Tell me if I'm being too "uptight" here ...

by Raydal
23 replies
I am a freelance copywriter. I advertise my business as the copywriter
and not as an agency or a team. I think that I then have an obligation
to the clients to let them know if I pass on their project to another
copywriter (junior copywriter).

Am I going overboard with this "disclosure"?

Your thoughts,

-Ray Edwards
#uptight
  • Profile picture of the author Insano
    If you proofread and ensure the quality of the outsourced work, you can keep it for yourself if you let anyone else do it. Though, dont threat it as a secret, it is important to be honest to your clients, if it ever comes into question you can tell them that you used someones help.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Hi Ray,

      You have an obligation to be truthful.

      If a reasonable person readmg your website would believe that you, Ray, do all the work for clients and that's not going to be true in a particular case, then you should let the client know. If you want to promise that the work will be up to your own standards, you can let the client know that as well.

      I think attacks of conscience should always be paid attention to!

      Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    I've noodled with this as I consider bringing a junior level writer on board to help me out. I think the conclusion was a case by case basis - that if it came down to it, I'd introduce my junior writer on a Skype call or whatever, just so their team knows I've brought my team.

    And my junior writer is part of my A team, make no mistake about that. Everything that goes through me goes out according to my standards.
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    • Profile picture of the author JRP
      I agree with you. Im really glad to see professionals advocating honesty and integrity in business. Quite refreshing. From experience clients are okay with staff members doing work as long you are doing serious quality control. I do believe it is important to err on the side of too much truth than to get accused of misleading a paying customer. Integrity is more important that money. I'd still hire you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sajun Becker
    On a general basis, you've got the right idea Ray.

    It's obviously in everybody's best interest to be honest about bringing on an "understudy" to help out with smaller projects, but discretion is always advised.

    In other words, yes - be forthright about the situation, but as Angie said, assure your client that the final product will be totally up to scruff.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Should you let people know (who hire you to write copy) that someone with way less experience and knowhow is helping?

    YES!!!!!!!

    I've stayed away from copy cub/juniors because when people hire me, they're hiring ME.

    That said,

    If the copy cub was exceptional (i.e. lightening in a bottle,) I would definitely bring him or her into the client conversation. But going through someone else's work to make sure it's up to my standards... is more work.

    Can it save time? Maybe. Especially once you work together for a while.

    But developing a winning relationship....... takes time.

    Here's my bottom line...

    It's dishonest to take on work and pawn it off (because you're too busy. )

    Always be transparent.

    FYI...

    At most agencies, "creative" works tirelessly to get one or two market-ready ideas on the table. But it's often the senior copywriter that makes them winning hooks. In other words, it's one thing to come up with a good idea. It's something else entirely to make that idea something that can convert or perform.

    Likewise...

    A lot of newer copywriters just CAN'T see the kind of hooks someone with more front-line experience.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Frei
    I will answer this from the position of a client.

    It's better to be an agency if you're not doing everything yourself.

    Here's the reasoning: I once hired a copywriter from WF. You know him. He's a big name here. He was upfront about the fact that he was training his proteges. The copy he delivered did not convert. When I asked warriors why it was not converting, his copy was verbally annihilated.

    So, as a result, I'm not going to hire him again.

    If it was an agency I'd be more tolerant. One guy did a bad job. Can happen. Give this project to another one.

    Bottom line: be upfront, but consider becoming an agency.
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  • Honesty is a huge element in customer service and in business. One little wrong move will throw your credibility out the window.


    If it has to be found out that what you are marketing is different from what you are actually giving. That will get you in a lot of trouble and your goodwill & credibility will take a hit.


    Its good to be straight up from the get go.


    I suggest having a close niche team if you are going to do that. If you are giving it to a newbie, that is a total turn off and I'd rather find someone else to do the work.


    A close team member that has done 70+ projects with you would be ok, depending what I think of you in terms of your skill and the results you have created for other clients.


    Also I wouldn't let a project go live unless I knew it was high quality in my opinion.


    If you are doing that. Be honest and keep it high quality. Also communicate the whole process, the client will like that.


    No, I don't think you are being up tight.
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  • Profile picture of the author KiethJohnson
    I believe that you're not being uptight with such disclosure. I believe that you have the obligation to tell your clients that someone is helping you out mostly for your credibility's sake. I believe honesty is something your clients would appreciate.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Thanks for all the responses. My question was hypothetical but
    relevant at the same time. I see a lot of copywriters who obviously
    'subcontract' their copy but no mention is made about this in their
    marketing material. From a client's perspective I'm thinking that if
    I hired you to do a service because of your capability, then I want
    to know that you did the work, not supervised it.

    I know another popular online copywriter who offered lower fees
    if you selected a junior copywriter on his team, with the promise
    that he would review the copy before it is passed on to the client.
    This I think is a fair 'disclosure'.

    Other copywriters think that it is the results that matter and who
    wrote the copy is not important for the client to know.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
    I think people have a right to know the skill level of the Copy they're paying for. If you're charging $1,000 for a 2k word salesletter (I don't know what you charge, that's an example), they should know that it's not being written by you, and that it's being written by a Jr-level Copywriter.

    You don't need to give background information on the particular person, but they should know what level of skill they're paying for.
    -Cam
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I know another popular online copywriter who offered lower fees
      if you selected a junior copywriter on his team, with the promise
      that he would review the copy before it is passed on to the client.
      This I think is a fair 'disclosure'.
      Fair - and honest and probably a popular option. I doubt anyone thinks twice about someone writing in his own name (rather than an agency) and having a "team" under him.

      Other copywriters think that it is the results that matter and who
      wrote the copy is not important for the client to know.
      I'd file that under convenient excuse. If it's not important to the client - no reason not to tell him, is there?
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        Ray,

        Here is the wording on this issue from Michel Fortin's website:

        *Please note that SuccessDoctor.com employs a team of select copywriters, researchers and editors that work with us on your copy. The Success Doctor team works closely with Michel Fortin. While team members do the initial groundwork, closely following Michel's methodology, Michel reviews everything personally.
        Maybe that will be helpful to you!

        Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    Honesty is important, no matter what type of services you provide. If you use a junior copywriter to help you out, then you definitely should be honest about it, but of course, assure your clients that you will not deliver the work without proofreading and making sure it's perfect. You will build credibility and they will appreciate you more, for sure!
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

    I am a freelance copywriter. I advertise my business as the copywriter
    and not as an agency or a team. I think that I then have an obligation
    to the clients to let them know if I pass on their project to another
    copywriter (junior copywriter).

    Am I going overboard with this "disclosure"?

    Your thoughts,

    -Ray Edwards
    From your question it sounds like you're just passing the work on and letting the junior copywriter handle it completely. If this is true, you shouldn't even be the one the client is hiring, they should be hiring the junior copywriter.

    If you're saying you're letting one of your copy cubs work on a project, then heck no you don't need to confuse your clients.

    They're hiring you because they like your work. You should know by now that when one of your copy cubs writes something, you still spend almost just as much time going over and critiquing things as if you had written the entire project. Your client is expecting your style based on your past work. Based on common sense you're probably training your cubs based on your experience and style. Aren't you going to approve anything before it goes out?

    Are you wanting to disclose stuff because if it fails you're held blameless and you can point the finger at your trainee? Heck no, you're still in control.

    If I hired someone to fix my plumbing and they gave me a big speech about how they were training someone, I couldn't give a crap, as long as the job was done right. I'd fully expect the person I hired to do a good job...couldn't care how many trainees they brought along. I hired the company based on their past performance and would expect them to continue their good ratings. Too much disclosure would seem to me like they were saying "We'll try our best but if your toilet still doesn't flush right it's because we're using trainees".

    If you've got someone working for you, you're still the final one responsible.

    If I hire you for a project and it bombs, I'm gonna hold you responsible, and only you. I don't care who or how many you had work on my project.

    If you're gonna have someone work under you...either quit taking on everyone that has money to pay you for training, or weed out only the good ones that can continue to promote the reason your clients are willing to hire YOU.
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    • Profile picture of the author Raydal
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      They're hiring you because they like your work. You should know by now that when one of your copy cubs writes something, you still spend almost just as much time going over and critiquing things as if you had written the entire project.
      I hope that you realize that my question and "I" is generic and I'm not talking
      about myself. It's a general question. So I hope that your "you's" are generic
      as well.

      -Ray Edwards
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      • Profile picture of the author max5ty
        Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

        I hope that you realize that my question and "I" is generic and I'm not talking
        about myself. It's a general question. So I hope that your "you's" are generic
        as well.

        -Ray Edwards
        That's fair.

        I like your question...it's interesting.

        Thanks for the good post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Call it the law of attraction, but I just ran into this on Bob Bly's site:

    Unlike many top direct response copywriters today, Bob Bly does not hire junior copywriters to work on your promotions. If you hire Bob, he writes every word himself - an advantage available from no other source.
    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      If you hire Bob, he writes every word himself - an advantage available from no other source.
      Too bad that is an exaggeration. There are many, many other copywriters who do not farm out any of their work.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

        Too bad that is an exaggeration. There are many, many other copywriters who do not farm out any of their work.

        Marcia Yudkin
        Marcia, I guess it depends on what the "advantage" refers to, Bob's writing or
        not having junior copywriters work on the project. The statement can go both
        ways.

        -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author MichelFortin
    I have a handful of long-term clients (and our own businesses) that keep me busy enough. So I don't have much time available for open projects.

    If someone specifically wants to hire me and is adamant about having me personally write their copy, I either refuse the work or charge an extra fee for that. And it's not cheap.

    In short, I'm expensive and I purposefully raise that entry barrier because I want to discourage those who prefer to have me write for them.

    That aside, if a project comes along that I would love to write copy for, and the job would be fun for me to do it myself, I'll take it. But those are few and far between these days.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    There's another side to this...

    A cool cat recently found me on here and asked me to kick down some extra work (that I can't take on.)

    Of course, I don't kick down - unless I know you're legit. So I'm involving him on a project. (Not to use his copy, but give him the chance to write for me "as if.")

    I could see him being ready to take on clients I can't, soon. He's good. But again, I would never take money from a client, put this cat to work... and try to pass it off as my own.

    Here's something else...

    My best work comes out when I've done tons of research, collaboration and note-taking... then unplugging and waiting for inspiration to whack me over the head (which it always does.)

    If I farmed out the collaboration or research... I'm pretty sure my work would suffer and I'd end up leaving a lot of money on the table.

    There are so many reasons NOT to have other people do you work - above and beyond the integrity of it.

    For me...

    There are no shortcuts to writing effective copy.

    Mark

    P.S. On the other hand, having someone else to collbaorate and brainstorm with is always welcome.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sajun Becker
    I like your approach Mark, and I very much respect your willingness to throw someone who's just starting out a bone.

    In fact, I think this business has something of a responsibility to support itself with partnerships, mentorships, and training programs for newbies.

    Have you considered developing your own Mentor Program?

    It's always a thought.
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