Why I Occasionally Turn Down Clients
Whether it’s for pamphlets, presentations, or websites, creating content which makes my clients happy is what I do. However, on occasion, there have been potential clients who have asked me to write something that’s borderline dishonest. As much as I dislike turning any potential client away, I simply won’t write anything that goes against my personal morals and beliefs. I also won’t write content which isn’t true to my craft just for the sake of getting the gig.
David Ogilvy said, “Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your own family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine. Do as you would be done by. If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out - either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time. Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don't think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.”
Oh, there’s a lot of dishonesty out there. When the need to decline a potential client’s offer arises, I am clear as to my reasons. It isn’t so much to shame them as it is to hopefully spark something in them which will cause them to reconsider their marketing practices. *shrugs* Honestly, I don’t know if they ever really have made any changes. All I can do is leave them with something to think about. This brings me to my other point SEO stuffing.
SEO stuffing is when keywords are inserted into copy for the purpose of ranking higher with search engines. Theoretically, higher ranking equals more clicks equals more visitors to the site or product equals more sales. *sigh* Unfortunately, it results in copy which reads unnaturally. Consumers deserve respect and the majority of them are intelligent enough to know shady practices. SEO stuffing is indeed shady and considered a black hat practice. It is also punishable in a variety of ways which I won’t get into here.
If you’re a writer, especially if you’re just beginning your freelance journey, it’s important to avoid taking on clients who ask you to participate in black hat SEO practices. It’s better to eat ramen than risk your reputation and career writing copy which could end up with you never getting high-quality clients. It’s also important to be aware of long-term clients who experience a shift in management and change their requests towards black hat practices. For instance, I had a client with whom I’d worked with for over a year without any issues. They hired new in-house editors who proceeded to email me, requesting me to rewrite
copy to include keywords more times. One editor even wrote “I know it reads weird but it helps with SEO.” I rewrote the entire copy but did not include the extra keywords. Since then, I have respectfully declined assignments with her as the editor. When other editors began making similar requests, I simply began taking fewer assignments from the company. That company is very large, is growing, and had no trouble replacing me with other “hungry” writers who just don’t care. And that’s okay. My job isn’t to change their minds. My job is to stay true to my integrity, focus on quality clients, and write copy they can feel proud to display.
If you’re in need of quality and ethical copy for your business, feel free to email me to discuss which options will help your company thrive. – Angelica Mordant