5 income boosting tips for business-minded copywriters

E- commerce conceptCopywriting is a lot of fun, but it is work. And any smart freelancer would continually strive to make their working time more valuable.

Here are five ways you can boost your income. Some will bring additional revenue very quickly.

TIP #1: Raise your hourly rate. Because pricing copywriting work is subjective, many copywriters — if not most — get weak in the knees on pricing. Most figure the price of a job on their hourly rate times estimated hours spent.

Problem is, a great many copywriters charge less “per hour” than they should.

In fact, my latest statistical pricing survey — the 2014 Freelance Copywriters Fee & Compensation Survey™ (found in my membership site)  — reveals that more copywriters charge between $51 and $75 than any other price range. Fortunately, those who charge between $76 and $100 per hour are a very close second. But for those who charge between $101 and $125, there is a sharp drop off.

What this means is that most copywriters are charging between $51 and $75 per hour. If you’re charging at the lower end, you need to bring your price up. Not many freelancers can survive on $50 per hour. Most of the new copywriters I’ve worked with start at $75 per hour and move up to $100 per hour within a year. By upping your hourly rate, you naturally “up” your flat rate fees.

TIP #2: Increase your value. The purpose of business is to make money. If you have the skill to get leads or sales for your client, make sure your marketing materials say that.

Many copywriters write a laundry list of things they can do on their “services” page, careful not to leave anything out. But what you list there tells the client a lot about you. A “grab bag” laundry list says “newbie, desperate, not working a lot… will do anything and work for peanuts.”

But a list of services that reflect your particular brand of copywriting says “specialist, discerning, probably very busy.” If you have trouble creating your list of services, you probably don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

That’s a topic for another time, but let me just say that specializing increases your value, and that one way to display your value is on your services page. Strategic copywriters list jobs that carry more value, like SEO, landing pages, direct mail, white papers, case studies… writing that helps clients get leads and sales, or make significant inroads in some way.

TIP #3: Go deeper into your niche. Many copywriters pick a niche at face value, such as “I’ll go into the health niche” or “I’ll become an online copywriter.” But you can find (or create) pockets in your niche, that make you more valuable to a certain segment of it.

Say, for instance, that you’ve decided to focus on direct mail copywriting. That would seem like a specialty, right? And it is. But then let’s add another layer and say that you know a lot about fundraising. To now specialize in direct mail for fundraisers further defines your niche.

To say to the director of the Nature Conservancy (a known prolific direct mailer), “I write direct mail for fundraisers“… well, you would get some respectful attention. And it doesn’t stop there. You can go even deeper, and as you do you become more and more specialized, and your work becomes more and more valuable too.

TIP #4: Increase your productivity.
After interviewing many successful copywriters over the years, it has become apparent to me that those who are the most productive are usually those with the tightest schedules. Copywriters with kids seem to run their businesses with the precision of a school bell.

Having a “reason” is the other big motivator I’ve seen. A goal that benefits someone else… a passion that gets you up in the morning… these can be the catalysts for sustained productivity.

But what if you don’t have kids to constrain you or a burning, unwavering passion to motivate you? Then I recommend the book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement. This book presents the idea that managing your energy is the key to high performance and personal renewal. I’ve owned this book for several years and it has helped me enormously. Shifting to a focus of managing energy absolutely works!

Before you go on a productivity-seeking adventure, however, you need to analyze how you’re spending your time. If there is an improvement to be made, then there is a problem to solve. And you will be much more successful at increasing your productivity if you know what is sabotaging your effectiveness.

TIP #5: Solve a major pain.
Look for the greatest areas of a company’s pain, and determine whether the marketplace is meeting that need. If it isn’t, you can create the solution. We do this all the time in my coaching program.

Not only can you charge more to solve a major pain, but your workload is almost certain to go up as well.

What might a hidden opportunity look like?

Here’s one: According to the IBM Corp.’s “Global Chief Marketing Officer Study,” 70 percent of CMOs are overwhelmed with the data of social ROI.

As a copywriter who offers higher value — because you’re a problem solver — this is an opportunity to put your thinking cap on. What service could you offer that would alleviate this pain?

Another example: One of my past coaching students entered the nutritional supplements niche. Once there and working steadily, She noticed that the FDA was shutting nutritional supplement sites down with impunity, putting many small businesses out of business.

The problem? There are certain words you can’t use when selling nutritional supplements, and also ways to work around the restrictions. She created a manual that has sold well for nearly ten years, at $199 per sale. What Can You say When You Can’t Say Anything helps nutritional supplement businesses of any size stay in business.

The business world is full of problems. Find them and fix them, and you will be well rewarded.

© 2016 Chris Marlow, All Rights Reserved

P.S. — The S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site for copywriters offers the world’s only statistical pricing database with more than 100 entries on pricing and copywriter economics. It has saved copywriters tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes and it can help you too!

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About Chris Marlow

The original copywriter's coach, Chris Marlow has worked with copywriters since 2003. Her acclaimed Marlow Marketing Method™ Client Acquisition Course has produced hundreds of successful copywriters. Chris' S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site not only houses this course but four more on the subjects of Copywriting, Advanced Copywriting, Productivity, and Closing Clients. The S.S. Treasure Hunt also contains the world's only statistical pricing database for about 100 copywriting jobs. Chris has put together this resource to give copywriters everything they need to succeed — and nothing they don't. Chris is committed to helping copywriters focus on what's important, saving them from the time- and money-wasting Bright Shiny Object Syndrome so prevalent on the Internet.
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