How I became Dubai’s most expensive copywriter

“Let’s start with your story… how did you end up as Dubai’s most expensive copywriter?”

This was the first question Rob and Kira asked me during my unaired interview with the Copywriter Club (we ended up doing a round two that was aired and well-received.) To paraphrase the late, great Bob Ross it was a series of happy accidents.

I used to write emails and marketing collaterals for a charitable organization I volunteered at. Had no idea I was writing copy. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Ramit Sethi and the world of self-improvement and online business. Ramit’s a masterful copywriter in his own right and talks a lot about copy. And I realized “Oh…so THAT’S what I’ve been doing.”

One time the org was planning a conference. They needed branding and marketing. This job was given to a friend of mine, also a volunteer, who owned his own marketing agency. And he needed a writer who understood the product/org well enough to write compelling copy. So I fell into my first paid gig. And then I thought, “Huh…I can keep doing this.”

I started freelancing on the side while keeping my day job. Transitioned to full-time in August 2017 after my previous employer went through a merger and my position was made redundant. All of which doesn’t explain why I’m the most expensive in Dubai.

“Dubai’s most expensive copywriter” was a tagline I invented for myself. My way of faking it till I made it. Even though to the best of my knowledge it was a true statement… my rates were far higher than any copywriter in Dubai I knew… looking back it’s kinda cringe. And unoriginal too. I copied the idea from another local entrepreneur, Amir Siddiqui, who was “Dubai’s most expensive personal trainer.”

Did it get me clients? Can’t say for sure but I doubt it. The only thing it did was give my peers something to talk about. To this day, when I’m invited on podcasts hosts will introduce me as Dubai’s most expensive copywriter. So there were some benefits to my personal brand. Here are some of the rationalizations I had back in 2017 when I came up with this tagline.

  • It gave me the flexibility to charge the rates I do and not have a lead balk
  • It gave me the flexibility to raise my rates if I ever find out a copywriter in my market is charging more than me
  • I’m big on repulsion marketing so this helps repel people I don’t want to work with
  • A rising tide raises all boats so by charging as much as I do I improve the market for ALL writers by acting as a price anchor. This allows them to charge more and point to me if anyone says “your rates are too high.” AM I NOT MERCIFUL?

Was that true or was I just bullshitting myself? Today, many years later, as I update this email to publish on my blog, I can tell you this. You have to earn premium and luxury branding. You can’t just say it and have it be true. People aren’t stupid and they can smell the BS. Not only that, you will feel the incongruence and self-sabotage.

Am I still Dubai’s most expensive copywriter? I don’t know and I don’t care. I do good work, get results for my clients and charge a fair price relative to the value I create.

I wish someone told me this back when I was starting out. Don’t fake it till you make it. Shut your mouth, keep your head down and do the work. You’ll get your recognition when you deserve it.

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Nabeel writes a daily email to an audience of business owners, marketers and copywriters. Subscription to this newsletter is by invitation only. The only way to get on the list is by becoming a client, joining his community or buying one of his products.

6 comments… add one
  • Jace Brown Nov 7, 2023 @ 18:14

    I didn’t know this, Nabeel. Fantastic story.

  • Ottih Nov 7, 2023 @ 21:08

    Fantastic.

    Familiar with a bit of your story from the interview with John Caprani…
    But the-dubais-most-expensive-copwriter part is new for me.

    • Nabeel Azeez Nov 8, 2023 @ 8:35

      It’s an old story. I don’t tell it anymore because I don’t promote myself that way.

  • Andrey Nov 8, 2023 @ 7:52

    I got inspired until I read till the end, lol.

    But in all seriousness, imposter syndrome is probably the bigger problem. Even after others positively comment on my writing.

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