The Single Most Important Key to Your Success as a Freelance Copywriter
I’m Bob Bly, and all this week we’ve been talking about what it takes to make it as a freelance copywriter.
Today I want to tell you the one thing you should never ignore if you want to be successful in this industry.
The key element of success in the long run isn’t promotion … or choosing a niche … or generating leads … or closing leads … or customer service …
As important as all those things are, the one thing that should always be front and center when it comes to your success is quality … writing the best copy you can on every single job.
There are two reasons for this.
First, if you write subpar copy, your results will be subpar, and your reputation will plummet.
Second, in this digital age, results to almost everything you write can be precisely and instantly measured.
So, copywriters must work harder than ever to make every promotion they write the best it can be.
Some copywriters take on jobs for low pay out of desperation … and then, because they’re being underpaid, do the job quickly and without much care.
This is a huge error. You must do your best on every copywriting job you accept – regardless of whether you’re being paid a fortune or a pittance.
Because clients are in charge and often tell copywriters to rewrite what they’ve written, some copywriters resent clients and develop an adversarial attitude toward them.
This is also a big error. I see clients as colleagues and even friends, not adversaries.
Also, I have an attitude of gratitude toward every client. Remember, the client does not have to hire you. And without clients, you would have zero income and be out of business.
Yes, clients can profit handsomely by commissioning copy from you. But they’re taking a financial risk doing so, and, therefore, you should be thankful and appreciative.
One of my key strategies for copywriting success is to push for as much time to complete the project as I can get, so I can write the best copy I can.
Years ago, my friend JH, a well-known copywriter, routinely refused to do rush jobs even for her existing clients.
She gave this reason: “If I do it in a rush, you’re only getting my first thoughts” – the logic being that when copy is written in a hurry, there’s no time to contemplate different approaches.
As a result, the client gets the first thing you come up with, which very often is not the best thing you could come up with, given a bit more time.
If a client wants the copy in an unreasonable time frame, I ask them, “What would happen if you had it a week later?”
Nine times out of 10, the answer is: nothing. And the client grants the extra week. Exceptions? Of course.
If the deadline is Thursday or Friday, I ask for an extension until Monday. I explain to the client that this gives me an extra weekend to work on their copy. I am virtually never denied this extension to Monday.
Another tip I’ve learned in my 33+ years in the freelance business … when you set a deadline date with a client, specify in your agreement not only the due date, but the time of day the copy is due; I like 3pm ET.
The reason: If you don’t specify the time, then on the due date, first thing in the morning, you’ll invariably get a panicked phone call or email asking where the copy is.
How do you ensure you’re always delivering your best quality work? Please share in the comments.
And then tune in tomorrow for the final installment of my series for this week’s The Writer’s Life. I’m going to reveal how to create a pipeline with twice as many paid writing opportunities as your schedule allows you to handle.
About the Author:
Bob Bly has been a copywriter for 36 years, is the author of 85 published books, has a BS in chemical engineering, and writes both B2B and consumer direct response. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s Top Copywriter.”
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