is your copywriting client gonna be a pain in the A$$?

21 replies
This one is for copywriters starting off in the business.

These are some of the warning signs that you maybe in for a 'bumpy ride' with a client
long term.

at least- in my experience over the past few years -here are some things to look out for:

1) there will be a ton of work down the line....in the future (or whatever)

2) I'm actually a really good copywriter myself...just don't have time to write the copy

3) you're the 6th copywriter I've hired. the rest were aweful.

4) I'm looking forward to sending you big fat checks every month

5) I just know good copy when I see it.

maybe you guys have more?

and in saying all that- when you're starting out... may still be worth working with these guys... just gotta fasten the auld seat belt.
#a$$ #client #copywriting #flags #gonna #pain #red
  • Profile picture of the author TjarkHartmann
    I would be interested as to why these are warning signs, because some are counter intuitive.

    Like, I can vouch for #4, but common sense would tell you different.

    So what is the psychology behind these phrases? What is the person actually saying?
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    • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
      Originally Posted by TjarkHartmann View Post

      What is the person actually saying
      Originally Posted by Quality Copywriter View Post

      1) there will be a ton of work down the line....in the future (or whatever)
      "I want you to work for almost nothing now in exchange for nothing in the future."

      2) I'm actually a really good copywriter myself...just don't have time to write the copy
      "Despite having zero copywriting success, I know better than you and will be micro-managing this project." (And the more they think of themselves the worse this will be)

      3) you're the 6th copywriter I've hired. the rest were awful.
      "I'm an arsehole and I'm going to make your life hell."

      4) I'm looking forward to sending you big fat checks every month
      "You'll never see a single penny."

      5) I just know good copy when I see it.
      "I don't have the slightest clue what I'm talking about, but that's not going to stop me criticizing every single line you write."

      In general, when they go on about something you can be fairly safe in assuming that it applies to them. For example, if they go on about having their ideas stolen, then it's because they're the type that would steal someone else's so they assume everyone's the same as them. Likewise anything to do with money, such as if they go on about swindlers and how everyone's dishonest, then you're not getting anything other than your upfront fee.

      Another one to add to Peter's list would be, "It's only a simple/quick/easy job" which translates to "I don't want to pay you anything approaching a decent rate".
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      Andrew Gould

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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        In general, when they go on about something you can be fairly safe in assuming that it applies to them. For example, if they go on about having their ideas stolen, then it's because they're the type that would steal someone else's so they assume everyone's the same as them. Likewise anything to do with money, such as if they go on about swindlers and how everyone's dishonest, then you're not getting anything other than your upfront fee.
        So true, so true.

        This is something that is hard to believe until you've seen it in action. And it's true way beyond business. For example, someone who is obsessed with the idea that their spouse or lover is stepping out on them is usually disloyal in some way themselves.

        If you want to understand this dynamic more, I recommend the work of Byron Katie.

        Marcia Yudkin
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Some people with not-so great intentions make big promises in the beginning so as to make your emotion of greed take over and prevent you from noticing things, make you make mistakes in their favor.

      Works in other businesses too. When I had my real estate appraisal company, it took the form of: Can you give me x % off, I've got 5 more deals coming your way in the next week?

      The 1st time, I said yes. There were no other deals and, worse, he was a pain in the ass... Everything was hard to do and he had a lot of complaints.

      It seems counter-intuitive because you're imagining these things said after you and them have agreed on scope and payment, after you impressed the pants off them. Said much earlier in the process, it could be a sign of someone trying to manipulate... someone who will do other things you won't like.

      Originally Posted by TjarkHartmann View Post

      I would be interested as to why these are warning signs, because some are counter intuitive.

      Like, I can vouch for #4, but common sense would tell you different.

      So what is the psychology behind these phrases? What is the person actually saying?
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        Works in other businesses too. When I had my real estate appraisal company, it took the form of: Can you give me x % off, I've got 5 more deals coming your way in the next week?
        A nice work around this one is to indicate that you only give discounts to
        regular customers. so once this project works out you'll be happy to give
        a discount for the next one.

        -Ray Edwards
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        The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          The net person who said I've got six more coming, can you give me 25%? got: I'll give you 50% off on the 6th one.

          She took her promises somewhere else.

          Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

          A nice work around this one is to indicate that you only give discounts to
          regular customers. so once this project works out you'll be happy to give
          a discount for the next one.

          -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard #1 when I first started... I'd probably have enough to pay for my son's college education.

    The clients I've worked with for 3, 6, even 7 years or longer... never once used that phrase.

    Another one to be wary of... if you have to try and SELL the client on why they need copy,
    good copy, or better copy... run for the hills.

    I'm not saying selling yourself over others... but selling or educating the client on the need
    for good copy.

    If you ever get a sense that you're talking with someone who doesn't value good copy,
    or they question what good it will do... you're in a no-win with that prospect.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
    Originally Posted by Quality Copywriter View Post

    This one is for copywriters starting off in the business.

    These are some of the warning signs that you maybe in for a 'bumpy ride' with a client
    long term.

    at least- in my experience over the past few years -here are some things to look out for:

    1) there will be a ton of work down the line....in the future (or whatever)

    2) I'm actually a really good copywriter myself...just don't have time to write the copy

    3) you're the 6th copywriter I've hired. the rest were aweful.

    4) I'm looking forward to sending you big fat checks every month

    5) I just know good copy when I see it.

    maybe you guys have more?

    and in saying all that- when you're starting out... may still be worth working with these guys... just gotta fasten the auld seat belt.

    Yea, I've noticed all the same things.

    Also, if you ask them if they're going to be doing paid traffic, and they say yes, and then you ask them what their budget is, and they say ... "unlimited, as long as it converts"
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  • Profile picture of the author TjarkHartmann
    Wow, that's really interesting.

    I wonder, whether they actually believe what they are saying... or if it's a deliberate lie.

    So, for #1, "There will be a ton of work in the future," or #3, "You're the sixth copywriter I've hired, the rest were awful"...

    Do you think they actually believe what they say?
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    Tjark: Pronounced like "Jacques" in Jacques Cousteau.

    www.TjarkHartmann.com

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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Do you think they actually believe what they say?
      Yes, people who project their own flaws onto others do honestly believe that it is the other person's fault, 100%.

      We all do this at times, by the way. It's a human tendency. But if you try, you can sometimes catch yourself at it before it does too much damage to your business or other relationships.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
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  • 6) Please do not depart from the comprehensive brief detailing all aspects of our company's history, ethos, and aspirations for 2100 and beyond when composing your one word, monosyllabic tagline.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    Can you write a sample including this, that, the other and the kitchen sink?
    Not sure if I'll use it but it will help me decide who to choose...no, it's going to be a freebie for me.

    Another one - I really need this small ebook done urgently. Can you do the 50000 words within 2 days? If I say no, they say.... but, I am paying you so why not?

    I don't really know who my audience will be as I'm new to it all. But you can do it all for $5, can't you? (If not), why not? In Fiverr they do lots of stuffs (deliberate misspelling here) for $5 so you should be able to do it too.

    There are loads of other things for this list...I know mine isn't actual copywriting but the BS is basically the same in most cases.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Those are some pretty common red flags. Another one is if they ask if you
    can promise them a certain conversion rate. This is a clear indication that
    they do not understand marketing. If they don't know that no one can
    guarantee a particular response to an ad, then the are going to have
    unrealistic expectations from your copy.

    -Ray Edwards
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author daveshu
    The customers that ALWAYS become the biggest pain in the *ss are the ones who want champagne at lemonade prices.

    Whether it's web design, or SEO, or anything else at all - you agree to do them a job at a low price at your own peril because they'll want MORE than someone paying you full price will want, and they'll never get off your back.

    The less they want to pay the worse they will be.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    7) "Now that the white paper is done, can you add a ___________ (case study, email sequence) at __________ (no charge/ half price/ 20% off)? All the hard research is already done." (Yes, at my full fee.)

    8) "Can you bring in a designer to rework our site?" Yes. "And you cover it with your fee." No.

    9) "We'll need 25 graphics to a go along with the text," they say after deal is done. (No, I don't do graphics. OR No problem, here's how much more it will cost.)
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  • Profile picture of the author godinu
    lol @ the op -- the last client i had pretty much said ALL of the things you mentioned.
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  • Profile picture of the author godinu
    also, the conundrum I find when seeking out clients is the people that really need good copy have no idea their copy stinks, or they don't see the value in correcting minor errors.

    I can rock copy from here to Pluto and back, but landing decent clients (rather than crappy ones) I have not really been able to do on a regular basis. I'm just not that into pimping my work. Alas, this is the conundrum of the self-employed.
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by godinu View Post

      also, the conundrum I find when seeking out clients is the people that really need good copy have no idea their copy stinks, or they don't see the value in correcting minor errors.

      I can rock copy from here to Pluto and back, but landing decent clients (rather than crappy ones) I have not really been able to do on a regular basis. I'm just not that into pimping my work. Alas, this is the conundrum of the self-employed.
      That's your challenge. These are not people who need copy because they don't see the value.

      You want good clients? Target people who know they need copy and understand the value. Don't waste your time trying to sell to people who don't get it.
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      • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
        Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

        That's your challenge. These are not people who need copy because they don't see the value.

        You want good clients? Target people who know they need copy and understand the value. Don't waste your time trying to sell to people who don't get it.
        True, and keep in mind you don't need that many clients to be really, really busy. Unless you start a mini-agency, you only need a few good customers. People freak out about getting clients, but you don't need a ton to make a good living.
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        Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
        - Jack Trout
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    10) I've got a lot of other bills to pay.

    11) I'm just so busy...can't you just email me so I can look things over.

    12) This is our new receptionist "Insert name" ....oh this is our new sales manager "insert name"....

    ...when there are an abundance of "new-s" it is a sure sign the "olds" have left the building.
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  • Profile picture of the author godinu
    13) Your payment is on the way. (3 weeks later...) "Sorry, I was out of town for the past 2 weeks." (and apparently unable to even read an email or cut a check in the process.)
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