Copley’s Customer Diary #1 – Just not a good fit

Sometimes you get the opportunity to deal with clients who teach you a lot. Although negative feedback can be a sensitive issue to a freelance copywriter, it must be embraced if we are to improve and grow.


Recently, I had dealings with three customers who showed me that my writing was not up to scratch. Of course, I first went through the typical ‘writer’s denial’ before accepting this. Here’s what happened.


Client #1

My first client asked me to write an article as a test. He asked that the writing be conversational in tone. If he was happy, I would get more work. This client had already checked out my profile. This was not a job I applied for—he sought me out.


Feeling chuffed with myself, I set out to deliver a factual, well-researched article. But wait, that wasn’t what he asked for, was it? No; he asked for a CONVERSATIONAL piece. I skipped this instruction and delivered the article—facts and all.


Needless to say, the client thanked me for the work and paid me. But I didn’t hear from him again. Worst of all, the feedback was positive. But the fact that he didn’t come back spoke loud and clear.


Client #2 and #3

In a slightly different situation, I had two clients who needed content written. The one needed blogs, and the other needed web content. After doing these jobs, both did the same thing.


Both clients re-wrote my work! This is not a minor edit—this is a complete rewrite. They stated that the rewrite was the style they wanted. They also added that I was a great writer, but that they wanted me to follow the tone provided.


At first glance, the style seemed less appealing than what I had done. Besides, I’m the one who studied copywriting. Don’t I know what I’m doing?


A question of style

Of course, it’s not really about what I write; it’s about what the client wants. They are paying me to do it THEIR WAY.


In the instance of the one client, I tried my utmost best to write according to his style. He paid me for the job and left me a decent rating with the message, “We just weren’t a good fit.”


I don’t want to make the same mistake with the other client. So I’ve asked him to highlight the sections he feels I should redo. Hopefully I won’t have to work double time on his project.


What can you and I learn from these clients?

First, let me just say that my attitude was wrong with all three of these clients. I was over-confident with the first, lacked confident with the second, and was apprehensive with the third.


So how should a copywriter handle clients like these? Here are my suggestions:

  • Recognize that your style may not be what the client wants and accept it without taking it personally.
  • Be willing to learn a new style. You may get another client in future who wants the same thing.
  • Ask the client for specifics. If they send you their version of the writing as an example, insist that they highlight specifics they want you to change.
  • Once you’ve identified style changes, read up on them and learn how to switch to a different style when needed.


Yes, I’m just a freelance copywriter from South Africa, but I want to grow on an international level. Clients like these help me to do that. How about you?