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The Copy Chick
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Hi Scarlett – a great question and one I’ve tackled myself from time to time.

To encourage people to think ahead, I’m considering putting some educational info into my site to discourage people from ringing up on a Wednesday expecting brochure copy finished by the Monday (which happens depressingly often).

Maybe something along the lines of what steps are involved (from the brief/quote, through revisions, edits, and production of final copy), why they need to allow a decent amount of time based on these steps, and also a reminder that other clients will already have booked work in, so availability may not be immediate. I’m also happy to add a bit about what their options are if they have a genuine rush job.

I hope this will help educate prospective clients to the potential time-frames and have them reconsider how “urgent” their job is (it’s amazing how many of these jobs end up weeks, sometimes months, over their initial deadline because “circumstances have changed”), and to be more open to booking work in at a later date.

Not sure if this would work for you, but thought it might be worth sharing.