January has been “copywriting royalties” month for me…
— Just today, one of the most popular articles I ever wrote for AWAI — on royalties and how to get them — was republished in their Golden Thread email newsletter. (Link below, plus more.)
— A couple weeks back, I was contacted (based on that article) to do a presentation on copywriting royalties and other pay-for-performance arrangements, for the private CopyHackers mastermind.
— And just this past weekend, I got a hefty royalty check that reminded me just how powerful it is to charge royalties in the first place!
So it’s not quite a standard Mailbox Monday issue, but for today, I’d like to address the common question of…
“What’s really possible for earning royalties as a copywriter — and how can I get them?!”
Let me start with the “what’s possible” bit.
Before I discovered copywriting in 2005, I was in a customer service job, in the call center for the local gas company. I’d just graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology, and it was my first full-time job.
There were a lot of things that made that job miserable, but for today I just want to talk about the money.
When I was hired, we were making $9.50 per hour, full-time, with two weeks of unpaid vacation per year.
Doing the math, that’s $380 per week, $19,000 per year.
While I was working that job, I took advantage of the quiet evening hours (I worked 12:30-9:00 pm) to read between calls.
I discovered copywriting — and specifically direct response and the idea of “royalties” — and went down the rabbit hole.
I’d had a few sales jobs, and although I never considered myself a master salesperson, I really liked getting commissions based on what I sold. And because copywriting would allow me to multiply my best sales pitches through media, I started dreaming huge in terms of the money I could make by getting good at this copywriting thing.
In about four months, I’d landed my first marketing gig, and grew in that job while growing the company, eventually making more than 3X what I’d made in that customer service gig. (Though I had to switch to sales to get the owner of the company to agree to pay me on performance, and to hit that level of income.)
Then, at the beginning of 2010, I finally did what I wanted to do for nearly 5 years.
I took my first retirement!
Well, not quite a “retirement” in the traditional sense. But I did “retire” from the full-time, work-a-day, cubicle-farm world — and have never worked a day as an employee in someone else’s office since.
I still work hard, when I work. And I still “work for” clients, for a lot of my income.
But I come and go as I please, set my own schedule, work from where I want (today, Starbucks), work only with who I want to work with, and generally maintain total control over my work life.
If there’s something I don’t like about how work is going, I change it.
If there’s something I want, I go get it.
And very early on (actually, before I even went full-time freelance), I decided I really only wanted to work on projects where I could earn a royalty.
There have been very, very few exceptions since then — and today I don’t make any exceptions to this fundamental “rule.”
I believe you deserve to get paid based on the results you create!
Now, with deciding to work on royalties, I’ve focused on the copy and marketing strategies that have had a direct and measurable impact on revenues.
And I’ve gotten pretty good — which pays off.
This past weekend, I got a check from my top current client.
It was the royalties for a campaign that started just about two months ago. The campaign had done so well, they wanted to get me some royalties from it right away. So they sent me 50% of my earned royalties from the campaign’s first 30 days.
The check was bigger than my entire annual income in the job I had when I first discovered copywriting!
And that was only half the royalties from one month’s sales!
Oh, and I’d gotten a fee to do that project — the royalties I earned were above and beyond the fee, starting with the first $1 in sales. (My standard agreement.)
THAT is the power of royalties.
I didn’t work any harder. In fact, I think I only spent about 50 hours total on the copy for that campaign. But because it did so well for the client, they were more than happy to cut me a big check for my royalties, and will be happy to keep cutting me similar checks over the next couple months as the royalties are officially “earned.”
Now let’s get to the “how” part of the question…
I’m putting together all my greatest “pay for performance” secrets for copywriters…
For now, the notes are going to be used to create a presentation for a private (and very expensive) mastermind for copywriters. But who knows, maybe I’ll share them with you in some other form soon…
In the mean time though, I wanted to point you toward some of my most relevant work on royalties — that’s out there, yours, free for the taking, right now.
Here are some of my top articles on copywriting royalties:
— Copywriting Royalties: How To Get Them (written for AWAI in 2011)
… There are certainly more available to someone with a curious mind, and the ability to do a site search of the Breakthrough Marketing Secrets website using Google. But those articles together are more than a great introduction to copywriting royalties, and how to get them.
I also reveal some additional secrets in my book, The Copywriter’s Guide To Getting Paid. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can still get it free if you just pay shipping. It’s where I reveal all the secrets behind running a successful freelance copywriting business (it’s NOT about the craft of copywriting).
Here’s what I’ll tell you, in conclusion.
If you’re a marketer looking to work with the world’s best copywriters, be ready to pay for performance. Most of us will only work on those terms (though the specifics of each writer’s deal structure varies).
And if you’re a copywriter, consider setting the rule for yourself. Decide to only work on projects where you can be paid based on performance. Figure out what clients will work on those terms, and how to get them the best result. Then, the sky is the limit!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,