This month is dedicated to a series of articles about setting rates. Setting rates is one of the biggest challenges a copywriter faces, since there are no clear formulas. This month I’m going to share four ways to look at the same challenge. I will use some of my projects as an example of what can be done.
Develop skill in a specific type of copywriting. This is often called finding your “niche”, but its more than that. The goal is to develop the highest level of skill possible within a particular type of copywriting, building a client base within that niche and waiting for other opportunities to develop (and they will.)
From the client’s point of view, they have a clear idea of what they are buying. This, to some degree, reduces their anxiety and makes closing the sale much easier. The copywriter knows what s/he is selling and the client has a clear idea of the level of skill they are buying.
What Do People Buy?
People buy what they need. The greater the perception of need, the stronger the motivation to buy. Debate and confusion disappear and are replaced by a desire to act.
People also buy the promise of the product. What does the product promise to do? What problem does it promise to solve? How well that promise is communicated depends on the quality of the copy in the initial contact, whether it’s a print ad, radio commercial, TV commercial or pop-up ad. If the prospect is insecure about the promise, they won’t see a need to buy the product or service.
The “keystone” to a successful marketing campaign is knowing that the product or service fills a need that can be clearly and concisely communicated. This bypasses the idea of selling and goes directly to the motivation of the buyer to own and use the product in some way that is important to them (social needs, personal, professional or peer pressure).
Why Hire A Copywriter?
Perspective. A copywriter can think like a consumer and be more objective.
A copywriter can research the competition to strengthen and focus the sales message.
A copywriter understands that effective marketing is about testing, testing and testing again, sharpening the effectiveness of the sales message each time.
You Get What You Pay For
I can pound out 150-words in about four minutes. That’s about the length of a sixty-second commercial (which is what I write most of the time.) Most of those words are junk. I’m looking for the keystone that will focus those 150-words into a highly effective, focused sales tool, and that takes time.
My fee for polishing those 150 words is $1,800. That fee represents approximately 15 hours of research, writing, rewriting and testing, for which I charge $120 an hour. I also ask for ongoing residuals for as long as that commercial is used.
My rates communicate, clearly, that I am serious about what I do and the level of skill and commitment I offer my clients. Ideally, these rates also create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.
Finally, why ask for residuals (also known as retainers)? Three reasons.
First, developing a client base is time consuming and expensive. Residuals help to establish a limited client base with ongoing cash flow.
Second, since I have only a few select clients, I can respond to their requests quickly and efficiently.
Third, when new opportunities come my way, the risk of taking them on is reduced significantly, especially if they are one-off projects or projects that may require considerable time and effort.
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