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I know I'm not a copywriter, but I have to say, you have all taught me a lot in my short time reading this subforum.

It really has me thinking about how I'm going to approach business down the road, or what that business may actually end up being.

Today I was searching google for some specific search terms having to do with copywriting and ran across this blog.

I don't remember the specific topic that drew me in, but reading through a bit led me to the fact he bills by the hour. He has some pretty compelling reasons for doing so and I thought I'd post it here for discussion.

Have any of you done this? Know anyone who has? What are your thoughts?

Thanks
#billing #hour
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Interesting... the blog post cites article writing when making its point. But as most here know, copywriting and article writing are different.

    The value of a copywriter's work can be determined, because the sales piece brings in a measurable number of sales.

    An article's value cannot be measured. It's positive effect on a business is intangible.

    A copywriter should never say to a prospective client, "I expect to spend X number of hours on the project, my hourly rate is Y, so my fee will be Z." By doing so, he makes his service a commodity.

    Instead, a copywriter should price his services according to the value he brings to the table. And use persuasion to make the prospective client see the value.

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    • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      Interesting... the blog post cites article writing when making its point. But as most here know, copywriting and article writing are different.

      The value of a copywriter's work can be determined, because the sales piece brings in a measurable number of sales.

      An article's value cannot be measured. It's positive effect on a business is intangible.

      A copywriter should never say to a prospective client, "I expect to spend X number of hours on the project, my hourly rate is Y, so my fee will be Z." By doing so, he makes his service a commodity.

      Instead, a copywriter should price his services according to the value he brings to the table. And use persuasion to make the prospective client see the value.

      Alex
      /agree. I think billing by the hour's a bad idea, for not only the reasons Alex mentions, but also, the client wants to crack the whip on you and get you to cram as much work as you can into every hour... plus there's the paranoia on the clients side of wondering if you're taking your sweet time on things, or simply billing for extra hours, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I charge a flat rate and have only ever worked that way. I know how long it takes me to do a job but I hate being "watched". I work the hours I want to and the client knows how much he/she will pay.
    I also get paid upfront so it is best to quote flat rates.

    However, that article did make for interesting reading.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I've never tried billing by the hour but I know that most clients
    simply prefer a flat fee because they know how much they are
    going to pay upfront. When you bill by the hour the client can
    think that you are wasting time to push the bill higher.

    I remember breaking down on the highway once--my serpentine
    belt popped. The roadside mechanic fumbled for 3 hours
    to replace the belt ( a job I could have done in 1/2 hour)
    then billed me for 3 hours! I wasn't happy about it but
    he caught me in an awkward situation and took full advantage
    of the situation. I should have asked for a quote upfront.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyBelshee
    Those are all good points. After reading a bit more I see he is less of a copywriter than a content writer as well. Obviously not a run of the mill content writer, but more content focused then you all.

    I think the one main benefit I saw was how it weeds out the tire kickers. Having something like the high hourly rate posted would definitely prevent a lot of wasted time working on quotes for people who cannot, or will not afford you.

    But I can also see from the customers point of view wanting to know up front what it will cost. One of the things I hate most about where I work is the arbitrary billing system we have in place. It's not good business (in the case of my current job) and not good for business when there isn't some sort of consistency to what the customer can expect.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
      Originally Posted by TracyBelshee View Post

      I think the one main benefit I saw was how it weeds out the tire kickers. Having something like the high hourly rate posted would definitely prevent a lot of wasted time working on quotes for people who cannot, or will not afford you.
      You accomplish the same by establishing and communicating a minimum project fee.

      Ie: Minimum engagement is $10,000.

      This avoids hourly charging and eliminates tire-kickers.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      I think the one main benefit I saw was how it weeds out the tire kickers. Having something like the high hourly rate posted would definitely prevent a lot of wasted time working on quotes for people who cannot, or will not afford you.
      Tracy,

      You can weed out tire kickers even if you quote each job individually, by giving either a typical price range or saying most jobs cost $XXXX and up.

      Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    1) You're going to get tire kickers. It's a fact. But to easily weed them out, talk about fees and funds up front. Don't waste time trying to sell them and then find out they couldn't afford you anyway.

    2) I know some copywriters who charge hourly, and some who charge flat fees. Only you can know what's right for you. On one hand, you will encounter people who try to monitor your hour usage, and on the other, you'll encounter people who think you're quoting something outrageous. Kick those guys to the curb, says me. I don't want to work with someone who starts our working relationship off with the "I don't trust you to tell me what you need to do your job" sentiment.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Let me ask you this...

    When you charge by the hour, does that cover all the time you're THINKING about a project?

    Hmmm...

    A HUGE part of writing copy is thinking. Remember "copythinking" by Gordon Alexander?

    Also...

    Charging by the hour doesn't really say, "I can make you a millionaire with just one VSL script." Does it?

    A couple years ago...

    I was writing in a coffeehouse - up in Eugene.

    I pooped out a video script in 32 minutes.

    It went on to make a lot of money.

    Imagine how stupid I would have felt... if I charged by the hour.

    No thanks.

    But like Angie said...

    Only you know what's right for you.

    Inigo Montoya

    P.S. You killed my father... prepare to die.
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyBelshee
    Personally, I'm nowhere near charging by the anything.

    I had a project in mind that is put on hold for the time being and am currently working on another that was inspired by this subforum, what I'm learning here, as well as by Yaro (a member here and successful blogger in his own niche). This isn't actually a money making project, more of a personal learning, self improvement project to eventually get me where I need to be.

    What you guys say makes sense.

    One thing I wonder about when crunching the numbers is who is working harder?

    For example, I've seen numbers posted here in the $10,000.00 range for some copy. Great numbers I can only dream about, and I'm happy for all of you getting them.

    In the blog I posted, assuming $150 an hour, that's roughly 66 hours of work.

    I've seen mention of 4-6 weeks here to get a job done. How many hours a day is this generally?

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about his business model for sure. For example, how many hours is he billing for in an average month? And as was eluded to, is he billing for the time he's thinking of the project? Or just the time he's actively putting pencil to paper, so to speak.

    I'm actually of the same mindset you all are when it comes to charging for the work. I think I'd rather go for a job that ensures a set dollar amount I can count on then to always wonder if I'm going to get enough billable hours each month.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this and joining in on the discussion.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Different people write at different speeds. Then you've got to consider whether you're intimately familiar with this market or if you're going to have to bury yourself in research to get on their level. You've got to factor in thinking time, revising time, and potential backend. After all, if your $10k letter helped some dude sell $10M in product, it was a pretty cheap letter, wasn't it?

    These things on an hourly billing invoice? They look like bullshit to the uninformed. They're crucial components though. And the best way to know how much time it takes is to guesstimate, take the project, and adjust. You'll likely eat some hours at first as you learn how not to underestimate the time it takes, but you'll gain valuable experience.
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyBelshee
    That's a pretty interesting read Andrew, thanks. I'll be checking that out in more detail.
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