The Copywriter's Crucible

Surviving the Vagaries of the Freelance Life

Why copywriters and clients are a team

Posted by rachelwriter on July 27, 2009

Photo Courtesy: oooh.oooh/Flickr

Photo Courtesy: oooh.oooh/Flickr

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that some clients have about the client-copywriter relationship is that, once they hire a copywriter, the writer becomes—by default—the client’s employee.  On a work-for-hire basis, of course.  But an employee, nonetheless. 

In the worst case scenarios, the client assumes that the copywriter is a subordinate.  An employee who should speak only when spoken to.  Who should do only as he or she is told.  And who should never question and/or challenge the opinions of the “boss.” 

(Barf!)

Here’s the reality: the relationship between clients and copywriters cannot, and should not, be confused with that of a traditional employer and employee.  On the contrary, clients and copywriters are a team—from the moment each signs the contract until the moment the final draft of copy is turned in.  And, as such, clients and copywriters must respect each other, and treat each other, like teammates. 

What do I mean by “team,” you ask?

Well, for starters, I mean that the client and the copywriter need to listen to each other.  Copywriters need to know what it is, exactly, that the clients are looking for in terms of style, substance, and overall tone.  Clients need to be open to any suggestions for improvement that the copywriters may have (after all, the copywriters are the experts!).

Working as a team also means living up to each other’s end of the bargain (a point I tried to drive home in an earlier post).  Clients: if you want the copywriter to start working, and meet your deadline, you’ve got to provide him or her with the materials s/he needs to do so in a timely manner.  Copywriters: if you want the client to respect you as a professional and treat you as such, you must provide exceptional customer service and—for heaven’s sake!—never, ever miss a deadline.

Last, but not least, teammates must know how to compromise.  A client may covet what he or she thinks is a totally awesome idea, but if a copywriter advises against it, the client should probably heed the expert’s advice.  Now, if a client really, really, REALLY wants something done a certain way, the copywriter may have to just suck it up and do it anyway (while making it very clear, of course, that s/he doesn’t support the client’s decision–but that’s another post for another day). 

Look, the point is this: clients and copywriters need to meet each other halfway—every step of the way—in order to achieve great results.  Because, in the end, clients and copywriters aren’t all that different from one another.  They’re both working for the same cause.  They both want to achieve the same results.  And they both want to get the job done the right way.  

Wait.  Isn’t there a word for that?  Oh, yeah: team.

Rachel

P.S.  Got any other examples of requisite teamwork between clients and copywriters?  Share them here!

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