The client-provider relationship cycle is a natural one. You meet, you usually hit it off really well, and you’re looking forward to helping each other succeed.
The first few months or years are bliss. Projects are completed quickly, you pay your copywriter as soon as you get their work, and both of you are happy.
If only things could stay that way.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, your relationship starts to crumble. Your copywriter stops being as reliable, the copy delivered isn’t their usual…
Why did your good writer go bad? Is it time to change writers, have a conversation, or …?
You’re probably angry. I would be. In fact, I’d be livid. Getting sub-par work from a provider you know and trust is never acceptable. Heck, getting work that doesn’t meet your standards even from a new provider isn’t ok.
I’m not going to say whether or not you should say goodbye to a copywriter whose work has taken a turn for the worse. That’s up to you. But if you do decide to bid them adieu, the following steps can help keep your relationship with your next writer in good condition.
The truth hurts, so be ready; sometimes it’s not them. It’s you.
Here’s what to watch for:
A good writer knows what they can do, sets limits, and is very hesitant to go beyond them. They’ll try something they’re slightly familiar with and warn you if they can’t handle it, but they won’t be too keen to go beyond them. The reasoning is simple. They know that stretching outside their expertise means delivering work that’s not up to their personal standards.
Push your copywriter to learn on the fly, and they might just do it. That won’t guarantee you the best result, however. If you love your writer and want them to try something new, ask them if they have the skills. If they don’t, consider helping them get the skills – you’ll have the same provider you know and trust, but with a stronger professional skill set that more closely matches your needs.
Just don’t force it. And definitely don’t force a professional writer to do something they’ve already told you they don’t want to. A small minority of copywriters (the really, really good ones) may seize this as a training opportunity and possibly even ask for your financial support in getting the training to do what you need done. The bulk won’t. And there’s a group out there that might even hold it against you.
Feel like you’ve got a really good deal on your copywriting? Great. You probably did. Only don’t expect it to last forever.
Some business owners catch a good writer at the start of their career. The rates you get can be phenomenally low as this inexperienced writer learns the trade, improves their skillset, and gathers experience. At some point, though, they’re going to want a raise.
Many new copywriters take any and every job in their specialty – it’s a great way to bulk up their portfolio, train themselves while earning a paycheck, and make connections. They learn how the market works, gauge their prices against other writers, and work to earn their keep.
And then they are ready.
You might get an advanced notice that rates will change, and you might not. If you notice your solid newbie writer is not a novice anymore, start budgeting more for the writing if you want to stick with them. There are plenty of clients out there who pay good money to a writer. Yours might stick with you, but if you’re paying way below the norm, don’t expect to be priority one.
In most cases, you get what you pay for. Paying peanuts? Expect your copywriter to move to greener pastures.
Here’s a trade secret most business owners aren’t aware of, but should be: your copywriter wants you to succeed. Good writers want to know how their work is performing. They want to see high share counts, great CTR, excellent conversion, and phenomenal ROI. That’s a sign their work is doing its job.
If your writer isn’t interested in their work, say goodbye. Yesterday.
A good writer expects you to fulfill a few key obligations, too. You need to keep track of marketing metrics, express interest in improving your business, invest in areas they mention may be worthwhile, and not micromanage.
If you aren’t investing in your business, don’t expect an external provider to work a miracle.
Sure. You do it for security. Your copywriter doesn’t talk to your designer, who doesn’t know your marketer, and who won’t have anything to do with the VA, either. That way, no one has all the pieces of your marketing puzzle.
And it’s also how you guarantee that none of your marketing hires trusts you.
Here’s the deal. When your marketing team can work as a unified force, they can be much more powerful. If you’ve got several isolated providers, they may not know the skills and strengths of others on your team, and won’t be able to leverage them in your favor. Keeping your team members isolated from each other is like trying to bake a cake without combining the ingredients.
It’s a great way to start out, but it’s not going to get the job done.
Worse, it signals trust issues on your part. If you hire professionals to work for you, confide in them. Expect them to work well with each other and to do their best work for you. Yes, there is risk involved, but this is business. Risk is part of it.
Keep in mind that demonstrating trust in others is one way to inspire them to be loyal to you and to do their best work, too. Take away that key ingredient, and you’re hurting your bottom line, as well as your team’s ability to function.
Don’t believe me? Just ask your copywriter, marketer, SEO, or graphic designer what they would change about the way your team works.
I’m not talking about asking your copywriter to ghost, although giving them credit for a high-performing post they ghost wrote is a good bonus. I’m talking about never providing recognition of their role in your company. Never bothering to say thank you. Acting like you do all the hard work and they just follow orders.
When your sales are doing well as a result of your copywriter’s work, tell them. And on a related note, keep their portfolios in mind. External providers build portfolios of their work. They want to be able to show other clients how well their copy performs. Unless you’re going to offer an in-house job in the near future and are fairly certain they’ll accept, support their success by providing performance data and giving them your approval to use the copy they crafted for you in their portfolios.
And if you’re really happy with their work, recommend them to other business owners and provide a testimonial for their site. That’s one way to create great rapport with almost no effort.
On the flip side, if you refuse to let them use their copy as portfolio pieces, never offer a testimonial or a thank you, haven’t considered offering a raise or a recommendation, and yet you love their work, expect them to move on.
Are you chronically sending last-minute tasks to your copywriter, asking for 24-hour turnarounds, or changing your mind about what needs to be done for a particular task? If so, it might be time to better organize your business.
You want the best work possible, but you aren’t being realistic about the time it takes, and you definitely aren’t showing respect for your copywriter’s time. Sure, 24-hour turnarounds are possible. You might even find a writer who specializes in them – but what are you sacrificing to get that speed?
Organizing your business can help you achieve more predictable, measurable results. It’s a great way to make things easier on your providers, while cutting back the hassle on your end, too. And best of all, it’s free.
Listen to yourself. Do you need to pull it together?
If you notice that you have trouble listening to your copywriter, ask yourself why. Assuming your writer is a competent marketing professional whose advice you heeded willingly in the past, a problem listening could signal a larger problem with your business. Make an effort to change your attitude.
Keep in mind that listening isn’t just something you do with your ears. If you hire a copywriter, don’t rework their copy without going over the changes with them – they know how to sell with words. Don’t rework the PPC ads of an SEO marketer, either – you can’t hold someone else responsible for things you do. Changing a few, seemingly insignificant things can make a big difference in the way the copy performs.
Listening to people makes them feel valued, improves their ability to trust you, and inspires loyalty. Every sign in this list is related to this one crucial factor. If you don’t listen to the market, your creative team, or your copywriter, you’re in serious trouble, and you’re likely to lose more than your writer. Your business is what’s at stake.