3 Ways to Increase the Fees You Charge for Online Copywriting Projects

One of the great things about being a freelance online copywriter is that there is often a way to expand the scope of each new project you get.

I’m not suggesting that you try pushing every client into giving you a bigger job than they had in mind. But very often you can.

And if you can increase the value of an engagement, it makes a lot of sense to do so.

Depending on the circumstances, here are three questions you can ask, each of which can lead to a bigger job and fatter fee.

(These three are just examples. There are many other questions you can ask.)

Question #1: Would you like me to optimize those pages for the search engines?

You would ask this question when a client asks you to write one or more content or sales pages for their website.

Some clients will say that they will take care of the SEO in-house. But a significant proportion of clients will say yes. Or, even better, they will say they don’t really understand SEO. They know they should be doing it, but don’t know where to start.

This opens up a wonderful conversation for you, where you can write the new pages, optimize them for search (for an additional fee), and then negotiate a new deal with the client to start work on optimizing their entire site.

If you don’t ask the question, that huge opportunity will pass you buy.

Question #2: Would you like me to do an analysis of those pages before I start to rewrite them?

Let’s say a client asks you to rewrite ten second-level pages on their website. Sure, you could go ahead and just write the pages. But I don’t do it that way. I ask a question.

Basically, I suggest that instead of just rewriting the pages as if they somehow existed on the website in isolation, I should first take a look at the relationship between the home page and those second-level pages, and between those pages and the pages they link to on the third level of the site.

The result of that conversation is often that I get to write a critique and review of those pages and how well or badly they are working right now. That review will look at their strengths and weaknesses, and will also include a set of recommendations.

Now, instead of just charging for ten pages of copy, I am also charging for the critique. That’s extra cash in my pocket from that client. Also, as part of my review, I might find other areas of weakness in the site and recommend that I work on those areas as well.

Also, by writing the critique, I am increasing my value in the mind of the client. I am no longer just a copywriter, I am also an analyst and consultant.

And I can adjust my fees accordingly.

Question #3: Would you like me to write an email campaign for that landing page?

In this scenario you have been asked to write a landing page selling a particular product or service. They are going to drive traffic to it through a Pay Per Click campaign that is being handled internally.

You could go ahead and just quote for the landing page.

But … why not ask for more? Maybe they haven’t thought of writing promotional emails to drive their subscribers to that page. Suggest it. Suggest that you write a series of emails.

Once again, you are exploring ways to expand the scope of the project, increase your fee and also upgrade your value as a partner.

To summarize …

Compared to offline copywriters, online copywriters have a lot more opportunities to expand the scope of every engagement.

Why is it different online? Because online everything is interconnected. Every page on a website is connected to other pages. The blog is connected to the website. Social media tools are connected to the blog and to the website. Email and e-newsletters are connected to everything. And so on.

As a result, you should pause before estimating on any new job.

Look at the potential relationships. See if you can offer more value to your client by increasing the scope of the job.

And, as I have mentioned above, the broader the range of skills and interrelated services you offer, the greater your perceived value. So you not only get to increase the size of each engagement, but you can also increase your rates.

To offer this kind of value you do, of course, need a broad range of online copywriting skills to offer. You need to be more than “just a copywriter”.

[Ed Note: Nick Usborne has been a copywriter for 30 years now, 11 of which he’s dedicated solely to online copy. He is also the author of Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts (formerly Million-Dollar Secrets for Online Copywriting), a step-by-step guide showing copywriters how to apply their skills to writing for the Web, and confidently present themselves to any company, large or small, as an expert who can transform their online presence.]

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Published: December 9, 2009

3 Responses to “3 Ways to Increase the Fees You Charge for Online Copywriting Projects”

  1. This is great insight--especially for newer copywriters/internet marketers. It puts in context the importance of continuing education / training and development of additional copywriting / internet marketing skills.

    KB Johnson-OhioDecember 9, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  2. Good post. I tend to optimise web pages as a matter of course for my online copywriting service, but I really should make it explicit in my quotes and invoices. Even if I don't charge more, it's a good idea to let the client know there's more to the work than meets the eye.

    Ben LockerDecember 28, 2009 at 5:05 am

  3. Hence the importance of life-long learning and staying engaged with the process of education.

    It is also imporant to ask the right questions. You are right on the money.

    This has been a great learning experience, Nick, from a pro like you.

    We are grateful for your contribution. Sometimes, opportunities pass us by that we are not even aware of, to be sure.

    Remaining alert and staying positive and having a good head on your shoulders and maintaining positive relationships with clients and other stakeholders -those are things they will never teach you at Harvard Business School.

    It's something you learn on the job, learning by doing, and developing street smarts and learning to quickly think on your feet. Nick aces those tests every time and we feel we are better off for it. Your insights are fabulous. Cheers.

    Archan MehtaNovember 12, 2010 at 5:45 am


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