How much are you charging?

by DavidGWelch 36 replies
Ive been working as a copy writer for a few months now, my career is just getting started, and one of the things that im currently dealing with is the inability to accurately measure how much should I be charging.

In one of my last projects, I charged 400 USD for a 10.000 words project, this is a 0.04 rate per word, I know that is significantly low compared to what others copywriters are charging, but thats my main problem, how do I know when im ready to increase my rates? And how do I communicate that to my clients?

When I started earlier this year, I charged 60 USD for a similar project, extremely little, but I was so happy about it, since then my rates has clearly increased, but I still think there is much more room for improvement.

It will really help me if you tell me your experiences with this, how much are you charging? Are you charging now the same rates that you charged when you began? How did you know it was time to increase your rates?

Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated.
#copywriting #charging
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

    Ive been working as a copy writer for a few months now, my career is just getting started, and one of the things that im currently dealing with is the inability to accurately measure how much should I be charging.

    In one of my last projects, I charged 400 USD for a 10.000 words project, this is a 0.04 rate per word, I know that is significantly low compared to what others copywriters are charging, but thats my main problem, how do I know when im ready to increase my rates? And how do I communicate that to my clients?

    When I started earlier this year, I charged 60 USD for a similar project, extremely little, but I was so happy about it, since then my rates has clearly increased, but I still think there is much more room for improvement.

    It will really help me if you tell me your experiences with this, how much are you charging? Are you charging now the same rates that you charged when you began? How did you know it was time to increase your rates?

    Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated.
    I know hundreds of REAL copy writers. When I say real, I mean men and women making their living, and for the most part, a pretty decent one...

    by writing copy.

    I don't know ONE, not one, NONE, and especially if they make a 6 figure US dollar income.....

    NOT one, who would ever charge by a word count. It is perhaps the silliest of all questions, the mark of less than an amateur, and probably will prevent you from reaching your potential...to even think about word count when writing copy, unless that is what the job is, in the case of limited space, like catalog description or Amazon books.

    Even then, set a price. And of course, the old IT DEPENDS comes into play. Now a copy writer can make some money with non direct response copy, and many agency ones do.

    BUT, I doubt if they work on word counts, unless space is an issue.

    The sooner you newbs get out of word count, the faster your progress.

    The question. Can anyone point me to a succesful direct response copy writer with a track record who sells copy by the word? If so, I'll eat crow.

    GordonJ
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    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by GordonJ View Post

      ...NOT one, who would ever charge by a word count. It is perhaps the silliest of all questions, the mark of less than an amateur, and probably will prevent you from reaching your potential...to even think about word count when writing copy, unless that is what the job is, in the case of limited space, like catalog description or Amazon books.
      Hi Gordon, I've been in the book publishing and copy writing business for over twenty years, and there are many different ways that professionals price out their work. Word count is one legitimate fee measurement, hourly rates are another, and flat fees are yet another.

      Our editors, indexers, and proofreaders are all paid by the word and many authors write with word-count in mind. That said, I charge my copy writing fees by the hour. The rate is $75 CDN per hour.

      There is no right or wrong in this. Depending on where you're getting the work from, you may end up in a bidding war for business and have to adjust rates in order to win that business. But I always caution freelancers about bidding too low. If you want clients to see you as a professional. then charge as a professional. Much of this is about perception.
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  • Profile picture of the author neshaword
    D,

    As soon as you mention the rate per word, you automatically enter the content writing zone. That's not necessarily bad, but I know for sure that copywriters play by the different set of rules. My advice, hit the rate per project approach, even if it means that you have to set the price for every project individually.

    Since you mentioned it, the current rate of $4/100 words, I put it this way because it's easier to calculate, is a little bit low, especially for a native speaker, I guess. My friendly advice is for you to aim anywhere between $5 and $10/100 words. You do the math. Delivering 10K words per project is a serious work. So, you have every right to ask to be compensated accordingly.

    Cheers,
    Nesha
  • Profile picture of the author DavidGWelch
    Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

    I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

    The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

    Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      You convince your clients by convincing yourself. If you, yourself are convinced and they remain unconvinced, time to change them.

      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

      I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

      The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

      Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
    • Profile picture of the author Enyum Patrick Elechi
      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

      I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

      The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

      Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
      Your words as a copywriter makes all the difference. You should use your knowledge of copywriting to persuade the client to pay higher. When talking to clients, I use the word INVEST rather than PAY. That way, I put it in the mind of the client that the money I'm asking for is an investment that will yield high returns for him or her; that works for me most times.

      I understand there is always an inertia when you want to ask for more, especially if you are used to charging low. You will feel you might lose the client. It also happened to me. Just summon courage and ask for what you worth, while proving to the client that his investment will be worth it. You will be happy you did.

      All the best.
    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
      I gave this same answer to another poster on WF, when they asked a similar question about charging more. And while I try not to repeat my answers, I think this answer fits your question...

      So, my advice to you is - Starting with your next project, charge just a little bit more than you think you're worth.
      Not so much that you feel like a fraud, but enough to stretch your comfort zone.
      (If you think you're worth $25 per hour... tell them your fee is $30 per hour)

      For one thing, you just might get it. And that alone will help raise your self esteem.

      Then once you build your reputation, and confidence, raise your rates again.

      It's really up to you to decide what you're worth - Then balance that out with what your market will bear.

      Like a wise man once told me "If you place a low value on your own worth, the world will never raise your prices for you."
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      SARubin - Direct Response Copywriter / Advertising and Marketing Aficionado

  • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
    Avoid charging per word at all cost.

    You will devalue your offering and won't be taken seriously.

    Charge by the hour and forget the word count.

    You can do some research and find the standard hourly rates.

    It really comes down to your experience, niche area and your style.

    Good luck.
    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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      Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

      Charge by the hour and forget the word count.
      C'mon. Are you really going to charge your client for the time you spend ruminating on that next great sentence? lol

      Every price quote is different, based on many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

      Frank
  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems?
    The key is to climb out of the swamp and look for real-world clients. If you truly do live in Phoenix, you have tens of thousands of businesses there who need marketing copy. Most of them would not dream of paying someone less than minimum wage for writing.

    Read some posts in the Offline Marketing section to see how to snag such clients. They will be happy to pay a project fee.

    On the other hand, your posts read as if they are written either by someone who is not a native English speaker or someone who lacks a mastery of the fundamentals. Invest in some instruction to brush up on how to write correct English, as well.

    Good luck,
    Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author winbig007
    hi David

    I have to agree with GordonJ and others. Charging by the word count is simply the wrong way to go and you will end up in some backroom sweatshop if you continue this practice.

    Only by the project!

    Also, what's one of the most important aspects of the copy you write? Testimonials!

    Tell your clients you are offering this low fee and asking in return a great testimonial if they like what you write. Then follow up and see what results they are getting and get a 2nd or 3rd more powerful testimonial also.

    These go on your web site and in any marketing package you might send it.

    Think of yourself like a new artist. When they start out selling their work, it's dirt cheap, compared to some. Maybe only a few hundred dollars a painting.

    But each year as they get more repeat business and known. Their price goes up until they charge $20,000 a painting (or whatever) - When I buy these expensive paintings, (I have several) I want to know the artist is known by "others" and respected by what they do. Their art is in museums or wherever.

    I want to know other people love their work. In fact, that's the ONLY way there's any value to what they produce. The same is true for you. You must create your value so people will wait in line for you. It's supply and demand.

    It's tough to become great - but it's worth it!

    You're going to do the work anyway, so you might as well make you and it great!

    Make sense?

    I hope that helps.
    Tony
  • Profile picture of the author subarnajaman
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    How much you should charge your words is usually a function of self-worth.

    If you have a high self-worth, you will attract clients willing to pay it.

    Hard to believe, I know.

    But you more experienced copywriters, back me up on this, ok? Because I know I'm not alone in this thinking.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    When I started, I was lucky to be making $2 an hour after all the work I put into stuff. I thought I would work much faster than I ultimately did, or I SORELY underestimated what it'd take to get things done, or I didn't hold the line when someone foisted a giant creep of scope on me.

    When I started valuing what I do, that is to say - when I stopped thinking in terms of "what are people willing to pay me?" and started thinking "how can I deliver so much value that people have no problem paying what I ask?", I started getting fees I never would have imagined.

    I'm only just getting started, too (as far as charging what I'm worth and ignoring anyone that doesn't see the value in paying that).

    Before, when I approached it from an "I don't know when the next one will come along, so I better do everything in my power to get this client to sign on the dotted line" mindset, a SCARCITY mindset - I'd attract miracle-seeking clients and people that were just a bad fit for working with me. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I had to let all that go and trust that there were people out there who value the work. That someone out there needed me and my perspective. And that I'd find them.

    THAT was when I started working my way up.

    And the higher my fees got, the more likely I'd be working with pros who trust me to do what I do and don't expect constant progress updates, validation, and endless editing privileges. They hire me because I have a skill that they don't. Or my skills allow me to get it done much faster than they could, so they respect me. And I respect them too - they're not just a source of cash. They're partners.

    I credit Rick with telling me to fire all the bottom feeders. Where before I felt like $100 was the best I could do (and then I had to do with ego-maniacs, micromanagers, and people expecting a miracle for spending their last dime on me - which is BIG FLASHING RED WARNING SIGN by the way), now I can name a mid 4-figure fee for e-commerce listings and the client doesn't blink (because he or she understands investing in business growth and closing the sale).
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Thanks, Angie.

    You've come a long way very quickly.

    Yes, over-delivery as a deliberate strategy can be an extremely effective way to lift your income.

    It's a true point of distinction. Especially when vast majority of copywriters don't do it.

    For you to do that, while you're chasing down your next projects, is especially noteworthy.

    I'm happy for you.

    So when are you going to come out with your own product that shows people how?
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