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  1. Angie Haggstrom wrote on

    lol YAY Glenn! This should be a sticky post on every copywriter’s website I swear.

    There’s so much more to copywriting than even you admitted to here…those 9 hours you figured out don’t include the conversation that occurs before you do up the proposal, the time you spend on ‘special’ jobs that require a proposal that’s a little different from the standard, any extra phone calls or emails, revisions, or the times when the scope expands or changes.

    Then, like any other business, there’s administrative duties, accounting, marketing, advertising, and all the other expenses that are normally figured into that loaf of bread or jug of milk that you would buy in the store.

    As you know, I’ve seen both sides of the fence, and you’re absolutely right and there’s just no point in running a ‘word sweat shop’.

    And, as a wise copywriter once told me: ‘If you don’t value your services, how can you expect anyone else to?’

    Angie Haggstrom
    Senior Copywriter, Angie’s Copywriting

  2. Paul Jones wrote on

    I agree, Glenn. It’s not about what the copywriting costs. If a client’s fixated on that, perhaps you should ditch the client. Find one who’s more interested in ROI (return on investment). Is a car that costs $1m expensive? Not if it earns you $2m. The guy that comes up with Coke’s latest tagline earns a motza for just a few words. But those few words can sell a LOT of Coke.

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  4. Aprill Allen wrote on

    Thanks for posting this rant. I’m just starting out in copywriting so I’m billing per hour at the low end of town. But that’s ok. My service has been retained at 2-3 hours per week ongoing by one particular client. After reading your post I don’t feel so bad about the amount of time it can take me to provide a certain amount of copy. I research, I write, I think, I rewrite. Then I go about the rest of my day and I’ll have a fantastic phrase come to mind late at night. I’ll wake up in the morning and rewrite.

    I just thought I was slow. Maybe I’m doing my job exactly the way I should be.

  5. Patricia Skinner wrote on

    Hi Glenn, just stopped by to say that I agree with you 100 percent on this one: in fact I just blogged along the same lines. Business owners who take pride in what they do should realize that a cheap copywriter will leave a lasting dent in their reputation: to the contrary, great copywriters contribute so much in so many ways to the businesses they touch.

  6. Karri Flatla wrote on

    Oh what a totally *cathartic* read!

    Sigh. I’ve really very little to add here because I am also one of those biz people who comes up with her best ideas while blow drying her hair …

    Thanks for saying it well and out loud, Glenn!

  7. Simon Hillier wrote on

    A really well stated case Glenn.

    I think the problem is that until someone actually goes through the entire process of writing well thought out copy with clear objectives, it’s difficult to grasp how much time and work is involved.

    While it might only take a moment to say “Here’s what we do…”, you can’t just put that on paper (or pixel) and expect results.

    As you said, it’s vital to spend time up front working with the client to get things crystal clear in everyone’s mind.

    Who’s the real target audience? What are their most pressing problems? How does the business solve those problems? How do they do it differently or better than the competition? What does the client want customers to do at the end? Etc.

    Then, of course, you have create and shape the copy over and over until it’s in a tone and structure that grabs those impatient readers, achieves the objectives and fits the brand. And then of course, there’s SEO…

    That’s a huge responsibility for a few hundred words to bear!

    But I’m very relieved to hear it’s not just my wife who complains, “Where’s your head at?” :)

  8. KEB wrote on

    Oh, this is very funny. And we’re having the same thing over at my blog – and someone else’s I commented on this morning! All these $1 jobs! It’s depressing. But then again they act as a big sign: Go Out And Do Some Proper Marketing.

  9. KEB wrote on

    Oops, your Twitter field was too clever for me, this time it’s right.

  10. Rob McGuire wrote on

    You really drive a point home about the “outside the office” time spent on projects. All too often people just aren’t aware of that time or haven’t considered it.

  11. Eugen Oprea wrote on

    Hi Glenn,

    You are right, as long as you offer high value, professional services and spend hours working on a project the return needs to be accordingly.

    But your article made me think not only at copywriting, but also at other services that need to be valued more.

    Thank you for pointing this out.



  12. kris wrote on

    Wot Eugen said!

    I’ve sent this to about everyone I know. It (and the Harlan rant in particular) has a certain resonance with solicitors too!

    In fact, this is why I drew inspiration for my payment arrangements for my website from yours. You are very clear what the drill is and this absolutely benefits everyone.

  13. Devin Miller wrote on

    Hi Glenn!

    I’ve been following your work (blog, twitter, vimeos, etc.) for a long time, but this was the first post I had to respond to.

    I had to say, bravo! Well put. The topic is certainly a hot one. I think from now on, I’ll just refer my clients to your blog so they can hear it straight from the top :) Then they’ll be happy with my intermediate rates.

    Really enjoy your work.


  14. Ros Stiles wrote on

    Hi Glenn,
    I am relatively new to freelance writing and have found it very difficult to know what to charge. Thank you so much for giving me some guidance. I was becoming quite distressed that people were not willing to pay for quality.

  15. Nigel Woollsey wrote on

    Hey Glenn – This is such a breath of fresh air! How I wish more potential clients understood that decent copywriting isn’t just about “filling a page with words” (as one chap once told me as he outlined his needs!). Totally agree with Angie Haggstrom that this should be on a sticky note attached to all copywriter’s website!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hi Nigel. Thanks! It never ceases to amaze me when clients say things like that. If they want filler, why not just write it themselves?

  16. Nadia Barlow wrote on

    Hi Glenn,
    I’m more than a little late to the show here. But I guess that good content stays relevant! This post could almost have been about myself. I am not a fast copywriter and don’t think I ever will be. I definitely need time to day deam and let it sink in for those golden bursts of creativity. But as relatively new freelance copywriter, I don’t have the 15 years of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients to back up $1200 per page. And my schedule isn’t quite as full as yours! So I’ve figured I’ll just have to suck it up and work really hard for less return until I finally do get to that point. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is that just how it has to be in your first few years starting out? Or is there another way?
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hi Nadia. Yeah, I feel your pain. My first client was a local real estate agent. I wrote something on spec for them and approached them out of the blue. They liked it and asked how much I’d charge to write all their property copy. I said $100 per home, and they agreed. But in that price, I had to visit the property, speak to the owner and sometimes the photographer, call the agent and speak to them, then write 2-5 drafts of the copy. Not much per hour!

      I think the reality is if you’re a slow writer / perfectionist, you’re never going to make a living at that rate. Not even long enough to build up the clientele you think you need to pimp yourself out with confidence. Instead, I say invest in a website that gives clients confidence (that’s what they want), show a few great examples and a few recognisable logos (even if you have to write something for them on spec), and just start charging higher prices. Inch them up, bit by bit, until you get pushback. Then sit for a while before trying again. As soon as you get busy, raise your prices again.

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