Freelance Copywriters: You don’t have to say Yes to standard industry rates or fees.

copywA few days ago I got involved in the comment stream on a post about the fees freelancers earn. The post itself was actually about freelance designers and coders etc. There wasn’t any data on what most freelance copywriters earn.


A copywriter did post a comment in which she noted that “industry rates” for copywriters were pretty dire.

This got me scratching my head a little. Why? Because I can’t imagine a situation where I would allow myself to be confined by an industry “rate”.

To put it another way, working within the spread of an industry rate in voluntary. You will be confined by those rates only if you voluntarily agree to be ruled by them. There is no law that says you have to do that.

Your other choice is to totally ignore those rates and set your own fee levels in accordance with the value you offer your clients.

How can you go about establishing higher fees for your work? Here are three ways to get started.

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Monday Spark: Share your gift and prosper.

the gift of copywritingA while back I wrote a post about how copywriters are the rock stars of online business.

Put simply, ecommerce is driven by words. Without good copywriting, there are no sales.

If you have talent as an online copywriter or content writer, you are fortunate. These skills are a true gift.

Now let’s look at two very different ways in which you can use that gift.

First, you can focus on making as much money as possible. You know you have a skill companies need, and you can look for ways to maximize your fees and revenues. When you have something of great value, you can sell it at a premium price.

You trade your gift for cash.

But there is another way of looking at this, taking the meaning of the word “gift” a little more literally.

Look at your gift as something to be shared and passed on.

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Monday Spark: The secret of success is to not give a damn.

don't give a damn negotiationOddly – at least I think it’s odd – I’m pretty good at negotiating.

I’m at my best when sitting across the table from someone and figuring out a price for my services. (I’m not so good when I’m alone at home and putting together an estimate.)

In one memorable one-on-one negotiation I just sat there without saying a word, while the other guy kept raising the fee.

Another time, when interviewing for a job as an employee, I totally dug in my heels and refused to budge an inch on the salary I was asking for. What was surprising about that interview was that I really, really needed the job…and if I didn’t get it, I would probably have had to wait months and months for a similar position to become available. And yes, I got the salary I asked for, even although it was a lot higher than the figure they had in mind.

How did I pull this off?

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Freelancers: Repeat after me, “I am a Rolex”.

rolex perceived valueIn a fair world, every freelancer would be paid what they actually deserve. But, of course, it isn’t a fair world. So you have to do something to make sure you get paid at least what you truly deserve, and preferably more.

As an example, I spoke with two different coaching clients a few weeks ago, both of whom had just picked up projects to create a monthly e-newsletter for a client. One was charging $200 per issue, the other was charging $2,000.

Was the second guy ten times better than the first? Not at all.

The difference was that the second freelancer genuinely felt his work was worth $2,000. So that’s what he estimated, and that’s what he got.

The value of your work has less than you think to do with its real value, and more to do with its perceived value. That perception resides both in your own mind and in your client’s mind.

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Are your freelance copywriting services perceived as an expense, or as an investment?

cash registerMaybe you don’t think about your services in this way.

But your clients and prospects do.

As a prospective client looks at your estimate, she will perceive it in one of two ways.

“This is going to take a chunk out of my budget for this quarter. I wonder if this is really the best use of my dollars.”


“This is going to cost me a few bucks, but it’s going to generate a truck load of extra sales.”

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