Today’s Copywriters Do More. Are We Getting Paid Enough For It?
Essentially, there are so many low-cost, easy-access media channels popping up that every project ends up in several pipelines.
For example, you don’t simply write a video script. My checklist on a recent video project included not just the script, but a lot of extras:
- The video outline/treatment
- The video script
- The copy blurb for Vimeo/YouTube
- The 2000 word article that runs alongside the video on the blog
- A couple tweets
- The Facebook post
- The email announcing the video
- The press release
Today, that’s probably the bare minimum of projects needed to support a video. And at small and medium-sized organizations (and most nonprofits), the person stuffing all that content into pipelines might just be me.
Clearly, times have changed; we’re doing more than simply writing text and dumping the finished draft on some art director’s desk.
Simply put, we’ve gone Meta.
And how, exactly, should a “meta” copywriter charge for all those pieces?
For literally decades I advocated setting project fees instead of charging hourly rates. It was always easier to project revenue when selling projects, and hourly simply made no sense.
I mean, the hotter you are that day, the less you make?
And who pays for the day you had a fight with your spouse and produced exactly zero good ideas (or words)?
Now — in light of what I’ll now dub copywriting’s “Meta-Age” — I’m looking at hybrid pricing.
That means charging a project fee for the creative chunk (video script, outline, script, revisions, discussions with director, etc.).
And hourly fees for the grunt work, which makes up a small percentage of the project, but sometimes vary wildly due to circumstances beyond the writer’s control.
This way, the client knows what they’re paying for the core project, yet I’m not forced to hand them a heavily padded project estimate because of all the unknowns surrounding the social media/email bits.
It also means we can neatly accommodate any brainstorms (media/blogger outreach, trailer script, Academy Award acceptance speech…) without renegotiating the whole package.
Finally, it puts an end to me eating the time I didn’t charge because the added work was simple and didn’t amount to enough to re-negotiate (yadda yadda yadda…).
Why Hybrid Pricing Might Not Work, And What To Do
Some clients suffer an intensely negative reaction to open-ended fee structures, and for them, I have an all-inclusive project estimate ready — one that necessarily includes all sorts of padding to cover the inevitable bad days, time wasters and other goodies.
For those who want a meta copywriter — with all that entails — at a fair price, I think hybrid pricing might be the ticket.
Keep writing (and getting paid fairly for it), Tom Chandler.