Copywriting Codex: Don’t Negotiate Like This…Or Why I Left a Client Behind

How’s it going? I know that as far as relating my client experiences (which is part of the subscribe box on the right over there), I’ve been slacking off a tad. I’d like to do more of that today (relating, not slacking).

And to be fair, this wasn’t a Codex until right before I finished it. I just couldn’t see how this post could apply to fiction writers (unless you want to characterize me some way or other).

Let’s get to it.

I had to break up with a client.

This is interesting to me, because this is the first time I ever had to do that actively. What I mean by that is a lot of the time, I don’t get past the trial period and clients leave me behind, or they just quasi leave me behind because I don’t hear from them and get silence when I follow up (or don’t follow up in the first place–bad practice, I know–but there are times I have second thoughts about them).

Anyway, this client specialized in a type of copy that I wanted to learn. So as a result of that, thinking I needed the money, or what-have-ya, I made a bunch of mistakes. If I get to thinking some more, I could probably come up with more, but here are the bigger ones:

Ditching upfront payment and agreeing to be paid at the end of every month

Not capping free revisions/edits at 2 or 3 per project, and charging extra for others–this led to disaster, needless anger, and to me ultimately burning out, I think

Not realizing I could still be in control of the process even though I was working with (not for) someone else (I could have brought up these points, for example)

Agreeing to treat a trial project as the trial, instead of one to three months, and then re-evaluating after that

Saying I’d be available for six months, without putting restrictions on it

Working for too little per project because I was just starting this particular kind of project, and not negotiating for bumps in pay for performance bonuses or great results for this client’s clients

If that wasn’t enough, I also ignored several warning signs along the way that told me I should have gotten out sooner:

Client allowed their client to request more than 4 revisions on the same project–if the client was allowing their clients to do this, I should have know they’d do the same types of things to me…but I didn’t put my foot down

Client told me I scheduled “too long” of a block of time off for vacation (about a week and a half), even though I wasn’t taking days off every other week or something like that

Client proposed a retainer, learned about my fees for other services, discovered the proposed fee wouldn’t cover the amount of work suggested, then withdrew the idea, and  repeatedly refused bids for other add-on services, claiming they were too expensive (if I hadn’t had this step and seen what the client’s fees to their own clients were, I never would have been pushed to get out, ultimately)

Well, that’s about it. And the most painful part about all this is that 99% of the fault here can be parked in my own lap.

Maybe that’s the biggest takeaway of all.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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