You love your friends and family. And they love and support you. They also think you’re quite the talented writer. So they ask you for writing help. A lot.
Now that you’re getting into copywriting, they’re asking for even more help (or maybe you didn’t want to tell them for this reason!). Resumes, cover letters, emails, landing pages … You don’t want to be a jerk, but you also need to spend your time finding paying clients.
Strictly in terms of building your career, your time is better spent finding clients. But you may decide just to help them out. Maybe they’ve done you a favor in the past and you owe them. Or maybe you don’t mind cutting into your down time to do a little work, especially if it can make a great portfolio piece. That’s fine.
But if you do mind—if you’re too busy, if your time is better spent elsewhere, or if you just don’t appreciate doing work for free—you have three options.
1. Charge them a fee
Now, obviously, this only works if you actually don’t mind taking on the project.
But you are a professional writer, after all. Professionals get paid for their work. You have every right to quote them as you would any other client.
They might be expecting to get your services for free (or they might not be), but you’re a pro. So, when someone asks for your help, you can simply say, “Great! Tell me a little bit more about what you need done and I’ll give you a quote.”
At this point, if they don’t want to pay, it’s up to them to extricate themselves. Or, if they give you a hard time, you can consider options 2 and 3. But starting the conversation by making it clear you’re a professional, you are ensuring the person making the request knows this isn’t a small ask. You’re also ensuring they know for the future that your time and professional expertise is valuable.
2. Offer limited help
Again, your time is valuable and you’re a busy person (who’s trying to get busier!), so this is up to you. If you don’t have time to help them with the full project, but you still feel compelled to help in some way, offer your skills on a limited basis.
If someone wants your help with a cover letter, for example, you could say, “I’m actually really busy right now with clients and building my business. I can’t write it for you, but if you want to send me your draft, I can look it over for you.”
That’s a perfectly reasonable (and, actually very generous) offer. You could also offer to hop on a 30-minute call with them if it’s easier and offer feedback verbally.
Or, for example, if they want an entire email series, you can offer to write the first one (again, if you have time and want to take on the project).
If, however, they’re still pushing, move on to number 3.
3. Say no
If you don’t have time to do it, or you just don’t want to do it, say no. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no, and no one can force you to do any writing you don’t want to do. Your time and your skills are yours and yours alone.
So, if someone asks for your help, simply say, “I appreciate you thinking of me. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to it. If you want, though, I can help you find another copywriter.”
Some people are very uncomfortable with the idea of saying no, especially when it’s to a request from a friend or family member. Here’s the thing: No one’s going to love you less for saying no. (Or, if they do, they’re pretty lousy people.)
You need to guard your time, because no one else is going to do it. If you’re serious about building your client base and being successful, you’ve got very little time to spend doing favors and freebies. Copywriting isn’t easy; do you really want to use up your brain power working on your buddy’s resume instead of working on an ad for a client?
You and your career are worth guarding. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.
Your turn! Have you had to say no to family and friends? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on September 15, 2021 by Nicki Krawczyk