It's easy to be a part-timer. It's also easy to recognize them.
These are the folks who decide to keep their day jobs and do a few copy projects on the side.
It happens all the time, and not only in the field of copywriting. You'll see the same thing with programmers, graphic designers, etc. It's so common, perhaps we should call them...
(Tongue in Cheek, Of Course.)
Although it would seem there's nothing inherently wrong with working part-time, there is at least one unpleasant side effect, mainly in the area of pricing. It's caused by the "safety net"--the job the part-timer holds on to for so-called security.
Here's how it works:
The part-timer thinks, "Well, I have a full-time job that pays me well. And it'd be really nice to have an extra two-hundred bucks this month so I can eat out a few more times and pay a little extra on my credit cards... so I'll bid this job for $200."
Do you see the problem? The part-timer is quoting a price based on his desire for discretionary income instead of what the job is actually worth!
The part-timer can "afford" to quote low because he's already making a full-time income from his day job. You, on the other hand, know what you have to make to survive--and what the job is actually worth--so you quote higher.
Of course, if you know what you're doing (i.e., you're positioned well in the market), you should be able to command higher fees and never lack for clients.
Still, getting low-balled can be irritating. So, what do you do about it?
Recognize the problem and position yourself accordingly. Offer a compelling and believable reason why you charge more than all the other copywriters out there.
Provide proof of results. In most cases, ample proof of results will be far more persuasive than a low quote.
Educate other service providers like I'm doing here. Explain why it doesn't make sense to write copy for less than minimum wage.
Ideas for Pricing Jobs
When You're Starting Out
If you are a service provider who is just getting started, it can be hard to know how you should quote a job. Here are a few ideas:
1. Price by the hour. Calculate what you're currently making in your full-time job, or what you used to make if you've gone full-time. Then provide a quote that at least mirrors your current income.
For instance, if you're currently making $20 an hour, you would not quote a job at $10 an hour. That's stupid. You would quote at least $20 an hour.
If you're providing a quote based on the amount of time you expect to invest, then you might consider multiplying whatever number you come up with by 2x. Why that number?
For one, most projects go longer than expected. And two, providing time-based quotes usually assumes you'll be paid the same rate for 40 hours a week.
But if you've been in business for more than a month, then you already know that not every hour in a work day is an income-producing hour. You must calculate fees with the idea that there are only 2-4 hours a day when you'll actually be writing.
2. Price by the page. This can be effective with direct mail pieces where you're working with a certain number of pages. You might charge $200 a page, $400 a page, or even $800 a page.
In my opinion, writing for $100 a page is a bit low. I'd suggest you not go below this level. Starting at $150 or $200 a page would be better.
3. Price by the project. This is my favorite way to quote new copy jobs. I only write a few different types of copy. The long-form sales letter is the centerpiece of most of my projects. Since I limit what I write, it's easy to price by the project.
You'll have to come up with your own fees here, but you can always cross-check your number by comparing what the fee would be if you were to quote by the hour or by the page. If your per project fee is lower, then you've done something wrong. Go back and rework the quote.
No matter how you decide to price projects, you must always remember not to under-price yourself. Never quote a project for less than you would ordinarily be paid in a full-time salaried job.
Remember this: It's better to err on the side of quoting too high rather than quoting too low.
For part-timers: You cannot under-price copy jobs and then make up for it in volume. It doesn't work when selling products, and it doesn't work when selling your time either. Quote high, burn your ships, and go full-time.
For full-timers: Marketing skills can overcome almost any business problem, including the ability to attract clients in a sea of slave labor. Become a marketing expert.
For clients: If you hire a copywriter for a "steal of a deal," set your expectations low. Real low. This way you'll avoid disappointment, and still be pleasantly surprised if it works out in your favor.