Copywriters and working to deadlines

Thanks to 123RF for use of imageIf you’re thinking about a copywriting career, you can expect to work to deadlines.

For example, if your client is launching a website on a specific date, you must deliver the copy in plenty time for it to be signed off and loaded on the site.

If your client has a print advert booked, you can’t afford to miss the deadline.  If you do, your client will have a whacking great advertising bill to pay … irrespective of whether the advert actually appears.

I was flabbergasted a little while ago to find some very poor advice for copywriters on the subject of deadlines. The article wasn’t about the importance of meeting deadlines.  Instead, it explained what excuses to give your client if you missed one!

Copywriters are meant to be professional, and in my book, that means NEVER missing a client deadline.  If you do, you risk damaging your reputation and losing a valuable client.

As a copywriting training company, we hear all sorts of interesting stories …

One copywriting company recruited a new outsource writer.  His work had been scrutinised, he had been interviewed, and he measured up to the company’s standards.  He was happy to accept his first outsource project.

At the exact time he was due to deliver the draft copy (2pm on a Thursday afternoon) he sent an email apologising because he had a lot of ongoing personal problems and hadn’t been able to do the work. He went on to say he hoped to be considered for future projects.

Fortunately, the copywriting company had left a margin of a few days before the client’s deadline had to be met.  But as a result, one of their team had to work over a weekend to complete the job.

Where did that copywriter go wrong?  This wasn’t just about someone missing a deadline.  This writer actually failed to deliver the work altogether.  If he was experiencing problems, he should have got in touch with the copywriting company immediately.  Not letting anyone know about the problem until the deadline showed a distinct lack of professionalism and courtesy.  Would you have given him another chance?  No – and nor did the copywriting company.

That’s an extreme situation, but as a copywriter, you will have to meet deadlines.  So how can you make sure you always deliver on time, and what can you do if things go wrong?

  • Don’t overstretch yourself.  If you already have a busy schedule don’t commit to a tight deadline you can’t hope to meet. Instead, try to negotiate a deadline that’s easier to meet.
  • Keep your clients in the loop. If you experience any problems, let your client know immediately. Don’t wait until the deadline is due. Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope your problems will miraculously be resolved.
  • Bring in your copywriting buddy.  In an earlier blog we spoke about the benefits of having a copywriter friend.  Sometimes an extra pair of hands can save the day.
  • Burn the midnight oil. If you have overstretched yourself and you have no alternative, you’ll have to work outside your normal hours to meet the deadline

Everyone has problems which interfere with their working life.  You might be ill or your PC might be broken. The trick is to learn to manage these problems without it adversely affecting your business and your clients. That’s what business continuity is all about, and making sure you meet your deadlines is an important part of this.

So if you want to build a reputation as a professional copywriter, spend your time working to meet your deadlines, not looking for excuses as to why you can’t!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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