If you’re a copywriter, chances are you’ve had a headache. You might even have one right now, but for the purpose of this post let’s say you have experienced one. Okay, enough about the headache and now for one of the top causes – your client (or employer). Are they driving you to scour the cupboards for Excedrin and make special trips to Rite-Aid for Tylenol? Unfortunately, client headaches are a fact of life for many copywriters and although it’s a great sign that you are gainfully employed or under contract, the results often bring more than dollars. Here are a few top headache makers – where does your cranium stand on the list?
Psychic Writer Hotline – Are you the Sylvia Browne of copywriting? Didn’t think so. Either am I, but I’ve had clients and employers at the get-go who couldn’t tell me what they wanted. In these cases I’d advise the client on what I saw befitting of their business, be it a collateral package, five-page Web site, or email drip campaign. However, just getting to YES on any project is like seeing a green light in the distance but your shoes are glued to the curb – simply stepping off to move forward is a difficult task.
It’s Not What I Want, Try Again – Assuming you got your shoes unglued and moved forward with a writing project, you should now have something to present to the client (or employer, because essentially they are your client and you are their indentured word servant). At times like this, there is nothing better than an emotionless client face, a slight sigh and the uttering of, “It’s not what I want. Try again.” On a side note, this reminds me of something I heard on an elevator at Pacific Life Insurance – “I don’t know what I wanted to know, but I know I wanted it to be better.” Bingo!
We Have Just One More Change. Oh Wait, We Have Another! – I had a manager who couldn’t stress enough the importance of catching ALL mistakes and changes in a marketing piece before it moved on to Design. This was done to ensure less time wasted with piecemeal changes – you know, where the client makes one change, it goes to design, comes back fixed and the client sees one more change? Repeat this process a few more times and it becomes a colossal carnival of frustration and lost time. I recommend attempting to get all revisions at once. You can only hope your client or employer will do this, especially if there are several cooks in the kitchen, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Parking Lot Money Chase – Always, ALWAYS get a deposit up front from a client. This may be half down or some other portion of the total project fee. Doing this helps alleviate the worry that comes from hunting down your money at the end of a project. In the distant past when I was young, naïve and not taking deposits, I met elusive clients in the parking lot at Coco’s Restaurant to finally receive payments, and even cornered one in the egg section of the supermarket. No matter what your approach, there will always be stragglers and even more legitimate clients who don’t pay until they absolutely have to. With this type you can either put up with it or cut them loose. It’s just not worth it sometimes.
I’m Looking For Freebies! – Giving away your creative time seems cool in the beginning. It puts your work and name in front of people who might actually hire you for money. There are countless programs and newsletters that attest to this in my early career. However, don’t give away the cow. When someone expects you to always donate your time and creativity, it no longer is charitable; it’s more like being used. How will you know when the client has crossed the line? For me, it was somewhere around 1994 when I received a call that began with, “Hey guys, I’m looking for freebies.” Enough said.
I am adding one more headache maker to this roster that revolves more around your blogging client than one that lives and breathes:
Ghost Writing – Whether you use WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal, I recommend writing your blogs in Word and pasting them into the online blogging tool. It will save you one of the biggest headaches of all – writing a blog post and losing the whole thing when the program fails (gee, can you tell I’ve recently experienced this?)! There is nothing more frustrating than looking at a white screen where only moments before sat hundreds of words ready to go. Sigh.
Did you enjoy this post? Hopefully it didn’t give you a headache. Now back to work!
Image by makelessnoise