Writing on commission?

by DavidO 14 replies
I know that copywriting on commission is more or less a non-starter. And I understand the usual reasons for that.

But what if you were dealing with a well-established product & company... a proven earner?

Are there any circumstances under which you would accept commission terms in exchange for, say, for a higher end price?

I'm not necessarily recruiting, but I'm curious.
#copywriting #commission #writing
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by DavidO View Post

    Are there any circumstances under which you would accept commission terms in exchange for, say, for a higher end price?
    David,

    A person just starting out might consider writing for a percentage of sales. Sure beats writing for free which some new freelance copywriters do at first.

    Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt James
      You can never be too sure, even with 'proven earners'.

      I just did a commission only project because the guy had a great product and he's pretty well known around here. He gave me a sob story which, frankly, I fell for.

      I asked for total transparency and he gave me the log-in details to his payment processor so I could view the sales and make sure he didn't rip me off.

      Come launch day and... the guy changes the log-in details and disappears into the wide blue yonder.

      Like I say, you can never be too sure...
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by Matt James View Post

        You can never be too sure, even with 'proven earners'.

        I just did a commission only project because the guy had a great product and he's pretty well known around here. He gave me a sob story which, frankly, I fell for.

        I asked for total transparency and he gave me the log-in details to his payment processor so I could view the sales and make sure he didn't rip me off.

        Come launch day and... the guy changes the log-in details and disappears into the wide blue yonder.

        Like I say, you can never be too sure...
        Sorry to hear this Matt. That really sucks!

        I've had a similar experience but not so blatant and I had a
        downpayment so I didn't lose everything. But this person
        outright intended to rip you off.

        You should still be able to get him to stop using your sales letter
        and next time take a downpayment, however little.

        -Ray Edwards
        Signature
        The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Let a VETERAN Copywriter and Teacher get your skills up to speed in little time.
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        • Profile picture of the author Matt James
          Thanks Ray.

          Yeah, I'll give him another couple of days to get back to me before I decide what to do.

          On the other hand, it's in my nature to just say 'you live and learn' and move on...
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  • Profile picture of the author John_S
    But what if you were dealing with a well-established product & company... a proven earner?
    This is not a non starter deal. The non starter is usually the client. Which this is usually why this is something for established clients, not new ones.

    Many clients have no experience with pay for performance and think it means they do nothing, the copywriter waves a magic wand, and POOF -- more sales.

    Let's say the product is a proven earner, but the reason you're there is the client has reached a plateau with it. Okay, then it may be you have to go in some new direction to create a breakthrough which will earn enough to be worth your while.

    Many clients may well balk. However, if they know how you work you may be able to influence them. That's usually only within the province of a client who has worked with you before.

    I have had some new clients who were shocked -- Shocked I Tell You -- that my advice was completely consistent with what's on my website. There is no jarring consistency when clients know what you say is actually how you work.

    One manufacturer was selling to a completely new market segment (consumer) and wanted to use their old (B2B) slant on things. They have and established reputation within the industry and bristled at the mere thought they had to have testimonials and establish their credibility and history with the new market who didn't know their name.

    Goofy stuff. But it's what you can expect when you work with a new client on this kind of deal.
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidO
    Alexa, your comment makes perfect sense... why would a good earner need to pay on commission?

    But John has figured it pretty well: "Let's say the product is a proven earner, but the reason you're there is the client has reached a plateau with it. Okay, then it may be you have to go in some new direction to create a breakthrough which will earn enough to be worth your while."

    To get ripped off like Matt described is disgusting. I would do everything possible to cut this guy off at the pass. Doesn't the copywriter own copright to the work? (especially if it's not paid for?)

    No matter how attractive the commission, a down payment to at least cover time and cost should be mandatory.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by DavidO View Post

      To get ripped off like Matt described is disgusting. I would do everything possible to cut this guy off at the pass. Doesn't the copywriter own copright to the work? (especially if it's not paid for?)

      No matter how attractive the commission, a down payment to at least cover time and cost should be mandatory.
      Matt does indeed own the copyright on the sales letter. I would highly suggest he contact an attorney (PM me Matt if you need a few names). Send him and his hosting company (found thru domaintools.com) a cease and desist letter for unauthorized use of copyrighted materials.

      Live and learn? Yes. But don't let this joker make a dime off you in the meantime until he makes good on his end.

      Mike

      P.S. Every one of my clients that pays me an ongoing royalty has paid at least half of my going rate upfront. To use a poker analogy... If they don't have any skin in the game, then they have no sense of urgency to use (or even test) what you wrote for them.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dean Dhuli
        Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

        If they don't have any skin in the game, then they have no sense of urgency to use (or even test) what you wrote for them.
        Exactly!

        And the more skin they have in the game, the better.

        A couple of days ago another copywriter asked on the forum
        why clients would dump a letter without even testing it.

        Well, if the client has paid only $100-$200 for the copy, he
        really has got nothing to lose, has he?

        He can just throw out that copy and get another one written.

        In this scenario, the only one losing out is the copywriter,
        who has spent days (if not weeks) writing that letter with the intention
        that his copy and the client's project should be a success.

        In contrast, imagine a client paying $7k or $10k for the copy
        and dumping it without testing it.

        That's not very likely to happen, is it?





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        • Profile picture of the author Matt James
          Guys,

          Thanks for all the help and advice.

          Mike, thanks for the PM.

          Look, I will 'name and shame' if nothing happens in the next few days. I'm honestly surprised at the guy, so I'm hoping it's just a misunderstanding. But...

          In contrast, imagine a client paying $7k or $10k for the copy
          and dumping it without testing it.
          Funny you should say that Dean. In other news... and this really isn't my month...

          My $7K copy just got 'dumped' for a video. Thing is, the guy asks for a refund (which I didn't give - though he's withholding other money he owes, long story) and STILL uses my copy in the video.

          And believe me, if this one doesn't get resolved soon, I'll let you all know who this guy is because he's very well known and deserves to be outed.

          Nice to know we copywriters stick together.

          (Vin... if you're reading this... 'get paid in full upfront', I know, I know!)
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          • Profile picture of the author Dean Dhuli
            Originally Posted by Matt James View Post

            Funny you should say that Dean. In other news... and this really isn't my month...

            My $7K copy just got 'dumped' for a video. Thing is, the guy asks for a refund (which I didn't give - though he's withholding other money he owes, long story) and STILL uses my copy in the video.

            And believe me, if this one doesn't get resolved soon, I'll let you all know who this guy is because he's very well known and deserves to be outed.

            Nice to know we copywriters stick together.

            (Vin... if you're reading this... 'get paid in full upfront', I know, I know!)
            Well, I'll just take that as one of those rare cases.

            Luckily for us copywriters, when a client has made a commitment of
            $7k or more towards copy, more often than not he's likely to use it.

            As for that guy being very well known... you'll be amazed how strangely
            these well known guys can behave.

            I have quite a bit of experience in that area.


            - Dean



            [
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  • Profile picture of the author Dean Dhuli
    I work with a couple of companies that pay me a percentage of sales.
    But they still pay me an upfront fee also.

    So paying a commission is not an excuse for not paying the initial fee.

    If a prospect is saying something like that you should immediately run
    in the other direction, because if you accept such projects one of
    these two things is likely to happen:

    a) The client makes a lot of money from your copy and rips you off
    (like in Matt's case)

    b) The client won't make squat from that copy because he doesn't
    have a clue how to market it. And then, he finally blames YOU
    (the copywriter) for writing a letter that doesn't convert.


    Take care,
    Dean.



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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    It was recent Matt?

    Name and shame.



    B.
    Signature

    This man is living his dream. Are you...?
    www.copywriter-ac.com

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  • Profile picture of the author OnlineMasterMind
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    • Profile picture of the author DavidO
      It ends bad 91.74 % of the time... for the copywriter!

      How about the client? I've had some bad experiences with copywriters which resulted in a total waste of money. And some of these were well-known and medium-high cost.

      Some copywriters, it seems, have a chip on their shoulder... "What... not converting?!! You must be doing something wrong, blah, blah, blah" and then refuse to do anything more than a very minor revision.

      Of course, these are the minority. I've been very happy with most of my dealings with copywriters. But there's always the stinker in the bunch and clients have just as much right to protection as the copywriter.

      I know there are many copywriters demanding 100% upfront because they've been burned. But so have clients so I think 50% down and the remainder after testing or other negotiated checkpoint is a fair arrangement.
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