Freelance

How to start a 6-figure UX writing freelance business in 2023

Want to become a freelance UX writer, but clueless on where to start? Learn how I grew my 6-figure UX writing freelance business with big clients.
ux writing freelance
ux writing freelance
In: Freelance, Free UX career guides

If you’re dreaming of making more and working less with as a remote UX writer, you landed in the right place.

UX writing can pay 133% more than other types of writing, and UX writing freelancers can make up to 50% more than full-timers. I’m talking up to $200 per hour kinda money, even as a remote UX writer.

But to get a 6-figure UX writing freelance business, you’re gonna have to actually build a business. That’s because building a freelance business is how you get clients to come to you.

If you are like I was three years ago, I didn’t know where to even start when it came to running a business, let alone a client-based business. Thankfully, over the past three years, I figured it out and built a 6-figure UX writing freelance business, working with clients like Chime, Verizon, and many more.

The super-duper news is you can do exactly the same, because I’m going to tell you every step I took to get to where I am today with my UX writing freelance business, Made by Slater.

To build a 6-figure freelance UX writing business, I took these steps:

  1. Define a niche, target customer, and personal brand
  2. Create work samples relevant to your niche
  3. Create a niche-specific website (aka your sales machine)
  4. Create content relevant to your niche
  5. Build an audience
  6. Do this consistently for 90 days

This is going to seem like a very in-depth process to land a UX writing freelance gig. And you might be thinking, “Can’t I just send someone an email or go on Upwork and call it a day?”

You can, but then you’re creating a hamster wheel where you’re only getting work when you reach out. You’re effectively ensuring you have to work to get work.

My 6-part system makes it so UX writing freelance clients come to you. But to do that, ya gotta build a UX writing freelance business. And in the next ~7,000 words, I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.

My goal with this article is to give you a step-by-step roadmap to land your first UX writing freelance client in 90 days, so you can get your UX writing freelance business off the ground. I want you to walk away from this article feeling a big sense of clarity about what ya gotta do today to land a client tomorrow.

Before we move forward, I need to disclaim this article comes with a B.F.C. (big fat caveat):

👋 Building a UX writing freelance business doesn’t happen overnight or after reading one article. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, experiment, and know that it takes time for your efforts to pay off.

And just so you have a bit more context, in 2019, I landed my first UX writing job at Fitbit within ~1.5 months of teaching myself UX writing and content design. Since then, I’ve penned UX copy for companies like Netflix, Chime, Afterpay, Verizon, and many more and have built a 6-figure UX writing and content design freelance business.

I share that with you so you know I’m not regurgitating someone else’s knowledge in this article. The information you’ll read below is from my own learned experience, hard work, mistakes, and successes along the way.

Let’s dive in…


Step 1: Define a niche, target customer, and personal brand

ux writing freelance

The very first step in creating your UX writing freelance business is to define your personal brand.

This is critical, because there are tons of freelancers out there, and if you’re starting from scratch, you need to find a way to stand out.

Even if you’re not starting from scratch, when you type “freelance UX writer” into LinkedIn, there are 18,000 results:

ux writing freelance

That’s a lotta people. And a lotta search results you have to compete within.

But, the absolutely insane thing is what shows up in the first-page search results:

ux writing freelancers

Only *4* of these people have the word “freelance” in their title. And this is the very first page of search results 🤯

If I’m a startup CEO looking for a freelance UX writer, this is a pretty disheartening result. That’s because startup CEOs aren’t looking for just any ‘ol freelance UX writer — they’re looking for someone who understands their industry (more on this later.)

So, say I’m a fintech startup CEO, and I want to work with a UX writer who knows about fintech. Which profile do I click on? It’s kinda a crap-shoot…

Now, imagine there’s also a LinkedIn profile preview that reads:

Freelance fintech UX writer | I help fintech CEOs up conversion rates 35% by building trust and peace of mind with users

Now THAT gives our fintech startup CEO something to latch on to.

With a little sales pitch in there, it’s a no-brainer who to click on first, because it’s more clear how this person can help our fintech startup CEO.

And by saying “Freelance fintech UX writer,” we’re hitting on all the buzzwords.

This is one example of personal branding.

A personal brand separates you from the crowd, which gets you leads. This gives someone a reason to reach out to you first, and makes it effortless for you to describe what you do in a way highly-likely to sell.

Your personal brand:

  • Gets your more eyeballs
  • Convinces those eyeballs you’re the best candidate
  • Sells them before they even talk to you
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FURTHER READING
If you want to dive deep into why you need a personal brand as a UX writing freelancer, take a gander over to my personal branding guide for freelance UX writers.

Creating a clear personal brand has been the biggest game-changer in propelling my freelance business. And a personal brand doesn’t have to be super complicated.

To design your personal brand, you only need to know three things:

  1. Your target customer
  2. Your niche
  3. Your value proposition

Your target customer

A target customer is a generalized overview of your ideal customer, or client, in our case. It's not a specific IRL person, but a caricature inspired by many people that fit the mold of your customer.

Everything starts with your target customer. That’s because, not only are you selling to your target customer, but your UX writing freelance business exists to solve your target customer’s problem.

And if you aren’t deeply familiar with the inner-workings of your target customer, it’s gonna be pretty hard to sell your services.

For example, imagine you’re a new parent. Raising a human is something super-scary and also brand-new to you, and you’re stressed about doing it “right.” And it’s a lot less glamorous than how Rachel Green made it look on Friends.

You’re shopping for baby stuff, and you land on two websites:

  1. Lalo
  2. Frida

Lalo has some pretty generic messaging. It doesn’t offend us or anything, but it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna make a big difference in our lives.

target customer example

Frida takes a different approach. By saying “boogers, butts, & beyond,” they totally get what life is like in this new world of parenting. And by covering us for “moments you won’t share on the ‘gram,” they know what problems we need solved — even to the specificity of using Instagram.

target customer example

You want to be like Frida — intimately know your target customer, so when they land on your website, they’re nodding their heads, excited to learn more.

To pinpoint your target customer in the world, there are 11 questions to answer:

  1. What industry does your target customer work in?
  2. What size company does your target customer work at?
  3. What stage in their career is your target customer at?
  4. What role does your target customer have?
  5. Where does your target customer live?
  6. What does your target customer think they need?
  7. What's your target customer’s general perception of businesses like yours?
  8. What does your target customer care about most?
  9. How clear is your target customer’s vision?
  10. What's your target customer’s financial outlook?
  11. What does your target customer expect working with you to deliver?

This is important to figure out, because, say you want to be a fintech UX writer, your target customer could be anyone from the CEO (startup) to the program manager (big company, like Chime.)

The CEO and program manager are looking for different things, have different budgets, and have different goals. To be set up for success, ya gotta orient your UX writing freelance business around this *specific* customer.

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FURTHER READING
To get the inside scoop on defining your target customer, read my ultimate guide on defining your target client.

Your niche

Picking a niche isn't advice from me — it's straight from the mouths of my clients.

When you niche down, you get clients reaching out to you with emails like this:

ux writing freelance niche example

That’s because, if you're for everyone, you're for no one.

Magic happens when you lean into your relevant experience, own it, and make yourself easily discoverable as an expert in that field.

This is the concept of niching, or picking a particular field to be an expert in. In my opinion, choosing a niche is like adding a Mento to the Coke bottle of your freelance UX writing business.

That's because:

  1. You'll more deeply and accurately target clients
  2. Your hit rate will be higher because of your obvious expertise
  3. Your unique selling proposition become crystal clear

An example of a niche is “Freelance UX writer for mobile games” or “Freelance UX writer for web3.” It’s your discipline [UX writing] + field.

A niche can be anything from fintech to health & fitness to SaaS. And when it comes to picking a niche, it’s really up to you.

A niche can be an industry you have previous experience in or an industry you're generally passionate about and know about from a hobby level.

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FURTHER READING
To learn exactly how to nail your niche, check out my super-duper lesson on why clients look for freelance UX writers with a niche.

Your value proposition

This is the superpower behind personal branding.

Having defined value propositions makes things like writing your website copy to nailing a client discovery call easy-breezy.

Instead of having to think about what to say, or how you solve your target customer’s problem, your value propositions (or value props) do the hard work.

A value prop describes the benefit someone gains from working with you.

For example, “UX writing” is an offering.

Value props go a layer deeper to connect with someone and answer how you can solve their pain point and make their lives easier.

Because of that, with value props, you need to know a bit about your potential clients.

For example, for a time-strapped Product Manager who hates writing microcopy, a value prop could be:

Tired of writing copy that doesn't convert? With a pro like me by your side, not only will you increase conversion, but you'll get time back to do the things you actually want to focus on.

If you're a fintech UX writer, instead of simply offering “UX writing,” you could offer:

Getting a lot of drop-off on your sign-up screen? In my 5+ years in fintech, I've found that's pretty common, because most fintechs don't build trust or prioritize communicating safety and security precautions. I've turned around conversion rates for your competitors, like Chime and Afterpay, and I'd be happy to do the same for you.

Once you hash out your value proposition, writing and talking about what you do is cake.

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FURTHER READING
To learn exactly how to nail your value propositions, check out my super-duper lesson on defining your messaging for your UX writing freelance business.

Step 2: Create work samples relevant to your niche

ux writing freelance

Here, I’m talking about your UX writing portfolio.

When you’re applying to a job, your UX writing case studies don’t need to be hyper-specific. But if UX writing freelance, niche-relevant case studies give you a BIG leg up.

That’s because, again, client’s want to work with experts.

If I’m a SaaS startup design director, I know designing for SaaS is different from mobile gaming, and I’m going to prefer working with a UX writer that knows that, too. Ipso facto, if I’m that design director and I land on a UX writing portfolio with a ton of SaaS case studies, I’m gonna be sold before I even talk to the person.

Andddddd that’s what you want ✅

How to create niche-specific UX writing case studies

In an ideal world, your freelance UX writing website has work samples relevant to your niche. If you have existing UX writing work samples that are relevant to your niche, you’re golden. And, if you need to, just take a look at my portfolio-building advice below 👇

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FURTHER READING
Not sure how to create a UX writing portfolio? Steal my super-simple, overview-based portfolio formula that’s landed me clients like Verizon and Chime in this lesson on how to create the best UX writer portfolio.

If you have UX writing work samples that aren’t relevant to your chosen niche, you’re gonna want to create at least 2 relevant work samples. Also, if you have no UX writing work samples or UX writing experience, you’re going to want to create at least 3 niche-related work samples.

To create niche-related UX writing work samples, you:

  1. Pinpoint 3 products in your niche to analyze from a UX writing lens
  2. As you install them, take a million screenshots, capturing as much of the experience as possible
  3. Pinpoint a specific flows you want to improve, and put the screenshots in Figma, so they’re somewhere safe
  4. Understand the problem the product and flow are solving, what goals the product is trying to accomplish with the flow, and who the user of the product is (and write it all down)
  5. Conduct a content audit of the flow, so you gain an understanding of what content to keep, what content to edit, what content to cut, and what content to add
  6. Conduct a competitive analysis with 2 – 3 of the product’s competitors to learn from what’s working for them and capitalize on where they’re weak
  7. Form a hypothesis for your approach and define what you’re tackling (a good hypothesis formula is, “By [what you’re improving], I will [effect you’re going after], improving [result you’re after.]
  8. Go back to the screenshots you put in Figma and rewrite them equipped with your content audit and competitive analysis. To rewrite screenshots in Figma, put boxes over the existing copy and make them the color of the screen background. Then, put a text box over that box, and match the font.
  9. Find 10 people. Show 5 people the before flow and 5 people your revised flow. Ask them if they’d convert. Then, do some math, and figure out which flow is higher converting (psst… this is an A/B test.)
  10. Summarize the whole process in a simple, overview-based UX writing case study

That’s it!

Onboarding and sign-up flows are great flows to start with. You want to make sure your flow isn’t too complicated, so you can capture all the screenshots.

And if you’re not sure what to put in the case study, I got a handy UX writing portfolio formula here.

Step 3: Create a niche-specific website

ux writing freelance

Your website is your sales machine. It’s what’s going to convince clients they want to work with you before they even talk to you.

Even if you’ve never built a website before, you can easily build a sales-machine freelance UX writing website.

That’s because the best freelance websites aren’t landing pages, they’re experiences.

Think of what it feels like to walk into the Apple Store. It’s put-together, professional, and gives you a distinct feeling. You want to give your website visitors, your potential clients, the feeling of what it's like to work with you. And you do that by making your website an experience, which anyone can do.

To make your website an experience, you need to:

  1. Tell a story
  2. Contain sections
  3. Make text parsable
  4. Be action-oriented

Your website doesn't have to be 20 pages, but it should clearly state the value you offer and how someone can give you money.

A thriving niche-specific website has a just 5 pages:

  1. Fully-fleshed-out homepage
  2. Detailed about page (that's about the value you deliver and not so much about your favorite hiking trail)
  3. Services page (that focuses on the result you deliver, not just the deliverable)
  4. Portfolio page (that doesn't dwell on your process and is built for clients, not employers)
  5. Contact page (so someone has a way to get in touch 🤳)

Homepage

The goal of your website homepage is to:

  • Put the problem you solve front and center
  • Explain why you're the best solution
  • Back up your credibility
  • Offer branches to explore more

Your home page is the starting point for a “choose your own adventure.” Because of that, you need to strategically include specific sections on your homepage in a specific, logical order.

What is that order? Here’s my proven website homepage formula:

  1. H – Hero value prop
  2. C – Credibility
  3. P – Pain point
  4. S – Solution
  5. P – Proof
  6. O – Offerings
  7. E – Examples
  8. A – About
  9. E – Expertise
  10. C – Call-to-action
🕵🏻
FURTHER READING
Learn exactly how to design a UX writing freelance website that gets clients excited in this lesson on 13 secrets to convert UX writing clients on your website.

About page

But who is this magical being who can solve all my problems? It’s time to introduce yourself on your about page.

Don’t be fooled — your about page is *absolutely* a sales page. But instead of selling your services, you’re selling yourself. That means you need to convince someone you’re:

  • Credible
  • Trustworthy
  • Not a robot

To accomplish that, use your about page to explain:

  • Your unique UX writing and content design philosophy
  • How hiring you can help your target client
  • A brief bio about yourself
  • A testimonial (if you have once)
  • Why you do what you do

Services page

Since we can't rely on our humanity alone to sell products just yet, we need to create services that solve our target customers' deepest problems.

That can be literally uncovering what your target customer needs that you don't already offer, or it could be changing your product positioning to speak to their desperation.

For example, say you currently sell email writing. Right now, your services page might say:

Email writing: Send emails people actually want to open

You could change your positioning to hit on what your customer is desperate for, like:

Email writing: Convert 300 new customers monthly with the right words

Your services page doesn’t have to be too long, but it should be impactful. I highly recommend listing pricing on your services page, so only qualified clients reach out.

If you don’t want to list a single price, you could also do a range, like what I do here:

ux writing freelance website

Portfolio page

So, here’s the thing — freelance UX writing portfolios are pretty different from full-time job UX writing portfolios.

That’s because clients don’t care about your process, but employers do.

Your potential client isn't a UX writer. Spending time explaining your UX writing process goes over their head and wastes precious time to sell the deal.

And because it’s likely your potential client isn’t a UX writer, your time is better spent using your portfolio case studies to quickly and visually show your track record of solving problems similar to theirs.

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FURTHER READING
If you want to dive deeper into this idea, read my lesson on why clients don’t care about your UX writing process.

So, what does a client-friendly UX writing case study look like? It’s overview-based, and follows this formula:

To make a stupid-simple UX writing case study, follow this formula:

  • O – Overview: A brief introduction to your project, giving someone only enough context for the case study to not be confusing
  • H – Hypothesis: Simply state your hypothesis from the project
  • I – Implementation: Briefly describe one or two tidbits from your content design process that show off your content design chops. This could be how you used a legal insight to write a line of microcopy, your involvement in user research, etc. Also, include a nice big photo of your work here.
  • R – Result: In big, bold letters, write the result you achieved.
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FURTHER READING
Learn step-by-step how to use this formula to create a stupid-simple, overview-based UX writing portfolio in this lesson right here.

Also, pro-tip — end every case study will a call to action to contact you, like this:

ux writing freelance website

Speaking of getting in touch…

Contact page

This might seem pretty obvious, but a lot of people skip over the Contact page.

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy — just a super-simple way for a potential client to contact you right here, right now.

Here’s what I do on Made by Slater:

ux writing freelance website

Website red flags to avoid

There are 4 key problems with most freelance websites you should avoid:

  1. It’s more of a blog post
  2. It doesn’t speak to problems
  3. It’s for everyone
  4. It’s all about them

1. It’s more of a blog post

This is an example of a freelancer’s website that’s more of a blog post than an experience 👇

ux writing freelance website

That’s a problem because it assumes someone is interested enough to care about who you are before you’ve told them how you can help.

The solution is to make your website an experience. Instead of sentences and paragraphs, put on your UX writer cap, and start playing with components and using words to design.

ux writing freelance website

2. It doesn’t speak to problems

Take a look at these screenshots from a few freelance UX writers’ websites:

ux writing freelance website

It doesn’t explain how the UX writer can help and how they can help solve the client’s problem. “Shaping your product” to “deliver a consistent experience for the user” isn’t a keep-you-up-at-night-problem, but “I’ll solve your bank connection drop-off” is.

Here’s an example of what to do instead:

ux writing freelance website

3. It’s for everyone

As a refresher, if you’re for everyone, you’re for no one. You need to be specific about your target customer, so you speak to solving their problems exactly.

Here are some freelancers who could learn a thing or two about personal branding 👇

ux writing freelance website

These examples are generic, and therefore, don’t stand out from each other.

Here’s what to do instead:

ux writing freelance website

4. It’s about them

This is my biggest pet peeve. Your website IS NOT about you — it’s about your client, their problems, and how you can solve them.

That’s why you shouldn’t do this 👇

ux writing freelance website

It’s all “I write” and “We love,” and it’s not about the client at all. The client doesn’t care what you think of yourself — they want to know what you can do for them.

Here’s what to do instead:

ux writing freelance website

Step 4: Create content relevant to your niche

ux writing freelance

So you’ve built your sales machine, aka your website — now you gotta get people there.

Unfortunately, you can’t put a website into the ether and have people come flocking. You have to market your business.

If marketing is an icky word for you, welcome to the club. I couldn't stand the idea of adding more clutter to the internet. But, then I learned marketing doesn’t have to be in-your-face, value-less fluff. There’s a world where marketing material is *actually* helpful and adds to people’s lives.

That form of marketing is called content marketing, my friend. And it’s actually kinda fun.

What you do for content marketing is you create valuable, helpful content that directs to your website with a little sales pitch at the end. You then share that content where your audience hangs out, and over time, the leads start pouring in.

In my opinion, content marketing works because you’re giving to people, not just asking for their attention.

To get started with content marketing, you first have to choose your medium of choice…

Content creation medium choices

There are three content marketing mediums I recommend:

  1. Blog (my platform of choice)
  2. YouTube
  3. Podcast

The reason you want to choose one of these three channels is because they’re owned channels, meaning you own them, and you can’t get locked out one day or screwed by an algorithm change.

Choose one, and commit to it for a year. Then, consider expanding to another one.

To me, blogging is the best option, since it’s native to the rest of your sales machine (aka your website,) but choose whatever content medium you’ll be able to create consistently and actually enjoy. Consistency matters more than optimization.

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FURTHER READING
Explore this lesson, where I explain step-by-step how I blogged my way to sending $100k UX writing freelance proposals.

What to create content about

There are three topics to create content about:

  1. Your niche
  2. UX writing and content design
  3. UX writing and content design in your niche

Let me break it down…

Creating content about your niche

The goal of creating content about your niche is to show your ideal client you’re in the know. It shows that:

  • You’re up-to-date on the challenges they face
  • You’re also an expert in the field
  • You won’t require a lot of onboarding time

Again, clients are looking for freelancers to solve problems, and the best problem-solvers come with a whole lotta knowledge.

Let’s pretend we have a fintech niche. Some content ideas related to that niche might be:

  • Crypto and what our world will look like in 20 years
  • 3 reasons why BNPL companies will be dead in 3 years
  • Why white-labeled fintech products are the future
HOLD UP — what if I’m not an expert in my niche?
That’s a-OK. Use this as an opportunity to learn about your niche and develop expertise. This will build up over time, and creating content is a great way to make sure knowledge clicks

Creating content about UX writing and content design

The goal of creating content about UX writing and content design is to show, not tell a client, that you’re an expert in UX writing. It shows that:

  • You’re experienced and knowledgeable
  • You’re trustworthy on the topic
  • You’re an innovative thinker in the industry

When you create content about what you do:

  • People who also do it benefit from your advice
  • Those people like, comment, and share your content
  • Your potential clients discover your content, and see you as an expert

Some content ideas might be:

  • 5 reasons why every seed-stage startup needs a UX writer
  • 3 ways UX writing can help reduce churn
  • What does a UX writer do?
HOLD UP — What if I’m new to UX writing & content design?
That’s a-OK, too. Use this as an opportunity to learn about UX writing and content design and develop your own unique UX writing and content design philosophy. It’ll make your skills stronger and help you stand out from the crowd.

Creating content about UX writing and content design in your niche

This is the content that ties it all together. It marries your expertise in your niche and your UX writing and content design expertise.

Continuing with the fintech niche example, some content ideas might be:

  • 5 ways UX writing can reduce bank connection drop-off
  • 3 ways to build trust when asking for a user’s Social Security number
  • The ultimate guide to UX writing for crypto products

Step 5: Build an audience

ux writing freelace

To get people to your sales machine (aka your website,) ya gotta put yourself out there.

Ima get basic for a second — love 'em or hate 'em, the Kardashians know a thing or two about marketing.

From Kylie Cosmetics to SKIMS, the sisters have created viral brands that, at the end of the day, aren't really that different from what you can find anywhere else.

So, if the Kardashians aren't selling something higher-quality or all that unique, how did they become multi-bazillionaire business people?

They're pretty crafty marketers in the most unobvious way.

You don't see them running paid Facebook ads, but you do see them on their 1,000 spin-off shows and posting IG selfies with their products gracing their face.

The Kardashians knew they could grow their empire by focusing on one special thing: An audience.

When you have a strong audience, your business is golden.

But we're not trying to convince Ryan Seacrest to give us a show… so how is this relevant?

UX writing freelancers can also build an audience to market themselves. Building an audience for your UX writing freelance business is a strategic way to build a fan base (yes, a fan base) and make it a no-brainer for clients to buy from you.

Why having an audience matters for freelancers

Most freelancers struggle with:

  • Finding good clients
  • Figuring out how to promote themselves
  • Figuring out what services to offer for the biggest bang for the buck

When you have a solid audience:

  • It’s much easier for clients to discover you
  • Clients automatically see you as an expert
  • You gain insights to design services that exactly solve your client's problem

Having an audience is a superpower that will put your freelance business on autopilot. You can go from a client here and there to a waitlist.

If this sounds too good to be true, there are two caveats:

  1. Building an audience is a lotta work
  2. It can take good time to build an audience

That said, had the Kardashians not given the world a look inside their lives (whether the world is better for it, who knows) they wouldn't be launching billion-dollar brands with meh products.

Imagine what you could make selling high-quality work to a Kardashian-style loyal audience.

How I built my audience

I’ve built my audience by posting on LinkedIn 1x per day consistently. I chose LinkedIn because that’s where my target customer, startup CEOs, hang out. For you, that might be Twitter.

Here are some examples of the kind of content I’ve posted:

ux writing freelance buid audience

The key to bringing clients back to my website is posting my blog posts in my LinkedIn posts. For you, that could be your YouTube video or podcast episodes. Either way, you need a way to get your potential client off LinkedIn and hear what you have to say more in depth.

I’ve posted everything from simple text to checklists to carousels. What works? What best resonates with your audience 😉

Does this actually drive traffic to your website?

Short answer? It’s worked swimmingly for me.

Take a look at my Google Analytics 👇

ux writing freelance success

~50% of my web traffic comes from LinkedIn (direct also = LinkedIn.)

This is a MAJOR boost in traffic.

Not only does LinkedIn get more eyeballs on my site, increasing my overall web traffic tells Google I'm the real deal.

Which creates this wonderful circle of clients then finding me on Google.

Step 6: Do this consistently for 90 days

ux writing freelance

Whether you're blogging, podcasting, or YouTube-ing, pick a content creation schedule you can realistically stick to for at least 90 days.

Is it once a day? Once a week? As long as it's semiregular, and you stay consistent, you want to make sure it matches your lifestyle.

When a new piece of content comes out, share it with the people already in your network. And keep your audience-building active by making one post on your social media platform of choice per day.

This may sound odd, but LinkedIn or Twitter followers aren't exactly the goal. Your goal is to get people on your website — people who have problems you can solve.

Consistency is key

ux writing freelance concistency

Consistency is hard. Some days it’s gonna feel pointless and like it’s going nowhere. Then, out of nowhere, you’ll have a mega-successful day.

Building a business is a roller coaster, and as long as you stay on the ride, it’s gonna keep going up. (Maybe that’s not how roller coasters work, but it sounds good 🙃)

Why shouldn’t I just go on Upwork?

Upwork is a horrible idea for freelance UX writers who want to make as much as possible and control their own destiny. That’s because:

  1. You make much less money on Upwork
  2. Upwork controls your success
  3. It's hard to stand out on Upwork
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FURTHER READING
If you want to hear me hate on Upwork in ~1,000 words, take a gander over to this lesson, where I explain why everyone should avoid Upwork for freelance UX writing.

I’m on the fence about freelancing. What should I do?

Building a UX writing freelance business isn’t easy. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty dang hard.

I don’t say that to scare you — I say it to give you the right expectation. I’d rather have you call me wrong.

That said, becoming a freelance UX writer has massively changed my life. If you want to make more, work less, and live flexibly, there are 3 reasons why you should consider becoming a freelance UX writer:

  1. You can make A LOT more money (and work less)
  2. YOU decide what kind of life you want to live
  3. You’ll actually make life easier for people

So you know where I’m at, since switching to freelance UX writing, I’ve:

  • Upped my income by 185%
  • Traveled the country while working
  • Bought a home in Wisconsin
  • Delighted my inner early bird with a 6am start to my work day
  • Worked on some of the most meaningful projects of my career

Which is pretty dang cool 🤓

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FURTHER READING
Still not sure if freelance UX writing is right for you? Get more clarity in my deep-diving lesson on 3 reasons why you should do UX writing freelance style.

How do I price UX writing freelance projects?

There are three main ways to price UX writing freelance projects:

  1. Hourly
  2. Flat fee
  3. Value-based

Hourly is the simplest of the three, but value-based pricing is going to help you make the most.

Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy that uses an understanding of what your project is worth to the client to figure out a fair price.

It helps you make the most because it puts you on the same page as your client.

For example, there's a discrepancy between your goals and a client's goals with the most common pricing methods:

Hourly goals:

Client: Minimize time on project, minimize cost

Freelancer: Maximize time on project, maximize income

Flat-fee goals:

Client: Get the most work for the best price

Freelancer: Work fast, maximize effective hourly rate

But with value-based pricing, the goals align:

Value-based goals:

Client: Reach business goals, minimize risk, get maximum value

Freelancer: Achieve client's goal, make the right solution, deliver most value

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FURTHER READING
To learn how to do value-based pricing step-by-step, check out my guide to value-based pricing for freelance UX writers.

How to beat imposter syndrome

Story time 📖

I was coming to the end of my intro call with Fitbit, and the Oxford comma came up.

Expected writerly talk, right?

The in-house UX writer asked me what my stance on the Oxford comma was.

At the time, I didn't realize the Oxford comma referred to the serial comma — I thought it was another way to say semicolon.

So I rambled on about how I think it adds complexity, isn't a necessary punctuation, and can be uncommon for people to see.

She looked at me a little blankly, and then we ended our call.

It was only about a year later did I realize that was a totally wacky answer.

But, that completely inaccurate explanation of why I'm against the Oxford comma had no bearing on me landing the gig with Fitbit or my time there.

This is a small potatoes example, but it shows that life and people are a lot more forgiving than you'd think.

I work with words, and I didn't realize the Oxford comma is the serial comma. Oops!

You might say I actually was an imposter at that moment.

That's the thing — when you actually maybe are an imposter, you don't realize it. It's when you are actually an expert when you get all turned around and insecure in the head.

Imposter syndrome can be crippling, especially when you're just getting into freelance UX writing.

The risk of failure feels insurmountable.

I'm here to tell you it's not. And that’s probably easier to hear than it is to feel (I've been there,) so I'm going to outline 4 ways I've dealt with imposter syndrome:

  1. Thinking about the worst case scenario
  2. Mind mapping everything you know
  3. Focusing on small tasks
  4. Knowing you’re not alone

1. Thinking about the worst case scenario

Don’t just think of a bad scenario, but the scenario that makes it feel like touching your mouse is touching a tarantula.

I'll give you an example of mine:

My first foray into fintech freelance UX writing, my first niche, was with the Verizon financial services team. I had a few fintech gigs beforehand, but I'd never branded myself a "freelance UX writer for fintech apps" before.

I was terrified I didn't know enough about fintech to be an “expert” and they'd find me out. It made it almost impossible to get started. So, I thought, what's this worst case scenario that I can't get over.

The worst case scenario was I'd get fired from my first freelance gig as a freelance UX writer for fintech apps with a major client, and they'd bad mouth me and my reputation would be ruined.

With that worst case scenario defined, I was able to work through it.

If I got fired, that'd be an opportunity to learn from my weak points, ask for feedback, and improve myself. As far as bad-mouthing me and ruining my reputation, I would (theoretically) not be on enemy terms if I got fired — the person might even feel bad about having fired me. And that fear also assumes they care enough about this blimp in their life to do more than say goodbye.

The worst case scenario is most always irrational. Once you define it, you can work through it.

For me and Verizon, it all worked out. I knew more than I thought I did, and they were happy clients.

Speaking of knowing more than I thought I did…

2. Mind mapping everything you know

You definitely know more than you think you do, whether you're feeling particularly imposter-y or not.

But sometimes you have to prove this to yourself.

When I've outlined the worst case scenario and still need some extra pep, I take a pen and a piece of paper, and I literally start writing out everything I know in a mind map.

If you're not sure what a mind map is, it looks like this:

mind map example

You take a topic, and connect it to corresponding topics to build a map of sorts.

Every time I do this, I'm blown away. The first couple of minutes it's hard to think about what I know. But once I get in a flow, I need another piece of paper quickly.

We're our own worst critics, and mind mapping is a great way to prove ourselves wrong.

3. Focusing on small tasks

When I'm not feeling particularly confident, I focus on starting small. If I can get reps in, I'll warm up.

Starting with a small task can lead to a small win. A small win could be as little as you liked a word you chose. Small wins compound, and before you know it, you're #winning.

I like to use the pomodoro method to chunk work into manageable time boxes. I know I only have to do something for 25 minutes, and anyone can do anything for 25 minutes.

4. Knowing you're not alone

This is super cliché, but it's true.

You, me, and Tina Fey all experience imposter syndrome. It's a part of being a human.

Sometimes, I like to look at what people I admire have said about their imposter syndrome.

Here are some examples:

  • “I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.” —John Steinbeck
  • ‘You think, “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”‘ — Meryl Streep
  • ‘You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, “I made it!” You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other.’ — Amy Poehler

This is a long-game strategy. But I can tell you, not many UX writing freelancers take building their businesses seriously.

I've been doing this for 3+ years now, and I no longer seek out clients, they come to me, and I even have a waitlist.

This strategy has helped me go from sending $1,000 proposals to $100,000+ proposals.

And I’m confident with time, dedication, and belief in yourself, you can do it, too.

Happy UX writing 🖖

Written by
Slater Katz
As founder of The Gig Gal, my mission is to make learning UX writing fanastically-simple and landing a job easy. I've held UX writing jobs at companies like Netflix, Fitbit, Verizon, Afterpay, & more.
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