13 Jan

A subtle analogy…

Let’s say you have a new restaurant about to open – an Italian restaurant – and you want me, as a celebrated winemaker, to create a fantastic red wine for the launch.
Your restaurant is a high class establishment and many food critics will be at the opening night, ready to comment on the food and wine.

When we start to talk about the cost involved in getting your wine just right for your diners, the critics, and as a compliment to the food, you state that you are only willing to pay me for the ingredients in the wine and nothing else. There is no movement on this.

If you are, quite literally, paying me for the ingredients thrown together to make the wine and not the time spent making it, then it isn’t really worth me, looking at;

– What red wines / grapes go with Italian food (or particular dishes).
– What types of wine rival Italian restaurants are selling.
– What type of wines diners are asking for when they visit Italian restaurants.
– What the current trends are in Italian food and wine.
– Whether other Italian restaurants are serving similar wines.
– What type of grape(s) I should select for the wine, other than ‘any red grape’.
– What type of sugar I should use, other than supermarket, economy cane sugar.
– What type of yeast I’d use, other than anything available at the same supermarket.
– The taste or ‘bouquet’ you want from the wine.
– The maturation process.

In short, I may as well swish red grape juice, sugar, and yeast around in a barrel for a bit, pour it into bottles, and hope that you’re happy with it.

And – to be clear – when I say ‘it isn’t really worth me…’, I don’t mean it in the flippant sense. What I mean is: as a winemaker, if I’m only paid for the ingredients I use (and not my years of experience as a winemaker, the lessons I’ve learned to make my wine better, the time spent researching to make each wine perfect and different to others, the time spent selecting specific ingredients to give the right taste), then I’ll have to rush the process.
I’ll have to rush the process as I’m only being paid per ingredient, so every bit of additional time I spend outside of buying the ingredients and chucking them together is time in which I can’t work with another restaurant, so I run the risk of running out of both clients and money. So, I have to churn the wine out as quickly as possible and just move on.

Did anyone pick up on this analogy? The story above represents the reason why most copywriters you’ll come across don’t charge ‘per word’, but charge based on time spent on the project (or just give an overall cost for the project).
You can hire ‘per word’ writers – usually on sites such as PPH and Elance – but you do run the risk of getting rushed work that is no more than generic copy about your sector, which doesn’t have a specific tone of voice and is aimed at a very wide audience.

This is why – although it can seem strange to some – copywriters charge by time / overall project, rather than per word: it’s about the time taken to research, craft, and (maybe) optimise your copy, not the time taken to just bash out words on a keyboard.

One thing I (and, I hope, all other copywriters) never want to do though, is pull the wool over a client’s eyes, in terms of rates. With that in mind, please take a look at this link: I think it’s a really useful guide as to what you – the client – should be getting for your money, and how you can avoid being stung.

Anyway, I hope that all makes sense – I’m off to make some Pinot Noir.

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