Up Your Copywriting Rates – And Make Your Clients Happier!

Yes, I know…  At first glance, that headline is a paradox wrapped in an enigma.  And yet… when you focus on delivering value for money, copywriter and client alike can land a win-win deal.  Honest.   The term ‘copywriting rates’ is a misnomer in so far as it’s preferable to get away from the ‘price list’ approach to costing.  In the quest to provide ‘value’, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. So how does this work?  In simple terms, we all want someone to care about what they’re providing for us – and that applies to whether it’s a business transaction or a personal one. Here’s how the psychology works – and here’s the way to earn more money (whatever business you’re in!).  When you quote a price for a job – on a standalone ‘take it or leave it’ basis – there aren’t any reference points relating to quality or after-care.  ‘Price’ is all there is to go on.  The copywriter will certainly know that they are providing quality and value-for-money – but the client is left guessing.   Let’s Look At It This Way… By reassuring the client that they can expect a high quality, creative and commercially effective job borne of experience and a certain degree of ‘talent’, the price you’re quoting begins to seem more reasonable.  For a comparison, think Picasso.  The following tale may be apocryphal, but it’s been told often enough to have acquired a certain amount of credibility! When the great man dashed off a mini-masterpiece in a French café, and then added a huge price tag, the would-be customer complained... Read more...

Brochure Copywriting – Talk Your Client Through It

I’ve just finished writing a 64-page brochure which made me think about the brochure copywriting process.  As with so many other aspects of copywriting, clients aren’t necessarily aware of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. That’s why this article may be useful in giving freelance copywriters some tips about: – Helping your client appreciate the work that’s involved in professional brochure copywriting – How you cost your work and how you can justify your copywriting rates. In my experience, clients fall into two camps when it comes to understanding how brochure copy arrives fully-formed and fitting beautifully onto the page. Firstly, there are those who understand that making sure the brochure content is expressed clearly, informatively and persuasively isn’t always as easy as it looks.  In other words, they appreciate the copywriting skills involved and they are happy to pay for the services of a professional copywriter. On the other hand, there are those clients who think that writing brochures is all very straightforward and aren’t quite sure what all the fuss is about.  To them, brochures are akin to the ‘flyers’ they’ve been pushing through people’s doors for many a year. I hardly need say that you need to be aware that a certain type of client can cause problems. These may occur when writing the copy to begin with, and then in justifying a reasonable rate for the job. It helps of course if the copywriter is involved with the project from the outset, where the copy is seen by the client as an integral part of the design – and not as some afterthought or ‘add... Read more...

A Simple Simon Solution to the Copywriting Rates Problem

I’ve had massive reaction to recent articles I’ve written about Copywriting Rates. The consensus seems to be that ‘creative rates’ in general – and copywriting rates in particular – are hitting the floor. So how do you make sure you don’t fall victim to this unnerving trend? If you read on, you will discover that there is one simple solution. For all you copywriters out there who may be in the throes of desperation… your worries may be over! Here’s my oh-so-simple solution to keeping your rates competitive without driving your business to the wall. Is this a familiar picture? You’re sitting there thinking: “I’ve quoted for fifty copywriting jobs this month and not one has come off.” Then you think: “Is this a personal thing?” You go to the bathroom to check if your breath smells – no, everything was done by phone. Then you wonder if it was your telephone manner, your accent, or maybe your overly-aggressive approach – no, it was all done by e-mail! So what’s going on here? A previous response I had to one of my articles hit the nail on the head. They said that the Internet is price-driven so the majority of online enquiries you receive will probably be from people looking for a bargain basement writer. (BTW … One thing I would say to copywriters who receive these online enquiries is ‘always phone back’. If the person who enquired sounds surprised to hear from you – and in my experience, some have been tangibly gob-smacked – it’s a dead certainty they are only out ‘price fishing’!) It’s so simple, Simon!... Read more...

Copywriting Rates and the Collective ‘Cri de Coeur’

Every time I’ve written articles and blog posts about Copywriting Rates, the response has been overwhelming. It’s no accident that the page covering this topic on my company’s main website attracts far and away the greatest number of visitors – and easily the highest click-through rates. A recent article of mine entitled ‘Copywriting Rates: Preparing for the Price War’ generated so much interest (particularly on LinkedIn) that it’s provided enough feedback to form the basis of a qualitative research retrospective! It’s important of course to ask the very real question as to why this subject is so popular among copywriters – and other people too.  It goes without saying that remuneration or ‘compensation’ is something that’s dear to the hearts of everyone in business, especially sole traders as many copywriters tend to be. Few things fire up an individual more than a sense of injustice – and the state of the copywriting market right now is clearly full of it, if the responses to my articles are anything to go by. A major problem for any sole practitioner is that they are overly dependent on market forces.  This is fine when economic conditions are favourable and business is booming everywhere.  In a slump, however, it’s a buyers’ market. Other factors which compound this sense of injustice and vulnerability include the changing nature of copywriting work itself.  Waves were first made a few years ago when it became clear that ‘Third World’ copywriters were entering the market.  Their dollar-a-day rates helped them gain a foothold in the ‘contract copywriting’ side of the business where masses of descriptive words were required... Read more...

Copywriting Rates: ‘Vox Pop’ and Viral!

  The recent articles and blog posts I’ve written about Copywriting Rates have generated responses bordering on the viral!  Here are some of the key themes to emerge from around the world:   “COPYWRITING AS A COMMODITY” Copywriting is now seen by many clients as a ‘commodity’ and, as such, price is the over-riding factor in selecting a copywriter.  For many online projects, it’s all about sourcing a writer who is vaguely competent but is compliant enough to work for rock-bottom rates.   “COPYWRITERS SHOULD SELL THEMSELVES BETTER” Copywriters should see themselves as a ‘brand’ and sell themselves accordingly.  This is one way to differentiate yourself as a copywriter from the mass of competition that’s out there.  Adopting an assertive stance and emphasising a unique combination of quality and value will win over a percentage of those who would otherwise adopt the ‘price only’ selection process.   “COPYWRITERS CAN BE REASSURINGLY EXPENSIVE” This variant on the Stella Artois advertising theme can sometimes win over the doubters.  When confronted with a world of choice, sometimes it’s easier to choose those with a good reputation.  The key to succeeding with this kind of market positioning lies in having plenty of powerful testimonials.  If you win clients using this philosophy, you can charge more and you will win more respect.  The downside is that you may lose a string of potential clients who prefer to take the cheap and cheerful route.   “CHARGING BY THE HOUR OR BY THE DAY IS A BIG MISTAKE” Some say this policy immediately ‘commoditises’ a service that should be based on ‘quality outcomes’.  In some circles,... Read more...

Copywriting Rates: Preparing for the Price War

This article focuses on copywriting rates from a copywriter’s point of view – largely because they’re the ones who set the rates, even though clients have the ultimate veto!  As with any marketplace, there’s a constant battle between buyers and sellers, each wanting to maximise the benefit they gain from the transaction.   Any experienced copywriter reading this will be all too familiar with some of the situations that arise when negotiating copywriting rates.  For many, it will always be a minefield fraught with a wide range of client attitudes and an even greater range of copywriting projects, payment methods and opportunists who seek only to ‘commoditise’ what should be a creative and persuasive technique at the heart of every marketing campaign.   As sole operators, copywriters need to be on their guard against exploitation by larger and wealthier agencies and direct client companies.  Many copywriters lack the experience and business know-how to negotiate the best rates for their services.  Others will continually come up against situations they’re not familiar with so they often end up leaving money on the table. This has all been sharpened up in recent recessionary times where extreme value for money is being sought by increasing numbers of people.  The Internet is the happy hunting ground for many of this persuasion where copywriting – especially content writing – is now attracting something akin to slave labour rates.  Sympathetic readers on the ‘client’ side as well as knowledge-hungry copywriters will hopefully benefit from some of the points highlighted here. Every business transaction involving copywriting has a similar sequence of events: the enquiry; the meeting; the... Read more...