Raise your hand if it seems like there are no entry-level UX writing jobs ✋
It appears every job posting requires 3 – 5 years of previous UX writing experience and some chops to back it up.
And if every job post requires 3 – 5 years of experience, how in the world is a newbie supposed to break in?
Well, I have some good news: The 3-5 years of experience thing? It's not a hard requirement.
I'm proof — back in 2019, I landed my first official UX writing gig with Fitbit after teaching myself UX writing for about a month (more on this later.)
Why companies even list 3 – 5 years experience if it's not actually required is beyond me.
Regardless, while you shouldn't let it hold you back, there's something important to glean from the “requirement” — employers are looking for people serious about UX writing.
When I say serious, I don't mean years of experience. Instead, I mean people who deeply understand their perspective on UX writing and can explain how their past skills and experience transfer. And these are doable by the newest of newbies.
I’ve got 4 secrets up my sleeve to make landing entry level UX writer jobs breezy, even without 3 – 5 years of experience:
- Use the UX writer job description as your secret weapon
- Form your own unique UX writing philosophy
- Find a good way to explain how your skills are relevant
- Fake it until you make it
1. Use the UX writer job description as your secret weapon
When it comes to landing entry level UX writer jobs, you can’t ignore the UX writing job description. Since you’re competing with UX writers of all degrees of experience, you need a leg up. And the UX writer job description is telling you what the hiring manager is looking for on a silver platter.
By combing through the UX writer job description, you can pick out pieces of gold to optimize your:
Check out my in-depth article deep-diving into how you can use the UX writer job description to level up your UX writer job search.
2. Form your own unique UX writing philosophy
Even as a newbie, you should have a perspective on UX writing. That means, when someone asks you “what's UX writing?” you have an answer that's authentic to you, not something repeated from a course or textbook.
If you understand what UX writing means to you and have your own unique definition of UX writing, you’re gonna interview better. That’s because you’ll have an opinion, and people with opinion’s stand out.
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes when looking at entry-level UX writer job candidates — are you going to be more impressed by textbook answers 90% of candidates repeat, or by the 10% that have something unique to say?
To find your unique perspective, you have to deeply understand what UX writing is and why you want to be a UX writer.
To deeply understand what UX writing is, you can take a course or scour the loads of free content on the internet (here's a list of UX writing resources from the amazing Andrew Astleford.)
To compete for jobs, you don't just need to know that good UX writing is clear and concise, but you need to know how you feel that manifests itself in the real world.
To do that, find examples of products that utilize key UX content principles and analyze why you think they hold up to (or don't hold up to) those principles.
By analyzing your opinions and UX content out in the wild, you'll not only deeply understand what each principle means, but you'll have your own opinion and stance on what it means to do it well.
But don't just stop there — understand why you want to be a UX writer. Is it to help people? If so, to you, UX writing might be about creating a conversation between the product and the user to simplify lives and make decisions easy.
If you can form opinions about UX content, you'll be able to give unique answers in interviews that'll definitely help you stand out from the crowd — no 3 -5 years of experience needed.
Having an opinion can feel like a risk, but I guarantee you it’s one that pays off.
3. Find a good way to explain how your skills are relevant
You might not have 3 – 5 years of experience in UX content, but I'm guessing you have some years of work experience. Whether you're a teacher or an author, you use UX principles in your daily career life, you just might not know it.
You have to figure out your story — how to package your career journey, so it’s interesting and relevant to your new chapter as a UX writer. That means distilling how your existing skills are actually highly-relevant UX writing superpowers.
For example, a teacher creates lesson plans, which entails organizing information in a logical order to create a clear, educational program. Organizing information in the best package is key to UX writing, and you can absolutely use your lesson plans as a UX case study. But first, you have to understand your unique perspective on UX writing, so your case study comes from a place of authenticity, not repetition.
If you're an author, writing a book is a masterclass in organizing information in a logical, intuitive order. Maybe your long-form writing process is different from the UX writing process, but how you organized and arranged the book definitely used some UX chops.
Not matter what field you’re transitioning from, you can become a UX writer. You have the skills and the chops, and there’s nothing you need to unlearn to become a UX writer.
For example, as a marketing copywriter, you might think marketing is the antithesis of product, and you can’t use your experience using voice & tone writing emails. Well, I’m here to say you 100% can — it’s just finding out how to message it.
Here's two examples of copywriter skills and how they can be packaged to be relevant to UX writing:
Example 1: Brand voice & tone
Copywriter skill: Brand voice & tone
How to make it relevant to UX writing: I’ve written 2 voice & tone guides from the ground up. I deeply understand the processes of auditing existing voice & tone guidelines to find what to keep, iterate on, and add, collaborating with various stakeholders to reach consensus, and evangelizing the guidelines across the company, so they get widespread adoption.
Example 2: Email writing
Copywriter skill: Email writing
How to make it relevant to UX writing: In my past role as a copywriter, I was tasked with revising the existing welcome email series. I strapped on my UX thinking cap and started with a content audit of what was and wasn’t working with the existing flow, as well as analyzing what competitors did. Equipped with some intel, I formed a hypothesis around how this next iteration of the welcome email series could be improved and collaborated with design to reach alignment.
Then, I started with understanding the overall user journey a user should go through, creating a journey map that followed a cohesive storyline. When it came time to write content, I started with the content hierarchy and information architecture before getting to the actual words. I worked with design to find the right marriage of words and elements. After A/B testing, the revised email series beat the existing one.
Yes, there are differences between UX writing vs. copywriting, but if you can communicate how those differences are relevant, you’re golden.
4. Fake it til you make it
I may get some flack for it, and this won’t resonate with everyone, but I’m a firm believer in “fake it til you make it.”
By “fake it,” I don’t mean have zero UX writing skills. You should have a solid grasp on UX writing before applying to UX writing jobs (you don’t have to be an expert, though.)
Instead, it’s more about having the right level of confidence to beat imposter syndrome.
Let’s be honest — imposter syndrome is all too real. And when you’re switching careers, almost every move you make can get bogged down in “can I actually be a UX writer?”
I find that when I “fake it” I get a new level of confidence. I suddenly talk a lot more eloquently and realize I know a bunch more than I think I do. And I think that’s because I’m visualizing myself already “being” there.
It's tricky mind games (on yourself, not the hiring manager or anything) the “faking it til you make it,” but sometimes blind confidence can get you far.
What about UX writing case studies?
You're gonna need case studies to compete for jobs — there isn't a way around that.
First, I recommend examining your current career and analyzing how you may have used UX writing or UX best practices in your work. Sarah Avanessian does a great job with this.
If you end up dry there, or just want actual UX writing samples, freelance UX writing is an excellent way to grow your portfolio, so you're a stand-out candidate for a full-time job.
To get your foot in freelancing, you'll also need some samples, but those are ones you can create on your own.
Find a flow or screen you think can be improved, and use your unique UX content perspective to improve it. Package your process into a case study, do ~3 of those, and you have a freelance portfolio.
Freelance is a bit forgiving because clients want to know that you can solve their problem, and your execution can speak for itself.
While I recommend avoiding Upwork, it can be an easy bridge if your goal with freelance is just to land a full-time job.
How I landed my first UX writing gig in ~1.5 months
Told you I'd get back to this.
In 2019, I was a contract copywriter for a savings and investing app, Twine. They laid off the whole company, and I used that as a good reason to go all in on UX writing. I had dabbled in UX writing at Twine, but I was by no means a full-time UX writer there.
Within ~1.5 months, I landed my first UX writing gig as a contractor with Fitbit.
Here's how I did it with no course or helping hand:
- Practice, practice, practice: I didn't stop at learning UX content principles — I needed to understand them. I learn by doing, so I took UX flows, and rewrote them to follow UX content best practices. By doing this, I deeply (and quickly) understood what makes good UX writing.
- Home-grown work samples: I had some UX writing samples from Twine, but I complimented them with examples from case studies I made up (see above.) These were more robust and showed off my deep knowledge of UX writing, despite being a newbie.
- I knew my UX writing philosophy: By forming unique opinions on UX writing, I was able to answer interview questions and converse at a much more senior level than I was at. By knowing what UX writing means to you (see above,) you can do the same.
Don't let 3 – 5 years of experience hold you back. With dedication and time invested, you can even outpace UX writers with 5+ years of experience.
When you're thoughtful and confident in your stances, people know you're the real deal.
Happy UX writing 🖖