Hello and welcome to another Mailbox Monday!
Today, we’re talking royalties!
Which is, of course, every good copywriter’s favorite subject. Because it’s our opportunity to get paid what we’re worth to our client (good or bad). And with that, the potential to make a lotta cash from our copywriting ability.
Let’s dive in…
OK, here’s the Monday question – when does it make more sense to ask for a royalty than a fee? This is assuming you’re either new or new-ish – you don’t have an established fee, you have some samples but maybe not any home runs yet…
Now what you should know first is that this question came in referencing a couple previous posts here and here where I’ve recommended working on a royalty-only basis, when you’re just getting started…
This performance-only basis is how I got my first client. And I’ve gone on record, plenty of times, recommending this.
The easiest way to get your FIRST copywriting client is to offer to take on all the risk of them hiring you to write copy.
How? By not asking for payment until AFTER you’ve already beaten their control. This can be a royalty on sales generated. Or it can be a fee. Either way, the idea is that you get the client by offering to earn the fee before they pay you.
As a “green” writer, it’s the easiest proposition you can put in front of a client to get them to try you out.
So in regards to J’s question…
What’s my recommendation for when you do this?
My really short answeris that you should offer to work with clients on a royalty-only basis JUST when you’re starting out.
Preferably, just for your FIRST client.
There are a ton of things clients can do to screw up good copy. (There are a ton of things copywriters can do to screw up projects, too, but that’s a topic for another day!)
While it makes sense to take on your first client on this basis, to get actual copy out into the marketplace… (And hopefully your first success story under your belt…)
It doesn’t make sense to do it over and over again…
Because if you work with clients long enough, you’re going to learn something. You’re going to learn that clients can’t help but edit copy as it goes out. (There are a few really good ones who are the exception.)
It’s understandable… It is their business, after all.
But if they take big enough leeway over the edits, it’s possible they could totally kill response to your promo. You don’t want to be depending on that to pay your bills.
Not only that, there are a dozen different things they can do to kill response.
They could deliver a bad customer service experience, and refunds would eat up your royalty.
They could not send any traffic to the sales letter (assuming it’s online), meaning no sales and no royalty.
They could flake out and not pay, even if your promo works… Again, no royalty.
And so while it makes sense to do royalty-only on your first project, it makes sense to start getting a fee ASAP.
The idea of the fee is it allows you to cover living expenses while you write. The royalty is your “get rich” money.
So, after you get experience under your belt (royalty-only or any other way), you should start charging at least SOME fee, even if you don’t have any big winners.
You’ll have an example of copy in the market, and results.
Even if they’re not great, a client can look at that copy and decide if you might be right for them.
And if you’re short on wins, reduce their risk by offering a smaller fee.
You can charge the same royalty all along — most clients will pay between 1% and 10% — but step up the fee as your experience steps up.
I went from $2k per project to as much as $15k between 2010 and 2013… All with the same royalty. (Though, to be fair, a $2k project and a $15k project look different — but not 7.5X different, more like 1.5X different.)
Now, I hover around the $10k+ range, and plan to make most of my money on royalties.
When I was getting started, I was earning $2k for a sales letter and supporting copy. And also planning to make most of my money on royalties.
The difference now is that even my failures tend to make the client enough money and bring in enough new customers that the higher fee is justified.
Want your question answered in a future Mailbox Monday?
It’s easy, just shoot me a line at [email protected]. I’ll add you to the queue and answer your question here in within the next few weeks!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets