#1 skill for handling clients like a boss

Jan 23, 2023

Freelance copywriting often seems more challenging than ever these days.

Between the gazillions of copywriters you’re competing with, and the advent of Chat-GPT and more sophisticated AI tools on the horizon, it may seem like it’s harder than ever to launch and maintain a successful freelance career.

But the truth is, there’s still plenty of opportunity to succeed as a copywriter. You just need to zero in on the right things.

I’ve talked again and again about how important it is to focus on honing your copywriting skills so that you can consistently deliver successful, winning copy when you work with clients.

Being great at writing copy is essential to going far in this freelance copywriting biz, for sure.

But do you know what’s even more important?

The right mindset.

Mindset incorporates a LOT of different skills… and I’ll be writing about several of them this coming week.

That’s right, I’ve declared it Mindset Week here in Copy Insiders-land! And I don’t think it could come at a better time.

So buckle up and get ready for a “dangerously good”, mind-expanding ride that will help you achieve all your goals in 2023.

Now, how can mindset be even MORE important than being great at writing copy?

Because I’ve personally witnessed great copywriters who sucked when it came to standing up for themselves… asking to be compensated the way they deserved… and tolerating “bad” client behavior when they had so many other options.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen others who weren’t as good at actually writing copy sail right by them because they had the confidence — or chutzpah — to cut higher-paying deals, for example.

So where does one get this confidence, I’m so often asked?

It comes from mastering this #1 skill for handling clients like a boss: setting boundaries.

Setting boundaries can save you a heap of trouble when it comes to dealing with clients. I’m talking about things like…

  • Not jumping when the client says “jump” — i.e., feeling you have to say “yes” to everything, including unreasonable requests… which then leads to even more unreasonable requests…
  • Taking the quote you’re about to give a client and then increasing it by 50% or doubling it (or more), then putting it out there even though you’re terrified to do so…
  • Shutting down bad client behavior the first time it rears its ugly head (and still being able to have a good and profitable long-term working relationship, assuming you want to…)
  • Spelling out deliverables clearly and fending off “scope creep” at the onset by never giving away anything for “free”…
  • Always getting paid an advance (usually 50%) upfront before doing a lick of work… even with clients you’ve worked with before… because priorities can change and you don’t want to be left holding the bag…
  • And countless more client-management tactics that help you run your freelance biz more smoothly.

Do these things and an amazing thing starts to happen…

You start to develop greater confidence!

This confidence grows from staying true to what YOU need to get out of the client relationship.

It grows from valuing and respecting yourself enough to speak up or push back when needed.

And it grows from how clients start to treat you once you begin setting boundaries and valuing yourself.

That’s because when you stand up for yourself in a professional and confident way, clients respect you more right from the get-go… and they’re much less likely to try any of that stupid stuff or make unreasonable requests as a result.

So you can more easily negotiate higher pay, better terms, and avoid client “BS”.

And you know what else? They may even respect the copy you produce even more.

I mean, you still have to write really good copy, and get good at it… but if a client is biased towards not fully respecting you as a professional, they will look more for where your copy is failing or coming up short.

But when they respect you more as a professional, the opposite is true.

I’m hoping this inspires you to look at your entire client management process in total… i.e., how you do all of the following things:

  • Respond to potential clients and close them
  • The quotes, time frames, and payment terms you provide in proposals
  • Your contracts and agreements: how “airtight” are they?
  • Your process for working with a client from start to finish
  • Client follow-up during the project to get feedback and wrap things up
  • Invoicing and getting paid (and any ongoing compensation like royalties)
  • Getting another future project if it all went well and/or a testimonial or referral

Are there any “holes” in any of these areas of your freelance business that setting stronger boundaries could help with?

Taking the time to examine all of these areas and fixing what’s broken will set you up for far greater success in 2023 and beyond.

Before I sign off for today, here’s two quick things…

1) One of the best podcast interviews I’ve done in recent years, and definitely the best on this topic, was with Angie Colee for her Permission to Kick Ass podcast. I highly recommend you take a listen here. I get much deeper into the topic of setting boundaries and share some real-life stories and examples.

2) Reply back to this email and let me know what’s the most useful practice you use now to set boundaries with clients. I’d love to hear it… or feel free to simply reply back with whatever mindset issue you’re struggling with most right now.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Mindset Week issue where I’ll be talking about ways to tackle “writer’s block”… something we all struggle with from time to time.

And please send your fellow copywriters and marketers who aren’t Copy Insiders yet over to this link: www.copyinsiders.com

Yours for smarter marketing,