I’ve been a professional copywriter for more than 15 years, and I’ve had a lot of successes and worked with a lot of fantastic clients in that time. But part of what’s fueled that success has been learning from mistakes…and making sure I never make them again.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to make all of them in the first place; you can learn from my mistakes, instead! And today’s topic is definitely a doozy.
About seven or eight years ago, I got an email through my website with an inquiry about copywriting services. (Incidentally, this prospect said she’d been referred by someone and, to this day, I have no idea who this person is. That’s what happens when you get your name out there, friends!)
This woman was a business owner who also coached other business owners to grow their businesses and revenue. She was super successful and looking for help to become even more successful.
She was looking for email funnel copy and some website copy, we agreed on the price, I wrote the copy for her, and she loved it. She was probably one of the easiest clients to work with I’ve ever had.
After those initial projects, she’d reach out every few weeks, sometimes months, with some other small project for me to do for her. Until…nothing. Silence. I figured she was all set with copy and didn’t need me.
Which is exactly where I went wrong.
Around two years ago, she was running a several-hundred-person event for her company and I had cause to reach out to her. She was glad to hear from me and it turned out she had a project she could use my help with. That parlayed into a bit more work and a few bigger projects.
(Not to mention, by the way, work for several of her business-owning clients!)
One day, while we were on a call, she said, “You know, I feel like I should tell you something.”
“Let me know if this is unwanted advice,” she continued. “But as a business coach, I thought it might be something you should hear.”
Of course, my stomach dropped, but I encouraged her to go on.
“You know a few years ago when we kind of stopped working together? It wasn’t at all that I wasn’t happy with your work—I was actually very happy with it. But I was pitched by another writer who put together this whole big proposal for me with funnels, and sales pages, and a site rewrite, and all kinds of stuff. It was a huge project, around $8,000 or so.”
“And I’d been happy with your work but I figured that if you were able to do this kind of project for me, you would have mentioned it. So I hired her and paid for that $8,000 project. If you’d pitched me something like that, I would have done it in a heartbeat.”
My jaw dropped. Of course! I’d been SO LAZY—just waiting for her to feed my projects instead of being the trusted partner she NEEDED me to be, evaluating her current marketing, and proposing how she could improve them.
I’d lost out on an $8,000 project—but not just that. She’s a successful and popular business coach and she often refers her clients to me for copywriting work. In addition to that $8,000 plus any additional work I could have done for in the meantime, I lost out on at least five YEARS worth of referrals to other clients.
Conservatively, this one mistake easily cost me anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.
And it was 100% on me. Instead of fulfilling my role as an expert who helps her clients build their businesses and increase their revenue, I was lazy and passive, just waiting for projects to be fed to me.
No wonder she went with someone else! No wonder another writer was able to easily lure her away from me with a well-crafted pitch and proposal.
I absolutely deserved to lose her as a client.
Now, I happened to get lucky and won her back. I also happened to be lucky that she’s the kind of person who was willing to share with me what I’d done wrong so that I could learn from it.
And, also, of course, so you can learn from it. Don’t be like I was: Don’t be lazy and don’t forfeit $100k+ worth of work.
Be proactive. Be responsible. Be a partner for your clients to help them perpetually grow their businesses.
Don’t be the lazy copywriter. Be the copywriter who’s always coming up with new solutions and ideas for their client.
AND…be the smarter copywriter who steals a client away from the lazy one.
Your turn! Do you have any lessons to share? Or did my story resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below!