“How much for a brochure?”
Any experienced copywriter has been asked variations of that question more times than they can remember.
And while we can give a broad range, it is exactly that – a range. With an emphasis on broad.
Even the copywriting fees for two apparently similar jobs can differ significantly. There are many reasons why. Some can be accounted for in simple time calculations; others are more complex.
Here are 10 of them:
How detailed is your project, and how much support and ongoing communication do you need? Will your copywriter need to exchange tens or even hundreds (it has been known) of emails with your staff?
If your copywriter needs to speak to one of your colleagues to get background information or to gather quotes, will you set up the interview? Or will the copywriter have to build that time into their scope of work?
Admin and project management can be a huge time-suck. Failing to reduce this burden where possible is one step towards higher copywriting fees.
2. The Brief
Copywriting isn’t just paying for words. Yes, you’re paying for informative, persuasive copy based on years of research, reading and experience. More than anything, though, you’re paying for results – and value for your business. Increased leads. Extra opt-ins. Higher sales.
To achieve that, your copywriter is going to need to put in some thought. But while thinking time (and using those years of experience) is built into any copywriting project fee, there’s still some work at the client’s end.
You can, of course, send a two-line brief. But your copywriting fees will be lower if you provide a clear, detailed brief that outlines your objectives and provides all the necessary background information.
Like anything, copywriters with less experience are likely to charge lower amounts than those of us who have, well, been around a bit.
A couple of weeks ago, I found some of my invoices from 1999. I knew they were low – I just didn’t remember how low.
Since then, I’ve put the hours in – from writing for every national newspaper by the age of 24, through to working on everything from annual reports to print adverts, landing pages, brochures and white papers.
All of which means I’m not as cheap as plenty of others, but…
4. Commercial value
… I’ve got a track record. One job of mine turned website visitors into buyers worth more than £200,000.
Alistaire Allday’s excellent post on deciding a fair price for the job outlines why, for copywriting at least, “the only true measure of worth is its value.” (Repeat, again: “I’m not just paying for words.”)
“Most employees receive a bonus when they do well — freelancers receive more money when the project they are working on generates greater income.”
Here’s Tom Albrighton’s take on the relationship between commercial value and copywriting prices:
“If someone asks for a tagline… You ask yourself what it’s worth to the client. And if they’re going to use it on everything they produce for the next 10 years, the price should reflect that.”
Does anyone think the agency that came up with Just Do It charged Nike a word-rate for it’s three-word output?
The ability to produce successful creative ideas isn’t a God-given gift.
It’s a craft honed over years of pain and practice. It’s refined with a succession of ideas that, in hindsight, you recognise as pretty crap.
If your copywriting project needs a high degree of creativity, expect to pay professional fees for a professional service.
6. Meetings and travel time
By all means, invite your copywriter to a meeting at your office. But remember that’s probably half a day gone – or at least 10 per cent of a copywriter’s working week.
Meetings and Skype calls eat into your copywriter’s schedule, so don’t be surprised if your project fee is higher for jobs that involve multiple meetings.
Is your project technical and full of detail? Will your copywriter need to read lots of background material simply to understand your product?
Part of a copywriter’s job is turning complex information into accessible, engaging material.
But if being able to do that is likely to need significant research time, your project fee will reflect that.
Almost all copy benefits from interviews – either as background briefings, or for quotes used in the finished piece.
Consider the time and experience it needs to research the subject, prepare and recognise the most pertinent questions, arrange and conduct the interview, and transcribe the subsequent recording.
If your deadline is imminent, your first problem is going to be finding a good copywriter who can work at short notice.
Most skilled copywriters are booked up well in advance. If you’re fortunate enough to find an experienced copywriter who is available, or whose current projects have inbuilt flexibility so they can move things around, that’s fantastic. But you should still expect your copywriting fees to rise if your deadline is extremely tight.
How many people will be involved in the sign-off process?
If your project is going through several stakeholders, expect the fee to be higher.
Design by committee almost always means more changes, more revisions and more time spent trying to fulfill competing demands from members of the same team. All of which adds up to extra (and often unnecessary or counterproductive) hassle for your copywriter.
How I set my copywriting fees
For all the reasons above – and many more – I determine my own copywriting fees on a project by project basis.
I don’t work on hourly or day rates: I just give you a fixed quote for the project. It’s up to me to make sure that quote is commercially viable for my business. It’s up to you to accept (or otherwise) based on the value the work will provide to your business, and safe in the knowledge that the price will not alter unless you make changes to the agreed scope of work.
To talk through your next project, get in touch now.