If you haven’t already, it’s likely that you’ll encounter at least one sticky situation with a client during your copywriting career.
Whether they’re unhappy with your work or aren’t willing to pay for the content produced, this can feel disheartening at first. However, handling these situations properly can actually be a pretty great learning curve that helps you become a better writer in the long run.
In this article, we’ll discuss strategies for managing conflict as a copywriter, and how you can improve client experience from the very start.
Why Might You Need to Manage Challenging Clients?
From best SEO copywriting practices to content planning, not all potential clients who come to you will appreciate the intricacies of your role
Some may feel they’re capable of producing the same standard of content as you, and might not be fully convinced by the benefits of outsourcing any part of their marketing strategy. In cases like these, clients will therefore be extra demanding in terms of their expectations.
Learning how to manage these expectations is essential for gaining their trust and demonstrating why they should work with you.
As a freelance copywriter, you’re also a business leader. Being able to deal with difficult clients shows others in the industry that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make your work a success. Ultimately, this can help to build a great reputation for your business
4 Tips for Managing Challenging Clients
If a client’s behaviour becomes challenging, it’s important to stay calm and composed. You’ll then be in a better mindset to remain professional and implement these strategies:
1. Establish Your Expectations
When working with difficult clients, it’s vital to establish expectations on both sides if you want to develop a good working relationship.
One of the best ways to do this is by setting clear boundaries from the start. On your end, be sure to clearly specify your availability, working hours, and response time. This assures the client that they’re not being ignored when you don’t reply straight away.
You should also establish proper policies, such as payment terms and what clients can expect if they alter the project scope. These policies can then be referred back to if any disputes occur.
At the same time, you should make an effort to understand their needs too. Some questions that you may want to ask include:
What are your expectations in terms of key deliverables?
How many words and in what format should the content be produced?
Who is the target audience and what are their pain points?
When is your deadline and is this likely to change
Once terms have been agreed upon, draw up a contract and ensure that it is signed by both parties to avoid any confusion and keep quality clients interested in your business.
2. Share Your Working Processes
As we’ve mentioned, one of the reasons that clients may be challenging is because they’re determined to create the best content possible for their brand. Showing how you do this demonstrates that you are on the same wavelength as the client, and want to bring their vision to life as much as they do.
We’d recommend explaining your planning processes and sharing tools that you use to produce high-quality content.
For example, Surfer SEO is a content editing, researching, and optimising tool that harnesses the power of AI to help you create a comprehensive content strategy. You can generate relevant keywords, generate analytics on competitors, and get real-time feedback from a content editor
Also Asked is another great tool that can benefit your copywriting processes. It collates Google’s People Also Ask data to display the keywords that you should be using for SEO and user engagement purposes.
Sharing this information can show that you really care about the process of delivering fully optimised work that will fully engage the client’s target audience.
3. Communicate With Clients
If you’re worried that a client may be challenging during your time working together, one way to tackle this is to keep them involved using great communication.
Try to maintain an open dialogue with them throughout the whole content writing process so they know exactly where you’re at, not just at the start and the end. Knowing that you care about what they’re looking for can help them feel heard and appreciated, and more likely to trust you with their work.
Another thing that you can do is arrange regular check-ins, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis for longer projects. If a client has assigned you a whole batch of content, check in after the first one. You could also invite them to suggest edits and discuss areas for improvement.
This ensures that clients feel involved every step of the way, so they’re less likely to be disappointed with the outcome. It also gives you the chance to rectify any small mistakes before they develop into huge ones that could cause conflict.
4. Seek Feedback
Finally, one of the most important parts of managing difficult clients, particularly if a problem has occurred during your time together, is to learn from the experience.
Discuss why the client is unhappy with the work and what you could do to improve in future. Be sure to ask for specific constructive feedback that will help you learn more about their purpose and audience. For example, you may not have chosen the right tone of voice or could have used a term that the client wishes to exclude from the copy.
This builds a level of trust and could reverse some of the damage caused if you show that you’re willing to do better.
However, it’s important to filter out feedback that isn’t constructive. Abusive, vague, or subjective criticism isn’t helpful and won’t allow you to improve your working practices, so make it clear that you won’t tolerate this.
As well as seeking feedback from clients, turn to other copywriters too. Without breaking any contract terms or being unprofessional towards a client, ask how they’d handle the situation, or how they would improve the content. Two minds are often better than one, especially in such a creative industry.
As you become more experienced in the world of copywriting, you’ll learn that not every client experience will be smooth sailing. Although it may seem tricky in the moment, it’s how you handle these interactions that really matters, and that can shape success in your future career.
For more tips on working well with clients and developing your copywriting career, check out The Authors Pad. No matter what stage you’re at, we’re here to support you as you grow your skills and flourish into a successful copywriter.
Below, we answered some of your most commonly asked questions on managing challenging copywriting clients:
How would you handle a difficult client?
When working with a challenging client, you should always try to stay calm. Remember that it’s not a personal attack, and becoming upset won’t solve the situation. Instead, listen to the client’s concerns, and work together to come up with a solution that benefits both parties. If a client does overstep, you should enforce your boundaries and consider letting them go.
What are the challenges of copywriting?
Whilst copywriting is a highly rewarding career, it does present some challenges. One of the main problems can be issues with clients, which may be easily resolved with proper conflict resolution and communication. Other challenges include getting paid on time, working in a competitive industry, and maintaining a good work-life balance.
How do you say no to a difficult client?
If you’ve encountered a challenging client whose requests you can’t fulfil, the first thing to do is to thank them for wanting to work with you. This shows that you genuinely care about them reaching out to you over other copywriters. You should then be honest about why you can’t complete the job, and provide some alternative options for them to consider.