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When offered a new writing assignment, sometimes you should say No.

by Nick Usborne


At any time during a freelance copywriter’s career, and particularly during the early months and years, it is tempting to say yes to every new assignment that comes along.


Particularly if that assignment comes with a big fat fee.


However, there are times when you really should say no, even when you need the money.


How come? Here are two examples that spring to mind from my own career.


When your client is going to be nothing but trouble


I have had good experiences with almost all the companies I have worked with.


But from time to time you’ll find yourself working with a very difficult individual or group.


The problem may lie in the chemistry between yourself and your client contact. Or the contact may be fine, but struggling with a badly organized company or department.


Either way, you’ll find yourself struggling to get the information you need to do a good job, and then may find your client has a number of unforeseen problems with the drafts you write and deliver.


These jobs can become a nightmare...running over time and over budget.


By the time you find yourself writing additional drafts in “overtime”, and with little prospect of getting paid for all the extra hours, you’ll start feeling pretty bad.


There are two tips here.


First, if you get some strong signals that a client is going to be particularly difficult to work with, right from the start, just decline the job and walk away. Your time will be better spent on finding the next good client.


Second, if you end up completing a job for a difficult client, don’t say yes to additional work. It can be very tempting when the fees are good, but fighting your way through difficult projects with difficult people is rarely worth it in the end.


When you really don’t have confidence in what you’re writing about...


This has happened to me two or three times over the years. I have said yes to some big, lucrative projects on topics that I really don’t know enough about.


In general I would say that a good copywriter can write on just about any product or service. It’s just a matter of doing good research and having empathy for the company and its audience.


It’s on the issue of empathy that I have stumbled a couple of times. I know I can do the research and learn enough on just about anything. But if I can’t envision the final reader and empathize with his or her job or life, then I find myself in a lot of trouble.


This happened to me when working on a project selling high-end diagnostic equipment to hospital administrators.


I could figure out the machinery...but I couldn’t for the life of me put myself in the mind of a major hospital administrator faced with spending millions of dollars on new equipment.


As a result, I really struggled with the project and ultimately withdrew. It was embarrassing, and I felt unprofessional. But I also learned a valuable lesson.


If you are facing a project and feel that you really can’t deliver your best work, whatever the reason, the best thing to do is decline the work before you even start.


Concluding thoughts...


Work is easy and fun when you have good clients. It’s a pleasure you actually get paid for.


But when projects become problems, everything changes. You end up wasting a lot of time, hating the work and you may even get depressed over it and start questioning your own abilities.


It’s far better to seek out jobs you are going to enjoy, with clients you connect well with and like.



Related learning materials:


Nick Usborne's Million Dollar Secrets to Online Copywriting

The demand for print and direct mail copywriters is static, to say the least. The real demand right now is for copywriters who have the skills to write effective copy for the web. This is a professional-grade course that will make you a specialist in online copywriting. This is where the future for copywriters lies! More about this online copywriting course...



Michael Masterson's Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting

Improve your copywriting skills and enter the very lucrative market for direct marketing copywriters. This is a comprehensive course and my #1 recommendation for anyone who wants to learn how to write copy that drives results. Read my in-depth review



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