Why it’s not always easy to give an instant copywriting quote

Buying copywriting isn’t like buying a product. By this I mean it’s virtually impossible to say instantly that 400 words of copy will cost you such-and-such. With copywriting there are so many factors to take into account, for example your market sector, your product or service and whether it’s copy for a website, brochure, sales letter or whatever. The price depends on how much information will be supplied. Will you require me to do all the background research? Or will you simply be providing me with a rough draft to knock into shape?

I think this is why some businesses that enquire about copywriting rates sound a little surprised to discover that I can’t give an instant quote and have to ask the above questions. Sometimes I like to see an example of something similar that’s already been written. Or, if it’s a case of a ‘quick edit’, to see the copy that needs editing.

For some things it is easier to give a rough ballpark price. Sales letters and web pages are an example. But, again, I need to ask questions before I can be totally sure.

I remember as a junior copywriter the creative director always used to use the artist Michelangelo as an example. Here’s my version of what he used to say…

Pope says to Michelangelo “I’d like a quote to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. How much will it cost?”

Michelangelo asks “How big is the ceiling? Length? Width? Height? Are there any architectural embellishments I will need to take into account? Do you want it plain? If so, what colour? Gloss or matt? Or do you want some decoration e.g. spots or stripes? Or figures e.g. God and angels? Is there another chapel ceiling you can show me as an example of the kind of thing you have in mind? Will you be supplying the scaffolding or will I need to provide it? What emotion do you want people to experience when they gaze at the ceiling? What is the single most important message you want to convey to them?”

And so on…


One thought on “Why it’s not always easy to give an instant copywriting quote

  1. That’s fantastic. I love the image of Michelangelo firing questions at the Pope in order to give him an accurate price quote for the Sistine Chapel. This funny little scene perfectly captures our dilemma. Thank you for the insight. And for the chuckles.

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