New copywriting client? There are some things you need to establish first. Like the budget.

Budgets. Now there’s a tricky subject for conversation. Yet if there’s one thing you need to do before you spend too much time in discussions with a potential new client, it’s to establish whether they’re ready to pay what you’re expecting to charge.

A recent conversation with a promising-sounding client served as a timely reminder about this. On the verge of agreeing to a meeting which would have taken at least half a day of my time, it was only the off-hand question “oh, and what do you charge?” which revealed our expectations were seriously out of kilter.

In this case, it was just one of those things. You can’t win them all, and rather than being disappointed at missing out on an interesting-sounding job I was at least able to focus on the fact that I’d narrowly averted a pointless meeting.

Money. It’s not easy to talk about. But even if you don’t mention it explicitly, you have to get a feel for whether your clients will pay what you charge before you spend excessive time preparing for the job.

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