We had such a good thing going.

We went from having less than $10 in the bank living in somebody else’s dorm room to living a full, rich life, running a business that’s grossed 7 figures+, and most importantly, doing work that’s won awards for people’s businesses, put their ideas on airport bookshelves, filled their client rosters and bank accounts, and let them do their greatest work in the world. Work that really matters. Work that literally changes lives.

We’ve done this for 15 years. And now, I’m going to have to fundamentally change our relationship.

In the past two years, I’ve had clients walk out on $46,000 in invoices. That is, contracted funds. Funds we signed a legally binding contract for. Never, ever happened until the last few years.

And while I do have analytical thoughts about why this is happening coming up in a blog post, that’s more than I want to get into here and now. (TLDR: Fundamental shifts in the demographics and work environment of our space documented a longitudinal study I did all last year.)

These clients didn’t have any problem with the work. We had a great relationship all the way through. I did high quality work for them, going above and beyond the scope of the contract because I care about them and I believe in their work. And yet, after all of that, they decided that somehow it didn’t matter if they paid me or not.

A selection of the reasons they gave:

  • “I’m just feeling like, really stressed.”
  • Total silence. Just walked. Even though they read my emails for over a year afterwards.
  • “You didn’t get this 100% word-perfect to the unarticulated version in my head on the first try so I’m not going to let you do any revisions or pay you the balance of your invoice.”
  • “I ran out of funding.”

To say I feel profoundly disrespected is a huge understatement.

To know that my work is out there, being used, and making good money for people, for free, is galling.

And much more than that, to know that I matter so little that people who I spent months working with, digging into the trenches with, championing their businesses, disregard me to the extent that they feel they can just walk out on a contract is deeply hurtful.

I’m baffled by the ease with which people seem to be able to walk away from both their contractual obligations and our relationship. Do they just not pay for their groceries when they have a bad day? When they buy a house, do they just live in it and not pay the mortgage? If they change their mind about their manicure color halfway through, do they stiff the aesthetician?

Or is is that the internet isn’t “real”, and so it’s much easier to pretend like you not paying your bills doesn’t mean that I lost my health insurance last year?

While I certainly understand that things happen, guess what? They happen to all of us. I’ve been going through some of the most deeply traumatic, financially draining, soul-grinding bullshit for the past four years of my life and I’m still here, meeting my obligations.

Still paying my bills. Still doing my work. Still respecting the other person on the end of the transaction enough to do what I said I was going to do.

It’s a matter of fundamental disregard. And I’m over it.

So Internet, please consider this my resignation from copywriting.

I’ll still be around. I’m more than happy to teach and to consult, to develop your branding and positioning, and be your fractional CMO.

But I am not longer accepting new 1:1 work for copy and content.

It’s just too heartbreaking.

I’m not interested in my finances getting destabilized any time somebody has a bad day.

And frankly, I’m too damn good at what I do to be getting fucked around like this.

*To my existing clients, panic not! Nothing is changing about your work or our contract. Everything’s going to continue as it was.