Just Wondering...Do Experienced Copywriters ever work for a commission?

33 replies
Hello everyone.

This maybe a silly question, however I am still curious as to whether professional & experienced copywriters work for a commission based on the amount of sales the product/service makes?

The reason I ask this is because not everyone (including myself) has the financial capabilities to hire an experienced copywriter therefore are there ever any other payment opportunities available to those lacking in working capital?

Thanks
Will.
#commission #copywriters #experienced #wonderingdo #work
  • Profile picture of the author Mike Schwenk
    Originally Posted by willyboy104 View Post

    Hello everyone.

    This maybe a silly question, however I am still curious as to whether professional & experienced copywriters work for a commission based on the amount of sales the product/service makes?

    The reason I ask this is because not everyone (including myself) has the financial capabilities to hire an experienced copywriter therefore are there ever any other payment opportunities available to those lacking in working capital?

    Thanks
    Will.
    Hey Will,

    Yes, there are many writers (including A-list) who charge a percentage, or, "royalties" for their work.

    However, I don't think you will find any copywriters willing to work based merely on speculation. It still takes a lot of time and research to construct an effective piece, so there is still time and work being spent.

    I'm merely learning the art myself right now, but I would think you'll have better chances paying at least half of your copywriter's fees up front and then the rest after everything is finished.

    Then, of course, you would also be able to negotiate the rest.
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    • Royalty or percentage deals are almost always in addition to some up front money. Usually something like 60% of usual fee plus a small cut.

      Also... I've never seen any known copywriter do this for an unknown entity. Usually it's done for marketers they've worked with before or who have a history of paying off these deals.

      The reason is it's too easy to not get paid... and/or have the marketer completely screw up his end of the plan, thus making the project a worthless... and fruitless one.
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  • Profile picture of the author AustinLadyTam
    The first time I ever did this I did it on 100% commission...and then the marketer decided to launch something else so I got zero money. I didn't do it again for years.
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  • Profile picture of the author erinwrites
    I can't speak for others but, especially if I haven't worked with someone before I am far more likely to work for a reduced fee and trade than I am for a commission. With trade and reduced fees at least we both get something out of the deal. With a commission there is too high a risk that I will work super hard and then not see any sort of return on my time or efforts.

    If you are low on funds there are several writers here (like me) that are happy to work for reduced rate to help you get on your feet. Why not approach a few of the writers you've noticed here and just be honest? Let them know that you have a low budget and see what kind of work you can get for what you can afford.

    You could also try doing your own writing and then ask for help in making it better. We like to help people here!
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  • Profile picture of the author talk2ij
    of course, lots of writers charges percenages and the like. but they are hard to come by. am right now studying to be one. heard is very lucrative
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Like Vin Montello said;

    It would be hard to work for someone new on spec, without having total access to the results and the marketing.

    OK. That being said. Here's some Real World experience speaking. From myself and other copywriters I've worked with.

    It is not unusual to get a "sliding scale" agreement. That is, a larger chunk of change upfront and a smaller % on the promotion. Sometimes, especially for a new product or new market, it is the smarter way to go.

    However, there are other times, especially if the copywriter is interested in the product or has a hand in creating it...then they might take a smaller up front fee and a larger back end.

    But, I like to work for people I know and copywriting is often a smaller part (rough hewn and then turned over to a team)...depending on the project and your part in the overall project.

    One point. There are NO hard and fast rules, just personal experience. Some copywriters would NEVER work on Spec. Some will take something and a %.

    It is what you can live with. Create an agreement that both parties feel fair.

    I've worked on Spec only, several times. Most have panned out and it was to my benefit to have done so. A couple of times...I was burned faster than a marshmallow at a kid's cookout. And, after these times, I created a list of A holes which I've readily shared with others. Word gets around.

    Anyhow, in my opinion, the answer is...it depends.

    gjabiz
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    • Profile picture of the author wordwizard
      I think giabiz nailed it.

      The problem with working on commission is that the commission is based on sales and sales depend on a lot more than the copy.

      Not only that, but the product may not ever get launched, or the copy is changed in a way that makes it less effective...

      Too many unknowns. You may want to check out the various WSOs for copywriting around here though -- you might be able to get really good copy for a very reasonable price ;-)

      And yes, trade is also an option. You might be able to negotiate a lower price in exchange for doing something for the copywriter. Don't know what your skill set is, but there are usually all sorts of things you might be able to do, from writing articles, to doing web or design work and so on. Figure out what you have to offer that someone might want and offer it in exchange for a discount.

      Good luck.

      Elisabeth
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Originally Posted by willyboy104 View Post

    Hello everyone.

    This maybe a silly question, however I am still curious as to whether professional & experienced copywriters work for a commission based on the amount of sales the product/service makes?

    The reason I ask this is because not everyone (including myself) has the financial capabilities to hire an experienced copywriter therefore are there ever any other payment opportunities available to those lacking in working capital?

    Thanks
    Will.
    The harsh irony of your question is that if you NEED to hire a copywriter
    based on royalties then you are least qualified to do so.

    In other words, people or companies who use this arrangement don't
    do so because they are broke but because they can afford to pay
    the copywriter's fee upfront.

    And copywriters receiving royalties are few and far between.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Axelrod
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      The harsh irony of your question is that if you NEED to hire a copywriter
      based on royalties then you are least qualified to do so.

      In other words, people or companies who use this arrangement don't
      do so because they are broke but because they can afford to pay
      the copywriter's fee upfront.
      Totally, TOTALLY true.

      It can be hard enough to get paid even with 50% up front, 50% afterwards. A copywriter leaving everything til the end is taking a huge leap of faith. All the good copywriting coaches I've heard say to NEVER write on spec.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary Pettit
    With the overall price of Copy Writing these days...just learning to use a few of the simple and good software tools out there could save you a ton of money! A few select may be able to afford the thousands copywriters charge but come on...REALLY! Tools and software may not produce the same sales letter results as top rated copy writers, but it can come pretty close in comparrison with copy and results
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      A few select may be able to afford the thousands copywriters charge but come on...REALLY!
      And those "select few" are the one who actually SELL STUFF and MAKE MONEY.

      Remarkable how that works, isn't it?

      :rolleyes:
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      • Profile picture of the author Gary Pettit
        Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

        And those "select few" are the one who actually SELL STUFF and MAKE MONEY.

        Remarkable how that works, isn't it?

        :rolleyes:
        I know a good amount of people and friends who live a comfortable life from online marketing and they would NEVER pay the outrageous price of high profile copywriters....it has nothing to do with if they can afford it or not. They are just good savy business minded people.

        With the development of technology and all the high end software products and tools, copywriters who have been over charging for their services for years will soon be forced to lower their rates.

        Remarkable how that works, isn't it?
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
          Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

          I know a good amount of people and friends who live a comfortable life from online marketing and they would NEVER pay the outrageous price of high profile copywriters....it has nothing to do with if they can afford it or not. They are just good savy business minded people.
          Then they're leaving money on the table.

          If you are doing the right kind of promotion the thousands of dollars you spend on a copywriter will instantly be canceled out by the higher conversion rates they get you.

          So they're not "saving" money... and they're not "savvy business minded people".

          It's their business... and they can run it how they want...

          ...but if you think they can get conversions anywhere near the experienced copywriters on this board you're kidding yourself.

          We charge what we do for a reason, after all.

          -Dan
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        • Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

          I know a good amount of people and friends who live a comfortable life from online marketing and they would NEVER pay the outrageous price of high profile copywriters....it has nothing to do with if they can afford it or not. They are just good savy business minded people.

          With the development of technology and all the high end software products and tools, copywriters who have been over charging for their services for years will soon be forced to lower their rates.

          Remarkable how that works, isn't it?
          LOL... remarkable what a crock of horse**** that is, huh?

          Copywriters who over charge do it once or twice and are then found out to be guys who over charge. Guys who don't bring the value people are paying for, to the party.

          Others charge what they're worth... even if that number makes you shake in your panties... and make people a ton of money because of it.

          I would LOVE to know who these marketing friends with the comfortable lives are, because I'm pretty sure I could make them even more comfortable.

          How savvy are they now?

          LOL...

          remarkable how ignorant and small thinking people can be.
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          • Profile picture of the author John_S
            I would LOVE to know who these marketing friends with the comfortable lives are, because I'm pretty sure I could make the even more comfortable.
            You may never fully appreciate the number of times I agree with you on a wide range of subjects.

            This is just not one of those times.

            I may not know everything there is to know. But I really get the concept of the "comfort zone." And (I think) what we're talking about is a group of people, firmly ensconced (Hey, you'll forgive me, but I've got word-of-the-day toilet paper) in their comfort zone.

            You just can not change that world view. It's a Dante's Inferno "Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven" thing only Scotsmen and entrepreneurs really understand.
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    • Profile picture of the author Raydal
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      With the overall price of Copy Writing these days...just learning to use a few of the simple and good software tools out there could save you a ton of money! A few select may be able to afford the thousands copywriters charge but come on...REALLY! Tools and software may not produce the same sales letter results as top rated copy writers, but it can come pretty close in comparrison with copy and results
      This is like walking in a biker's bar and talking down Harley Davidsons.

      -Ray Edwards
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      • Profile picture of the author roadwarriorhawk
        Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

        And those "select few" are the one who actually SELL STUFF and MAKE MONEY.

        Remarkable how that works, isn't it?

        :rolleyes:
        Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

        I know a good amount of people and friends who live a comfortable life from online marketing and they would NEVER pay the outrageous price of high profile copywriters....it has nothing to do with if they can afford it or not. They are just good savy business minded people.

        With the development of technology and all the high end software products and tools, copywriters who have been over charging for their services for years will soon be forced to lower their rates.

        Remarkable how that works, isn't it?
        To be fair - you both have valid points (although for sparkie to claim the prices are 'outrageous' is off the mark.)

        Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

        This is like walking in a biker's bar and talking down Harley Davidsons.

        -Ray Edwards
        This guy, however, has the last laugh.

        Don't come into this section of the forum and start knocking copywriters. It's just plain not nice!
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      With the overall price of Copy Writing these days...just learning to use a few of the simple and good software tools out there could save you a ton of money! A few select may be able to afford the thousands copywriters charge but come on...REALLY! Tools and software may not produce the same sales letter results as top rated copy writers, but it can come pretty close in comparrison with copy and results
      I've heard people complain about copywriting fees for 6 years now. It's no different from other industries I've worked in either.

      The fact of the matter is the copywriters who consistently produce sales for their clients are in demand and can charge what they feel their expertise is worth. The same is true for any other highly-skilled specialist including occupations like doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so on.

      If you want to hire the best, then you have to pay accordingly.

      Tools and software that are almost as good with copy and results is NOT the same as well-written copy.

      Look at the client testimonials on any well-known or famous copywriter's website and you'll get a glimpse of what kinds of results a highly skilled copywriter can deliver for their clients.

      Just curious... if you needed a brain tumor removed to save your life... do you want the best or the cheapest surgeon cutting you open?

      Food for thought,

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author John_S
    Would you like to explain this argument again?
    I can't answer for the OP. However, if you know your market, it's fine if you've got a firm grip on your market. You know what you're doing, and people respond --that's fine.

    You can't argue. You can't change the status quo when, by and large, the status quo is pretty darned good.

    For example, I know a consultant to the programming industry. She told me you can't even talk to anyone making under 120k. It just doesn't compute.

    Over that figure it is a different mindset completely. And you'll find a ready audience for a whole host of services -- including advanced interaction design.

    You will get nowhere contradicting a person's world view. It just doesn't exist in an 80K programmer's world why you would want to make 150K -- but it does in a programmer making around 120K.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary Pettit
    Guys, I'm not here to prove you wrong or prove me right...it's simply a matter of opinion...one that if your not a copywriter, many many marketers agree with(even one copywriter above states he's been hearing people complain for 6 years now)

    I thinks it wonderful when you have a talent of any kind...including copywriting. I also think it's not so wonderful when you think your talent is so elite that it merits the prices some of you guys charge.

    I don't expect to make any friends here on this thread but that doesn't matter...at least I spoke the truth and pushed a few buttons so mission accomplished.

    PS: QUOTE:
    "Just curious... if you needed a brain tumor removed to save your life... do you want the best or the cheapest surgeon cutting you open"

    Your not serious are you? Comparing Talented Brains Surgeons to Writing A Sales Letter

    Carry on Gentlemen!
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      I also think it's not so wonderful when you think your talent is so elite that it merits the prices some of you guys charge.
      It seems short sighted thinking of the elite charging and getting these high prices you suspect in the copywriting field.

      I and others, though undoubtly the minority, see that as brilliant, because we search for common threads that we can translate into other fields to become more valuable.

      So we use them to learn and profit from, not BASH!

      All the best,
      Ewen
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      Guys, I'm not here to prove you wrong or prove me right...it's simply a matter of opinion...one that if your not a copywriter, many many marketers agree with(even one copywriter above states he's been hearing people complain for 6 years now)
      Many many marketers don't fully understand what a top-notch copywriter brings to the table. (Hint: It's far more than just someone who writes a salesletter for their clients).


      I thinks it wonderful when you have a talent of any kind...including copywriting. I also think it's not so wonderful when you think your talent is so elite that it merits the prices some of you guys charge.
      We wouldn't charge what we choose to if there weren't clients willing to repeatedly pay our asking price. You don't command high fees consistently unless you deliver positive results for your clients consistently.


      PS: QUOTE:
      "Just curious... if you needed a brain tumor removed to save your life... do you want the best or the cheapest surgeon cutting you open"

      Your not serious are you? Comparing Talented Brains Surgeons to Writing A Sales Letter

      Carry on Gentlemen!
      I'm completely serious.

      A well-established copywriter is just like a well-established surgeon. Both have developed a high level of skill at their craft. Both command a premium for their expertise. Both are SPECIALISTS.

      If you're planning on launching a new Clickbank product... have dozens of affiliates ready to promote, each of them with tens of thousands of subscribers on their lists... do you want a salesletter written by a highly skilled copywriter that gives you the best chance of a 6-7 figure launch... or the copywriter who was willing to write copy for pennies?

      If you're dead serious about your online business succeeding... If you want to keep your big affiliates promoting your product (and your future products) then you spend the money to hire the best copywriter you can.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      I also think it's not so wonderful when you think your talent is so elite that it merits the prices some of you guys charge.
      Translation:

      "I can't afford you. Therefore, you are charging too much..."

      Sloppy thinking.

      And so Sparkle walked out of our world... forever.

      Brian
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      • Profile picture of the author John_S
        "I can't afford you. Therefore, you are charging too much..."
        Well that would be the easy B.S. answer. And in about two-thirds of cases, it might be the right one.

        I am only interested in the one third where it is not. I really don't care which species of bottom feeder you guys want to unload on. Not my concern.

        Not interesting. Unprofitable. And so on.

        What might (might) be interesting are arguments which get prospects to purchase. This is like arguing about Napster. Who the **** cares in twenty-*******-ten?!
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    • Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post

      Guys, I'm not here to prove you wrong or prove me right...it's simply a matter of opinion...one that if your not a copywriter, many many marketers agree with(even one copywriter above states he's been hearing people complain for 6 years now)

      I thinks it wonderful when you have a talent of any kind...including copywriting. I also think it's not so wonderful when you think your talent is so elite that it merits the prices some of you guys charge.
      True! Sucks when people think their talent is elite. But what about those who have an elite talent? What about those who get what the market is willing to pay them?

      I don't expect to make any friends here on this thread but that doesn't matter...at least I spoke the truth and pushed a few buttons so mission accomplished.
      Mission accomplished on not making friends. But seriously.. you want to push buttons you really need a bigger stick than you possess. Name names and we'll talk. Until I know who these comfortable marketers are who refuse to pay for good copy, I have to call bull****. Because I don't know one guy who makes money (I mean serious money) who wouldn't pay more money to make (wait for it) MORE MONEY.

      Don't want to out your "comfortable" friends then alert them to this thread. Let's see if they out themselves...

      My guess: They will be small players at best.

      Have them show up... let's talk it out like men.

      See... the truth is this, Sparkie... smart marketers... savvy marketers... hell, savvy business people pay for results. And sorry... using some nifty little online gadgets just doesn't compare to paying a real copywriter who gets real results.

      Those who don't get that usually don't ever see the real money.
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    • Profile picture of the author Raydal
      Originally Posted by sparkie2260 View Post


      PS: QUOTE:
      "Just curious... if you needed a brain tumor removed to save your life... do you want the best or the cheapest surgeon cutting you open"

      Your not serious are you? Comparing Talented Brains Surgeons to Writing A Sales Letter

      Carry on Gentlemen!
      In Mike's defense, he is making a comparison. To compare doesn't mean
      "they are exactly the same" but that some aspect is the same.

      And the aspect is "specialization".

      But you already expressed a low estimation of a copywriter's work
      so you immediately understood "skill and intelligence".

      -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author OnlineMasterMind
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      • Profile picture of the author glenngers
        Hey, isn't this really just an empirical question?

        We live in a free market.

        Copywriters charge what they CAN charge based upon the demand for their services, and their willingness to trade their time and talent for what the market will bear, right?

        I for one, have paid extremely high copywriter fees and walked away feeling like I was UNFAIR TO THE COPYWRITER.

        It's like this...if you get a million dollars of business from a letter you paid $6,000 to get written, who's getting the short end of the stick, really? Remember, the copywriter's fee is usually a one time event. But you get to use the letter FOREVER.

        It's hard to see these kinds of things when you're struggling to get your business off the ground. But having seen literally hundreds of businesses in my various roles, I can tell you that the one skill worth paying for is copywriting.

        I've tried hiring C- level copywriters for $600 trying to save money. I wound up with a few good bullet points and cross heads, but I had to totally re-write the letter. (And I'm only mediocre at best myself)

        Software is great to teach you the basic structure of a sales message.

        But how many six figure successes do you know (personally - not through internet salesletters) who built their businesses solely on a software generated letter?

        And how many SEVEN figure internet marketers do you know (real people running real businesses outside of the make-money arena) who aren't willing to pay for copy?

        It's easy to take pot shots when you're feeling frustrated or don't quite understand how to move forward in an industry. But they don't make statues of critics.

        And the good feelings associated with criticizing are unfortunately what prevents many people from moving to the next level, in my humble opinion.

        I know many of you will disagree with this, and I'm certainly not made of sugar so please go ahead. (You've got to be willing to be hated if you want to be loved, especially as a marketer)

        But consider this...

        What if I'm right? What might it mean for YOUR business to consider changing your mind?

        G :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Fortune_Hunter
    This maybe a silly question, however I am still curious as to whether professional & experienced copywriters work for a commission based on the amount of sales the product/service makes?
    Not sure you will find too many really good copywriters willing to work on these terms. First, you are asking the copywriter to take all the risk. Maybe your product isn't up to snuff and therefore no matter how good his copy he can't sell it. Maybe you are going to do this on a web site and his copy is outstanding, but your ability to send qualified traffic stinks. Maybe like someone suggested earlier they do this and you decide to pull the plug on the whole project and they get nothing for their work.

    I do a lot of copywriting, but I have to say I wouldn't work on these terms. I know someone might argue if I am that good put my money where my mouth is at kind of thing, but there are simply too many variables I don't control and therefore working on 100% commission is simply too big of a risk. While I don't charge royalties on my stuff, I know many who do, but includes a hefty upfront fee in addition to royalties.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by willyboy104 View Post

    Hello everyone.

    This maybe a silly question, however I am still curious as to whether professional & experienced copywriters work for a commission based on the amount of sales the product/service makes?

    The reason I ask this is because not everyone (including myself) has the financial capabilities to hire an experienced copywriter therefore are there ever any other payment opportunities available to those lacking in working capital?

    Thanks
    Will.
    Yes.

    There's a noticeable lack of trust in our society today, and in my opinion, most of it is unfounded. With just a minimum amount of "due diligence" a copywriter can tell whether a person is trustworthy or not. And proceed accordingly.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author C.J Rodriguez
    I know for a fact most of copywriters won't work on commission based terms.Most of the time they will ask for the fee upfront before anything is ever written.
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