If you're a UX content person who came from the full-time world, you're very familiar with explaining your process.
Before I went UX writing freelance, every job search I got asked “what's your process” at least 15 times.
It was usually my would-be design counterpart who'd ask, and probably to make sure we'd be a good fit.
So, I'd ramble on about putting myself in the customer's shoes, idea dumping, “I-have-no-good-ideas” editing, collaboration, “I-found-an-actually-good-idea” editing, delivery, and analysis.
This interviewer was always very curious to learn how I did things, and it made sense.
Interviewing in the full-time world is all about making sure you're qualified for the job.
This is SO different in the UX writing freelance world.
You walk into a sales call, and the client assumes you're already qualified for the job.
If you weren't, they wouldn't have reached out to you.
Instead of convincing them you're a shining star, you need to convince them you can guarantee the result they need to move the needle.
If you couldn't already tell by the title, guaranteeing a potential client you can produce their result doesn’t come from explaining your process.
That’s because your potential client likely doesn't understand your process.
In the freelance world, your target customer is likely not a design counterpart.
It's a CEO, a too-busy Marketing Manager, even a brand person.
The CEO of a seed-stage company most likely doesn't come from a writing-specific background, and they're not going to know if your writing process is “good” or not. Instead, they care about your words having a significant ROI on their bottom line.
The too-busy Marketing Manager knows the general writing get-up, but not intimately enough to know if your process is any better than the next person's. They care about your words moving metrics.
And the brand person? They don't care how you make beautiful words appear on a screen, as long as it resonates with their customers and is long-lasting.
This sentiment really clicked for me when we were looking at contractors to do some masonry work on our house.
We had three masons come out. I’ll call them:
- Contractor Carly
- Mason Manny
- Builder Barry
Contractor Carly came out, and we gave her our inspection report. She walked around, read the report, and said it'd cost $1,500 to make the needed repairs.
Mason Manny came out, and we also gave him our inspection report. He also walked around and analyzed the spots that needed work.
Mason Manny confirmed that the inspection was correct, and we did need masonry work done.
To restore damaged spots, he'd spend 4 days using a dinosaur bone jackhammer to get the old mortar out, he’d mix new mortar using unicorn mermaid blood, and he’d fill in the gaps using the abracadabra method.
Mason Manny’s plan would cost us $2,300.
Lastly, Builder Barry came out, walked around the house with our inspection report, and also said the inspector was correct.
He said, without doing the masonry work, we’d risk water damage and bugs getting in the house. Then, he showed us photos he took of precarious spots.
Based on his analysis, the brick work for the entire house hasn't been restored in 80 years (we have a 100-year-old house.) Restoring the whole house will give us 100% protection from precarious spots that currently exist and ones that are on their way to being troublesome.
Instead of calling him back out in 5 years to patch up more spots, he could restore the entire house for $5,000.
He said he could be done in 1 week, we could still work from home, they keep the noise down, and they always clean up at the end of the day.
He left us with a before and after photo of the restoration he did for a family in our neighborhood.
Even though Builder Barry was much more expensive, we went with him.
He didn't explain his process, he explained not just how he could solve our problem, but how he could solve it with little interruption to our daily lives, now and in the future.
He picked up on the fact that we really didn't want to deal with the masonry work. And, as most non-masons, don't know diddly-squat about masonry work.
We just cared that we'd be protected and wouldn't have to do this again.
Compared to Mason Manny, we really had no idea whether he should be using a dinosaur bone jackhammer or a plastic knife. The type of mortar? He could use glue, and we wouldn't know the difference.
And Contractor Carly made the mistake of assuming we knew enough to feel very confident paying over a thousand dollars to solve this problem we didn’t want in the first place.
But Builder Barry knew his target audience, understood what we cared about, and only talked about that.
Attention spans are small, and this was a problem we had to deal with, not one we wanted to.
Putting this in a context you might experience… Does the CEO of a SaaS startup really want to spend thousands to hire a UX writer to audit their app, or is it something their investor suggested would help them raise a series A?
Does the brand person at a beauty company really care about how you’ll develop their brand voice, or do they care that it’ll resonate with customers and last the next 5 years?
Know your target customer. Know what they care about and their perception of what words people do.
When you avoid talking about your process, that leaves ~10 more minutes to take advantage of other strategies to crush sales calls.
Keep learning — head to the next lesson, FRL#18: How to price UX writing freelance projects.
Happy UX writing 🖖
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