Get It In Writing: Copywriting Terms of Service

business-connection-two-hands-shakingA certain blog entry I read yesterday went something like this:

“I hired a copywriter to write an ebook. When he was done with the first copy he sent it along with his invoice attached as if that was that…..” While that may not seem like something earth-shattering, the blogger went on to bash the writer for assuming that his first-draft was a final and was now billable. Show me the money, man. Oops on both parts.

While I can’t recall where I read this it has bugged me since. First thing that stands out: lack of terms of work laid out between the copywriter and the buyer. Yes, as a working copywriter I would never DREAM of sending a first draft as though it were the final deliverable AND with an invoice attached. But you shouldn’t dream either of “hiring” anyone to write anything without laying out specific terms, which would clue you into this type of disregard.

Marketing principle:  it’s all about the customer.

My first assumption in this particular scenario is  that the copywriter hired is a newbie OR pulled from a freelance site where work is done as quickly as possible and everyone moves on. Even then this situation is….not ok and is certainly avoidable.

Here’s a copywriter who cares more about the cash and less about how the work actually fits with your goals. Revisiting that marekting principle: he has two customers to market to: you and YOUR target market.  And if this guy is making a living off of dishing this type of copywriting, it’s a mystery to me given that type of work ethic.

I guarantee that my business doesn’t work unless my copy–in whatever form–works for your business (creates conversions, builds value, boosts your authority and/or trustworthiness,  beats your competitors, blah, blah). And I have a hard time imagining how it could be any other way. This is  a symbiotic relationship. It offers the most fertile opportunities for collaboration. Web copywriters and Internet Marketers and other online business people should be working in tandem, not in opposition. I’ve had some really great conversations with clients–I mean real idea generators. You don’t have those with someone you pickup on a street corner (unless you’re Richard Gere and she’s Julia Roberts).

Before you agree to have some stranger write web page copy, landing pages, sales letters, ebooks, reports–anything– the least you should do is ask them to provide their TERMS OF SERVICE even if its copied and pasted into an email body.

Basic info you should be scouting for in a copywriter’s terms:

  • Revisions and edits — with a timeframe
  • Payment accepted–with a timeframe
  • Any other general stuff that’s related to the writer’s business service.

Price, cost, bid and time to finish are part of the project proposal.

When your prospective copywriter doesn’t respond to your request for a Terms of Service, has no IDEA of what you’re talking about, or outright admits he or she doesn’t have one, then move on.

Terms of service can give you a big insight into a copywriter’s–or really anyone’s– business goals and mission. Sound dry and boring as desert rocks? They indirectly link to your bottom line. There, think of it that way. Terms of service = bottom line, for both sides of the business relationship.

Read more tips for hiring and working with a web copywriter.

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