The Advice I Gave to a Young Copywriter

Last night I spoke with a young copywriter about a project he’s considering accepting.

Naturally, he was excited about the project. He’s still getting experience and learning the craft, so just about any opportunity is exciting.

But as he explained the details of the project to me, I spotted a few red flags.

For example, the client wants the sales letter done by Friday. Yesterday was Monday. That’s only four days to write a sales letter.

Clients are notorious for not planning far enough in advance, so that’s not that strange. What is strange is the client has been working on this project for three months already.

Why would he jeopardize the success of a project by committing only four days (out of 90) to getting a sales letter written?

There was yet another red flag…

This client has successfully sold many products via webinar and he plans to do the same with this project. He will sell his new product on the webinar.

The client had offered the young copywriter 10% of gross revenue for all sales generated by the sales letter — no money up front — and only four days to hit the deadline.

So… if the client is selling the product on the webinar, will he bypass the sales page and direct people straight to a separate order page?

And why does he want the sales letter? To simply “clean up” after the webinar — to pick up a handful of straggler sales during the week that follows?

These were the questions I told the young copywriter to ask. After all, it makes no sense to bust your tail to hit a short deadline when your profit potential is next to nil.

I also strongly suggested that the young copywriter get a draw against commissions. I recommended $1,000.

That way he’d be protected if the client didn’t run his sales letter or if the client intentionally bypassed the sales page to cut him out of the deal.

Now, I realize that experience is often the best teacher. So I also told the young copywriter that he could accept the deal “as is,” knowing there was a good chance he was going to make little to nothing.

Just chalk it up as a learning experience.

Plus, he’d have a good story to tell down the road.

Ultimately, the decision is his.

My point in coaching this young copywriter was not to discourage him, but rather to help him see the risks in the project. Had it been me, I would’ve said no. I’ve been burned too many times.

For him, it may be worth saying yes.

Ultimately, you get to take your business experiences with you the rest of your life. And each experience (especially the bad ones) will help you make better decisions in the future.

-Ryan M. Healy

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Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance copywriter, list manager, and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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