So, How Does The Hired Pens Price Out Projects?

If you’ve ever wondered about the secret world of copywriters — and really, who hasn’t? — you’re probably curious about pricing. I’m here today with the inside scoop.

At The Hired Pens, we get inquiries about all types of copywriting projects. Websites, email campaigns, white papers, brochures, feature articles, blog posts … you name it.

No matter what the deliverable, though, we generally follow the same steps for pricing out the project. That means considering what the “discovery” and writing processes involve. It also means we don’t offer cookie-cutter pricing (e.g. 10 Web pages for $1,500). After all, the requirements of every project are unique.

Let’s take a closer look …

The Discovery Process

We don’t just land an assignment and then start writing. First, we need to do the necessary research.

On the lighter end, this research is minimal. Let’s say a women’s clothing retailer hires us to write catalog copy. They can give us all the product details — materials, colors, fit, special features — that we need to do the writing. No additional research is required.

On the other extreme, the research is heavy-duty. Suppose we’re writing a case study for a medical device manufacturer. We need to read up extensively on the product being featured. Then, it’s onto interviews with an in-house marketing person and engineer as well as two surgeons at a hospital.

As you can imagine, the discovery process for the clothing retailer will be much less intensive than that for the medical device firm. Our pricing will reflect that difference.

The Writing Process

Here, we factor in things such as:

  • What’s the deliverable?
  • What’s the subject matter?
  • What’s the copy density (e.g. approximate word count)?
  • How many revision rounds are included (typically, it’s two)?

Again, let’s look at two website projects at opposite ends of the spectrum. Two clients ask us to write 20 Web pages. Client A manufacturers children’s toys and wants the pages to be about 150 words apiece. Client B provides big data analytics consulting and wants the pages to be about 600 words apiece.

You can guess which client will get the higher quote.

Arriving at a Final Number

So there you have it. We determine the number of hours involved in discovery and in writing. Then, we multiple that number by our hourly rate. Done.

Postscript: What About Per-Word Pricing?

Some deliverables — e.g. white papers, feature articles — are often quoted on a per-word basis. We rarely take this approach. Why? We prefer to set a budget that reflects our level of effort, as outlined above.

Plus, we prefer not to be penalized for writing concisely; if you can say something in 450 words rather than 600, why should you take a financial hit?

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2 replies
  1. Paula Suita says:

    Excellent topic and great content. I’ve often wondered who in the world started charging on a “per hour” basis. Does a surgeon charge per hour? How about a dentist or contractor? It drives me crazy. Thanks for tackling an important issue.

  2. Dan O'Sullivan says:

    Thanks for the comment, Paula. Ultimately, from a client’s perspective, much of the work we do should come down to value. What is the dollar value of the deliverable we’re providing? The amount of time we spend on it shouldn’t matter (e.g. if it takes us five hours to come up with a killer tagline for your company, it is less valuable than if we spend 30 hours)?

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