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  1. Kate Toon wrote on

    Hi Glen,

    Great article.

    I went out on my own a couple of years ago after working in agencies. I use the same model: an hourly rate, an estimate of time to cover writing and amends (based on experience) and then charging additional hours if the job goes over my original estimate.

    I’ve also tried getting junior writers but I’m just too fussy! So like you I have a finite amount of time I can work and money I can earn.

    So I recently published my rates on my site. I was nervous about doing this as I thought the phone would stop ringing, but you’re right, it ‘cuts the wheat from the chaff’ as my mum would say. One thing I do find hard is deciding how much an hour of my time is worth!

    Thanks for your wise words,
    Kate

  2. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach wrote on

    I learned a few centuries ago never to agree to hourly rates – you always then think the provider (in my case, home improvement contractors) will drag out the project because it’s easy money to them.

    James is currently doing an awesome site redesign for me, and one thing I’ll certainly do is publish my rates online. Like my clients, I know what I’m worth and I simply do NOT want to debate it. It will be priced as it deserves to be.

    Kudos to you for making the switch! Getting to that point can take quite awhile and it’s really satisfying when it all works out.

  3. Johanna Baker-Dowdell wrote on

    Excellent post Glenn and a topic we’ve touched on before – the thorny issue of charging.

    Glad to hear it’s been such a success.

  4. Martin Stellar wrote on

    That’s an stellar post. I’ve been struggling for years with this theme and what you say makes a LOT of sense. Still don’t know which way to go, but thanks for the brainfood ;)

  5. Copywriter Jobs wrote on

    Our site, Copify. has produced some interesting debate about copywriters and how they charge. Somewhat controversially, we bill ‘per word’. Whilst being much maligned by many traditional copywriters, most of our clients like this approach as it means they know exactly what they are getting up front.

    1. Mercy Mmbone wrote on

      Awesome! I don’t bill by the hour, but by word. I find it convenient.

  6. Christine wrote on

    Great post! I’m wondering, though, if you think hourly rates are appropriate for beginning copywriters like myself. It takes me a lot longer to write good copy because I’m less experienced, and is it really fair to charge clients for all those hours? Granted, my clients know I’m new at this, and my hourly rate is relatively low. Any thoughts?

  7. Tamsin Sowden wrote on

    Thanks for the post, Glenn – great food for thought.

    I’m with Christine – is it an appropriate strategy for beginning copywriters or is it best left until you have some longer term experience under your belt?

    So far, I’m finding clients prefer a fixed price quote. And when I ran a freelance editing business years ago, I always provided a fixed price that allowed some leeway and spelled out that anything outside the project scope would be charged at an hourly rate. I always quoted each job based on its own criteria and rarely found that I was out of pocket.

    I haven’t quoted prices on my site yet as I’m not sure what the market will bear – but as I’ve already had a few tyre-kickers I certainly will do so soon!

  8. Angus wrote on

    Thanks Glenn, you’ve *really* made me think with this post! I suspect I may end up going the same way. Apart from anything else, I’d find it much easier to have the “money conversation” with potential clients if I could start off by quoting them an hourly rate rather than an “I need to know more before I can tell you anything” hedge.

  9. Perry wrote on

    Maybe I am not looking at this right, but since practically all people like fixed rates, I’m going to stick with that for now.

    I figure that’s the bottom line, right there.

    I put in my site: “In most cases the job can range from $100 to $1,200….”

    That way I can increase my odds in bringing in more window shoppers. They have an idea how much it will possibly cost them, right there on the spot.

    No having to fill out a form, no having to talk to anybody, no having to wait….

    And if I look at a site, and try to guesstimate how long it will take me, I will add on, say as an example, an extra $100 in case it takes longer than usual, which usually does by an hour or two.

    But, if one was to think about it, whether it is per hour or per job, doesn’t the end price for the customer come out to be the same anyway???

    Example: For fixed rates, we look at a site, and guesstimate that it will take 10 hours, so we multiply that times our rate. But it’s, basically, the same if we were to charge per hour, and it lands up taking 10 hours.

    Glad to see it works for you, though. :-)

  10. Perry wrote on

    When I wrote: “That way I can increase my odds in bringing in more window shoppers, I meant to convert more window shoppers.

    Oops.

  11. maxiewawa wrote on

    Nice post, very useful!

    But I disagree with starting sentences with conjunctions, you should never do it.

  12. Marc Morrow wrote on

    As I’m just re-entering the contract workforce after 20 years on a salary, I’m very pleased to know that at least some high-end professionals are adopting the hourly rate instead of a set fee. My services won’t be restricted to copywriting, but to various aspects of visual design, and I intend to charge a single hourly rate regardless of the tasks performed. The execution of a task, regardless of what it entails, breaks down to a period of time, so an hourly rate works across the board, provided you have a fairly good inkling of how long it takes to complete a specific form of work. It certainly eliminates the variable profit per hour that comes from missing the deadline dictated by a set fee.

  13. Mark Cowtan wrote on

    Glen, I loved your article, you covered a lot of angles. It is a thorny problem indeed. Clients prefer fixed pricing, becuase it seems less risky. However, it leaves the producer highly exposed to feature creep or vacillations from the client. Hourly pricing declares your worth up front, and it cuts down the investment you need to make in scoping the project. If you can swing hourly rates, the clock starts ticking right away, not after you’ve gone back and forth with quotes. I favor hourly rates every time, even as a buyer. Hey, if I don’t feel I got value for money in the end, I just don’t go back. Or, if the project is going squirly, I can cut my losses early.

  14. Glenn (Owner) wrote on

    Hey Mark. Exactly right. Everyone is so focused on the actual dollar value, that they forget about the implications. Sure you may get someone to commit to doing the job a couple of hundred dollars cheaper, maybe even a thousand, but the reality is that they have to finish the job quicker in order to keep food on the table. And what’s the cost of that speed…???

  15. Pingback: Copywriting rates: Does an hourly rate limit your income?

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