What does 1000 words look like?
Anyone who’s completed a university degree will be all too aware of the importance of the wordcount. In the olden days, devious students might have written in massive handwriting and left unnaturally large spaces between their words when professors asked for a twelve-side assignment on the Socratic method. Now that everything’s digital, however, we can see just how many words there really are at the simple click of a button. Oh, the wonders of technology! But why does any of this matter to you or to me?
Often, when you hire a copywriter for website work or to write a blog post, they’ll ask you for your target word count. That’s because once you consider all the variables involved in presenting the webpage - font style, sizes, layout, pictures, lists, spaces, buttons and links - it’s the only precise way to measure exactly how much writing you need from us. Saying “about a screen’s worth” is like asking “how long is a piece of string?”
Word count is also important because you might see a copywriter charging per word. I’m happy to charge a fixed price per word for clients who need something I can run off fairly easily and without too much research (maybe it’s a rewriting task, or it depends on common sense, common knowledge, easily-sourced info, is related to one of my interests, or is in my field as a specialist education writer). If, however, the job is more complex - as is often the way - I charge for my time instead.
↑ ↑ All the words so far = 250 words ↑ ↑
This is common practice in the copywriting profession. This blog post, for example, has required precisely no groundwork whatsoever to complete, and has taken up about 15 minutes of my time so far. But at 250 words, it’s already equivalent in length to many website landing pages, and those 250 words would take much, much, much longer to craft!
So, what are we up to in that larger expanse of time? Are we billing you per hour to make cups of tea and watch Homes Under the Hammer? No. Well, I’m not, and I highly doubt that my competitors are, either, ‘cos writers tend to be a decent bunch.
Here are some of the ways a professional copywriter might spend their time directly working on your project:
Discussing ideas and requirements in client consultations to establish the brief
Researching the subject matter
Contacting experts for background, interviews or soundbites
Carrying out a deep-dive into your organisation’s ethos, USP, competitors, and market-positioning to target your audience with a personalised brand voice
Carrying out SEO research into keywords (this can be very fiddly, and makes a noticeable difference to improve search ranking when done properly)
Re-drafting and editing
Uploading submissions to shared platforms for viewing
Discussing revisions or amendments
Making revisions based on client requests
… Not to mention all the work stuff not directly related to your project, like marketing, refreshing our skills through courses, and doing our tax returns.
↑ ↑ Running total = 500 words ↑ ↑
What are the pros and cons, then, of charging per word versus charging per hour?
Well, when charging per word, you can establish your budget and then cleanly work within those parameters, knowing exactly how many words you can afford. You’ll also have a concrete idea of the size of the piece you’re commissioning. This can be advantageous, as by hosting good quality content of a generous length (1500+ words) Google tends to assume you have some authority on the subject, and this helps you rank higher in search results.
The downside of pay-per-word for the client is that a writer charging on a this basis might be rushing to plough through as many articles or commissions as possible. The ‘behind the scenes’ work (the research and preparation bullet-pointed above) that contributes to the highest quality, most successful copy, probably won’t get much of a look-in at all. The assignment will also likely require more work on your end, such as providing research materials or skeleton content to transform.
Charging per hour also has its own benefits and problems, of course. The perks are enormous: you can shift all responsibility for the groundwork and research over to the writer, as well as feeling confident that the end result will be unhurried, wonderfully well-crafted work. On the other hand, though, you might have concerns about how long the project is going to take. Will it become a snowballing nightmare like that unspeakable kitchen extension that somehow grew from a 6 week job to 5 gruelling months? Will it cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney? The uncertainty can certainly be off-putting.
In order to retain all the best features of both methods (and eradicate all the bumpy bits of each), I offer a range of fixed-fee writing packages for instant purchase. That means that you can click through to my shop and, just like booking a package holiday, you can buy a particular writing service with the reassurance of a flat fee and a set time-frame. A blog post, for example, costs £150 and will be ready to use 7 days after ordering. I’ll write a minute of podcast or video script for £85 with a 7 day deadline, and you can hire me to write your website for £1000 per landing page with a 10 day turnaround (it’s your most durable marketing tool: you really want the writer to do their research here). Plus, each package comes with a specified word count so that you have the concrete assurance of what the final product will ‘look’ like. It’s the easiest, most confidence-inspiring way to get some words for your page. Magic, basically.
Plus, for anything that’s not listed there in the shop, just drop me an email and we can talk through what you need. I’ll give you a considered estimate before you commit to the project.