Dear Client: A letter from your freelance copywriter

November 24, 2011 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Freelancing 

letter to freelance clientI’ve been pretty lucky to work with mostly good clients over the years. But every now and then, like everyone else, I get one who ends up being a pain in the butt.

Tiffany Markman shows how to share your feelings with those sort of clients. Though I don’t recommend you actually send a letter like this, it’s fun to fantasize about it.


Dear Client,

You and I have been working for some time on the web copy for your new range of products. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. At this stage, I feel a letter might be appropriate, to convey how I feel about my creative collaboration with you.

To begin with, when briefed to create search engine optimised (SEO) web copy, I revel in repeatedly explaining what search engine optimisation is. Even the third, fourth and fifth attempts to illuminate this concept felt fresh and new to me.

I enjoyed the drawings I did for you, and the many written explanations. And, when I submitted my first draft of carefully optimised web copy for your review, and then received your changes, I found it a welcome challenge to go back and re-insert all of the description titles, page titles, meta-tags and subheadings you had removed.

I applaud your commitment to the revision process – particularly the fact that both of your sons, your business partner and his wife were able to have their say during each round of “tweaks.”

Please convey my appreciation for the detailed and colourful notations they made on each draft in hard copy, and scanned and sent to me as PDFs. I really understand your products now.

I was given an even more thorough insight into your business, and its operations, logistics and personalities, by being CCed on every piece of correspondence you’ve had with your designers (local and international), packagers, distributors, stakeholders and close family since we began working together on your copy.

As you know, I take pride in ensuring that my copy is the best it can be. This is why I was willing to make a sixth and seventh set of changes, although you were only willing to pay for one.

And I didn’t mind the fact that the final (eighth) draft had to be worked on overnight and returned by 6am the following morning. That sunrise was so pretty.

I’m delighted to report that I’m now a sunrise expert, having received regular calls from you at 5.30am. I also like late-night TV, which I watch after your 10pm check-in, when I can’t sleep.

Now that the site has gone live and I’ve submitted my invoice for payment (don’t worry, I wasn’t upset by your attempt to bargain down my quoted price post sign-off), I’d be happy to make some extra changes for you, and to “finesse” the pages of copy that your nephew, who’s done so well in high school English, thoughtfully provided.

After all, as you say, this job I’ve done for you will open so many doors for me.

However, I wanted you to know that I’ll be unavailable for a while. There’s been an offer of work in a temple on an island between Vietnam and Cambodia and, although I’m concerned about the reliability of its communication infrastructure, I’m going anyway.

All of the best,

Your Freelancer

Disclaimer: This client is completely real, but I didn’t have the guts to send him this letter. You should know that 99% of my clients are superlative people, with whom I really enjoy working. But the remaining 1% is special. They’re what dinner party conversations are made of. Luckily, they’re around to fluff out my sense of irony.

Tiffany Markman at is an opinionated freelance copywriter, copy editor and writing trainer, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, who has worked with over 200 clients over the last nine years.

Related posts:

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  3. Translating freelance “Client Speak” into plain English
  4. 89 Reasons I LOVE Being a Freelance Copywriter

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Smart Comments

10 Comments on Dear Client: A letter from your freelance copywriter

  1. SAM on Nov 24th, 2011 9:23 am
  2. Nice article, but I can’t decide to laugh or cry. The truth is painfully funny, and you’ve captured it nicely. I have to wonder if this is the same client that I (formerly) worked with?

    [...] Rieck, author of the brilliant ProCopyTips newsletter, today featured my ‘Dear Client‘ piece. I am stoked beyond words. And I think my article is pretty funny. So if you can take [...]

  3. Roxanne on Nov 25th, 2011 11:25 am
  4. Fabulous stuff, Tiffany. We all have clients like that and it feels good to get this letter out in the open, even if ‘secretly’!

  5. Hugh Chewning on Nov 25th, 2011 3:06 pm
  6. Beautifully said.

  7. Tiffany on Nov 26th, 2011 3:08 pm
  8. Thanks for the feedback, guys. I felt like crying at the time – more than once – but now, with the job, done, dusted and paid for (finally!), it seems much funnier. Writing the letter helped a lot.



  9. Scott Martin on Nov 27th, 2011 3:35 pm
  10. Time to issue a red card!

  11. Beverly Bergman on Nov 27th, 2011 4:12 pm
  12. I’m sure writing the letter was cathartic to you — you nailed it!

    This came at a great time for me after dealing with a PITA (pain in the-___) client last week. This is why I am doing more teaching than writing these days!

    Luckily there are good clients in between the few bad apples.

    [...] Dear Client: A letter from your freelance copywriter – Dean Rieck [...]

  13. Katherine Andes on Feb 14th, 2012 11:48 am
  14. That is such a funny article, Tiffany. I’m surprised you hung in with that client for so long. I charge by the hour, so I avoid that issue completely … not that there aren’t problems with charging by the hour … some clients freak out when they get my bills and then cut the project short. Got one like that yesterday …

  15. Tracey Dooley on Feb 16th, 2012 7:53 am
  16. OMG, that brings back some painful memories. Thanks for sharing, and making me laugh. Because I think I’ve learned it’s definitely worth shrugging PITA clients off and moving on, as opposed to getting all upset about it. I did the latter the last time I got stung by a PITA client, and it ate me up so much I reckon I needed anger management classes! Now, if I’m unfortunate to once again come across a client like that and I’m invested before it’s too late, I’ll re-read your letter and hopefully it will make light of the situation. ;0)