Value Pricing for Copywriters

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Perhaps you've heard this one before:

Q. What's the difference between a computer science major and a writing major?
A. The computer science major asks "How should I spend my big salary?" The writing major asks "Would you like fries with that?"

In college, I used to think that the riddle pointed out the relative value that each could provide. Now I'm not so sure. The truth is that good writing can be extremely valuable in the world of business.

Here are three ways that writers can provide significant value:

Here are two ways that writers do not add significant value:

Isn't it odd that so many freelance writers determine their prices based upon measures from the second list rather than the first? Stop the presses! I've figured it out!

Writers can demand higher payments when they measure their output by the value that they provide.

Let's take a look at a real-world example:

I provided some pro bono writing work to a friend of mine. He was in the process of typing his letter of acceptance for a new job. With his permission, I replaced it with a single sentence. It read as follows:

Is the salary negotiable?

The sentence was rather short.

Had I charged by the word, it would have been difficult to make much money. I've seen many different suggestions as to proper "per word" rates for copywriters, but many pundits suggest a price below $1 per word. Even charging a full dollar per word, my earnings would have been capped at a paltry $4.

Charging by the hour would have proved even more disastrous for my wallet. As a fast writer (and an excellent typist), my sentence required approximately ten seconds of labor. Even billing at a rate of $1,000 per hour, I would have netted a mere $2.78.

As it turns out, the value of my work proved substantial. My friend's future employer made a new offer, thousands of dollars above the original.

Knowing that this one sentence would be worth thousands of dollars to my friend, what could I have charged? How about $500 dollars? Do you think that a person might be willing to spend $500 in exchange for a raise of many thousands of dollars?

How about 20% of the expected increase in salary? What customer wouldn't be willing to spend $X when there is a strong possibility that his purchase will yield $5X in increased income?

Stop charging for your work and start charging for your value. The sales process will be simpler and you'll find yourself with higher profits, better customers and significantly less stress.

Want to learn more? Read through my book on pricing, or hire me for a pricing consultation.