Being polite is good in general. One should always be polite. Politeness can be an invaluable asset to you if you work as a freelancer. But where do you draw the line? There is a big difference between being polite and being obsequious.
Just refunded a client’s advance because he wouldn’t listen to reason. I had sent him a document yesterday; today he replied that he could have done a better job himself. He said the writing was mediocre, it didn’t make sense and it was needlessly complicated. This happens when you don’t have anything to say and you just want to write the 300 words you have promised. I quickly went through the document to check what he was talking about.
Let us assume that I have crossed the threshold of writing faulty language. Assuming there are no errors in grammar or otherwise here is how you would say that a document communicates what it needs to communicate:
- The headline that captures the attention of the visitor by offering exactly what he or she is looking for.
- Quickly explaining in the first paragraph how your service can make a big difference and help your client tremendously improve his or her business (or whatever you intend to improve).
- In the second paragraph you briefly talk about your team, the individual experiences and qualifications of your team members and their levels of motivation and commitment.
- In the third paragraph maybe you explain the tools that you have to carry out the service and your total command over those tools.
- In the fourth paragraph you normally talk about the work you have done so far.
This is the basic information you give when writing about a service. You can write it boringly, you can write it interestingly, or you can do the simple plain talk. I kept the language simple (I usually avoid clichés and jargons), to-the-point, and focused to the need of the client’s prospective clients. My main concern was to keep the message simple and captivating for the layman.
Anyway, upon receiving the client’s response I quickly wrote to him and offered as many re-writes as required to make the content acceptable to him. After a couple of minutes, he said he had no time to explain and he needed me to refund. I immediately refunded without further explanation.
Should I have tried to reason out? After all we started on a good note and he wanted my services on an ongoing basis. My experience says I shouldn’t have tried to explain further because such clients are normally quite impatient, they don’t respect your time and effort, they are quite unpredictable, and they have no clue what exactly they want and I think this is the basic problem with them. Besides, whether they are happy or not, they never provide you regular work simply because they themselves never get regular work due to the way they treat their work and their own clients.
If you want me to work for you the least you can do is clearly define your requirement. You must know what you want to convey and who are your target audience?
Now, you may argue that what is the use of me being a copywriter if I cannot make out how you want to convey your message and I will totally agree with your argument. If you think that I am a capable copywriter then you should leave it up to me how your message should be conveyed and if somewhere we disagree then there should be enough scope for alterations and further discussions. You hired me because somewhere you felt I can provide you what you are looking for. In case I don’t then there must be some communication gap, either from my side or from your side. All I can suggest to you is, let us fill the gap and see the completion of the project.
If a client is not satisfied I don’t offer excuses; I simply offer a rewrite and if I cannot figure out why the client doesn’t like the work I try to get more information. I try to do it as politely as possible even when the client is not polite. But even after that if the client shows a negative attitude I have no choice but to fire that client.