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 that it only took him a few minutes.  To paraphrase Picasso, he responded by explaining that a lifetime’s experience had gone into creating perfection with such apparent ease!

Of course, no-one is making a direct comparison between copywriters and Picasso – but you get the drift.  It takes a little confidence – nay chutzpah – to take a stand on price.  Imagine if he’d quoted a copywriter’s hourly rate – or even a day rate?  The quicker you are, the less you can charge.  Ironically, the more experience and skill you acquire, the faster you tend to work!

Another issue arises when trying to compare art and copywriting.  Although both are creative (to a greater or lesser degree), a major function of copywriting is to solve a specific business problem, and ultimately to generate sales.


Creativity Is About Inspiration

Again, this is not a function that’s chargeable by the hour – for the simple reason that creativity is not a mechanical, ‘conveyor belt’ type of activity.  Yes, it requires perspiration – but the inspiration involved must surely command a premium?!

Appreciative clients who understand creative marketing processes will happily acknowledge they’re in the presence of a talent that they (or anyone in their company) do not possess and will gladly pay for the privilege.

Others, however, may need a little persuasion – about the writer’s track record, their experience of researching and interviewing, of optimising copy for SEO and social media success, to give some obvious examples.

The price quoted should therefore never be a bald statement of intent!  It should be embellished in an informative way in support of what is basically a sales proposal.  This will help a copywriter’s client understand in more detail what is involved in starting with a brief and ending with a piece of polished, cost-effective copy.

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