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How To Work Out Whether A Business Can Afford To Hire You

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Can a business afford to hire you? This is a big question for beginning copywriters. It’s vital that you get an answer to this question. If you don’t, you can spend money and time working with someone who’s not in a position to be able to afford your rates.

Please don’t think that I’m being elitist here. I’m not. And you can certainly work for non-profit organizations pro bono, either to gain experience, or to help out a good cause. However, it’s important to remember the “budget” word during your FIRST contact with a prospective client.

The money is important to you, and to the client. You set your own rates. However, the client has a budget that he has to keep in mind too.

A beginning copywriter horror story

Here’s a cautionary tale. A new copywriter we’ll call Bob was approached by Mr X, a friend of a friend. Mr X was starting a new business and needed a brochure. This ten-page four-color extravaganza needed to be produced within two days. Mr X’s budget was $150.

OK, stop laughing, please. If you think that’s funny, it gets even funnier.

The $150 was Mr X’s entire budget. For the copywriting, and for the graphics and design.

Mr X wanted the brochure as a computer file he could print out himself. (I told you it got funnier.)

Bob’s eyes lit up. At last! Someone was hiring him to write! He promised Mr X the brochure within two days — the deadline was strict, Mr X had a meeting with a prospective client for his new business at 9am on the morning of the third day.

I’ll spare you the details of what happened next. Those two days were days that Bob won’t forget in a hurry.

What did Bob do wrong? Everything. The biggest mistake he made was agreeing to work for a non-existent budget. Bob didn’t need to be a whiz at figures to work out that at five hours per page of a ten-page brochure, he’d need 50 hours just to complete the copy work. At $60 an hour, his fee for the 50 hours would be $3000. Of course, he’d also need to sub-contract out the graphics and design, so the budget would also need to include the fees for the graphics design agency. None of which would come together within two days. Two weeks, maybe, and you’d still be pushing it.

Mr X couldn’t afford a copywriter. He was wasting Bob’s time.

The all-important budget

Your phone rings. It’s Edward Jones, sales manager for Smith & Green Industries. He tells you S & G are revamping their image. They need you to write a new company overview.

Not a problem. “What’s the budget?” You ask.

You can ask Ed Jones this question immediately, because you’ve worked with him before, and he expects you to get those details out of the way.

He tells you there’s no budget yet. The company overview will be a glossy brochure for shareholders, maybe eight pages, he’s not sure. He’ll courier the past several years’ worth of company reports over to you, plus their old company overview. Can you take a look, and estimate how long the copy will take? They’ll be using their usual graphics design agency, so you only need to handle the copy.

You promise to take a look at the material, and will send him a quote next week.

It’s easy to get the budget out of the way up-front with people you’ve worked with before. They expect you to get onto this immediately.

However, it’s even more important to get it out of the way with people you haven’t worked with before.

Your first step is always to give your client a quote, and you do this by calculating your rates for the project. Only after you and the client have haggled over the quote, and you’ve got your client’s signature on a purchase order or on an agreement, do you start work. For a long project — longer than three or four hours — you should also get a retainer as a deposit before you start.

How to calculate your rates for a project

You calculate your rates by working out how long a project will take, and then multiplying that by your hourly rate.

If you’re not sure how long a project will take, guess. However, don’t do this when you have the client on the phone. Always get the full details of the project, and tell the client you’ll send him a quote when you’ve worked it out.

Note: you WILL make mistakes. You’ll miscalculate, and a project which should have taken you five hours will take you ten. This is the way it goes. You learn by making mistakes, so it’s no big deal. You’ll know better next time.

Ask about the budget right away

As soon as someone asks you to write some copy for them, ask them what their budget is for the project. If they waffle, simply say: “That’s fine. If you’ll give me the details, I’ll work out a quote. I’ll fax it to you tomorrow.”

If they ask you to estimate say: “Without the complete brief, I can’t tell you. However, my hourly rate is $X.”

Asking about their budget may make you uncomfortable the first couple of times you do it. You’ll become more comfortable with the process over time.

Remember, the only way you can be sure that a business can afford to hire you is to ask. So please, don’t create your own copywriting horror story — ask.

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How To Work Out Whether A Business Can Afford To Hire You
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About Angela Booth
*Pro Write: Professional Writing Secrets* turns your a love of writing into a highly paid career. For both novices and experienced, selling writers. A new interactive writing workshop every month, for fiction, nonfiction and copywriting, plus writing coaching and writing manuals. Subscription includes access to writer's forum, three ezines, and writing markets. JOIN TODAY ---

http://www.prowrite.biz/ WebProNews Writer


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