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15 Types of Copywriting Clients Who Suck

Seek Out Customers Who Appreciate Your Writing Talent & Work Ethic

posted under Advice for Freelance Copywriters

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I like people, generally speaking.  Sure there are some who I wouldn’t choose to hang around, but for the most part, I enjoy the company of others.

Those feelings extend to my clients, the folks who hire me to do their copywriting.  I like my customers, and the ones I don’t, I drop from my roster at the first opportunity.  They seem to fall into a number of categories.  Here are 15 types of clients who really get under my skin:

1.  Copywriting clients who show no recognition of your talent and work ethic.

I realize I’m getting paid for my copywriting services, but that doesn’t mean I don’t work hard.  I often put in many more hours than quoted and invest myself mentally and emotionally in creating copy that achieves your objectives.

I’m not asking you to bring in a marching band to celebrate my accomplishments, but it sure would be nice if you recognized the amount of effort invested.

2.  Copywriting clients who think big words and flowery copy are what readers want.

The best copywriters write like they speak.  They know multi-syllabic words don’t make you sound smarter; they just force  the reader to work harder to understand what you’re saying.

The same goes for hype.  Readers know when they’re getting a snow job.  Straightforward, fact-based copy is always more effective than fluff.

3.  Copywriting clients who request multiple versions.

Even though a pro makes copywriting look easy, it’s not.  When I give you a draft, you may only see a couple of pages of text.  But to get to that point, I’ve invested many hours of research, writing and revising.  I’ve created something that precisely meets your criteria.

Asking me to compose a second version just so you can have a choice is double the work and totally unnecessary.  All you’re really doing is delaying the time when you’ll have to make a decision.

Have more confidence in your business sense.  Pick the direction you want to go before I start writing and save us both a lot of grief.

4.  Copywriting clients who change a word here and there and then take credit for the whole copy.

As an expert on your business, no doubt your revisions help fine tune the text, but please realize you never could have gotten to this point without the work I put in to create that first draft.

5.  Copywriting clients who want to cancel a project AFTER the copy has been written.

I understand that sometimes circumstances change, and you may not need the copy you originally contracted.  If you don’t want to use the text, then set it aside.  But please don’t expect me to lower my bill or not bill you at all.

Even though you’ve decided to terminate the project, I’ve already put in the time and work as contracted, and I deserve to get paid.

6.  Copywriting clients who cancel a project if the first draft isn’t to their liking.

I try to get a good understanding of your needs before I put pen to paper, but figuring out what you envision isn’t always easy.  I’m no mind reader, and what I do is no magic trick.

If you don’t like the first draft, please give me specific and constructive criticism, and let me get you a second draft that’s more to your liking.

7.  Copywriting clients who ask for a discount on the quoted price because they request no revisions.

Yes, this has happened to me.  I’ve had clients be so pleased with my first draft that no additional input from them was needed.  They simply took my copy and plugged it into their website, brochure or other marketing material.

I’m delighted that my understanding of their needs and preferences has resulted in a home run, but you don’t get billed a reduced amount simply because my copy is so good it doesn’t require any rewrites.  That’s what experience and hard work get you.

Please pay your bill and be grateful you don’t have to go through the tedium of providing additional guidance and reviewing multiple versions.

8.  Copywriting clients who increase the scope of the project.

When I prepared my initial quote on your copywriting work, it reflected the parameters you gave me.  If you then wish to change those parameters, understand that I then need to change the price.

9.  Copywriting clients who give you a deadline, which they then ignore.

If I commit to have the copy done by a date you’ve specified, I make sure you get it then, even if that means working nights, weekends and holidays.  Please don’t make me feel like a sucker if you then take weeks to review the copy.  I take your deadlines seriously, and you should too.

10.  Copywriting clients who say they could have written the copy themselves if only they weren’t so busy.

To that I say, “Yeah, right.”  Because you once got an “A” in high school English or your grandma said you wrote her great letters from sleep-away camp doesn’t mean you’re a copywriter.  It’s time to stop resting on laurels achieved in previous decades.

I’ve worked 20+ years as a full-time professional copywriter.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend time writing something.  That’s a lot of hours invested in honing my craft.  It’s insulting to me to say you could do my job if only you had more time.

11.  Copywriting clients who say they may not be great copywriters, but they’re awesome editors.

Look, editing is the easy job when the person doing the original copywriting is a pro.  Change a word here and there, add a sentence or two, or change the order of a few paragraphs.  Whatever.

Sure editors play an important role, but there’s no way you’re a real creator if all you do is mess with a professional writer’s words.

12.  Copywriting clients who ask for free advice in areas other than copywriting.

Most of my clients know I’m more than just a copywriter; I’m also a skilled marketer with many years of business experience.

If you occasionally ask for my recommendations beyond the copywriting project I’m doing for you, I’ll provide them, often free of charge, just to be helpful.  But please don’t take advantage of my generosity.

I can’t be expected to give ongoing consulting advice for free.  I need to charge for my time and expertise, much as an accountant or attorney does.

13.  Copywriting clients who don’t have a realistic view of a copywriter’s role and ability.

The success of your business shouldn’t rest solely on your copywriter’s shoulders.  Even the best copy won’t produce results if the product is crappy or if demand for your product simply doesn’t exist.

14.  Copywriting clients who don’t pay their bill.

Don’t make me chase you for payment.  If I’ve written copy you like and met your deadline, don’t put me in the awkward position of having to remind you to pay.  Copywriting isn’t a hobby or something I do for fun.  It’s how I feed my kids and pay my mortgage.

I don’t want to hear excuses about why you don’t have the money yet.  If you couldn’t afford my services, then you shouldn’t have hired me.  Please do all you can to make it right.  Now.

15.  Copywriting clients who are mean.

Be nice.  I’m a nice person and I genuinely care about my clients.  I will treat you with respect at all times.  I’ll give serious consideration to your opinions.  I’ll never raise my voice or insult you.  Please extend the same courtesy to me.

If you’re a copywriter just starting to build your business, please know that difficult clients, like the ones I’ve described above, are the exception.  And, of course, these traits aren’t limited to the copywriting field.  Whenever you interact with customers, you’ll always find some with whom you get along and others, not so much.

As a professional copywriter, I try to work with clients who appreciate the value I bring to the table.  And if copywriting is your career direction, you should too.

Seek out business owners who have a personality and business philosophy compatible with yours.  Choose wisely.  Working with the right people will make your job so much more enjoyable.

If you’re a copywriting client and you see yourself in any of the above 15 types of difficult individuals, my advice to you is simple: Don’t be that guy.

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