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Should copywriters put prices on their websites?

The subject of copywriters putting prices on their websites can spark lively debate.  Like many decisions in your copywriting career, it’s one you will have to make yourself.

But when it comes to publicising your copywriting service prices, I’m firmly in the ‘no’ camp and this is why …

Copywriting isn’t an off-the-shelf product.  It’s a very personal and individual service.  If you go online to buy a new washing machine, or an ink cartridge for your printer, you expect to see prices.  You wouldn’t commit to buying a product without knowing what it will cost.

Prospective students looking at our copywriting course won’t enrol without knowing how much it will cost either.  But in all these situations, you are buying something specific.  You know exactly what you will get for your money. It is clearly defined.

But delivering a copywriting service is different.  Until you know exactly what each client wants, and what’s involved in terms of work and research, it’s not possible to quote for it.

Let’s consider a direct mail letter.  You might think £x is a reasonable amount for writing a two-page direct mail letter and post the price on your website.  But if Mr Client sees it and decides he only wants a one-page letter, he will expect to pay half that amount.  Writing a one-page letter will take the same amount of preparation and research, but Mr Client won’t think about that.  So, do you charge him 50% of your original fee when you know you’ll end up doing around 80% of the work?

What about SEO website copy?  If you publish a price per page, that’s what the client will expect to pay, regardless of whether they want two pages or twenty two. You could end up doing almost as much research for the two-page website as you would for the bigger job.  You must take economies of scale into account.

Of course, you could cover your back with weaselly phrases like ‘prices from’ or ‘between £A and £D’.  But when we see prices couched in these terms, human nature dictates we expect to pay the lower price.  Will you lose the job when you explain why your quote is higher than your publicised prices?

Some copywriters get over this by publicising an hourly rate, but unless you state how much time each job will take, that has little meaning either.  So frankly, you’re back where you started.

If your prospective clients are looking for prices on your website, you can be sure they’re looking for the cheapest option.  They won’t be interested in quality, your skills, or what they’re getting for their money.

Pricing your copywriting service is never easy, even for an experienced freelance copywriter, but until you know exactly what’s involved, I don’t believe you can begin to put a price on it.

If you’re offering a professional service, do just that.  You can’t price for a job until you know what that job entails.  You’re a copywriter, not a washing machine retailer.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

The copywriting equivalent of first-night nerves

I still remember the first piece of work I ever wrote as a freelance copywriter.  It was more than a labour of love … it involved blood, sweat and tears, and a good few sleepless nights. Finally, after much writing, re-writing, polishing and more polishing, I had no alternative but to send it to the… Continue Reading