As a freelance copywriter your time means money. To be successful you need to be organized and use your time wisely. Although copywriters are artists who paint with words, you are also a business owner. It is important to keep this in mind.

In this article I will cover one of the biggest time wasters for freelance copywriters—the time vampire. This type of client can cause much frustration and loss of income. I have come across enough time vampires in my writing career to advice on how to quickly recognize and avoid them.

How to Identify a Time Vampire

Time vampires are crafty at appearing to be serious clients. They use up your time and energy with no intention to ever hire or pay you. Generally, they make promises but never follow through. The most common reasons time vampires work under:

  • Lack of funds
  • Scams to get free content
  • Trying to size up the writer market
  • Looking for free advice

Regardless of the reason, their goal is to get what they can from you for free, be it professional advice or content. They will come up with various excuses to avoid paying and wasting your time. Once you recognize a time vampire, there are several steps you can take to counter them.

How to Stop Time Vampires

Time vampires are skilled at spotting new or desperate copywriters. Even if you are newbie or your copywriting business has slowed, you do not have to fall for their unethical tactics. Here are some common scenarios and how to handle them.

Scenario 1: Potential client who will not pay in advance or a deposit. Never work for anyone who does not at the very least pays a deposit. The deposit should also be non-refundable. A client who is serious will be happy to pay for work in advance. Time vampires will tell you that they cannot pay in advance because that is not how they do business. Value your work and refuse these clients. There may be some legitimate companies who work that way, but you need to weight the risk versus the likelihood that you will get paid. You must ask yourself if you want to chase this type of client or wait months for a payment—if you are lucky.

Scenario 2: Potential client wants free samples. You should never provide free samples. In most cases you will never hear back from this client and now they have free content to use any way they choose. You just wasted your time and potential other opportunities by giving this “client” your time and work. This is why I always recommend creating an online portfolio that displays various copywriting pieces. You can quickly (and politely) direct the client to review your portfolio. You can create your own content on for your portfolio if you have little or no paid work. A legitimate client will know if they can use your style of writing by viewing your portfolio.

Scenario 3: Potential client who wants to interview you. There is nothing wrong with a client who wishes to speak with you about a project. In fact, it can be a good sign that they are serious about hiring you. The problem occurs when they do not respect your time. When setting up new client meetings, it is fine to set parameters. For example, set up a brief meeting for 15 minutes. Be professional and send an email invite. There are various sites where you can set up free meeting invites. Be sure to indicate that you can only provide 15 minutes at no cost. If a client requires more time, let them know that you will need to bill in advance for a consultation. A first brief meeting is enough to get acquainted with each other.  If the meeting is going well, let the potential client know that you would be happy to discuss more details if you are hired and paid with a deposit.

A Final Note

These suggestions may seem like they may put off potential clients, but in fact it will help you quickly identify time wasters. This will give you more time to seek out legitimate clients who will value your work and pay you what you deserve.

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