The Missing Link in Your Copywriting Business

The Missing Link in Your Copywriting Business

Is money something you’re after when it comes to your copywriting?

Of course it is. We write in the hopes that we can increase profits for our business.

You write, and write, and write, putting your thoughts together to draw the attention of others and then that random day comes. You get a contact who wants to invest in your business. Maybe they’re offering you a position. Maybe they’re offering cash for a piece of the biz. Maybe they’re just offering a joint venture that can benefit you both.

There’s just one problem with saying yes to a proposition like this.

Problem? They’re offering money for your effort – that’s a standard exchange, isn’t it? What could the problem possibly be?

Let me tell you a story.

I’ve worked on my writing skills hardcore to potentially reach a larger audience, and my hard work seemed to pay off: one day I got an email from an outside party who wanted to sponsor my work.

I got burned. The company wound up trying to use my writing without paying me. And it hurt a lot, because my hopes were so high when they offered me the deal in the first place. I was disappointed, felt betrayed, and didn’t gain a penny for my efforts financially.

How can you be sure that this never happens to you?

It’s pretty simple, but a surprising number of copywriters (myself included) don’t have it: a written agreement.

I never created a contract that spelled out in black and white exactly what my obligations were to the company, or – more importantly in my case – what their obligations were to me. I left my business open to vulnerabilities and lost the ability to capitalize on the copy on my own website.

Always be aware of who you’re dealing with. It’s hard to make a “gut” decision about whether a person is trustworthy online. Half the time you won’t even talk to them on the phone before coming to an agreement. You probably won’t have the opportunity to look them in the eye and think to yourself that something doesn’t seem right.

In place of your own intuition, signed agreements can go a long way toward protecting you, your assets, and your business.

Here are five ways to make sure potential opportunities don’t backfire on you:

  1. Create a contract between you and potential business partners.  There’s a great application that you can download for free on your tablet or mobile device called DocuSign, which should cover the basics.
  2. Create a page on your website letting outside companies know that in order to do business with you, they’ll need to sign off on an agreement. Make it professional; you’re not looking to be pushy or rude. Plenty of legitimate companies may want to make offers to you, and they’ll be willing to sign an agreement because they understand your need to cover yourself – but they won’t want to work with someone who’s being kind of rude about it.
  3. Research the company who’s looking to reach out to your audience. The advantage of the internet is that it makes it very easy to determine who’s reputable and who’s screwed over their previous writers.
  4. Inquire about how they came across your website and why they’re interested in your work.  Knowing where business is coming from will make it easier for you to know whether you want to do business with them – or if they’re looking to maximize their profits and minimize what you get in return.
  5. Don’t look for money. When you jump at every opportunity, you come off as desperate – both to the company and to yourself. You can convince yourself into taking a bad deal just because you don’t want to lose potential cash. Focus on your work, keep establishing your presence as a writer, and be picky about the deals you make. For every ten shady deals, there’s one great deal that wants to work with someone who has a solid reputation – and will happily sign a contract to guarantee your payday.
  6. Let me know about your experiences. Has a copywriting “opportunity” ever backfired on you unexpectedly?  Let’s chat in the comments.

Post by Frank Angelone

Frank Angelone is the entertainer blogging over at Social Tech Zone - and if you're looking for great entertainment, why not follow him on Twitter?

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  1. Hey Frank,

    This is a great article, and a great heads up. I’ve been writing for a while now, and though I haven’t been burned, I haven’t conjured up any written agreements either.

    Sometimes the legal side of things can fall by the wayside, I know that I often forget, but it’s obviously super important so that both you and your business don’t get screwed. Great reminder, thanks!


    • Glad I could help out, Brock. This was one of those learning opportunities for me where I should have protected myself, but you live and you learn. I just didn’t want anyone else to get screwed out of an opportunity themselves.

  2. Great article and great advice that came just a bit too late for me. I have been burned all because I believed that a verbal contract, backed up by tons of emails discussing the project, was sufficient. Well it wasn’t and I spent six months working, billing and believing that the check was in the mail. I was hurt, angry and bewildered, hired an out of state lawyer but can only afford to spend so much money in honor of principle. I will look into the docusign site and thanks for reminding me.

  3. Hi Frank. I don’t find any information where I could download the DocuSign?

  4. As an online office assistant I always work with a signed contract and a confidentiality agreement in place.

    Even if they say they rather use their own business contracts, ask them, nicely, to also sign your own contracts.

    You could make your contracts part of your Introduction Package that you email to the client, along with your bio information, how to communicate best, payment info and whatever else you want to include.

    • I wish I did all of what you stated here from the very beginning, Wendy! Unfortunately, I forced myself to learn the hard way, but that’s how it goes sometimes. From my experiences and from your suggestions, I know it won’t ever happen again. Thanks for your feedback!

  5. Dear James,
    I just wanted to know how glad I am that I subscribe to your blog. I am not a copywriter at all. I write pure fiction almost 100 percent of the time, but I’ve found that the information you give is almost always useful. And thanks for turning me on to last week’s Summit, because I learned a lot, all at no cost to me. Mostly I wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderful, useful blog.
    Angie Sargenti

  6. Greeting James,

    You have inspired me as always. I always used to read most of your blog posting and most of them has the valuable information that i’m looking for.

    Keep up the good work..:)

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