Years ago — when I was a little less diligent about the business side of copywriting — I wrote a healthy chunk of catalog copy for a high-tech company. I loved the gig. I loved it so much that I basically ruined the job.

chart 
What do you do when your workload goes up, but revenues don’t?

I wasn’t careful about “Project Creep” — that deadly malady where you do more work, yet don’t get paid for it.

At first, the client leaned on me for product research. Then I was asked to submit the copy in a specific database format. Not hard, but it was time consuming.

They were a great client, and I was happy to accommodate them. Yet, three catalog cycles down the road, I noticed my time on the project was up 30% (yes, I used to track my time).

The added workload started to grate a little.

For two more months I waffled. Then the client resolved the issue for me — a larger company bought them and brought the catalog in-house.

Whew! Problem solved, right?

Sadly, you can’t rely on your clients to get acquired when you really need them to.

It might have been better if I had simply faced up to the problem.

What To Do?

Don’t let these things fester. Something as simple as “I enjoy the product research and I’m glad I can streamline your process with the database, but both consume a fair amount of time. Is there any way I can help that’s not as time consuming, or should I just add $XXX to each invoice?”

(Hint: Don’t ever complain; state the problem and offer alternatives that work for you. Remember — you don’t create problems for your client, you solve them.)

The Renegade Writer Gets It

I was getting ready to post this article when I saw the following challenge from the Renegade Writer blog. It made me smile:

Go ahead, I dare you: This week, ask at least one editor for a raise.

If you’ve been working with a magazine for a while, it may be time to ask for more money. I usually say something like, “I’ve written articles for your last six issues, and you and your readers seem to like my work. Can we talk about bumping up my payrate?” In many cases, your editor will go to bat for you with whoever it is that controls the money. The worst that can happen is they say no, but the best that can happen is that you walk away with more money in your pocket!

We’re coming to the end of 2007, and if you’ve been writing a project for more than a few months (or even a few years), maybe it’s time to ask for a raise.

That’s especially true if you’re doing more work. And not getting paid for it.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.