Should I charge differently for Updating existing copy?

9 replies
I have a potential client I've been emailing back and forth with for about two days. He wants copy for his website and I gave him my fee in the first email I sent. Now this morning he's decided that "his needs have changed" and he won't need new copy anymore, he just wants me to update what's already there, make it longer, and incorporate keywords - and he wants me to charge less.

I've always written from scratch, so I'm not sure if my rates should change or by how much for updating copy. And additionally, it sounds like the guy is still trying to get a similar chunk of work from me but at a lower price.

So I guess my question is, do I charge less for this? And if so what are the guidelines for that?

Thanks!
#charge #copy #differently #existing #updating
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Stand firm.

    Be ready to walk away if it's not a fit.

    Are you proud to have your name attached to the old copy? "We hired this writer but it didn't work"...you do not want to get into that position. And you won't even be able to defend yourself because you'll never hear about it!
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  • Sounds like he is duckin' out -- but that don't meanya gotta drown also.

    Deal is, guy is seekin' to CHANGE THE RULES cozza circumstances YOU CAN'T FIX.

    So what is in it for you?

    Like Jason says -- nuthin' less'n U wanna (an' why wouldya ... even with musical accompaniment an a stageset gonna heat up Madonna's tits till they EXPLODE?)

    A ravenous beast would mebbe say ... sounds like you in more trouble than you thought, but I fixed this kinda stuff before, so you wanna get yourself outta this hole, mebbe consider this ...

    [Insert ABOMINABLY VAGUE HOOK HERE]

    ... sry I can't help now -- but for sure plz look me up in the fyooture anytime ur STUCK.

    {Princess pauses for dramatic effect}

    Then mebbe punch the f*cker in the chops for bein' such an *sshole.
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    I agree with Jason.

    Be polite... be professional... but stand firm on your price (and be prepared to walk)

    He might just be testing your resolve, to see how steadfast you truly are. Show him you're confident in your abilities, and he may respect you more for it.

    Explain to him that updating copy, making it longer, and incorporating keywords, is just as time consuming as writing from scratch. The finished product still needs to be coherent and readable to humans.

    And sometimes it's even more difficult adding to existing copy, while still keeping a logical flow to the piece.


    On the other hand... he might simply be the kind of guy who wants to take advantage of you.
    In which case, standing firm on your prices will likely send him off looking for a different writer.

    If that happens... consider yourself lucky that you dodged a bullet. Because you almost ended up with a guy who (given half a chance) will probably "nickle and dime" you to death.

    In which case I agree with Princess...

    Originally Posted by Princess Balestra View Post

    mebbe punch the f*cker in the chops for bein' such an *sshole.
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    If your advertising is not getting you the results you want to see... I can show you how to fix it - Direct Response Copywriter / Conversion Flow Specialist

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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    I have a potential client I've been emailing back and forth with for about two days. He wants copy for his website and I gave him my fee in the first email I sent. Now this morning he's decided that "his needs have changed" and he won't need new copy anymore, he just wants me to update what's already there, make it longer, and incorporate keywords - and he wants me to charge less.
    It sounds like he doesn't want you to start again from scratch.

    Putting the question aside of whether or not you are accustomed to updating copy, ask yourself whether the client would be well served with a modification of what he already has. If yes, give him a new quote. If not, don't simply say no. Instead, explain substantively why he is not going to get the results he's looking for unless you start over.

    Marcia Yudkin
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    Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Did you ask him what results he is after?

    Because, as the others have said, he'll hold you responsible for those, though, it seems, so far, none have been offered.

    Even if he offers you the results he's after, what does he mean by updating? Will that and making longer and inserting keywords be likely to produce the results he's after?

    I have talked to business owners who wanted to be #1 for a city with a population of 30,000 and expected 10,000 monthly visitors from that!

    Business owners who wanted to fix the website copy when the people answering the phones were messing up.

    And so on and on.
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  • Profile picture of the author thegreatone
    i agree on standing firm with this one, you should already have a WHAT IF plan in case someone wants to change the rules !!
    i'd also concider upping the price for doing smaller mods compared to doing a full site.
    if he wants cheaper then he will have to pay you 6 months in advance for a 16 month to two year plan of site upkeep.
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  • Profile picture of the author prettypassionate
    Thanks for the advice, everyone!

    Well I told him that I charge per page, not by word - which I had already told him in the first place. And I held firm with the price. That was yesterday morning and he has yet to respond. He wouldn't be the first person I've had to walk away from, so I figure I've dodged a bullet if he's already trying to switch things up.

    And also, it hadn't even crossed my mind that I might be blamed for the old copy as well, so that's aomething I'll have to remember going forward. Thanks for pointing that out.
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  • Profile picture of the author PatriciaS
    "Make it longer" obviously involves fresh new content. Update how? Move the words around?

    Yeah, he's just a cheapskate. I'd be tempted to quote almost the same (aybe 5-10% less or whatever works for you), OR ask him since price seems to be an issue, how much does he want to spend / what's his (cough) "new" budget for this, and you'll tell him what that buys.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by prettypassionate View Post

    And also, it hadn't even crossed my mind that I might be blamed for the old copy as well, so that's something I'll have to remember going forward. Thanks for pointing that out.
    I used to take my car to a mechanic that had a sign in his waiting room:

    Labor (I fix your car) $85/hour (this was several years ago)
    Labor (I fix your car after you try to do it yourself) $150/hour.

    Works the same way with copy/content updating sometimes. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.
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