The Art of the Deadline

They should earn you money, time and respect.

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Deadlines let you know if a client is worth your time.

In the beginning, when clients would book a call with me, I would always get excited. “They want to work with me!”

  1. They have no idea what it’s like to work with a copywriter — or any creative.
  2. They aren’t as serious as they thought they were when they came up with the idea and booked this call over a round of drinks with friends last week.

Deadlines let you have a life.

I have, admittedly, accepted projects with those willy-nilly deadlines a few times. I have, admittedly, suffered the scope creep-slash-rape that comes along with it.

Deadlines help define you as a professional.

Imagine a drain has clogged in your home. You try the usual drugstore fixes, but nothing works so you call a plumber. They tell you their rates, and you agree. When they show up, they take a look at the issue. Then they ask you how long it should take them to fix it.

Here’s how to set a deadline.

If you don’t have a project timeline, develop one. Do this for each of your services. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be a simple Google doc or pdf that explains how and when you get started, how and when you provide edits, and how and exactly when the final work will be delivered. What matters is that the client knows when they’re going to get what they paid for.

Here’s how to change a deadline without being a jerk.

I’ll save the Honor Your Deadlines speech, because I have, in fact, pushed back deadlines. I hope someday I never have to, but for now, if I change a deadline, I follow these 2 rules:

  1. Tell them why the deadline has been moved.

A writer on a deadline is a beautiful thing.

As a writer or creative, deadlines come with the territory. Will there be days where you’re guzzling coffee and taking your meals hunched over your keyboard? Absolutely. But that’s a whole lot better than getting caught in a cycle of attracting low-paying clients who expect you to put your life on hold at their every whim. That’s a surefire way to prevent yourself from reaching your goals for many years to come.

Sustainable storyteller and ethical eater. 🌍 Content marketing for green businesses.

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