An easier path to the copywriter’s life

When do you think a client decides whether they’re going to hire you or not?

Some copywriters believe their website makes all the difference. You have something like three seconds to make a good impression, right?

Other copywriters say the proposal is paramount. Write a great proposal outlining everything, including your fee, and that will be the deciding factor.

You do need a good website, but that alone won’t land the project for you. A good website and a great proposal (with the right fee that the client is comfortable with) won’t necessarily do it either.

The pivotal point in client communication

I believe the decision point for most clients is in the middle of these two things, when you first start interacting with the prospect.

The initial one-on-one consultation – by email, phone, or in person – has a bigger impact on how many copywriting projects you get than just about anything else (assuming you have a way to generate leads and get yourself in front of prospects.)

The bottom line is that clients want a copywriter who is easy to work with, understands their business, and is enthusiastic about the project. (Generating results is a given. The client has to believe you’ll do that, of course.) 

I say this because recently I was on the other side of the table, hiring a copywriter myself. And I was excited to find someone that fit those three criteria. Think I’ll be using Copywriter X again? Yep.

First impressions count

Let me explain, and give you an action step for each that will help you get more copywriting projects with less effort:

1. Be easy to work with

Once you get into a project, that means regular communication, meeting deadlines, and making revisions with cheer.

Up front, you need to convey that you’re going to do these things. Let the client know how you work, that you have a simple process, and that you’ll send them a simple proposal and agreement.

I’m not discussing pricing in this post because that’s a topic I’ll cover soon in another blog post.

Here’s one thing you can do to be easy to work with:

  • Action step: Cut your proposal length in half. Make it clearer and friendlier, with fewer caveats and exceptions. More of what you’re going to do for them, less focus on payment schedule and fees.

Side note: is on auction right now at GoDaddy for $100.

2. Understand your client’s business

Whether it’s by email, on the phone, or in person, you need to make the case that you really “get” who they are, their audience, and what they’re trying to accomplish.

First of all, don’t ever have an initial consultation when a prospect just calls you out of the blue. Politely tell them you’re tight on time, but you’d love to schedule a brief phone meeting, even if it’s for an hour later. That gives you time to research them and outline the call.

  • Action step: Write out questions you’re going to ask them. This isn’t the time to “wing it.” Write out all the questions, anticipate questions they’ll have and answer those, and come up with ideas and suggestions for them in case they put you on the spot and say, “How would you have done this differently than we did?” (I’ve had this happen.) Then practice this. Role play it with yourself.

3. Be enthusiastic about the project

This one is hard to fake, so don’t. If you really can’t get excited about the project, don’t take it.

My two least favorite projects ever: Writing a promotion for a book about prostate cancer, and writing website copy for a health insurance company. I couldn’t muster up any energy or excitement whatsoever for the topics, and both ended up taking me twice as long as I planned.

  • Action step: Practice being the most upbeat, enthusiastic, and expectant person you can be, especially as it pertains to potential projects. Make sure the client hears the enthusiasm in your voice, or can read it in your email “voice.”

Again, these are three things you can do in the initial consultation stage. I’m assuming you have a way to generate interest in your services, and pricing is a whole other issue that I’ll be covering in-depth very soon.

Simple question today: Do you like this aspect of copywriting – this initial meeting where you’re essentially interviewing the client and selling yourself at the same time?

I’d love to hear from you.

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Great post, Steve. Thanks!

    And I love this part of the process (getting to know the client). Your post suggests I should focus more on talking to clients and potential clients (something I like and that I’m pretty good at) and stop worrying so much about things that haven’t even happened yet.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Yes, Jessi! Taking time to slow down and really talk to prospects and clients up front is really worthwhile and pays off. You build more of a relationship, which bodes well for client loyalty. You understand the project better and get more insights, saving you time when you do start writing. And, like you noted, it’s enjoyable!

      Keep focusing on what you’re good at.

  • Edna says:

    I like it much better then I did even a year ago. But I’ve changed my approach and that makes it easier for me to sell myself and my services. My partner is great at sales and he’s helped me loads in this area, One of his comments was that when people hire a consultant they’re also hiring the person and their personality and that package in addition to the products and results.

    I’m a great idea generator and many people aren’t so I get people engaged by giving them ideas or possibilities abt their business or their vision for their business.
    Often they hire me to help them turn their vision into a business. Its very challenging if they don’t have their vision yet, sometimes all I do is a website and let them sit with that until they’re ready to move ahead. Or they leave which is OK too.

    Thanks for the post, it helps me to put this in writing!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Absolutely, Edna! How else do we distinguish ourselves in a crowded marketplace? And that selling process is really a transference of feeling. If we’re enthusiastic, upbeat, and genuinely concerned about helping the client, they’ll sense that.

      I like that you can see the big picture that people can’t always see themselves. That skill will take you a long way. Keep me posted on how your business is going.

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