Five things a web copywriter doesn’t want to hear from a client

Man with tape on mouthMost of the people I work with are lovely. But every freelance web copywriter has encountered a tricky client or two – and I’m no exception.

Sure, sometimes, it’s these tricky clients that are most enjoyable to work with. Getting to grips with a complex product or working through a complicated brief can be highly satisfying.

But there are some things us web copywriters don’t like hearing from clients. They set the alarm bells ringing. Here’s why…

1. “Will you do this copywriting job for free?”

Usually, this question is followed by a promise that “if things go well”, there’ll be “lots of paid work to come.” Invariably, this is untrue.

The work that us web copywriters do brings significant benefits to our clients. As a result, we expect to be paid a fair fee. (There may be the odd time when you’ll get some free web copywriting. But don’t hold your breath.)

2. “It’s perfect. I just have to get sign-off from my manager. And the product manager. And the MD.”

Editing is an important part of the copywriting process. Often, constructive feedback and the subsequent changes are what transform a good piece of work into a great piece of work.

But that’s only possible when feedback is clear and unambiguous. If several people need to be involved in the approval and sign-off process, it’s best for them all to review draft content at the same time. Often, different people have very different views on what needs changing, so feedback needs to be consolidated and agreed.

Any copywriter worth their salt will help you with this. For instance, a conference call with key people followed by a quick email confirming the scope of changes can work wonders.

3. “Can we get those amendments back today?”

Usually, this request comes after a client has taken several weeks or months to send their own feedback to the writer.

It’s not that we don’t want to deliver, you understand. But in the same way that many clients are too busy to be able to review draft content immediately, good web copywriters won’t always be able to drop everything to hit a short-notice deadline.

(Depending on the project, I try to agree a clear schedule which includes dates for delivery of draft content, feedback and edits.)

4. “I’d write it myself, except I don’t have the time.”

I’m a professional writer, skilled at crafting content for the web that delivers tangible benefits to my clients.

I can help increase your sales, create a distinctive image for your business and talk to your customers in their language. And I want to work with clients who recognise me for those skills.

5. “No, I’m afraid we don’t sign contracts.”

I have been incredibly lucky with the clients I’ve worked with. Almost without exception, they pay up reliably and on time. Having heard many horror stories, I’m very grateful for this.

But I still get nervous when new clients aren’t willing to sign a copywriting contract or commit to anything more than a verbal agreement. A clear, simple contract protects both parties, and is one of the key foundations of a good working relationship.

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