My last post focused on what copywriting can cost but this post will look at how much it should cost from the perspective of the writer. Maybe you’re stuck in one of those god-awful content mills where you whore your talents for a couple of pounds per article. I was actually in a similar situation when I first started many moons ago.
With no portfolio to speak of or reputation to fall back on, it was necessary to take whatever I could get to pursue my dream of working from home and avoiding corporate slavedom (and then I became a copywriter!) As my experience, reputation and portfolio grew so did my asking price and now it is at a level where I can live comfortably as a freelance writer.
Price Per Word Sucks!
I’m not a fan of price per word projects though I have a few clients I am happy to work with in this manner because they pay very well. However, try not to get bogged down in a price per word quote for everything you do because each project is different. For example, a 1,500 word landing page will take far longer than 3 x 500 word articles as it involves more research and more nuanced writing.
By all means, average out what you earn for different projects to give you an idea of what to charge in future but every project throws up its own challenges. Perhaps you haven’t been given enough information, maybe the product required specialist research and there may also be a stricter deadline from one project to the next. This all has to be factored into the equation.
Writers Don’t Just Write
Well, high quality writers don’t at any rate. If, as a client, you expect top notch content, the writer has the right to expect top notch pay since he has to research your industry, your company, your competitors etc. Then you have to factor in the checking of spelling, grammar, readability and more in order to ensure the content is near published quality by the time you receive it.
Copywriting in particular takes a long time because you have to read a very long project brief in order to develop pages specifically for a preferred target audience. Besides, some words are worth more than others. Coming up with a brilliant headline that compels people to read and purchase goods is worth more than 100 content mill articles. Just 5-10 words can be the difference between mega-sales and penury.
Time Is Money
Once you have a certain level of experience, you have a ballpark idea of how long particular projects can take. In this situation, it is best to quote per hour rather than per word as this is simply a better way to be paid. It includes the time taken to read and digest a project brief, take conference calls and rewrite a first draft among other things.
When you give clients uber-cheap rates, they take you for granted. By setting the bar a bit higher, you are showing potential customers that you value your work and will not tolerate timewasters. Don’t be a doormat, earn what you deserve or risk resenting your vocation.