You’ve learned what user experience writing is all about, built a portfolio, and started the job search only to confirm your fears: UX writing is still an unknown concept to a large number of employers in your region. Now what?
As a beginner, especially one based where there’s a lack of UX writing jobs, I found that spending hours on many job boards achieved next to nothing. It’s often easier to find up to 65 job openings for a UI/UX designer before finding a single opening for an ‘experienced’ UX writer much less a job opening for an entry-level UX writer.
So if you fit into this category or you want to be proactive in your job search, there’s a way out!
Recognizing opportunities around you
There are two sides to every coin.
I found that the ignorance of UX writing in such places implies there’s a wealth of job opportunities available around due to the high cases of poor product microcopy and bad user experiences. Usually, such product teams have their engineers, user interface designers, or anyone who can ‘write’, do the job of UX writers and it shows!
For instance, I once downloaded a bank’s mobile app that was popular due to its excellent marketing strategy. But 3 minutes into the sign-up process, it frustrated me beyond what should be legal and the problem? On the profile page, the button to upload personal details had its text written as “KYC & transaction limits” (KYC stands for Know Your Customer).
Feel free to shudder—I did.
As expected, I couldn’t complete the sign-up process and forfeited their services.
Now you don’t need to have magical powers to know their product team is lacking a dedicated UX writer, or that the product’s conversion rates and ultimately the business itself are suffering because of it.
It’s in situations like this that you can create the UX writing job for yourself as a beginner using what I like to call the pitch portfolio technique.
What’s a pitch portfolio?
Unlike the standard portfolio which showcases all your projects and case studies, the pitch portfolio is specially crafted to introduce the concept of UX writing to companies who have little or no knowledge about the role: why they need it to become more successful as a business and why they need you, the UX writer, on their team.
Plus, the pitch portfolio contains only one project that focuses on a product in the same industry as the targeted company to make it relatable and to avoid overwhelming your potential employer. After all, they don’t yet know what it’s about.
This technique also allows you to become strategic with the UX writing projects you embark on when building your standard UX writing portfolio. It’s a win-win!
How to build a pitch portfolio in 5 steps
- State a problem
- Offer the solution
- Show your mock-up
- Support with facts
- Sell your services
State a problem
The pitch portfolio starts by highlighting a problem the targeted company is experiencing. One such problem could be low turnover caused by very low conversion rates.
Figuring out this problem involves you going through the company’s product for yourself, as well as reviewing customer feedback on places like Google Play store reviews, Yelp, and so on. It also helps to pay close attention to the conversations people have about the product on social media and around you.
My preference is to go through the user journey experience before checking their customer reviews. This is to enable me to look at the product without bias, and take note of any pain points I experience. This is in 3 phases:
- Skim through the user workflow to gauge the level of ease, taking note of only the bad UX writing practices that stand out
- Check customer reviews and determine if better UX writing could solve or improve the problem
- Rework the product once it’s clear that better UX writing would solve or improve the problem
With the pitch portfolio, once you start by stating a problem the company may or may not know they’re facing and you can show how it’s costing them dearly, you’re guaranteed to get their attention. So if you can, include clear screenshots of some reviews for an added advantage.
“Scary and frustrating.” Two forbidden words that shouldn’t have any association with any product’s microcopy. And for users to specifically point out how an error message makes them feel horrible, it was most likely technical jargon, vague, and unhelpful.
Offer the solution
After stating the problem your targeted company is facing, it’s time to present the solution. This is where you introduce the concept of user experience writing, how it solves the problem and its many benefits to the business as well as the customers.
Since every product has a learning curve, UX writing serves as a guide to both new and old users for the product to satisfactorily serve its purpose, and for the business to achieve its objectives. The last thing businesses should do is make potential customers feel abandoned while having to find their way around the product to use the services being offered.
This feeling of abandonment usually occurs when the microcopy on the product’s user interface is not helpful, ambiguous, hard to understand, and so on. You can best believe that product would end up getting abandoned midway and the people who were once potential customers become lost opportunities, with some going a step further to deter other potential customers from employing the business’s services.
But when businesses embrace user experience writing, every word on their product’s UI becomes clear, useful, humanized, and helpful to users who then seamlessly navigate around the product’s features. These customers are guided to complete the conversion process which helps curb the problem of high bounce rates and low turnover the business would have otherwise been facing.
This is one of the many ways UX writing solves business problems. Others are to help develop a consistent brand voice, increase user engagement, and so on.
A sample from a pitch portfolio to a made-up company called TraveLight
You can go further to personalize the impact of UX writing to that particular business. If available, insert data supporting the impact of UX writing on another product, and the rising need for UX writers around the world. The goal is to introduce the concept of user experience writing as the solution to a problem.
Remember to keep it short, interesting, and straight to the point.
I made use of the phrase “customer-first approach” because I felt it would be more relatable to the business, making it easier to understand. Always try to use their language.
Show your mock-up
After talking about UX writing, you need to show what it is first-hand. In this step, you provide your version of their product for comparison. You’ve done the hard task of reworking the product, now it’s time for your work to speak for itself. To do this, you can show only pictures of your version or a before-and-after picture comparison for the individual screens.
My advice: Show enough teasers but not the complete work. It would be a huge mess if your version gets implemented and you’re neither hired nor compensated for it.
Support with facts
“Okay…. so you changed the text to look nicer but what difference does it really make? Why should I hire someone just to write nice texts?”
These exact thoughts or at least very similar ones would be at the forefront of your potential employer’s mind. After all, the company is new to the ‘ UX writing thing’.
So this step is where you convince them that user experience writing is beyond nice texts. In fact, it’s a lot of work with impact! So brush up your sleuth skills and get digging for facts to back you up. You can:
- Present info on any product that performed better after embracing UX writing
- Present facts on how UX writing results in higher conversion rates, higher turnover, or growth in loyal customer base. For example, Maggie Stanphil; the UX Director at Google, during the 2017 Google conference showed how changing two words on a prompt to book hotel rooms in Google resulted in a 17% increase in user engagement
- Do user testing for your product version and share a report on the findings. For insight, this recorded webinar by Bobbie Wood on content testing and research explains how to test your content both with and without a design, as well as how to authoritatively present your findings.
- Simply explain the processes undertaken to arrive at the decision to use a particular text in the microcopy
By bringing facts that support the benefits of hiring a user experience writer, the company faces two choices: Make money or lose money.
This step is the most vital part of the pitch portfolio because it relies on your ability to persuade the targeted company that UX writing is worth investing in.
Sell your services
With all the hard work now behind you, the only thing left is to promote yourself. Add a bio or your resume, along with a link to your website or your standard UX writing portfolio. If you haven’t built a portfolio yet, there are tips to help you properly structure one.
In promoting your skills, UX Writer Joel Ramey gives 3 crucial details that potential employers look out for when reviewing your portfolio. Be sure to incorporate them to boost your chances.
And that’s it! Your pitch portfolio is ready to submit to your targeted company. Good luck!
Uzoma Ibekwe is a UX writer and poet in Nigeria. You can connect with them on LinkedIn.
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