Getting Paid to Take Criticism

Every once in a while, a client has changes to what I’ve written. The conversation usually begins with the client saying, “Please don’t get offended, but I really wanted…”

To this, my typical reply is, “No problem. I get paid to take criticism.”

Disagree with this sentiment? Then you’re either not a writer, you’ve not written for many clients, you’ve not written for demanding clients, or the only place you write is in your journal. For those of us on the copywriting side of things, however, writing is about neither glamor nor self-satisfaction. It’s about giving clients what they want. And what they want isn’t always clear on the front end. That means I’ve got to do some editing on the back end.

Which is great.

Great? Isn’t it a pain to do edits?

No way, Jose. (If I may call you that.) Because when a client explains where I missed his or her vision, I gain clarity of their vision. And since I don’t typically invest in one-off jobs, learning that vision ensures a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t get paid to just have people criticize my stuff. (Though that would be a sweet gig.) I get paid because I take that criticism and use it in a constructive manner. When a client tells me an intro doesn’t work or the article should have been arranged differently, I don’t say thanks for the critique and hold out my hand for a paycheck. I thank the client for the input and go fix the article, web page, email, or ebook.

Guess what happens the next time I write for that same client? The copy is as clean as my police record and as spot-on as perfectly placed spots.

Of course, there was a time when I had a hard time throwing my preference out the window and bowing to my clients’ desires. But even when I thought a client was crazy to toss my amazing prose for something I deemed more robotic or stale, I did it. Eventually, I realized that keeping clients happy keeps me happy. Because doing this ensures my paycheck and, contrary to popular belief, I can actually find satisfaction in providing great copy and pleasing clients—even if the client prefers that I write like a machine instead of a person.

This attitude has opened a lot of doors. Through the years, I’ve written for one of the most successful and influential fitness consulting businesses in the world, helped multiple colleges promote their message to their respective audiences and target audiences, have been trusted with a tattoo shop’s online presence, and I have your attention. All because I’m willing to take criticism and not go into the fetal position.

So the next time someone comes to you with some criticism about your writing, tell this person, “Thank you.” And mean it. Your craft requires it.

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