Freelance copywriter? Clients to avoid. #2 The Control Freak.

The Control Freak knows exactly what he wants and by god he’s going to get it, because the Control Freak knows best. Or at least he or she likes to think they do. You, as the freelance copywriter, are simply there to put his thoughts into words; you are not there to offer advice or expertise. And you are certainly not there to criticise his approach because he is RIGHT and he will tweak and change your copywriting ad infinitum until it reflects exactly what is going around in his head.

The problem is that working for the Control Freak makes you, the copywriter, feel like a second-class citizen; kind of like a copy-typist when you’re really an executive PA. The other problem is that, unless the client is a proven copywriting expert, you will have a gut feeling that his version of the copy (because the Control Freak always insists on his version of the copy) isn’t right. It’s not going to get results. And, surprise surprise, it doesn’t.

It can also be a bit like those TV programmes where an expert goes into a failing business to recommend changes. The reluctant Control Freak owner eventually gives in and makes changes. Then, once the expert has left, the former twee touches and brusque customer service return. And the business continues to fail.

So even if you manage to get away with delivering outstanding copywriting that’s left unchanged, the chances are that by the time it’s published – online or in print – the client will have altered it. Sometimes beyond recognition.

And you will be left drawing breath through clenched teeth.

Or – as was the case with one particular Control Freak I worked for a number of years ago when I insisted that his version of the final copy was awful – a particularly jargonistic response which my husband and I still chuckle about to this day:

“Bev, I’m sorry to say that, as regards taking this project forward, the train is leaving the station but you’re not on it.”


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