Since I'm training copywriters, I'd like to talk about something most working copywriters avoid...
Now, I said 'bad clients'...not bad people. This isn't a moral judgement. Also, I won't specifically discuss any prior clients or prospects directly. Take this article to be a "generalized" version of what to look out for if you're trying to work as a copywriter.
Ok, disclaimer over.
When you're starting to work with clients as a copywriter, you're going to encounter a lot of different kinds of people.
I'll start with the people you're most likely to encounter as a NEW copywriter. Someone who's just starting out, or yet to get a first client.
Type 1 - "Casper The Friendly Ghost"
This prospect is usually very excited to talk with you about writing copy for his/her latest project. (Note: I've only ever experience this from men, personally. But I'm trying to be generalized)
They'll reach out, or tag you in a post asking you to DM them.
They'll be proactive, and when you start the conversation, they'll be super excited to discuss their ideas and project with you.
They'll say stuff like, "This is the start of a big project for me, so there's lots of work coming in the weeks and months ahead"
They'll also be very laissez-faire about price without actually naming anything.
Stuff like "I'm willing to pay for quality work" and "Money isn't a big issue as long as the value is there"
These types of prospects are SUPER exciting for a new copywriter to get. They're upbeat, and they seem like they're interested in YOU...which, if no-one has ever reached out before, can feel really awesome.
But...inevitably, these prospects will stop responding as fast. They might miss your scheduled call time, or cancel at the last minute.
Or, you may get far enough into the conversation where you send an invoice...and then...
*poof*. Ghosted. No return messages, no return emails, and definitely no paid invoices.
These prospects like to get a little work upfront. Like a "spec" job or a "test" piece to "see how you write for our [thing]"
They know that being enthusiastic and friendly is the best way to get free work out of you.
Or, more lightly...they're probably very scattered and unsure of what they're doing in their own business, which leads to being unsure and scattered with you.
The red flags that you're dealing with a 'Casper' are:
1) Refusing to nail down a specific scope of work or project detail.
2) Asking for free work upfront AFTER being complimentary and enthusiastic about working with you initially. (Commonly experienced as the "You look perfect! But can we see some samples anyway?")
3) Non-communication of any kind during the outreach stage. Missing a call, not responding for a week after they initiated the convo, or not returning emails. If they are non-responsive and flighty now...
If you think you're dealing with a 'Casper', you can do a "Ghost-Buster"...like this:
"Hey [prospect], I'm super glad you want to work together. It would help me if you sent an email with the scope of the project you want to work on, and then booked a call on my scheduler to discuss it. Convenient and efficient for both of us!"
And then wait. If they send the email AND book the call...you're good. Move forward. Sometimes clients just need clear direction to feel safe to work together.
If they don't respond...or fail to follow one of the instructions...red flag.
This Ghost Buster works 9/10 times. Sometimes Casper slips through, and the next filter is the invoice.
The MOST IMPORTANT THING about dealing with Casper is this:
Do not stress about following up. Send an ultra-light, simple reminder every week or so, and then stop after 4 weeks. Move-on fast, don't waste time or energy on them.