Feel like you’re stuck working with clients who don’t respect you? Who treat you poorly and give you mean, abusive feedback? Then you’re experiencing something totally normal in early copywriting careers.
“But Clients Won’t Pay Anything More! It’s Too Competitive! I Can’t Afford to Turn down Work!”
Nah. Trust me, that’s not it. I know because I used to be like you.
I had some clients who felt they owned my life for $600 a month. If I didn’t respond to their emails or calls within an hour – any time of day or night – they’d chew me out.
I felt so nervous and stressed that my confidence was shot.
But then I flew from San Francisco (where I lived) to Washington DC area for a copywriting conference with Bob Bly. Over a weekend, I realized what I should be charging, which was 4x what my current rates were.
So I went back home and told my clients that my rates would be increasing. Pretty much all of them dropped me, but that was good because I suddenly had more capacity to work with better clients.
And I did. I immediately found one of my best clients ever who was paying me $2500/mo to do the same work I was doing for $600. I went from being paid $50-75/article to $300-400/article.
Now I charge $1/word for content and more for copy. Just completed a job where I was paid $10k+ for 6-7 pages of copy. And I have a lot of fun being creative and actually enjoy my clients/work. If a client’s a dick, I fire them.
So believe me when I say you’re undercharging. You’re signaling through low rates that you’re a commodity. A wage slave. Not someone to respect.
So of course you’re attracting difficult clients who feel they have a right to nitpick. Naturally, you’re too busy working for clients to build your brand and make a name for yourself.
What’s the Cure for This?
Quadruple your rates, today. Multiply your project rate by four. This will do two things:
- Give you 4x the time to do the same work, allowing you to actually do work you’re proud of. To be a little more creative.
- Signal to the cheapo clients – the terrible clients – that you’re not for them.
If you’re trying to find a full-time job, you migiht experience the same thing . . . like getting 200 rejection letters from jobs. But in this case, it’s a sign that you’re not applying the principles of copywriting quite right. You should be writing cover letters and applications in a way that shows how you’re trying to solve the same problems as your clients. Most young copywriters focus on how many similar projects they’ve done before, how many books/certifications they’ve taken, etc. But clients don’t care about that.
Instead, speak to the ACTUAL problem the client is trying to solve. They don’t want a blog post, they want more leads. They don’t want website copy, they want sales. “Sell them on a good night’s sleep, not the number of springs in the mattress.”
I highly recommend spending virtual time with established copywriters who can give you a bit of confidence to turn down bad work. The Copywriter Club podcast, Copy Chief Radio, and Mindset First with Linda Perry are all great places to start.
It also helps to learn some basic scripts to guide potential clients through conversations where they’ll hire you without ever seeing your samples*. The samples become an afterthought to logically confirm the emotional decision they made to hire you. Here’s an example of a script you can practice to guide clients into realizing that your higher-priced services are going to deliver a good ROI.
- What you’re going through is normal. But if you push through and raise your rates, you’ll actually find a lot of the stress you’re feeling go away.
- Higher rates attract better clients. Garbage platforms like the one you’re on give all the power to the clients. Quit them.
- Learn to speak to your potential clients/employers real problems instead of focusing on deliverables.
Good luck. Hang in there – it gets easier.