From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
What to Charge for DM Packages

Let’s open this week’s Mailbag with a question from Katy P. If, like Katy, you’re just getting started in your new career as a copywriter, you probably have the same thing on your mind …

"Scott, how do I know what to charge for different DM packages?"

– Katy P.

Katy, this is often the first – yet actually one of the least relevant – questions that fledgling copywriters ask. If you are looking to have a lasting career, I would suggest you look at the issue of fees from a different perspective.

In the beginning, your job is to write good copy for your client that you can also use in your portfolio. If you do your best and your initial promos do very well in the mail, you’ll be rewarded with something that is more important than the money you’re being paid: You’ll have leverage. And the more successful promotions you have under your belt the more leverage you will have. Once you’re writing control-busting promo after control-busting promo, you can pretty much name your price. Your schedule of fees will fall into place.

My advice to you is to take what is offered at first … until you have the experience and the leverage to ask for more. Focus on writing the best copy you can write and the bigger fees will come.

The next piece of mail from The Golden Thread Mailbag that I want to share with you is this happy note from a member of our Travel-Writing program …

"I can hardly wait to get started on my Virtual Travel Writer’s Workshop. First, though, I have to finish my final article for The Ultimate Travel Writer’s program. I’m really motivated now. My next step/goal is to get some paid travel-writing assignments. With the training I’ve received from AWAI, I know it’s just a matter of time, as soon as I start querying. Both programs are part of my ticket to success. The other part is my travel photography. (I’ve been taking photos since the 6th grade, 1968.) It’s time for me to take action and get the money to start rolling in. AWAI has given me the skill and know-how. All I need now is to do the legwork and watch things happen."

– Trease C.

And to close the Mailbag for the week, here’s a question from Bill O. about the graphic design program …

"I’ve been working through the AWAI Copywriting program and recently came across the sales letter for the AWAI Graphic Design program. Forgive my skepticism, but is it really possible to earn upwards of $50,000 a year designing direct-marketing materials? The reason I ask is that I’ve designed the majority of the marketing materials (brochures, sales letters, websites, etc.) for my own businesses, using programs like Word, Publisher, and Page Maker – and I find it fun and relatively easy. I realize there are more tricks of the trade that I would need to learn, but could something that seems so straightforward and easy really be that lucrative?

"If the potential for graphic design as a freelance business really is as lucrative as the sales letter states, I may consider it – not only as a standalone service I could offer, but also as an adjunct to providing copywriting services. (By the way – I love the quality of the copywriting program!)"

– Bill O.

Bill, it’s easy for a client to justify paying a graphic designer a lot of money to do a professional job on a DM package. Even though the copywriter has put a considerable amount of work into writing it, the prospect might just toss it aside if it doesn’t look right. If the pages look too heavy with text, for example, or the typeface is less than readable, all that work rolls right down the drain.

DM graphic design is a very specific skill, just like DM copywriting. This is why it evolved as an industry unto itself – and it’s also why freelance graphic designers can make $50,000 a year or more.

Other copywriting members have done – and are doing – exactly what you’re considering. By taking the graphic design program along with the copywriting program, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to put together a winning promotion … and you will eventually be able to increase your fees.

Thanks to one and all. Keep those emails coming!


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: June 13, 2005

1 Response to “From The Golden Thread Mailbag … What to Charge for DM Packages”

  1. I have looked in a couple dozen places to try to find a basic pricing structure for my direct-response sales letters but I just keep getting referred to other places.

    Where can I find a basic reference price list to put in my introductory letter?

    Robert ChattertonJune 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

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