Newbie freelance copywriter MP recently asked me for feedback on his new website.
When I told him what to do, he defended the very things I said did not work on his site my telling me, “Well, my son thinks I should try it this way.”
When I asked, he shared that his son is 28-years-old. I have been a freelance copywriter for 7 years longer than his son has lived.
“Who do you think knows more about marketing freelance copywriting services—me or your son?” I asked MP, who of course said it is me.
By the way, this scenario happens multiple times each month and it is the primary reason why I do not offer mentoring or coaching services.
It is also why I am close to shutting down the free help I so readily give to copywriters, Internet marketers, and other entrepreneurs online.
My question to MP, if he is reading this, and to others who ask for free advice and then argue when they get it, is this: Why would you ask my opinion, which normally sells for $500 an hour, and then, when I am nice enough to give it free, instead of thanking me, start to argue with me?
Presumably, you asked because you correctly recognize that I know more about the topic than you do—why else would you ask me in the first place?
The reason I know a bit more than you is not because I am smarter, but because I have more experience.
A rule of thumb to which of course there are numerous exceptions says that those with more experience in X know more about it than those with little or no experience, right?
Louis CK has a wise and amusing take on this notion.
MP’s son is a kid and not a copywriter. MP knows that I have been a successful copywriter for 35 years. So why would he turn to MP Jr. for a second opinion on my advice?
Here is the possible explanation: In over 3 decades of helping people, I have learned that many people who say they want advice actually want something else: they want confirmation of what they already believe.
As long as your advice is in line with what they already are doing or want to do, they thank you.
But if your advice is in opposition to their belief or plan, they argue and defend their position.
Here’s why I told MP to ignore MP Jr. and listen to me only…
If MP was a paying client, I would be willing to entertain the debate for my $500 an hour rate.
After all, my clients are paying me a lot of money, are gambling a lot more money on their marketing, and want to be confident they are taking the right path.
But if you are not paying me for my time, and I am generous enough to give some of it away to you, I am going to want to keep it short for obvious reasons: I have a lot of other things I could be doing in that time instead, all of which make me money.
To me, yes. And to MP, who thanked me, fair to him too.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.