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I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for a few months. Even though I’ve taken on any writing jobs I can find, I’m realizing there are many types of clients I don’t want to work for.
You know what’s the hardest part for me? Finding a perfect match. I’d love to work with clients who pay well, know the value of a copywriter, and are ethical. Perhaps most importantly, I want clients whose product is real and helps people and is not a scam, and I align with the activities and beliefs promoted along with the product.
Have you ever had such clients or is it a pipe dream?
Is there always something in a client that doesn’t align with you?
I read your description of a “perfect match,” and guess what? That’s the type of client every copywriter wants.
I’ve had many freelancers contact me asking for overflow work. They tell me they want me to refer clients who pay really well, have reasonable deadlines and are involved in interesting, exciting businesses. Hell, yeah! Who wouldn’t want those clients? If they come in my door, you can be sure I’m not referring them to someone who wants my overflow. I’m keeping them for myself!
Varik, it’s great to have your ideal client in mind, and there’s nothing wrong with targeting those types of prospects. But in the meantime, you need to eat.
Everyone wants great clients. But are you able to land enough of them to be successful?
Personally, I don’t worry about finding the ideal client. I’m okay with clients who respect me and pay their bills. If you look at my website, you’ll see I don’t target a specific niche. And as long as the business or product I’m writing about isn’t illegal or unethical, I’m happy to write for them. I’m just a hired hand. Tell me what you want written, and I’m in!
Example: I’m currently writing copy for a faith-based diet plan. Here’s the “problem.” I’m an atheist! But you know what? It doesn’t matter what I believe or don’t believe. I can write in the client’s voice and help them generate sales, and since I do legitimately think they’re helping people, I have no problem with it ethically. The client treats me with respect and pays his bills, so yeah, I’m good.
Also, you can’t always tell who’s going to be a great client for you. Some of the seemingly nicest clients can turn out to be the worst. It’s impossible to know them until you work with them. You wouldn’t marry someone at first sight. Go out on some dates and get to know each other over time before making a big commitment. You might be surprised at how things work out.
Example: I currently do a lot of work for a data management company. The material is often very technical. When they first approached me to work with them, were they my ideal client? No way. Before I knew them, their subject matter seemed boring to me and hard to understand. I was going to have to invest a lot of time just getting up to speed on their industry before I could write a single word. Did I really want to put forth the effort? Fortunately, I said “yes.”
They turned out to be my best client, not just this year — BEST EVER! I’m going on 6 years with them sending me work on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. I’ve made good money, achieved a level of stability that any freelancer would be thrilled to have. I’ve learned so much. Now that I understand their industry, I find their work to be fun! They’ve really helped me develop as a writer as well as learn about subject areas that I otherwise would never have known. That’s a big win for me!
I know many writers feel the best approach is to be highly selective about the clients they take on. That just isn’t my personal philosophy.
Susan, that’s a good take. I guess I feel stronger about ethics. I don’t think I could forgive myself if I promoted a product that harms people. For example – 99% of nutritional supplements are just made out of petroleum. I don’t think I could use my persuasion knowledge to get people to buy them.
However, I’m certainly a bit more open minded in general. Open for other products, for products I wouldn’t use but are nonetheless good for the people.
Either way – thanks for the advice. I will open up my mind more to other products. It helps to know copywriters don’t just get ideal clients.
To be clear, I would never promote a product that harms people either. I’m strongly ethical so please don’t think I’m not. I’ve turned down cigarette and vape clients, for example. But there are an awful lot of copywriting clients that aren’t harmful yet wouldn’t be my first choice for subject matter. I’m ready and willing to take on those clients.
I’m currently writing for the faith-based diet company I mentioned, a Vietnamese translation firm, a Miami boat tourism company and a medical device manufacturer. They’re all interesting in different ways, and they all pay their bills. That’s all I need to know.
Of course, as you gain more experience and do more networking, you can potentially build your business to target a specific niche or be above a certain billing level — but not when you’re just starting out. You’ll starve!
When you’re open to writing in new areas and learning new subject matter, you broaden your horizons to find opportunities you otherwise would miss. And you’ll probably have a lot less downtime when you’re not earning. So before you go turning away any clients, ask yourself: Is it better to be highly selective or better to be successful? You know what my answer is.