Your copywriting income depends on you, because you set your fees. The saddest words I ever hear from new copywriters are these: “but my clients won’t pay more.”
As far as the new copywriter’s concerned, that ends the discussion. He has to charge low rates, in perpetuity. One day perhaps, when a rainbow and a unicorn land on his front lawn, he’ll be able to increase his fees.
“Won’t pay more” is occasionally true. Either the client can’t pay because he can’t afford a copywriter, or because he suspects that he can snow you into charging less, or not at all. Either way, avoid these kinds of clients.
If a Client Says He Can’t Afford You, Believe Him.
Let’s say that your usual fee for writing a short Web sales page is around $2,000, and a client offers you $200. Should you accept?
Um… no. As Michel Fortin says: “charging too little belittles you, your work, and your clients” – AND you can’t live on tiny fees, because copywriting takes real work. If you take too many of such low-paying jobs, you’re out of business.
Always respond professionally to clients. In the case of the $200 offer, say something like: “Thank you for getting in touch, and for allowing me to quote on your project. I wish you much success with it.”
Occasionally you’ll get a truly weird “client”, who’s trying to snow you. He’ll tell you that he’d WILL pay you – and a little more besides the $2,000, once he makes sufficient sales. But nothing up front. Say a very polite – “thank you, but no” to these you’ll-get-paid-later offers. You’re not an investor in your client’s business, and you don’t work for free.
Know Your Hourly Rate, and Itemize.
Here’s the secret to your copywriting income: know your hourly rate. In our example above, your hourly rate is $200, and you know that the sales page will take you around ten hours.
Itemize everything on the quote you send your client: research, choice of five headlines, body copy, etc. Add some optionals too, such as copy for a Facebook page, or a signup page to a mailing list.
Your client can choose what he wants. Michel Fortin suggests similarly tiered pricing, because it works. Your client feels more in control because he has options.
Once you start itemizing everything on your quotes, you’ll be surprised that a good portion of your clients will opt for everything. It cuts down on the haggling.
By the way, there’s no need to share your hourly rate with clients. If you’ve estimated ten hours on a project, and it takes you 20 hours because the research takes longer than you expected, then that’s too bad.
Get Paid Up Front.
Here’s your most important strategy: get a deposit. Usually your deposit/ retainer will be 50%, with the final payment due on delivery of the final draft. Point out that the copyright in the material remains with you, until you’re paid in full.
In summary, know what your hourly rate is, and base your fully-itemized quotes on that. You’ll get paid.
Want to set up your own copywriting business in just seven days? You can.
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