5 ways to build your professional UX writing network
You’ve created your portfolio and have some experience under your belt — so what’s next?
Time to build a network as a UX writer!
Of course, there is no substitute for mastering the craft. Even if you are an established UX professional, a good network cannot make up for a lack of skills needed to do the job.
What a solid network can do is allow you to get things done faster and be ahead of the curve when it comes to industry practices. Most importantly, it will help you to learn what you like and do best.
If you’re wondering how to get started, here are 5 practical tips:
1) Make connections
How can you build meaningful connections in a UX writing network? Whether you are an extrovert or shy about meeting new people there are a handful of online resources at your fingertips.
Firstly, you can join a network like the User Experience Writer’s Collective (UXWC) and get to know your peers. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, take advantage of the courses and learn from the community.
There are several other platforms, where you can share and exchange information such as UXWC Facebook and a Slack Mentor group dedicated exclusively to their students.
Here’s a shortlist of other useful groups to follow:
- Content + UX Slack Group
- Content Strategists Facebook Group
- UX Writing Zone Instagram
- UX Writers Instagram
- UX Writers Collective Instagram
- UX Writers LinkedIn Group
- Microcopy & UX Writing LinkedIn Group
- UX / UI Writing Pinterest Board
If you really feel up to it, you could contact individual UX writers on LinkedIn and ask to connect. However, you’re more likely to find traction by joining these types of groups, commenting on blog posts, and interacting with people on Twitter — where public conversation benefits everyone, and more people can see your efforts!
2) Attend events
Networking online has never been so easy. Sign up for this free newsletter, which sends regular updates of different UX writing events taking place around the world.
Other events like the UXPA International Conference, which gathers participants from the general UX domain, are great places to grow your understanding of the field. Check a full listing to find an event near you.
Can’t be there in person? Virtual events are the new trend. Take advantage of what is available online and participate in a remote conference or workshop to build your UX writing network.
3) Listen to experts
As a rule of thumb, O’Reilly Media is a good go-to place for guidance.
Here’s a handy list of recommended reads from industry experts:
1) KILLER WEB CONTENT: MAKE THE SALE, DELIVER THE SERVICE, BUILD THE BRAND (Gerry McGovern, 2008)
2) THE WEB CONTENT STYLE GUIDE (Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton, Catherine O’Dowd, 2001)
3) CONTENT STRATEGY FOR THE WEB (Kristina Halvorson, Melissa Rach, 2012)
4) CONTENT EVERYWHERE: STRATEGY AND STRUCTURE FOR FUTURE-READY CONTENT (Sara Wachter-Boettcher, 2012)
5) CONTENT STRATEGY FOR MOBILE (Karen McGrane, 2012)
6) THE UX WRITER’S GUIDE (Susan Reoch)
7) MICROCOPY: DISCOVER HOW TINY BITS OF TEXT MAKE TASTY APPS AND WEBSITES (Niaw de León, 2017)
8) MICROCOPY: THE COMPLETE GUIDE (Kinneret Yifrah, 2019)
9) STRATEGIC WRITING FOR UX: DRIVE ENGAGEMENT, CONVERSION AND RETENTION WITH EVERY WORD (Torrey Podmajersky, 2019)
10) LETTING GO OF THE WORDS: WRITING WEB CONTENT THAT WORKS (Janice Redish, 2012)
11) WRITING IS DESIGNING: WORDS AND THE USER EXPERIENCE (Michael J. Metts, Andy Welfle)
4) Find your niche
Let’s say you are interested in gaming, you can offer your help in creating microcopy for a mobile video game. From your local meetup or city tech hub to global conferences, you can learn more about the business and expand your network.
Many beginners think they have to work on a big project, with a big name. That’s not true — hiring managers want to see your process, and way of thinking. Working on a small project with friends is a perfect way to showcase your talent and put something in your portfolio.
These projects could open doors while you hone your craft at the same time. You might even get a referral or a positive testimonial to put in your portfolio and personal website. The more advocates of your work you have, the closer you are to landing a new gig!
Looking for more practice? Join a free UX Writer’s challenge like Daily UX Writing and receive a writing prompt in your inbox for 14 days.
5) Get yourself noticed
If you are starting out from scratch or don’t have a narrowly defined role, don’t worry! You’ll find your place.
Get involved in a new project at work or have a chat with your boss on how you can demonstrate your abilities and flex your new UX writing skills.
For example, if you usually work as a marketing copywriter, you might have some great suggestions on how to optimize the microcopy of the components in onboarding app screens. Make sure to show how you can save the company some money through your proposed changes with performance data analytics and A/B testing.
Already a seasoned UX writer? Do some research on the new products and launches and find a way to integrate yourself in the team as well as prove how you add value in line with company goals.
Learn how to promote yourself and your work. Drive your own personal brand by starting your own blog and volunteering to speak at a local event or as a guest on a podcast. Be prepared that more invitations will soon follow.
Lastly, look around you and see who is your support group. Do you have content strategists, designers, project managers, or front-end developers on your team? Learn from them and continue to grow your network beyond the writing scene to discover new work opportunities.
Remember: a network is no substitute for good work. But when you have developed your craft, a network can help you do so much more.
Alexandra is a content strategist and social media manager at Swiss Re. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.