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Because they have no clue — or at least don’t think about — all the work they have to do that’s NOT just writing copy.
Here’s the thing…
If you’re a copywriter, you’re getting paid for writing copy.
But think about it.
This is the only thing that the client really knows that they’re paying you for.
They can’t see anything else. They can only see the words. The words on the page are your deliverable.
I heard that from Dan Kennedy years ago.
He said something along the lines of, “My primary deliverable is copy.”
The factory gets paid for the widgets coming out the door, and you get paid for the words coming out of your keyboard.
He was making a bigger point. But there’s a really important lesson in this, specifically about what you’re getting paid for.
They give you a list of specific deliverables they want.
Maybe there’s a sales page, some emails, some ads, and a few other pieces of copy.
When you think about the amount of writing time it will take, you could break it down and decide it will take you 24 work hours, for the actual writing.
Now, if you’re smart, you don’t tell them this.
You don’t actually SAY that you will take 24 hours of writing time to do it.
Because you don’t want them equating your worth to the hours it takes to write.
You want them equating your worth to the business value of the copy you write.
So you could come up with some hourly fee of $100 per hour, times 24 hours, and charge $2,400 for the project.
Then you’re not saying, “I make $100 per hour.” But instead, “I’m delivering you $2,400 worth of copy.”
If you do this, you’re thinking along the right lines, BUT…
You’re still under-charging.
Because here’s the thing.
If you want this copy to be maximally successful (and I think you do)...
AND if the client wants this copy to be maximally successful (and I think they do)...
You MUST spend time beyond writing the copy.
You need to understand the client, the market, the product, the project requirements, and more…
All the things that will actually make your copy even more valuable.
Plus there’s likely to be additional client communication time, maybe some drafts and rounds of revisions, and other tasks that take time NOT directly accounted for in that time you’ve allotted to creating your primary deliverable (copy).
PLUS if you work for yourself, there’s all the time you spent getting the client, doing marketing, accounting, admin, and all that jazz, that’s also not accounted for in that hourly fee.
Honestly, that’s not that bad of a solution.
In a sense, you’re taking your ideal hourly fee earned under ideal working conditions…
And acknowledging that in most cases, things will take many times as long or be many times as hard, or just have a bunch of unforeseen time-sucks.
And the reality is, this would probably put you on par with a staff copywriter earning a similar hourly wage.
Because that staff copywriter is going to spend half the day going back and forth to the breakroom, watching TikTok shorts, talking to coworkers, and generally wasting their time…
Plus another half of their “productive time” not really being productive…
But here’s the thing…
In fact, just increasing your fee makes you LESS PROFITABLE and a WORSE INVESTMENT for your clients.
Painful, but true.
Sure, maybe you do need to increase your fee, but…
You also need to INCREASE YOUR VALUE.
And the first and biggest step you can take to do this is to build all that extra work into your PROCESS, which will automatically justify adding it into your fee, too.
Here’s an example.
I almost NEVER take on a project where I just accept the list of copy that needs to be written.
But I recently made an exception. It’s an interesting client, and an opportunity to work with interesting celebrities. They have a marketing system dialed in. And they came to me on a hot referral.
The project was small, too, and I figured I could knock it out quickly.
And I could’ve just come up with a number out of thin-air on this. But instead I took all the deliverables they were hoping for, and put them in a spreadsheet. I then sat down and estimated the time it would take to complete each one, giving myself a little flexibility (even though the work looks pretty easy).
The actual writing time I expect on this project is 23 hours.
But then, I identified a good 8 additional hours of non-writing time I will want to have as built-in flexibility. And this isn’t a line item of “built-in flexibility.” It’s specific tasks that are not deliverables they asked for, but that I know are needed for success on this project.
And I added those to the spreadsheet.
Plus I defined an hourly rate that would allow me a little more flexibility, and accounts for additional non-billable time.
I added up all the hours, multiplied them by the hourly rate, and that’s my project fee.
And that’s what I told the client, take-it-or-leave-it.
I’m not saying I’m an A-list copywriter.
That’s not up to me to claim.
I actually learned the principle I’m applying here from the legendary Eugene Schwartz.
He once said he was NOT a better copywriter or even a better writer than most of his peers.
But he made so much money in marketing and as a copywriter because he was willing to outwork all his peers.
Which was NOT about the actual writing process.
He wrote the famous Boardroom, Inc. launch letter in the time it took his wife to get ready to go out to dinner (or so the legend goes).
It was about finding the opportunities, the hooks, the teases, the promises, the appeals, the angles that other copywriters wouldn’t find. Knowing that takes time.
A copywriter who only gives themselves enough time to write will just crank out whatever formulaic crap they can to fill the page. Sometimes that works, often it doesn’t, but the copywriter is already on to the next 3 projects and doesn’t care.
Schwartz, on the other hand, built all this extra work into his process.
He knew good writing wasn’t about using proven formulas, but instead about finding the compelling idea.
And so his process carved out this required time.
EVERY great copywriter I know builds this time into their process, and thus their fees.
Here’s the thing.
I went from $2,000 projects to $20,000 projects in my first decade or so as a freelance copywriter.
And for the most part, the deliverables themselves didn’t change. The time it takes to do each project didn’t change.
Sure, my reputation did, and that was part of it.
But the biggest thing that changed was my development of a proven process for creating success on each project.
A process that justifies basically 10X the fee (hourly or by the project) versus what it was before.
So a client wants me to write copy? Great!
They’ll get the copy.
But I’m going to follow my process, which goes far beyond writing copy.
The deliverable might be the copy, but the value comes from so much more.
And in the end, the copy I write will be better, and worth more. Which justifies the higher fees.
I make more money in the end, but so does the client.
Because my process is about more than just sitting down to write out the copy.
On one level, this is very simple training.
I am walking you through the process, beginning-to-end, of what a copywriting project looks like.
I’m using one particular structure of project, although it can be easily adapted to other project structures (I’ll share some recommendations there).
And if all you do is study these superficial details, this training will be a valuable guide to client project success as a copywriter.
Plus simply by building many of these steps into your process, you will be more easily able to account for the additional work required for copywriting success when you determine project fees.
Which will make you more money without having to get additional clients.
But if you’re paying attention and actually USE this process and its principles in your copywriting, something else will start to happen…
Your copy will perform better, generating more leads, customers, sales, and profits.
Which will boost your reputation and value in the market.
You’ll be able to charge more, and have clients readily pay it.
And your success will only snowball.
The 10X Copywriting Success Process: Charge more and create more success on each copywriting project is the July 2023 Monthly Insiders Call for BTMSinsiders members.
This exclusive benefit of membership — included as part of the BTMSinsiders All-Access Pass — allows you to participate in the training live, plus gives you access to all past Insiders Calls recordings.
Video Lesson (1:01:55)
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