Handling Rejection as a Copywriter

A guest blog by Nick Pagan Copywriting

Nick Pagan Copywriting LogoCopywriting’s different to lots of other business types. It’s a service that’s sold to clients but the end product’s always subjective. Or in other words, there’s no definite way of knowing if the client will be happy with the words on the page.

As a freelance copywriter, I try and meet my clients face-to-face if I can and if not, always have at least one telephone conversation with them. This helps gauge what exactly they want you to write, and establish its purpose and tone of voice. I’m a firm believer that the clearer the brief, the better the end result will be. And most of the time, it’s true.

So what do you do when it’s not true? How do you respond when your client isn’t happy with your lovingly crafted copy you’ve toiled over for hours?

The client who’s unhappy with your work will probably fall into one of two camps. They’ll either have completely different expectations to you about their copy or they’ll think they can do better themselves. The first type is easy to deal with. By speaking to them again, you can usually resolve their issues and come up with something you’re both happy with.

The second group isn’t so easy. Especially if they utter the phrase “It’s not how I’d have done it.” Hearing or seeing those words fills me with dread. If a client thinks like this, it’s very difficult to change their mind, and resist the urge to reply with “Well off you go and do it yourself then. Let’s see what you can come up with.”  Instead you need to educate them and explain why you’ve written something the way you have. Many business owners have trouble seeing their business as a customer, and don’t understand how to read copy as a customer would. And helping them overcome that is a massive challenge.  It’s a battle that’s sometimes won and sometimes lost.

Most clients are lovely, and will be delighted with your work. So take their praise and thank them for it. They make any negative comments from the odd client bearable. Us copywriters are a sensitive bunch and don’t take kindly to having our beautifully formed phrases and sentences criticised. If they are, take it on the chin, ask to be paid for what you’ve done, and move onto the next client. Their purrs of joy when they read what you’ve written for them will remind you why you became a copywriter in the first place.


2 Responses to Handling Rejection as a Copywriter

  1. “”It’s not how I’d have done it.” Hearing or seeing those words fills me with dread.”

    Amen to this! And you’re right, it’s often hard to shake people out of this mind-set; sometimes it’s worth just letting them get on with by themselves it for a while – I tend to find that, even if it takes them six months, they usually come back 😉

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