Are you planning to outsource work to an external copywriter? When you’re researching rates as part of your selection process, I suggest you forget hourly or per-word pricing and ask for a project fee.
I always provide project fee-based packages and quotes to my potential clients. In part, this is because project fees benefit me as a consultant. However, as a nonprofit communicator working with outside writers, project fees will benefit you as well.
Here are three ways you’ll benefit from freelance copywriting based on a project fee
1. Project fees are predictable
When you start a project, wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly how much it’s going to cost you? That’s what happens when you form an agreement based on paying a project fee. When I’ve previously written about what to pay a freelance copywriter, I shared this little question/analogy:
If two neighbourhood kids were offering to cut your lawn, would you rather work with the one who tells you it will cost $10? Or the other who says they’ll have to let you know the price after they’ve completed the work and figured out how long it took?
I think most people would prefer to know exactly what financial commitment they are making! Yes, there is some risk on both sides. If the project comes together more quickly than expected, the supplier benefits. And if it takes longer, you’ll benefit. But if you feel the price is fair and worth paying for the value or result, that’s what you should focus on – and move on!
2. You’ll feel comfortable asking for more work
A project fee includes all of the work needed to get the job done – and get it done right. The quotation/agreement your writer provides should outline all of the steps required to complete the project, such phone calls, research and the number of revisions (most of my agreements include two rounds of revisions).
When you know what steps are included in the project fee, you won’t shy away from asking for them. For example, you won’t stop yourself from asking for revisions out of fear of incurring more “hours.” In my case, I don’t want my clients to hesitate to ask me for revisions or other steps I need to take to deliver the best possible result – all within our agreed upon scope, of course.
3. It’s in your writer’s best interest to get the content right, quickly
A few years ago, I started working with a client who was moving on from her current writer, who was charging by the hour. The drafts this writer submitted were increasingly arriving in very rough shape. Her work, which used to be more polished, now required many rounds of revisions and the client was getting suspicious of an intentional ploy to “milk” more hours out of each project. The client found herself paying a premium for inefficiency and low quality work, and she was also wasting her own time on additional review, comments, and corrections.
I’ve always wondered why clients would want to pay hourly when that makes it lucrative for a writer to take longer to get a project right, costing you, the client, time and money. Some projects are more complex than others, but I take pride in submitting “close to final” copy with the first draft. Doesn’t that sound nice for you as the client?
Start asking for project fees and stop comparing rates to hourly pay
I’ve come across some potential clients who want to try to compare what I make on an hourly basis to what an internal employee makes. One reason this is wrong: employees are not running businesses and therefore don’t have to factor in business owners’ expenses, risks, etc.
But the bottom line is this: for reasons of either time or talent, you’re looking for help from an external professional. What you’re willing to pay should come down to what the final result is worth to you.