It’s become pretty clear to me that when dealing with clientele, there are certain policies I should absolutely have before all Hell breaks loose and I’m left for dead. You might be clued in to the fact that I’m speaking from a most recent experience. That’s fine. Yes, it was a horrible experience, but we can all definitely learn from it. Especially you. So here it goes….
The First Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate
Not requesting upfront payment for a project. I’m totally sold on that not being a good idea.
Don’t get me wrong, though; sometimes you can let it slide, especially when you draft a contract that specifically says you’ll get paid regardless of what the ‘client’s client’ or the client itself says about your work. The fact is this: people don’t care about you. You’re nothing more than a penniless writer. So why should they pay you if it’s not perfect? They’ll wine and dine you, tell you how wonderful your words are and spout out fantasies about you making a million presidential flashcards, but when all the real cards are on the table, and you deliver a product that according to the client is ‘subpar’ or ‘not up to the expectation,’ the bottom line is this —
You’re not getting paid. Even though you slaved, toiled, tried, jumped through all their corporate hoops for hours and hours and hours. You don’t deserve to get paid.
The Second Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate
Letting the client determine the deadline. I’ve decided to believe that this is the doomsday of any writer.
Look: I get it when a client says that something needs to be done by [insert date]. I understand. I also understand that it’s one of the main priorities of any good writer to work hard and try to deliver at a set time. I, however, should elaborate when I talk about deadlines, in that a client really should be upfront about when they really want the work completed. Don’t “expect” something to be done “fast.” Say when you want it.
That being said, a good writer should take a good look at his or her current work schedule and determine whether or not that’s something feasible. This overlaps, too, with the first thing every copywriter should hate, that if the client’s going to wine and dine you and expect you to get in on the action at [insert date deadline], undoubtedly that copywriter should expect some form of upfront payment for having to clear out the entire work schedule with other clients just to get that project done at said deadline!
What You Should Do About This….
Be selective. Some clients are exemplary. Some clients — no matter how big the company or organization may be — are simply not. You want the former, not the latter. Ask for an upfront payment, or have the client sign that agreement stating that they will pay the flat fee/hourly rate/per word rate upon completion of the project. Period. There are no exceptions. There’s no “satisfaction guaranteed.” You are worth the work, worth the money, worth the time. And if you don’t measure up to their expectations, that’s their problem. Let them deal with their own superficiality. Move on if they don’t agree to your contract or upfront fee policy. That client isn’t good enough for you.
Secondly, and this is a much simpler solution: be honest. If the client’s expecting a specific deadline, take a good look at the truth of it all. Can you do it? Yes, or no? Can they pay upfront enough for you to push your entire schedule aside to meet their deadline? Those are valid questions. Ask them. Be truthful. Be professional. If they can’t pay anything additional, walk away. That’s it. You do not need to stress out with so much on the plate. It is okay to say ‘no’ to a new client.
Above All Else….
You’re not a ‘penniless writer.’ And you do deserve to get paid.