Is what you’re selling to clients a sustainable way to make a great living?

I think it’s really normal for copywriters — especially newer ones — to create an offer that just doesn’t work.

You don’t want to overprice.

You want to build experience before you promise too much.

You really don’t understand the economics of running a freelance business.

And so you develop a core offer that has you forever feeling like you have to keep running to catch up.  Like a hamster wheel.  You have to keep running, because if you stop you’re going to faceplant.  But you’re tired and just not sure how much longer you can keep it up.

This is the topic of today’s question…

Remember, every Monday is Mailbox Monday, where I answer your questions.  About marketing, copywriting, business-building, and more.

Here’s today’s question…

Hi Roy,

I’m watching your webinar on creating one core offer (great material) and I have question.

In your prez you use an example of writing a newsletter for $1000 per month. I’m curious, is that one monthly newsletter or four newsletters per client per month?

I ask because I’m getting your program to help me solidify my one core offer. Currently I write a weekly newsletter for a client at $900 per month.

I’d like to take on more clients but the thought of having to write 5 newsletters every week for 5 clients sounds daunting.

Your thoughts?

Thanks again, so glad I discovered you on the Copywriter Club Podcast.

RW

First things first, this is about what’s right for you and your clients…

For me, the idea of doing 4 weekly newsletters for $900 is ludicrous.  That price doesn’t make sense for me.  There was a time where it would’ve made a lot of sense, but it wouldn’t make sense for me today.

I think in that example (it’s been a while), I was suggesting a monthly newsletter at $1,000 per month.

There are some preconditions for that.  Which I’ll discuss in a minute.  But first, I think it’s worth stating…

That was an EXAMPLE.

There are surely people who charge a lot more for writing a single newsletter.  And people who charge a lot less.  And depending on the newsletter itself, there may be more or less work involved.

It all becomes incredibly personal.

The key is creating an offer that delivers specific value to the clients who want that value and are willing to pay what you charge for it.

So the client who will pay you $900 per month for a weekly newsletter isn’t necessarily the same client who would pay $1,000 per month for one monthly newsletter.

And the weekly newsletter wouldn’t necessarily be the same as the monthly newsletter, either.

On one hand, price is supposed to be relevant to value.  On the other hand, it’s totally arbitrary and up to you to set, as long as you can find people who pay what you ask.

Don’t take the specifics too seriously.

The key is to use it as inspiration to understand how to create a pricing and service structure — a core offer — that works for you.

Understanding Pricing…

Here’s the thing.  I’m guessing you dramatically underestimate what a good client is willing to pay you.

A good client will value you.  And they understand that your service fee must include elements beyond a strict dollars-for-hours metric.

For example, back when I was an employee, I really didn’t understand the cost of having employees.  So one time I asked for a raise.  I justified a certain salary, based on the results I was generating.  And my boss kindly broke down how between my salary and taxes and IRA contribution and free insurance, they were paying me pretty close to what I was asking for.  He said as a freelancer, he might pay me that in fees, but then I’d have to cover all the expenses (which I now do).

Don’t be afraid to charge more.

And if you’re dealing with sucky clients who won’t pay, you need to find better clients.

The key here is that it sounds like, for you, the amount of work required to make $4,500 per month in fees is too much work.

That’s unsustainable!

You’ll run yourself into the ground.  You will crash and burn.  You will not survive that.

If you can’t do the work required to make the money you need to make, you need to restructure something.  Probably starting with the price.

But what happens if your clients won’t pay?

Get better clients!

Here’s the thing.  If a client legitimately can ONLY afford $900/month to have someone else write their weekly newsletter…  And that no longer works for you…  It’s time to move on!

Perhaps you need a client with a bigger list.  Or a client that can make better use of what you write.

Or simply a client who places a higher value on your writing.

There’s probably some repositioning you’ll have to do as well.

First, make sure you’re actually delivering the goods.  If you’re writing for response, make sure you’re generating response.  If you’re writing for engagement, make sure the readers are engaged.

Then, figure out how to justify your value.  Get the stats.  Look at the results your newsletters are generating.  Figure out what impact that has on the client’s business.  And determine what that means in terms of how much you can charge.

Then take that out to new potential clients, with a higher priced offering.  If you double your price, you only have to get half as many clients to make the same amount of money.  4X your price, and you could 4X your income.

You don’t have to drop the old client right now, or immediately raise that price.  But if you get a couple clients at the new price, you can say, “This is what everyone else is paying, so if you want me to keep working with you that’s what you’ll have to pay, too.”  And they’ll either pay up, or you’ll break up.

At that point, either option will be acceptable to you.

I do wonder about your productivity…

I don’t know what level of newsletter you’re writing at $900 per month.  But even if I were to write something like that, I imagine I wouldn’t take more than a day to write it each week.

In which case, I’d have 4 more free days per week, and could have a total of 5 clients.

You said that sounds daunting, and I’m not sure why.

Either the newsletters you’re writing are a huge amount of work (in which case $900 per month definitely sounds low) or you’re just not doing kind of work that works for you.

Either way, again, I wonder if you need to seriously consider changing SOMETHING about the equation.

It all comes down to realistic expectations…

You need to have realistic expectations for yourself.  What you need and how much you can work.

You also need to make sure your client has realistic expectations about hiring you.  What they need to pay, to get the work they desire.

I’m not telling you to quit today.  But you need to work toward a core offer that will work better for you, for the long run, to make your great living.

And the more work you do to develop that core offer, and the more traction you start to get by selling it to clients, the easier it will be to take a position where you don’t need this current client.

And when you don’t need a client, you’re in the best position to be matter-of-fact with them.  You can only win a negotiation that you’re willing to walk away, if you can’t reach an agreement that works for everyone.

I hope this helps.  You’re definitely on the right track if you get The Copywriter’s Roadmap To Building A Core Offer.  (It’s also an even better deal if you get it as part of The Freelance Copywriter’s Independence Package.)

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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