I couldn’t scrub away the stain

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Ever done something you’re not proud of?

I don’t mean as a yoof. We all pulled girls’ pigtails and mocked the boy with the massive nose, didn’t we? I’m not proud of that stuff, but I was young so I forgive myself.  (Plus they both beat the crap out of me, so my conscience is clear).


I’m talking about the “I’m not proud” stuff you’ve done as an adult – either knowingly, or like me, as an unwitting accomplice.

Twas thus…

About 10 years ago, I got hired by some marketing guy. He showed me his website and some work samples, and all seemed fine. So I took the job – writing a few mailshots to bring new clients in.

Wrong decision.

The mailers worked for him – he got stacks of new clients. But I wish my copy had bombed. Because a few months later, I took a closer look at his business – and realised it was all guff.

The samples he’d shown me were fake. It wasn’t his work after all. And the claims I’d made on his behalf? Claims he’d written into the brief?

Total hokum. Baloney.

He’d been charging clients a premium for a steaming turd of a product. Some were coming after him, threatening prosecution.

And I’d helped him.

I felt dirty. Tarnished. And I couldn’t scrub away the stain.


So we had words. Fists nearly flew. (His, not mine – I’m a wuss). And I resolved to go full-on Columbo with clients, from that day forward.

True. Today, I won’t work with someone till they pass my bitchuva screening process. You should see it – it’s as thorough as an airport body scanner. I stop short of saying “touch your toes while I pull on a rubber glove”, but still…not much gets past me now.

Because I won’t feel bad about lining a client’s pockets again.

How about you?

If you do client work, what are your controls? Do you let all-comers through the door, or make them qualify first?

Qualifying rocks. First, because you get to sleep at night, knowing you’re not helping shitweezles to carry on being shitweezles. And second, because the non-shitweezles like it.

(Wouldn’t you rather join a club that won’t take grotty members?)

Anyway, there it is. Summat to think on. Make your clients qualify.

And the shitweezles? Easy – refer them to your competitors. That’s always fun…

UK Copywriter James Daniel

James Daniel

You might not know who I am, but no doubt you've read my copy. If you've ever bought a hearing aid, a pizza oven, flat roof or vacuum cleaner. If you've hired a will writer, an IT guy or accountant. If you've been to events on marketing, acting or how to buy a business. There's every chance it started with a bit of my copy - a few simple, chatty, gently persuasive words. Ring any bells?

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