WARNING: RANT AHEAD! POTENTIALLY UNPOPULAR OPINIONS! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
This is a Public Service Announcement:
Your copywriter is not a business coach.
S/he is not here to answer the hard questions for you.
S/he is not here to figure out who your ideal audience is or why they might buy your thing.
S/he is not supposed to magically figure out your offer, pricing, customer persona, sales funnel strategy, or branding.
S/he does not know whether you should offer a 60 or 90-day money-back guarantee — but if you want an opinion about the Oxford comma, s/he probably has one.
S/he does not know how much you should be charging for your thing — but if you want to know whether you should be using affect or effect, s/he’s your go-to person.
A copywriter is not a brand strategist.
A copywriter is not a funnel expert.
A copywriter is not a webinar expert. Or a publishing expert. Or a launch strategist. Or a social media strategist.*
*Unless they are. In which case, you had better expect to pay for those additional services.
I have to admit, this is why I have almost completely stopped taking copywriting jobs for things like website copy, about pages, sales pages, emails, etc. because the expectations were so often unreasonable, and so often not expressed until we had already gotten into the process.
Honestly, I was starting to feel like the wedding photographer we interviewed who had a clause in his contract saying he was allowed to walk away from the wedding if someone punched him in the face. Like, does this really need to be said?!?
I’m supposed to bring creativity and wordsmithing to your project, new ideas and a fresh angle on how to sell it, but I need some basic information about your business and your product before I can be helpful. And you might be SHOCKED how often people are looking for a copywriter without that information in hand.
So now I very rarely take copywriting jobs unless the client comes pre-vetted by someone I know. Mostly the clients I do take come to me via Public Persona or another business coach — and so I know that they understand what they’re doing and where they want to go.
And it’s the same reason I am now offering Strategy Sessions first before people can sign up for a ghostblogging retainer. (In this case, I AM a content strategist, and I am happy to provide that service — but it’s not copywriting.)
Because the only times people have been unhappy with my copywriting? Are when they didn’t know what they wanted in the first place.
Like the client who had me rewrite her speaker’s page three times, because she kept changing who her ideal audience was….
Or the early client who cancelled her blogging contract after two months because it “wasn’t working” (after giving me no plan and no idea of how we would know if something was “working”)…
Or the client who wanted me to script a 90-minute webinar for him, with no idea and no outline provided, for the cost of a blog post… (In case you were wondering, the average person speaks 130 words a minute, so a 90-minute webinar comes out to nearly 12,000 words. Most of my blog posts are not quite that long.)
Or the client who was literally weeping on the phone and saying that I had betrayed her after I said that no, I was not interested in running her business for her (for almost no money)…
[P.S. If you need someone to run your business, don’t expect to pay by the word! That’s not how this works.]
Dammit, Jim, I’m a copywriter, not a psychic magical business omnitool!
And here’s another important fact: The best copy in the world cannot sell your thing if you haven’t put in the due diligence to make sure that offer and audience are aligned. (Believe me; I have tried.)
In an ideal world, the client already knows what’s going to sell her thing… I make it sing.
She already knows what her ideal customer is struggling with… I make them FEEL it.
She’s got the strategy all mapped out… I’m there to execute it with panache.
Again, unless me providing the strategy, or the hook, or the angle, or the research has been priced into the project. But I don’t believe that all of that automatically comes with the deal when you hire someone to “write copy.” (Some copywriters disagree with me on this, and that’s OK. It’s just not how I roll.)
I believe, copy and design should come almost LAST on your list, no matter what it is you’re creating. You’ve got to do all the hard, brain-bending, ego-shattering, self-doubting, eureka-moment pre-work first, and then hire your dream team to bring it to beautiful soul shattering life.
And if a client DOESN’T have all that stuff figured out yet, that’s OK! No hate here! Everyone was a newbie at some point.
It just means she needs a business coach. Or a strategist. Or a consultant.
But she’s not ready for a copywriter.
No clients were harmed in the ranting of this post.