How to Work Out Whether a Business Can Afford to Hire You
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
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
Hereís 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 ó 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
wonít 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 didnít 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.