9 deadly retainer mistakes

Shiv Shetti
3 min readJan 20, 2022


First up:

  1. Worrying too much about immediate opportunity cost instead of optimising for long-term skill development


The BIG paydays come from deep diving with 1–2 clients…

Learning their offer(s) and audience(s) like the back of your hand…

And providing consistently brilliant ROIs.

This does a few things:

  • Claws back your working time, since you’ll quickly pick up what works and what doesn’t… AND you’re not having to learn tons of different markets
  • Bulletproofs your client deals for the long-haul, hedging against the feast and famine
  • Gives you leverage for which to increase your rates
  • Allows you to grow your copywriting business WITHOUT having to bring on more clients and go down the route of an agency

In other words…

Your business can scale with simplicity WITHOUT putting much pressure on your time or freedom.

So thinking stuff like…

“Oh man I could be making SO much more if I charged per project instead of one flat retainer rate!”

…is stupid.

Sure, in the short-term, you’re right.

You’d make more.

But you’re SCREWING yourself out of a reliable, steadily-growing copywriting biz over the long-term.

I can’t tell you how many copywriters make this mistake.

(Then they wonder why 7 years have passed and they’re STILL in the feast and famine…)


That one needed an explanation, the rest don’t…

So I’m just gonna fire these off:

2. Not putting the relationship first, ALWAYS

3. Trying to close the biggest possible retainer amount up front instead of charging based on the ROI you could reasonably get your client

4. Talking big without being able to deliver

5. Getting an ego when your client gives you feedback on stuff

6. Not being a culture fit / being a random satellite instead of a properly integrated team member

7. Not overdelivering

8. Needing to be told what to do 24/7, instead of actively looking for ways to make the business systems better

9. Acting like a total wet wipe if a piece of copy bombs, instead of sacking up, working out what the issue was, and fixing it

All of the above will either get you:

  • Rejected from the get-go
  • Fired after month #1
  • Fired after a few months

So hopefully this spares you some pain!

There is, however, one final mistake I haven’t mentioned:

Not using the Flaming Camel process ;-)


I know retainer deals like the back of my hand.

That’s my thing.

My superpower.

What A-listers endorse me for.

What countless copywriters have used to build stable businesses ranging from $3k/mo to $20k/mo.

So if you ALSO want the ability to generate juicy retainers on demand…

Then I encourage you to check out the CMMP.


Because the Flaming Camel is now rolled into the CMMP!

Sure, you can join the Flaming Camel program on its own.

But for a palatable investment…

(Not cheap, however I’m sure it’s less than you think)

You could get access to BOTH programs in one neat little mentorship package.

So if that sounds good to you…

Read this page for more information.

Speak soon,

Shiv Shetti

P.S. My thinking behind this change in case you’re curious:

The CMMP comes with 1-on-1 support, daily copy critiques, and proper mentorship*.

(*I don’t mean “access to the teacher in a FB group they’re barely active in”… I’m talking proper deep dives by a world-class A-lister into your copy chops)

So I asked myself:

How can we add EVEN MORE value to the program?

The natural solution was to add the Flaming Camel on top…

Giving our mentees access to arguably the best retainer-getting training that exists AS WELL AS top-quality copy coaching.

In other words:

You’re sorted on the skill side AND on the client side!

(And to avoid screwing over current Flaming Camel members, I first raised the price of the program before adding it to the CMMP)

Hope that makes sense.

For the 2 people still reading this haha…

More info on the CMMP here if you’re interested.



Shiv Shetti

My “Flaming Camel” process helps copywriters land $3k-$5k/month retainer clients ASAP