June 3, 2017

“Clients don’t value my work... what should I do?”

Reader Julie Myers wrote in with this question (shared unedited with permission):

Hello Jonathan, Thank you so much for your insights. I am a copywriter. My fundamental problem is that writing has become a devalued industry. Clients think it is “easy” or “fun” and they don’t want to pay what it is worth. You are providing a highly technical skill and have an impressive background. Writing and branding are more fuzzy… and further, I can’t talk about many of my projects because they are done under NDAs (say, for a startup or ad agency). So, when there is a problem with perceived value to begin with, it is much harder to negotiate other terms except to stand firm… any advice for consultants like myself? Thanks, Julie

And here’s my reply to Julie:

Hi Julie,

Thanks for writing in with such a great question!

It sounds like you might be suffering primarily from some combination of these two things:

Attracting the wrong clients

Selling deliverables instead of outcomes

I don’t have enough info to know if #1 is an issue but based on a quick scan of your home page, #2 definitely is an issue. Your home page is focused on the activities that you undertake, instead of the outcomes you provide to clients.

For example, your headline is: “So You Need A Writer”

Let’s say you sold drills instead of wrote copy for a living.

Which of the following headlines do you think would be more effective at grabbing the attention of an ideal buyer?

“So You Need A Drill?”


“So You Need To Hang A Picture?”

Nobody needs a drill - they need a hole.

The drill headline is focused on the tool, the picture headline focuses on the outcome.

This is an important distinction because buyers may not know what outcomes a tool can provide.

Therefore, it’s impossible for them to connect the availability of the tool to an outcome that they desire.

I hope that helps!


(ed note: I have saved screenshots of Julie’s home page here and here for future reference)

If you feel like you’re in a situation similar to Julie’s, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to begin climbing out of the hourly trap:

Once you answer these questions - easier said than done, I realize - you will know what to offer and to whom. At that point, you can write a sales page for your most valuable offering, and get it in front of the type of clients who will benefit from it the most.