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August 5, 2012

A Simple Simon Solution to the Copywriting Rates Problem — A SPN Exclusive

I’ve had massive reaction to recent articles I’ve written about Copywriting Rates. The consensus seems to be that ‘creative rates’ in general – and copywriting rates in particular – are hitting the floor. So how do you make sure you don’t fall victim to this unnerving trend?

If you read on, you will discover that there is one simple solution. For all you copywriters out there who may be in the throes of desperation… your worries may be over! Here’s my oh-so-simple solution to keeping your rates competitive without driving your business to the wall.

Is this a familiar picture?

You’re sitting there thinking: “I’ve quoted for fifty copywriting jobs this month and not one has come off.”

Then you think: “Is this a personal thing?”

You go to the bathroom to check if your breath smells – no, everything was done by phone.

Then you wonder if it was your telephone manner, your accent, or maybe your overly-aggressive approach – no, it was all done by e-mail!

So what’s going on here? A previous response I had to one of my articles hit the nail on the head. They said that the Internet is price-driven so the majority of online inquiries you receive will probably be from people looking for a bargain basement writer.

(BTW … One thing I would say to copywriters who receive these online inquiries is ‘always phone back.’ If the person who inquired sounds surprised to hear from you – and in my experience, some have been tangibly gob-smacked – it’s a deadcertainty they are only out ‘price fishing’!)

It’s so simple, Simon!

Call it radical, heretical or downright perverse, but the solution to every copywriter’s charging woes is to take the old-fashioned offline option. In other words, you should seriously consider the possibility of meeting a potential client face-to-face.

The benefits of actually meeting with someone are fairly clear. First, you will know right away if there is any personal chemistry going on. Your would-be client can assess how professional you are and how far they can rely on you to deliver.

Both parties can talk around the client’s requirements and how you as a copywriter are best able to meet them. Most importantly, the copywriting rates you propose will make more sense once you both have a sense of perspective about the task in hand.

Of course, you will have to persuade a client to see you in the first place, but once you’ve won their confidence, you can develop a relationship that will deliver repeat business where your ‘cost of sales’ will be zero.

We’ve heard it said a million times that – all things being equal – we prefer to do business with people we like. Hence the perennial popularity of client entertaining. Once the key people in your client company get to know you and what you can do for them, your rates as a copywriter will be irrelevant and fade into the background as an accepted part of the marketing mix.

Change Your New Business Strategy

To make sure you make the best of all potential new business opportunities, be sure to combine online and offline activities. By all means continue to optimize your web pages, and by all means continue with your Pay-Per-Click advertising if this is what works for you.

What you should be doing is investing time, effort and hard cash into the offline options open to you. This will repay your investment many times over – and over a much longer time period than online clients usually provide.

So what are the offline marketing options open to a copywriter? In case you’d forgotten, these include direct mail, advertising, public relations, telemarketing and networking, to name just a few. All of these are proven new business winners that will help you get your face in front of new clients.

More importantly, it will enable you to negotiate sensible, real-world copywriting rates in a grown-up, real-world context. It may come as a surprise, but the key to securing higher copywriting rates has been staring you in the face all along!


Mike Beeson is a UK freelance copywriter, journalist and PR consultant specializing in website and SEO copywriting. Mike’s company, Buzzwords Limited, was established over 20 years ago and is located in Knutsford, Cheshire (south Manchester).

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