writers need an understanding of how visuals and microcopy work together. At times, the best UX writings involve removing words and suggesting some changes to the design instead.
All the parts of the UX writing job involve a good deal of research and planning. A UX writer should know the important research methods, when and how to use them, and how to take the received data. Logical and analytical skills are something that can help user experience writers a lot.
UX writers communicate a lot as it is important to work with different teams in a nice manner. Remote writers have to join online calls and meetings about every other day. So, it is essential for them to express their ideas in a clear way and listen to other team members also. If UX writers have experience in any of the spheres like technical writing, project management, or web development, they can communicate within a team in an effective manner.
Basic Usability Testing
To make a good UX design, UX writers should know how to test it. With usability testing, they can figure out problems, learn about users, and discover new opportunities. In addition to testing design, they can also test UX microcopies.
UX writers work alone at no time. Whether in freelancing or office-based jobs, most of them work with a design team, including product managers, product designers, and UX researchers, among others. Working together gives a deep understanding of content objectives, how the text works with design, and what the target audience wants from the product.
Being an empath helps a UX writer a lot as it enables them to imagine that they are the user navigating a product or interface for the first time. From which colors signify a successful request to how would they like an error notification, empathy enables UX writers to offer support and clarity with each message while showing the users what to do next.
Curiosity & Agility
User experience writers should have curiosity about their product, how it works, and what clients need, along with finding ways to make things better. They should seek out answers from different functions in the company, including business-focused product managers, technical-minded engineers, and visual designers. Also, they should keep an open mind and remain sure to stay up to date with news and trends.
You can master all these technical and non-technical skills required for a UX writer's role through our world recognized UX writing certification:
How Freelance UX Writers Find Work
After identifying their niche, setting expectations, polishing their skills, and deciding on their rates, writers go to the market and seek remote job opportunities. Following are some ways that help them in finding freelance UX writing jobs:
Freelancing is quite similar to running a small business. This indicates that they are responsible for sales and marketing for their freelance practice. So, self-marketing is the first and basic step for finding remote work.
Freelance writers build personal websites with information about their experience, educational background, type of work they are open to, etc. They also build a visual portfolio of their past work either on their site or on different platforms. In the case of a list of recognizable clients, they include clients’ logos. They offer a free consultation to attract potential clients to connect with them.
When it comes to finding a remote position, networking is important. Freelance writers, when they are ready to take on work, reach out to their personal, professional, and social networks and notify them. This could involve a simple email to their former coworkers with a link to their website or a call to employers to do information interviews and stay in touch.
By writing a blog post or a newsletter, user experience writers can build a community of followers who may turn into customers someday.
Freelance Job Marketplaces
In today’s digital world, finding a freelance job is quite easier. Some resources where user experience writers find good remote jobs are as follows:
- Upwork - It is one of the leading freelance job boards, where writing jobs are among the most hired. Many freelancers look for new postings every now and then or subscribe to regular email updates from the platform.
- AngelList - It is another job board, a startup-focused site, which includes freelance, part-time, and full-time work opportunities within the startup world.
- FlexJobs - It is a paid platform where freelancers pay to get different remote jobs on offer. Many jobs on this platform have geographical requirements.
- Toptal - It is a great marketplace for freelancers in UX, UI, and interaction design. They offer super-specialized work with competitive pay.
Having a social media presence like staying active on social platforms and having information on portfolio boosts the chances of being on top of the mind of potential referrers and landing freelance assignments. They keep their LinkedIn and other profiles updated, connect with new and former clients to show on their feeds, and post interesting stuff and share their thoughts on them.
Medium is also a great platform to showcase one’s talent and skills. Writers write on topics they are passionate about and share their expertise and opinions, which gives potential clients a glimpse of how they think and work. To some, Facebook is a personal social network, but it is also a great platform to search for freelance writing jobs.
Is Freelance UX Writing a Promising Career Option?
A lot of freelance UX writers are happy with their careers. According to a 2019 Niesel report, user experience professionals enjoy their roles a lot. Many of the respondents find that their work has a significant impact. In addition, there is another positive indicator that job satisfaction increases with experience. Those who have years of experience doing freelance UX writing reported greater satisfaction due to higher confidence, responsibility, and income. For a fulfilling career in the long term, you are on the right track with freelance UX writing.
Following are answers to some of the most asked questions related to freelance UX writers.
How much money does a freelance UX writer make?
The income of a freelance UX writer depends a lot on their level of experience, the industry, and the company they work for. Their income ranges from $35,000 to up to $157,000 on an annual basis. Their average rate per hour is $55. According to top job portals worldwide, freelance UX writers with years of experience in this field attracts an annual income of about $200,000.
What is the difference between freelance UX writers and office-based writers?
There are many differences between a freelance user experience writer and an office-based writer. Freelancer writers can make their own decisions about projects, choose the time and places in which they want to work, and are free to choose people with whom they work. Most freelance user experience writers go on to build their own companies to hire employees and form a lasting legacy, whereas office-based employees work to build somebody else’s legacy instead of their own.
How to get clients as a freelance UX writer?
There are a number of ways to get clients as a freelance writer. Start by offering your take on an existing product, using job boards and current contacts, connecting with other freelancers in your field, finding out where the people you want to work for spend their time, creating different types of content, and making yourself known.
What are the common mistakes when hiring a freelance UX writer?
One of the major common mistakes is to know a little about the writer. Many clients pass over the need to know why freelancers chose this type of career, do they have the ability to interact with different people and projects or do they avoid social interaction at all costs. Other mistakes involve ignoring the need to look at the writer’s portfolio, giving vague guidelines to the writer, and moving forward without a communication plan.
UX writing is a flourishing field that continues to stay important as our lives are becoming digital at an increasing rate. User experience writers enjoy interesting roles that involve so much other than writing, all of which enable you to get creative and innovative to create the best customer experience possible. Freelance user experience writing opens the door for you to work wherever you want and find gigs and clients matching your interests. If you have excellent user experience knowledge and writing skills, you should consider freelance UX writing as a potential career path.
If you are new to UX writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our UX Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a UX writer, how to dominate UX writer interviews, and how to stand out as a UX writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.