Invoicing Your Clients How To Make Money From Copywriting

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Module 7Invoicing Your Clients –How To Make MoneyFrom CopywritingIn this module, well cover: How much to charge for your work How to invoice How to collect money from clients How to work with graphic designers

How much should I charge?Once you have your client, the first two questions they are going to ask you are:1.How much do you charge?2.How much will this job cost?This area is covered in much more detail throughout this module, but as abasic guide to start with, most copywriters who finish the course startout charging around 50 per hour for their work.Others who have already had some experience as writers charge up to 80per hour.Experienced copywriters charge anywhere from 120 and upwards.Some new copywriters feel uncomfortable charging anything at all to startwith as they feel they need to get some experience first before they startcharging.It is up to you how much you charge. There is no ‘right’ fee for yourservices; it is simply what you feel comfortable charging.Unlike doctors, hairdressers, plumbers etc., you will find that your ratemight change depending on the client and the job at hand, so it’s best notto create a printed version of your charges as they will change from job tojob.You need to be very comfortable with discussing money and rates with clients.Copywriting is a business, and business is about making money, so youcannot be backward in coming forward about your worth and value as awriter.Many writers don’t like talking about money, especially when it comes todiscussing their fees for creative work. The reasons for this are myriad butthe primary reason is lack of belief that their service has value.This is the first limiting belief you need to dispel.The second limiting belief you need to dispel is that you are not worthyour fee. You might already be thinking:‘I’m just starting out. How can I justify 50- 80 per hour?’2

Some novice copywriters feel fraudulent charging 50 per hour (or more)for their first jobs.They think, ‘Gee, that sounds like a lot! I don’t know if I’m able to justifythat. I don’t have any experience. I’m brand new! I feel like a fraud.’Firstly, it’s entirely up to you to work out what fee you’re comfortable with.But secondly, look at what other professionals are charging and see howthey compare to your rates:Car mechanic: 70 per hourHairdresser: 45 per hourFridge mechanic: 80 per hourGraphic Designer: 75 per hourWindow installer: 75 per hourHandyman: 50 per hourElectrician: 88 per hourAccountant: 250 per hourCleaner: 35 per hourYou may be saying, ‘Yes, but an accountant or a mechanic has studied for anumber of years. They’re qualified.’Let’s not forget that you too are qualified.You’ve probably been writing for a long time – stories, novels, essays,poems, songs, plays, reports, proposals. You have in fact, got a lifetime ofexperience behind you; it’s just that it’s not recognized in the widercommunity because you haven’t been given a degree in it. That doesn’tnegate the fact that you’ve been doing it for some time.This is why it’s very important that you be confident and congruent whenyou meet new clients because what they are buying is you, your skills, yourintelligence, your wisdom.YOU are the package, so you need to present that package with absoluteconviction that you are a competent writer. If you don’t, you will lose thejob before you even get it. They will not hire the services of a copywriterwho they feel doesn’t believe in themselves.3

You have to ‘act as if’ you’re successful before you actually are so thatpeople will give you the opportunity to work with them. Once you’ve gotthe job, then you can find out whether you’re up to it or not. And ninetimes out of ten, you will be up to it. But you have to believe in yourself firstor you’ll never get the chance to find out.“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyondmeasure. It is our light, not our darkness that mostfrightens us. We ask ourselves,‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You area child of God. Your playing small does not servethe world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that otherpeople won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, aschildren do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is withinus. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lightshine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. Aswe are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberatesothers.”Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles ofA Course in Miracles (1996).It’s important to remember that many new writers already have a lot ofexperience with writing, and that copywriting is just another form of writingthat can be learned.So if a client ever says to you that your fee is excessive or asks you to justifyyour rate, you can respond by saying:“This copywriting work is the result of 6 years at university, 10years in the workforce, 5 years as a mother, 2 years as abackpacker and 42 years as an individual observing humanbehaviour. This idea is a result of all my 42 years’experience.”4

If they still have an objection, you can say, ‘If it’s so easy, why don’t you tryit? If you come up with a better idea, I’ll pay you’. That’s a bit cheeky but ifa client continues to object, you only have one solution and that is to say‘You do it!’ and then see what they say.Sometimes the best (and only) weapon you have as a copywriter is thepower to walk away from a job. That’s the beauty of being a freelancewriter. If the relationship becomes so fractious that you simply cannotconvince the client of your worth, it’s best to sever the relationshipas amicably as possible and walk away. If you work in an advertisingagency, you don’t have that leeway unfortunately so you’ll have todance to the master’s tune in that situation.The reality is that you may have only been copywriting for a month, but youhave brought maybe 20 years of experience, wisdom, intelligence andknow-how to the job. It’s this experience that enables you to choose exactlythe right word at the right time.Here’s a great (true) story about knowing your value. Remember this storywhenever a client questions your fee or asks you to justify your rate.Time spent oncoming up withan idea is not theway to measure agood idea. A goodidea is a good idea,irrespective of howmuch time it took tocreate.5

A True Story.When Federal Express launched their courier service in April 1973, withjust 14 small aircraft, their unique selling proposition was ‘OvernightGuaranteed’.No other courier company had ever made such a bold promise so itwas a risky and courageous premise on which to base a newcompany.The credibility of the company rested on this premise so they wereobviously very keen to deliver upon their promise.In their first week of operation, the unthinkable happened. Theconveyor belt in the massive central warehouse that’s used to sorts anddistribute all the packages to their various destinations, stopped dead.The factory manager, panicking slightly, checked every fuse and everysocket to see what had gone wrong. Alas, he could not find the fault.Meanwhile, the planes were waiting, the clock was ticking and the staffwere idle as the conveyor belt lay motionless. Tensions were beginningto rise.What if the conveyor belt couldn’t be fixed?What if the packages couldn’t be sorted and distributed to the planes?What if it took longer to deliver the packages than promised?The company would be dead in the water if they so much as missed onedeadline.At this moment, the company’s future was in jeopardy. Theircompetitors were already sharpening their knives, waiting for them tofail. After all, how could any company possibly deliver every package, toevery city, overnight?The factory manager, really panicking now, calls the conveyor beltmaintenance department to get an expert to come and fix it.After a short delay, the repair man walks in and sees for himself what hashappened. The factory manager yells at him: “This conveyor belt hasstopped – if we don’t get this fixed within minutes, the wholecompany is going to be ruined! It has to be fixed NOW!”The repair man casually walks over to the fuse box.He opens the box, takes out his screwdriver #3 and after a fewmoments deliberation, turns screw #147 a few centimetres to the left.Within seconds, the machine belches, grinds and moans and then,slowly but surely starts to move again.6

Cheers of joy and relief rise up through the warehouse. It works! Thepackages can be delivered! Everything is back in order!The factory manager thanks the repair man, congratulates him and tellshim he can’t thank him enough for what he’s done.The repair man smiles and says, “That’s okay. I’ll send you the billtomorrow.”The next day, as promised, the repair man sends the factory managerhis bill. The factory manager opens the bill and nearly faints. It’s for 10,000!He starts yelling to anyone who will listen: “ 10,000! For oneservice call! That lasted less than 10 minutes! There must be amistake. This can’t be right!”He rings the repair man: “Look, I know you really stepped up to the platelast night and got us out of a very desperate situation – but really, 10,000 for a service call that lasted less than 10 minutes?! How can youpossibly justify that?”The repair man says: “Well, y’see, it’s like this. The cost of the screwdriverwas 1.00. For knowing which screw to turn? 9,999.00.”The factory manager smiled and nodded. His question had beenanswered.”The moral of this story is this: it’s not how long you spend on your job,it’s what you bring to the job that’s important.In this case, it was the experience, knowledge and expertise that madethe repair man so valuable.So be sure to remember this story should you or a client start to doubtyour credentials.Never underestimate your value and past experience.7

Overheads needed to be included in your hourly rate too.Let’s not forget those pesky overhead costs that need to beaccommodated into your fee. These can really add up so it’s worthwhileknowing exactly what they are:As a copywriter, your business is time. That’s your currency. You don’t makechairs, tables, glasses, clothes. You make ideas. But there are costsassociated with running any business, and these need to be accounted for.Here are the overheads you need to incorporate into your hourly rate: Travel time to and from a client Briefing meetings with them Speaking on the phone to them and your suppliers Researching the productThen there’s the actual writing time, plus revisions.Most jobs require at least two rounds of revisions so you need toincorporate that into your fee or charge extra for any changes. (Werecommend you include one or two sets of revisions into your hourly feeand then charge for any revisions required after that.)Then you need to physically present the work to the client. This takestime, as does liaising with suppliers like graphic designers and printers.Then there’s your actual overheads: petrol computer consumables internet rental stationery mortgage/office rental gas electricity trade journals book keeping costs phone etc.The list is never ending and they all need to be taken into account.This puts your 50 per hour rate into perspective very quickly and youshould not hesitate in telling your client (gently, of course) the same as well.8

How do I establish my hourly rate?As a copywriter, you can charge different fees for different clients. How canthis be so?Large companies like banks and insurance companies expect to paypremium rates for copywriting. They choose professionals who are goodat what they do and charge top dollar for that expertise. In fact, they wouldprobably question your credentials and credibility if you charged under thegoing rate.Conversely, if your client was a local hairdresser, sports club orrestaurant, you would have to take into account that they are not usedto being charged hefty hourly fees by suppliers, so you would scale yourrate down accordingly.Every copywriting job is different and requires different amounts ofenergy, time and knowledge.For example, if your client was a mortgage broker, you would need tobe able to understand in great detail the nature of loans, interestrates, the range of competitors, the terms and conditions for eachloan etc.Compare that to writing a brochure for a Chinese restaurant. It’s not thathard to understand what’s on offer at a Chinese restaurant and it’sinfinitely less complex than a mortgage product.This means that you have to build a ‘complexity’ factor into your quote as well.As a freelance writer, your experience will determine how much you cancharge. If you are looking for work in an advertising agency, skip ahead tothe section on “Junior/Mid Weight/Heavy Weight Copywriters.”How do you measure experience?As a way of bringing some objectivity to a very subjective area, let’s work tothe following system of measuring experience:1.Starting out: ‘I have no direct experience with copywriting. I’ve writtenessays, proposals, business letters, stories, songs etc. but have never metwith a copywriting client.’2.Medium: ‘I have written some copy – brochures, newsletters, a few adshere and there and feel confident that I could meet with clients, take a briefand create copy that a client would approve.’3.Experienced: ‘I have at least 10-20 pieces of published copy in myportfolio. I have written for many different mediums and feel confident that9

I can undertake and complete most copywriting jobs.’Listed below is a guide as to what you could reasonably charge a client ifyou were a freelancer.Remember though, you can scale up or down according to how confidentyou feel. In this industry, the common method for charging is by the hour.Once you’ve set your hourly rate, you can extrapolate it out to calculate adaily or weekly rate, if necessary.Suggested hourly rates* (does not include gst**.)1.Starting out: 35- 50 per hour2.Medium: 50 – 100 per hour3.Experienced: 100 – 200 per hour*These fees include one or two sets of revisions** Only include GST when you have registered with the Tax Office i.e. whenyou expect to earn 50,000 per year or more from freelance income i.e. nonPAYE.GST is not connected to ABN and is an entirely separate issue. Youmust get an ABN number in order to do business (or provide adocument saying you a hobbyist) or else you will have 48.5% of thetotal invoice amount withheld by your client.How will I know many hours to charge?When you have had some experience, you will know how long it takes youto write copy.Until then, you may like to adopt some of the strategies listed in thischapter so that you don’t undersell yourself, or conversely, over-quoteand scare the client away.Like any job, it will take you a while to understand how long things take.You’ll make a few mistakes and think ‘I really lost money on that job – Ishould have charged 40 hours but I only charged 25!’Unfortunately, you may have to pick up the tab for those 15 hours forwhich you didn’t charge. You have to accept that at the time you didn’thave the experience to know that you were going to be called into thismeeting and that meeting, so don’t be hard on yourself if you find thatyou’re doing more work than you had originally quoted.10

Don’t under-quote. You’ll regret it.You’ll learn very quickly that it’s worth quoting a few hours above andbeyond what you think the job is worth; not because you want to ‘take theclient for a ride’ but because if the job does take longer than you think(which is will), you are being recompensed for that effort which in turn willinspire you to create a better quality piece of work.It’s in your interest to make sure that you are paid for the work that youdo, or else you can start to resent that the job is taking longer than itshould. When this happens, our tendency is to take shortcuts, whichleads to inferior work, and that’s not good for the client or for yourreputation.If on the off-chance the job takes less time than what you planned, youcan be upfront and let the client know and tell them you’ll resubmit yourinvoice for a lesser amount. They may (or may not) appreciate yourhonesty.The alternative is to invoice them for the quoted amount and appeaseyour conscience by acknowledging that you were able to complete the jobin a shorter time frame because your skills are such that you can now writemore efficiently. (It may also make up for all those lost 15 hours here andthere).Only you can decide which way to go.And remember, when you quote, you are generally only quoting for thecopywriting i.e. the words. This may sound obvious, but some clientsmay think you do the design as well so it’s good to clear this issue upbefore the job begins.All quotes are based on knowing 3 variables1.Your hourly rate2.The number of hours you think it will take to complete the job3.The size of the ad/brochure/publicationIf you know the answer to these 3 variables, you can quote on anything.Different mediums require different approaches.If you were creating a brochure, you would calculate your rate differently towhat you’d quote if you were writing a TV Commercial.In fact, you would charge different amounts and use different calculationsto quote on writing for all the following mediums:11

1.Brochures/Newsletters2.Direct Mail letters3.Press Ads (newspapers)/Print ads (magazines)4.Radio5.TV commercials6.Media releasesHere are the different ways you can quote for each medium:1. Brochures/NewslettersWhen writing a brochure, the first thing you need to know is ‘what sizewill it be?’Most brochures are A4 size, and are then folded down to DL size, whichis the standard envelope size. If a client asks you what size theirbrochure should be, recommend this size as it is the cheapest size toprint and mail.If you were working on a large, prestigious client like Saab orClinique, the brochure could be any size because the budget wouldbe larger and they would want their brochure to stand out from thecrowd.The size of the brochure is generally the prime indicator as to how longit will take you to write it.For all brochure work, we work with the standard letter size ie.A4*. Most sizes of paper are based on an A4 sheet: DL: 1/3 of an A4 A5: half an A4 A3: A4 x 2 sheets*See the Envelope and Paper Size Guide at the end of this module forfurther reference.No matter what size you end up with, you can base all your pricing onan A4 size to start with.All of the following pricing guides are based on a medium-experiencedwriter doing the work:There are a number of ways in which you can charge for brochures andnewsletters:a)Charging by the hour: Example:12

100 per hour x 10 hours of work 1,000 for the total job.ORb)Charging by the page size i.e. charge a flat fee per page: Example: 1 side of an A4 sheet 500 for the job 2 sides of an A4 sheet 1000 for the jobHere are some other ways to quote on brochure jobs:Example:8 page, A4 brochureOptions: By the pages: 8 pages @ 500 per page 4,000 By the hours: 40 hours @ 100 per hour 4,000 By the day: Daily rate of 1,000 for 4 days 4,0002. Direct Mail LettersExample:By the page: 1 page, A4 letter 500 per page 2 pages, A4 800 total.Direct Mail Letters are rarely quoted by the hour.3. Press/Print: newspaper/magsThe cost to write these ads is normally quoted based on the size of thead, not on how many hours it takes.Shown here are 3 different-sized samples of advertisements from The Agenewspaper.Beside each ad is a guide as to how much you might charge for writingan ad of that size.A bit later on in the chapter, you’ll see a guide as to how these fees arecalculated.If you’d like to skip ahead to read up on this, turn to the heading titled‘How do I work out how big a print advertisement should be?’13

Advertisement A 400 (based on 4 hrs @ 100ph)Advertisement B 800(based on 8 hours @ 100ph)14

Advertisement C 1500 (based on 15 hours @ 100ph)* For your own reference, it’s worth knowing how long the ad doestake for you to create so you can either amend your rates for futurework or become aware that you’re spending too much time on itand you may need to work more quickly.When it comes to writing print advertisements, you would notnecessarily tell the client how many hours it took you to write an ad.You would simply tell them it costs 400 to write an ad of this size. (Seeadvertisement A).15

If you were pressed to reveal an hourly rate, you could do so simplyby dividing the total amount by your hourly rate.The reason we don’t reveal the hourly rate is because the process bywhich we come up with ‘conceptual’ ads is different to how we comeup with ‘long copy’ work like brochures and direct mail letters. Youwould explain to your client that conceptual work can take a minuteor take a week. The creation of an idea can’t be timed so it’s pointlessto charge by the hour.For example, how many hours would it take to come up with this ad?16

The writer could have thought of it in seconds or it could have takenweeks of blood, sweat and tears.4. Radio*A suggested guide is approximately 300 – 500 per 30-secondscript. Don’t quote in hours for reasons listed already.5. TV Commercials (TVCs)*A suggested guide is 400 – 800 per 30-second script.*These quotes are based on the commercials being for a small-mediumsized business e.g. not Coke, Nike etc.Large advertising agencies quote for large-scale work based onnumerous other considerations. Some agencies provide free creativework provided they get to buy the media from which they make theircommission.6. Media Releases 300- 500 per release for up to 2 pages per release. You may charge more for project management faxing/emailing releases provision of names/contacts follow-up etc.How do I work out how big a print advertisement should be?For small businesses, the size of the ad will generally be determined by theclient’s budget. They’ll want it as big as possible for as little cost aspossible.How big the ad is will be determined by how much it costs to buy the media space.If you’ve agreed with your client that a newspaper or magazine ad isrequired, they may ask you ‘how much will it cost to buy a ¼ page in TheAge newspaper?’You need to know how to calculate these figures because they will belooking to you for guidance on how big the ad should be and whether17

they can afford to advertise in that publication. There’s no point yourecommending they advertise in The Australian newspaper withoutknowing how much this will cost.Never assume what a client can or can’t afford.Your role is to suggest and recommend, not to judge whether they canafford something. In fact, if the client likes an idea and a strategy, they willoften find the money for it, when moments earlier, there was no budget forany advertising. Never assume anything – just let the client know what’spossible and how much it will cost. They’ll make the decision as to whetherthey can afford it or not.If you can advise your client on how much it costs to book media space,they will come to see you as an invaluable consultant which means theywill seek you out before giving away work to other copywriters.This is how you start to generate a loyal client base so it’s in your interest tobe able to advise clients on all things related to copywriting, not justcopywriting.Buying space in a newspaper or magazine.It is very easy to work out how much it costs to buy the space in apublication. There are 3 steps to working out the cost to buy any space inany publication:1.How high (in centimetres) is the ad?2.How wide (in columns) is the ad?3.What is the publication’s cost per column centimetre? (per ccm)Once you know these 3 figures, you can work out how much it costs toadvertise in any publication.Take this advertisement as an example: 18

QuestionAnswer1. How high (in centimetres) is the ad? 20 cm2. How wide (in columns) is the ad?2 columns*3. What is the publication’s cost per 70 per ccm**column centimetre (ccm)?* Every publication works on a ‘column’ basis. The Age has 8 columns.** You get this figure by ringing the publication and askingthem for their ‘rate per column centimetre’.19

In this clipping below from The Age, you can see the invisible, but distinct linebetween columns.20

There are two variables used when measuring space.1.Columns2.CentimetresTake this ad for example [right]. You can see that the ad is 20cm high and 2 columns wide.20 cmTo work out the total space of the ad, you multiply thecolumns by the centimetres:20cm x 2 columns 40 column/centimetres (ccm).Once you have this figure, you multiply it by the publication’srate per column centimetre (per cmm). In this case it’s 70 perccm.40 ccm x 70 per ccm 28002 columnsSo, the cost to book this size ad in The Age would be 2800.Every publication will have different rates.The Age will be more expensive to advertise in than a niche magazinelikeNeedlecraft for Beginners because it has more readers.And each section within The Age will have a different rate. For example, theCar Section may charge a different rate to that of the Real Estate section.As you can see, once you know how, it’s quite easy to work out the mediacosts, and the more knowledgeable you can be about these costs, themore confidence your client will have in you.The client can’t move forward and act upon any of your recommendationswithout knowing what the full costs are so make sure you knowapproximately how much things cost before you recommend your clientbuy them.Can I personally book the space in a publication?Yes. It’s really easy and you should embrace it because you’ll becomea more valuable resource for your client if you know how to bookmedia.Many years ago, the only organisations who could book media wereadvertising agencies. That has now changed and anyone can book mediaspace.21

It’s simple:Step 1Ring up the newspaper and ask to speak to a Sales Representative in thesection you want to advertise in.Step 2Be honest and tell them you’ve never bought media before and can theystep you through the process.Step 3They’ll tell you the options available to you – rates, colour vs black andwhite, positioning on the page* etc.The sales people are there to help you. They are generally very serviceoriented because you are a potential client to them. They can also helpeducate you about this process. Ask them to send you their rate card sothat you have on file an accurate guide for their rates.* Always ask for a discount off the media space costs. They willgenerally only give it if you are planning to advertise on a regular basis,but it can’t hurt to ask for 10% off the per ccm rate. If you don’t ask,you don’t get.How do I know what a client needs?In general, most small business clients need a basic marketing ‘tool kit’consisting of the following: a basic A4, 2-sided brochure a cover letter to accompany the brochure a website** All website issues will be covered in the module Writing for the Web.If you don’t know what to recommend a client when first starting out,recommend these three items as ‘must haves’ for their marketing tool kit.Once they have these basic pieces, you can start to recommend otheritems like newsletters, print ads, radio ads etc. but you need to give themthese basic items to help them get their marketing off the ground.22

One of the best ways to work out what is required is to ask them whatpromotional material they’ve already got.You will need to see this material and need to know what each piece wasdesigned to do.In many ways, the medium you use, whether it’s a newspaper ad, brochure,letter or radio ad, is the last decision to be made.The key question you need to ask is ‘what is your objective?’ or ‘what doyou want your advertising to achieve?’Some clients are adamant they need a Yellow Pages ad, but uponreflection and some detailed questioning by the copywriter, realize thata well-crafted, 2-page direct mail letter sent to 100 carefully selectedtargets will be much more effective than a tiny Yellow Pages ad.This is where your questioning skills will become invaluable. You need toask lots of questions about your client’s objectives and their targetaudience before you can specify what medium is required.Some clients will say quite categorically “I need a Yellow Pages ad NOW”and they cannot be swayed, even if you think they are misguided.In those situations, it’s best to go with the flow and follow their instructions.There is only so much advice clients will take and when they are insistenton creating something specific, it’s sometimes best to do the job, take themoney and hope that it works.If you strongly disagree with their strategy, it is worthwhile noting it inyour Contact Report so that it doesn’t come back to ‘bite you’ when theclient has forgotten he pressed hard for it and it hasn’t delivered theresult he was seeking.When should I negotiate my rates and hours?The best time to negotiate your time and rate is at the very beginning ofyour relationship with the client.This is what’s known as the ‘honeymoon period’.They’re excited about getting some work created by a professional.You’re excited about a new copywriting job. Everyone’s excited andeveryone wants the experience to be smooth and successful.At this stage, everything is negotiable and the client will be amicable toyour terms and conditions because the job hasn’t started and everything is23

fresh and new.Be clear about what you want from the client.Once the job’s begun, it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to re-negotiatehours, or your hourly rate, or when you should be paid, or the deadline, soit’s important that you ask for what you want at the beginning.If you set the ‘frame’ or the ‘expectation’ for what you need to completethe job, the client will generally accept that as part of your conditions.If you come to her a few weeks later and say ‘Y’know, I made a mistake– this is going t

Graphic Designer: 75 per hour Window installer: 75 per hour Handyman: 50 per hour Electrician: 88 per hour Accountant: 250 per hour Cleaner: 35 per hour You may be saying, ZYes, but an accountant or a mechanic has studied for a number of years. Theyreq

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