Help! Issues With A New Client!

20 replies
I started writing for an entertainer client who performs all over the world. He was interested in email blasts and a reworking of the front page copy of his new website. His new web guy wrote the copy for the new site, but the client wasn't happy with it for various reason we discussed.

I got to work. I compared the old site with the new one. The copy on the old site wasn't bad, just waaaay too much of it. So I kept some, improved some, and replaced some with effective writing. I kept SEO in mind while writing, but I'm not an expert at it.

He writes back and tells me he loves what I've done and will have me do all his email blasts! That's great! But he'll only be able to use the headlines and some sub-headlines I wrote for the new site because his web guy told him that changing the text at this point would affect "column widths" and the SEO stuff.

I understand the concern with the SEO words and like I said I was careful and aware even though I'm not an expert at it, but column widths???

Serious? Sounds like the web guy is lazy.

I wrote back telling my client that I could work more carefully with the SEO if he wanted me to, but to leave the existing copy on the new site for that reason would be making a trade off I didn't agree with - more people to his site with copy that (in my opinion) simply doesn't work.

I'm waiting for a reply.

* Did I do the right thing here? Or should I have stayed quiet?
* How do we help a client who we know is hurting themselves?
* Should I suggest working WITH his web guy on this?
* Should I move on to the email blasts and forget about it?

I'm not a naturally assertive person, but I've learned so far in my life (and my short experience in copywriting) that if you're not assertive sometimes people will walk all over you and interfere with the best work you're trying to do.

Your advice is appreciated!
#client #issues
  • Modify this for the type of entertainer: Just smile and say, "Listen, crooner, I don't get up on stage and tell you how to sing those songs you've conned the public into liking. Don't come sneakin' around my keyboard, rewriting my stuff, and making up stuff about column widths."

    "Column widths? Who are you? Hedda Hopper?"
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    Stick to your guns as you're the writing professional. As you say, he is the entertainer and you would recognise his expertise. So he should acknowledge yours too.
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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      Stick to your guns as you're the writing professional. As you say, he is the entertainer and you would recognise his expertise. So he should acknowledge yours too.
      Thank you for responding.

      He has admitted he doesn't know much about copywriting and web design, but so far he seems to be siding with the web guy over me :confused:
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    To a hammer everything looks like a nail.
    When you are working with web designers who have no
    knowledge or sympathy for a copywriter you can get these
    types of reactions. Reminds of of all those real estate sites
    with large smiling pictures of the agent in scrolling flash--they
    are made to flatter the agent but not to sell real estate.

    You'll have to be gently but firm about the service you offer
    and whether he will accept your expert opinion otherwise
    all of your copy will eventually get changed and when it
    doesn't work guess who gets blamed?

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

      To a hammer everything looks like a nail.
      When you are working with web designers who have no
      knowledge or sympathy for a copywriter you can get these
      types of reactions. Reminds of of all those real estate sites
      with large smiling pictures of the agent in scrolling flash--they
      are made to flatter the agent but not to sell real estate.

      You'll have to be gently but firm about the service you offer
      and whether he will accept your expert opinion otherwise
      all of your copy will eventually get changed and when it
      doesn't work guess who gets blamed?

      -Ray Edwards
      Ray, thanks for responding.

      It's funny you should bring up the "flatter the agent" thing ...

      I don't have a copywriting website yet, but just last night a guy friend suggested I do a similar thing, put a large smiling picture of me "hey you're cute why not?" The other day the guy who'll be helping me with the site said it would make the site more "attractive"

      I totally agree with you Ray! I want my copywriting website to be about my copywriting and less about what I look like or an opportunity to flatter myself!

      Gentle but firm is the way to go, I agree. I have also thought (and worried) about the last point you make. Right now it's my headlines and subheadlines and the web guy's inferior copy, it's a mix, and I'm afraid if the site fails I might get blamed for it. Thank God for emails!!! I'm saving our communication just in case.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Depends where you are in your career.

    If you need the money...do the email blasts and move on...

    gasp...I know lots will think that's crazy, but who cares?

    If you're established in your career, you wouldn't be asking...you'd already have moved on.
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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      Depends where you are in your career.

      If you need the money...do the email blasts and move on...

      gasp...I know lots will think that's crazy, but who cares?

      If you're established in your career, you wouldn't be asking...you'd already have moved on.
      Thank you for responding.

      I'm certainly not established in copywriting, and I don't necessarily need the money. I haven't moved on because I want to do the right thing. If the client sticks to his decision then I'll have no choice but to move on, but until then I feel it's my responsibility as the copywriter on the job to tell him what my copywriting education and (limited) experience have shown me to be right.
      Signature
      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

      “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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  • Profile picture of the author ASCW
    If you are web-savy now is a good time to bring it out.

    And if you aren't web-savy. Most web-design technical tasks are usually just a youtube tutorial away. (Obviously you can't youtube complicated tasks.)

    You may want to just say

    "There's an issue with column widths? Let me in I'll make sure it isn't an issue."
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    Site being revamped.

    If you want help with copy stuff, pm me.

    Cool.

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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by ASCW View Post

      If you are web-savy now is a good time to bring it out.

      And if you aren't web-savy. Most web-design technical tasks are usually just a youtube tutorial away. (Obviously you can't youtube complicated tasks.)

      You may want to just say

      "There's an issue with column widths? Let me in I'll make sure it isn't an issue."
      Thanks for responding, Andy!

      I am NOT web savvy at all! Don't know the first thing about column widths. I wouldn't have a problem learning at some point, but right now I'm busy becoming a better copywriter and involved in a couple of other projects that take up most of my time.

      Something to think about, though web design doesn't move me like copywriting does.
      Signature
      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

      “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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  • Anabelle,

    Like you I am not web savvy.

    In fact I'm completely dense about all things technical.

    Somehow I've managed to "hook" up my trusted Olivetti typewriter to the inter web which is why you can see this message. If the typing goes like t h isssssss - it means the elastic band snapped.

    Anyway...

    I tell all my clients that I am not a web person and they are only paying for my wondrous words.

    They have to drive the traffic because if they left it to me there would be an almighty pile up.

    I also diplomatically suggest it's best not to f*** about with the copy with any SEO nonsense because it will dramatically dilute the power of the words.

    It might be that SEO brings more people to a website but if the copy is weak nobody will be the slightest bit tempted to respond.


    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

      Anabelle,

      Like you I am not web savvy.

      In fact I'm completely dense about all things technical.

      Somehow I've managed to "hook" up my trusted Olivetti typewriter to the inter web which is why you can see this message. If the typing goes like t h isssssss - it means the elastic band snapped.

      Anyway...

      I tell all my clients that I am not a web person and they are only paying for my wondrous words.

      They have to drive the traffic because if they left it to me there would be an almighty pile up.

      I also diplomatically suggest it's best not to f*** about with the copy with any SEO nonsense because it will dramatically dilute the power of the words.

      It might be that SEO brings more people to a website but if the copy is weak nobody will be the slightest bit tempted to respond.


      Steve
      Thanks for responding.

      I agree with you and I did mention that it would be a trade off.

      I haven't heard back, he's been busy, so we'll see.
      Signature
      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

      “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    This is a common issue.

    Okay, so he admits that he knows nothing about copywriting. Frankly, I don't think that's the problem. I've encountered web designers and programmers like this one. Here's the problem: they're confused.

    They think being a good ___ craftsman makes them a marketing expert. Or, they're clueless that marketing is THE most important thing to consider in ANY project. Copywriting is the oxygen of marketing. Unfortunately, designers and programmers either let their EGO, their ignorance or their "knowledge" of what they think works get in the way of that.

    Of course, they'd have their own case to make about how design or programming, or SEO...SEM, S & M, OMG or WTF is the most important part of marketing. That's bunk. It's the message, and sometimes people need to be politely educated about that so they can chill and let everything else take a backseat to that.
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    • Profile picture of the author Memetics
      You're the one designing the product which your customer is paying you for. The SEO guy is designing the box in which it's delivered.

      It sounds to me like the SEO on this project is too attached to his own baby
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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
    Originally Posted by AnabelleFlorida View Post

    I understand the concern with the SEO words and like I said I was careful and aware even though I'm not an expert at it, but column widths???
    Yep, can happen.

    Imagine you take a new headline like

    "this is a word and another one word here and yadda yadda yadda here"

    Maybe it looks good, maybe will be better for seo, maybe it's great for conversions... BUT if the available space in a 36pt font is just for:

    "this is a word and another one word"

    ... you'll end up moving size font to a 20pt, and killing some sales funnel cause the font is too short, and people won't be able to read it (or eye pass it...). Sometimes you'll need to find a sweet spot between that available space and copywriting.

    Imagine a magazine or newspaper...
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    • Profile picture of the author Bob Teller
      Banned
      A copywriter is often perceived by the business owner to be superfluous to the expertise provided by the copywriter AnaBelle.

      They tend to simply trust the website designer a lot more than they do often the copywriter whose skill in written copy far excel those of the website design company. Generally speaking.

      Recently I had a similar experience to you, albeit my point of difference, I've been in the copywriting business for a long time.

      A company contacted me to help them reposition themselves to their target market (home improvements) a few months ago. They asked, "Could I rewrite the homepage to position themselves more effectively in their marketplace?"

      Fees exchanged I got to work. I rewrote the homepage with a great deal more emphasis on benefits as they directly related to their target market.

      Long story short, the business owner loved the sales copy. He was absolutely delighted with it.

      He then asked his website designer to include this newly supplied copy to the homepage. The designer ignored him completely and simply created a new page and placed this deep down inside the site with a link nobody would ever remember keeping the original sales copy )which he had supplied) intact on the actual homepage.

      A couple of months pass and I noticed eventually my supplied copy had been moved to the actual homepage, however, the sales copy supplied had been butchered terribly. Almost beyond recognition. So much so, it was in my opinion completely ineffective once again. Huge chunks of text scattered all over the place. It was truly awful.

      Thing is, now and again you come to expect this in this industry Anabelle. Some business owners and their 'website designers' they're just crazy. They don't get the importance or recognize how important the words are in their marketing materials.

      Sure, fair enough, they can be very good at design but when it comes to writing copy which actually has been written to get the target market taking the direct call to action, for some strange reason, they feel threatened by the sudden appearance of said copywriter and do not take our unique blend of marketing skills at all seriously.

      At the end of which, they still end up with a train wreck waiting to happen and the business owner is left wondering why the website isn't converting as well as it should be.

      It is just murphys law. Just the way it is. After you've been in the copywriting game for a while...you just learn to move on. Such clients are often more trouble than they're worth.

      My advice? Do the emails for him but the homepage Anabelle? Just move on. There are plenty more fish (clients) in the sea, who will given time, respect you a good deal more.

      One final tip, never ever let any website design business tell you SEO is important in sales copy. It's not. In fact, it should never enter the equation from the copywriters point of view.

      Anyone trying to convince you otherwise is talking out of their ass.

      - Bob Teller
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      • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
        Originally Posted by Bob Teller View Post

        A copywriter is often perceived by the business owner to be superfluous to the expertise provided by the copywriter AnaBelle.

        They tend to simply trust the website designer a lot more than they do often the copywriter whose skill in written copy far excel those of the website design company. Generally speaking.

        Recently I had a similar experience to you, albeit my point of difference, I've been in the copywriting business for a long time.

        A company contacted me to help them reposition themselves to their target market (home improvements) a few months ago. They asked, "Could I rewrite the homepage to position themselves more effectively in their marketplace?"

        Fees exchanged I got to work. I rewrote the homepage with a great deal more emphasis on benefits as they directly related to their target market.

        Long story short, the business owner loved the sales copy. He was absolutely delighted with it.

        He then asked his website designer to include this newly supplied copy to the homepage. The designer ignored him completely and simply created a new page and placed this deep down inside the site with a link nobody would ever remember keeping the original sales copy )which he had supplied) intact on the actual homepage.

        A couple of months pass and I noticed eventually my supplied copy had been moved to the actual homepage, however, the sales copy supplied had been butchered terribly. Almost beyond recognition. So much so, it was in my opinion completely ineffective once again. Huge chunks of text scattered all over the place. It was truly awful.

        Thing is, now and again you come to expect this in this industry Anabelle. Some business owners and their 'website designers' they're just crazy. They don't get the importance or recognize how important the words are in their marketing materials.

        Sure, fair enough, they can be very good at design but when it comes to writing copy which actually has been written to get the target market taking the direct call to action, for some strange reason, they feel threatened by the sudden appearance of said copywriter and do not take our unique blend of marketing skills at all seriously.

        At the end of which, they still end up with a train wreck waiting to happen and the business owner is left wondering why the website isn't converting as well as it should be.

        It is just murphys law. Just the way it is. After you've been in the copywriting game for a while...you just learn to move on. Such clients are often more trouble than they're worth.

        My advice? Do the emails for him but the homepage Anabelle? Just move on. There are plenty more fish (clients) in the sea, who will given time, respect you a good deal more.

        One final tip, never ever let any website design business tell you SEO is important in sales copy. It's not. In fact, it should never enter the equation from the copywriters point of view.

        Anyone trying to convince you otherwise is talking out of their ass.

        - Bob Teller
        Bob, thank you so much for this detailed reply.

        Just today a friend of mine who's a website programmer said SEO is super important and I have to be very careful with it so as not to mess up the client's site. I was almost convinced, but I'm glad you're confirming he's talking out of his ass

        I still haven't heard from my client, I know he's been busy, he told me he would be so I'm not worried. I will wait to see how he responds to my email and probably be happy to move on to the email blasts!
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        “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

        “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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  • Profile picture of the author sjy156
    Anna...

    I had a similar experience with a guy who I wrote copy for and then his webdesigner butchered it.

    I was so incredibly frustrated and pissed off. the designer didn't know anything about copy and it was horrible.

    I've discovered that this is common. You'll write great copy that you know will kill it and the client's niece who is freshly out of college with a literature degree will tell the client to change xyz. Or the guy's wife, or a friend.

    Let me tell you how I used to handle this when I still wrote copy for others:

    What I've found is that it's a whole lot easier to find a NEW client who trusts your judgment than it is to get an existing client to use your copy the way it should be. A LOT OF TIMES the client knows your copy's great and because of the PERSONAL relationship with the designer, the client won't print your copy.

    I've seen my original copy go up months after I wrote it and I asked my former clients "Why?"

    Their response was that they finally figured out the web-designer had their head up their arse and fired them. that also left the door open to do more of their copy as a TRUSTED PARTNER instead of a hired gun. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

    So what I used to do was simply very politely tell my client that I'm bowing out of the process because I like to win. Winning in this case means that you (the client) make a lot of money with my copy. That's not going to happen if my copy continues to get changed, edited and played with. We are going to lose. I don't like being on the losing team.

    If you can find it, John Carlton's Simple Writing System does a great job explaining client selection. Chapter 18 of that system.
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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
    Hold your horses.

    It amazes me how some WEB copywriters don't seem to understand their playing field breaths SEO left and right. This is not a magazine, a brochure or a billboard - this is the WEB. And sometimes, websites need sales copywriting, but also need to balance the existing SEO. I say sometimes cause a one page sales page for a new product couldn't care less about SEO - they drive traffic from other sources.

    But many sites, say... a pool company site, need your precious words BUT ALSO good SEO'd content to make money - and thats a fact. And it's funny how some copywriters think "web guys" are idiots or "talking out of their asses" when they alert your copywriting can (and will) kill the SEO in that site.

    Some copywriters don't know that much about SEO, and they should. It's part of their job, part of our industry. They should know HOW and WHY to balance their skills into copy with sense for humans, but also copy that Google enjoys. Win/win situation for their customers.

    When some of you spit on SEO, you're just showing you're not that good in what you do, and certainly, you don't understand your industry.

    And thats just sad. I expected more from WF copywriters.

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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by Fernando Veloso View Post

      Hold your horses.

      It amazes me how some WEB copywriters don't seem to understand their playing field breaths SEO left and right. This is not a magazine, a brochure or a billboard - this is the WEB. And sometimes, websites need sales copywriting, but also need to balance the existing SEO. I say sometimes cause a one page sales page for a new product couldn't care less about SEO - they drive traffic from other sources.

      But many sites, say... a pool company site, need your precious words BUT ALSO good SEO'd content to make money - and thats a fact. And it's funny how some copywriters think "web guys" are idiots or "talking out of their asses" when they alert your copywriting can (and will) kill the SEO in that site.

      Some copywriters don't know that much about SEO, and they should. It's part of their job, part of our industry. They should know HOW and WHY to balance their skills into copy with sense for humans, but also copy that Google enjoys. Win/win situation for their customers.

      When some of you spit on SEO, you're just showing you're not that good in what you do, and certainly, you don't understand your industry.

      And thats just sad. I expected more from WF copywriters.

      Admittedly I don't know a lot about SEO, but I know a little, enough to keep it in mind when I was writing this client's web copy and comparing it to the older one. Problem is I don't know enough about SEO, so I was guessing.

      Having said this, what the web designer gave the client as far as copy, was awful, and in my opinion unworkable. I told him in my last email that I thought he was making a trade off: more traffic to his site, with copy that doesn't work and probably won't deliver. Again, I still haven't heard back.

      My web designer friend who was also trying to convince me that SEO was essential, felt that it was actually better than copy, because if no one comes to the site, what's the use of having great copy?

      Naturally I disagreed with that, because when I'm working copy for a client, I DO keep certain searchable words in mind.

      Maybe I'm biased, but I believe copy beats SEO any day. Though some kind of balance is probably best.
      Signature
      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

      “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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      • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
        Originally Posted by AnabelleFlorida View Post

        Admittedly I don't know a lot about SEO, but I know a little, enough to keep it in mind when I was writing this client's web copy and comparing it to the older one. Problem is I don't know enough about SEO, so I was guessing.

        Having said this, what the web designer gave the client as far as copy, was awful, and in my opinion unworkable. I told him in my last email that I thought he was making a trade off: more traffic to his site, with copy that doesn't work and probably won't deliver. Again, I still haven't heard back.

        My web designer friend who was also trying to convince me that SEO was essential, felt that it was actually better than copy, because if no one comes to the site, what's the use of having great copy?

        Naturally I disagreed with that, because when I'm working copy for a client, I DO keep certain searchable words in mind.

        Maybe I'm biased, but I believe copy beats SEO any day. Though some kind of balance is probably best.
        Ana,

        Writing with SEO in mind, isn't writing with some "certain searchable words in mind". Far from it. Thats your major issue right there. "Seo is just dropping some keywords along the text and we're fine".

        Not.

        Thats why "web guys" get so much work to revamp sites - including copywriting, proper headlines, sub-headlines, and so much more, months and months AFTER some sites are online with poor organic results in Google.

        Who's fault it is? Not mine.

        But certainly from some copywriters who don't learn more about seo writing, and don't engage in good practices of GOOD writing with ORGANIC results in mind. If they don't know how to do it, there's plenty of information online - no excuse.

        And this isn't a "web guy" versus "copywriter" battle. At least not for me, nor my team. I just expected more from writers in a forum so busy and so filled with (seo) information as this one.
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