If you are a budding copywriter, you are going to come up against potential clients who want you to lower your rates. Of all the creative professions, writing is the most likely to be looked upon as easy or enjoyable and therefore not worth much. Many new clients fail to realize just how much work is involved in writing a website or brochure or sales letter. So, while they will shell out $5,000 or more for web design, they want to spend $500 for the web content. Think that is far-fetched? I dealt with this scenario last week.
Do not try to justify your rates to anyone
If you perform a valuable service, you know it. The clients who hire you will know it. Someone who evaluates writing based on price is looking for words to fill a page. They have no real respect for writing. Working with people like this will suck the life out of you. It will make you hate your profession and it will embitter you. So steer clear. We live in a free market economy, so your rates are unreasonable only if no one hires you and you starve to death. But, I believe water seeks its own level. You will get work if you are exceptional because that is what being exceptional is all about. Most people are mediocre. If you are an average writer, be honest with yourself and charge average rates. You will find clients who buy average work. If you are a shitty writer, please try something else.
Live cheaply so you have the freedom to say no
The most powerful word in your vocabulary as a writer is “no.” A writer who takes on too many expenses has to take on jobs that cut into his integrity as a writer and as a person. He has to write quickly, pull trick rabbits out of the hat, and deliver less than his best just to make ends meet. This becomes a mindset. It is very easy to become a writer who compromises on little things, then big things, and then everything. Do not let this happen to you. If you have a family to support, you are going to need cohonnes made of cast iron (whatever your sex) and a significant other with a steady job.
Be committed to a standard of success beyond money
Some writers will tell you that copywriting is “all about da money” and having the freedom to live in Thailand, working four hours a day. This is a lie. Copywriting is first and foremost a marketing service to the clients who have hired you. You have an obligation to them and to your craft, which requires dedication and solid effort. But if you do not sincerely love copywriting, this obligation will wear thin in the face of long hours, dry spells, and difficult times. Copywriting has to be an obsession. It has to drive you. If you are a true copywriter, you will spend most of your time writing or learning more about copywriting. It won’t matter to you if you are in Thailand or in Siberia because all the action takes place on the page.
Never forget that money is the measure of respect
I don’t need to sell you on how useful money can be. Money defines more than what you can buy. It is also a measure of how much others value your time and talents. If you sell yourself at a discount, you are agreeing to accept a diminished level of respect. And, indirectly, you are cheapening the profession you have sweated and sacrificed to become a member of, thereby making it a little more difficult for us all to earn a living as writers.