You’re not going to learn about this in any other copywriting program out there.
Last Sunday, my stomach sank as I read the email.
I am reaching out from [COMPANY] – you are currently being paid and I was wondering if you had a copy of your active contract with us (or [CLIENT]).”
A little backstory…
One of my retainer clients – paying me $5,000/month – was acquired by a larger company. I immediately lost all my copywriting work with them.
But they didn’t terminate our agreement.
I kept reaching out and asking for copywriting work. They kept telling me they would get back to me (and never would).
Meanwhile, they continued to approve and pay my invoices every month.
For most of this year, I’ve been getting paid $5,000 per month to do absolutely nothing for this client… despite my better efforts.
As it turns out, they somehow were not aware of this. Now, they were coming after me.
I expected it to happen. And I also expected the relationship to end as soon as they realized it.
But I walked through the conversation cautiously:
- I gave them proof of our retainer agreement.
- They replied by asking what copy I’ve written for the client this year.
- I told them I hadn’t been, as I’ve been waiting for direction. I also provided proof that nobody was getting back to me.
We were getting close to the uncomfortable point. I knew they were going to ask for the money back, and I wouldn’t (and couldn’t!) give it to them.
Instead, they pitched a different idea.
“Would you want to give us a credit for the $20,000 (4 months x $5,000) and start the clock now and do some copywriting for us?”
On the one hand, I wasn’t thrilled about working for free for the rest of the year. And I didn’t have time for that.
But… I saw an opening.
Rather than simply take the deal, I added one caveat:
“That would take us to the end of the year. I would hope that, in January, we could discuss renewing this agreement and getting back on the same schedule again?”
I didn’t want to just do free work.
I wanted an opportunity to keep the relationship going – and resume the paycheck.
They were very happy with the solution.
“Tom, I appreciate your flexibility and willingness. I am going to CC you in with [COPY CHIEF]. We always need copywriting and I don’t know how you slipped through the cracks so lets go through the end of the year and then potentially beyond into 2024.”
Keep in mind – I went from potentially being (wrongfully) accused of stealing $20,000 from this company to kicking off on a very encouraging tone with a company that, if I play my cards right, could help me kick off 2024 with a $5,000/month retainer, minimum.
Not too shabby.
See, the world of copywriting isn’t all about catchy phrases and persuasive sentences.
At its core, it’s about navigating relationships, understanding client needs, and, sometimes, managing difficult conversations.
Today, I want to talk about the pitfalls many copywriters fumble into when dealing with challenging clients.
Mishandle the conversation and you don’t just ruin that relationship; you could jeopardize future opportunities and your reputation.
So… yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.
How do you navigate these choppy waters without accidentally pissing everybody off?
I’ll show you. And once you figure it out, it’s not that hard.
There are so many variables to play with
Freelance copywriting lends itself to arguments with clients.
Think about all the moving parts to a client-freelancer relationship:
- Edits and feedback
- New projects
The list goes on.
And once you hit that inevitable conflict, the way you handle it can make or break your relationship – and your career.
Addressing the Elephant in the Room
Of course, it’s never our fault, right?
It’s always the client being unreasonable!
Even if that’s true… a breakdown in the relationship isn’t always the client’s fault.
Almost any bad situation can be salvaged. Not ALL. Almost.
In other words, you’re not a victim to it. You can manage it and save a relationship if you want that relationship saved.
These are the mistakes you have to avoid…
Ditch these 5 mistakes and keep the relationship alive
- Trying to control the conversation. If the client is upset, let THEM tell you what’s wrong. Let yourself react to them instead of jumping ahead and potentially making the problem worse.
- Being defensive. Throughout that conversation above, I took great pains to avoid getting argumentative with the client. They had a point of view. I had to respect that. And on that note…
- Not understanding their perspective. Always put yourself in your client’s shoes. Make an effort to understand where they are coming from. And communicate that respect as much as possible.
- Being unwilling to eat a you-know-what sandwich. If you really want to preserve the relationship, don’t worry about compromising too much. Protect yourself, yes, but go a little farther to keep them happy. Especially if this is just a simple misunderstanding. You want to bake in as much goodwill as possible moving forward.
- Blindly giving in. On the flip side, find a way to retain control over the situation. I didn’t ask for any financial compromises on their end – but I did request some assurance that we could pursue a relationship beyond the 4-month “credit” period. That was very intentional. I had no interest in throwing free work their way for 4 months just to be told they don’t work with freelancers.
Sometimes, opportunities are there for the taking – you just have to bet on yourself
By handling it the way that I did, I revealed that a company who started out resenting me for taking their money actually has a constant need for copywriting – and would love to have another copywriter on their team.
I thought this relationship would be dead. Now I’ve got a shot.
The key is betting on yourself.
I know this is a risky bet. It could all blow up in my face.
But that’s freelancing.
Sometimes you have to just take a leap of faith and get after it… hoping it will turn out in the end.
It might – it might not.
But if I hadn’t taken this shot, I wouldn’t have a chance at another steady client from a once-dormant relationship.
That’s a win in my book. And I’m confident enough in my own abilities to turn this into a paying gig once again.
It’s all about the client experience
Remember when I said you won’t hear about this in another copywriting program?
Because it’s HARD. And nobody wants to hear it.
Everybody likes the promise of making a six-figure income in their underwear working 2 hours a day.
Nobody likes the hard sacrifices, difficult decisions, and touchy relationship steps you have to take to get there.
Don’t get me wrong: the freedom of being a freelance copywriter is amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
But managing the relationships and the humans behind them is a task that has to come first – and it’s one that few are willing to teach.
If you want to build the best client experience from the outset, so that you can build trust with clients and get repeat paychecks and retainer agreements faster and more reliably… click here and I can teach you how it’s done better than anybody else out there today.
It could mean the difference between a steady income and a roller coaster ride for your career.
Lay the groundwork for your copywriting business in just one week of work. In this free guide, I hand you all the basics to get you started fast. No catch – just the cheat sheet.
Want a profitable, sustainable copywriting career? Tap into my 15 years of copywriting experience and build a $5,000-$10,000/month income guaranteed.