Is “wealthy copywriter” a possibility?

In my experience, copywriters are not wealthy copywriters because they have high turnover with clients. To be a wealthy copywriter, or even a copywriter making a livable wage, you need to have clients on a retainer basis or at least coming back for repeat work. so that you’re not constantly searching for the next job. But, retainers – much like any commitment -tend to make people complacent. Think about it: we take spouses for granted oftentimes and the same goes for retainer clients, making them susceptible to offers from other copywriters or agencies.

How do we stop complacency and keep everyone excited?

Here are five of the ways I keep my clients happy and loyal:


Set the expectations up front and stick to them.

I have little children. Every day they test the boundaries, and every day I have to remind them of the rules. It sucks, but that’s one way to raise a decent human being.

Clients are like a spouse (or partner) and the project is your baby. To be able to raise a decent project, you have to have rules and you both need to know the limits, the roles, and the restrictions. In your proposal, there should be mention of how many rounds of edits are provided, the deadlines, and the meeting frequencies (at least weekly check-ins). At every round of edits, I mention “This is the second round of edits, so we have one more round of edits before the final project will be delivered.” I repeat the reminder every time, and that way no one is shocked when we have to charge additional costs or moving deadlines back. Everything is tracked in Trello for us, so we have a record of edits and deadlines.

Be nice and good, or good and reliable, or nice and reliable.

I don’t remember where I heard this adage, but it’s so true: To be a great copywriter, you must be nice, good and reliable. But to be a wealthy copywriter, you only need two of the three. It’s very true. If you find yourself missing deadlines because you’re hashing out the best wording, you’d better be sure that the end result is worth the wait. And if you’re generally a jerky jerkerson, you’d better be a damn good writer that meets every deadline. Basically, if your client ever has reason to say, “yes, she’s not the best at …” You’d better be absolutely sure that they follow it up with, “but, she’s really a) good and reliable, b) reliable and nice, or c) good, and nice too.”

Communication

No matter what you do for your clients, you have to maintain open lines of communication. If an error is made, if you need help, you have to ask and ask as soon as possible. The more you talk (and talking is better than emailing or texting) to your client, the more of a relationship you are building. It’s hard to break up with someone you talk to at least once a week, right?

For retainer clients, we meet at least once a week. Every week. WITHOUT FAIL! Sometimes it’s a ten-minute meeting online, sometimes an hour in person, and every now and then 2 hours over drinks! If you don’t meet with your clients on a regular basis, in addition to calling them whenever a question arises, your client will forget you and the work will also go unrecognized. The moment my client starts missing meetings, I call and send an email to remind him/ her of their role in the project. A report is not enough. In fact, I try to avoid reports altogether so that we can meet and keep all parties committed to the project. Remember, you’re like spouses raising a project baby together.

Ask For Help

Have you ever told someone you are a writer and had them respond, “I would love to be a writer!” Same goes if you are a designer, an illustrator, a life coach, etc. So, chances are that your client would love to be involved with your project. Let them! First off, the fastest way to become a wealthy copywriter is to get people to do the work for you!

Second, it’s a simple lesson of rhetorical theory that once you have someone take a step towards your goal, you increase their loyalty. For example, you could be writing the story of the business and you ask the CEO to describe it in his own words. You repeat the words back to him and then you use those exact words in the story. The CEO is invested in the project now and more likely, not only to green light the project, but also to spread the word about it!

This is the same basic principle used in the Ben Franklin Effect. Ask someone for a favor and they are more likely to do more for you than expect some kind of payment.

Work with the highest level

I aim to work directly with business owners. If I’m delegated to working with someone from the marketing team or a third-party agency, I know it’s not going to be a smooth ride. In cases like this, the client has to look good in my portfolio, or pay me big bucks, because the headache needs to be worthwhile.

When you work with the business owner, or at least a VP, you know the project is important to the company and you can expect them to find time for it. If you are delegated, you have to wonder how important it is. In my experience, getting the feedback in these instances is hard because it’s handed down through people, turning into a game of telephone (or Chinese Whispers as we call it England. Why Chinese? I have no idea!) Basically, you don’t get the full story on edits and it’s hard to make amends when you don’t know where it went wrong the first time around. In these cases, I push to be involved in the meetings that my “boss” has with their boss.

Not only that, but the middle man doesn’t always know the specifications of your contract, so you’re struggling with administrative messes too. When this is the case, I make sure my invoices are sent in on time with all t’s crossed and i’s dotted because bigger companies tend to pay slow or not at all, and getting paid without a friend in your corner is tough.

So, is it possible to become a wealthy copywriter? Absolutely. But (and this is a big caveat), money may not be enough. To be a successful copywriter you have to enjoy what you do and always remember why you’re doing it. But that’s a different topic for a different day…