Copywriters are often faced with clients who get cold feet just prior to starting a project. Why does this happen?

In part one of this series, we start with the dirty ‘c’ word – cost.  For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents for demonstrating just how valuable you are to your clients when it comes to cost.

11 years+ a copywriter, I’ve encountered many objections to using my services, this is probably true for most copywriters. However, one objection emerges more than most – cost.

Early in my career, I made some bad decisions when it came to proving my value to clients and their businesses. In particular, providing free samples led me down a frustrating path.

I’d spend weeks putting together a quote, only for a client to come back and say “I’m not sure about the cost, can you provide a free sample for us to check if your writing style suits the business?” Naively, but always reluctantly, I would. After all, I needed the business and if providing a free sample helped land a gig, so be it.

Copywriting – the early years

My early years as a copywriter consisted of me having to prove myself, a challenge many new copywriters face and will continue to face in years to come. I quickly found out the hard way that free samples were the wrong way to justify my costs to a client.

How did I find out? Well, nine times out of 10, I’d get asked to write a blog. Blog gets sent and I never hear from the client again, they get what they want from me, post it on their site and there’s nothing I can do. Many copywriters will have experienced this in their early days.

Not only had I worked my backside off to even submit a quote, I’d worked it off for a result that made me look like a mug.

A note for aspiring & ‘seasoned’ copywriters

For the attention of aspiring copywriters, and even the more experienced, if you don’t know how to show your value to a client, here’s how…

Four years ago, a US RV company approached me to write their website content. Quote went in as usual and they came back, and I quote, ‘that’s in dollars, right?’ My response was a resounding, ‘no’.

What followed was familiar to me – “Ok, we’re not sure about the cost, we’ll have to consider if we really need this. By way of coming to a decision, can you write the company’s ‘About’ page as a sample and if we like it you can complete the rest of the project.”

Thankfully, four years ago I’d become much savvier when it came to playing the free sample game. I’m not saying you should do this to every client, but this was the ‘About’ page I wrote for this particular client:

‘How ‘about’ a free RV for me to sample?’


They’ve now been a regular client for the last four years.

My point is, don’t let the customer determine your value. You can show your value, by questioning their values. If a client asks you to justify your costs by providing a free sample, they open the door for you to ask – ‘Would you offer your product or service for free?’

10 out 10 clients would say ‘no.’ Why? They value what they’re selling and believe that their pricing structure offers value for money. If they wouldn’t offer their product or service for free, you can question why they would expect you to do the same.

You’re a professional, you do this for a living and some clients will make you question that.

Understand, you won’t win every gig, but that doesn’t mean your pricing structure is wrong or you’re over-valuing yourself, you just have to identify the clients that understand great copy will generate above and beyond what they have to spend with you.

Copywriters, you know what you’re worth. Stick to your fees. If you’re charging £150 for a direct sales letter, remember, you could be opening the door for a client to make £20,000 and your fee becomes a drop in the ocean.

Watch this space for more tips in part two.