How Much Should A Beginner Charge For Emails?

By Jamie McSloy / March 19, 2018
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How Much Should A Beginner Charge For Emails?

On Reddit, a newbie direct response copywriter has a client who wants three direct response emails. He’s never charged anyone for anything before and wants to know what he should charge and how he should charge:

Let’s quickly discuss this and then move on to some wider stuff.

How To Charge For Emails and Direct Response Copywriting

Firstly, let’s talk about how you charge.

For emails and quick projects, I recommend that you charge upfront. I have in the past charged once everything is complete and generally I can be flexible on this. If I know a client, I’ll maybe let them pay once the work is complete.

But trust me, you only need a couple of guys taking a few hundred dollars from you before you rethink the whole “do the work first” perspective.

Now… with emails, definitely take the money upfront. Here’s why.

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A good email campaign with direct marketing will often be time-sensitive. The client wants your work by a specific time. The time burden is on them.

On the one hand, this means you have more leverage. You get paid, you deliver on time, they love you and you’ve got the money.

On the other hand, it burns the scammers quickly. If you do the work first, you can hardly take back the email they’ve already sent.

This is different to a sales page, blog post or white paper where you can issue take down notices.

Also, if you’re charging say, $100 for something and a company can’t pay you upfront (without good reason) then they’re probably waving a metaphorical red flag.

As for how to take the payment? Something easy like Paypal or whatever is fine. (Just make sure you extract that money at the first possible opportunity to your bank account. And keep detailed records for any dispute.)

I mention all of these things because you’d behave completely differently with a huge project (that requires ongoing payment or benchmarks) and differently with established clients and different projects.

What To Charge?

We don’t know enough about the client.

For a basic beginners guide to charging for copywriting work, see the article, “How much should a beginner copywriter charge?”

But let’s talk details.

Does this company know the value of direct response marketing?

You might be commissioned to write a sales email for your local mom-and-pop store with twelve email subscribers.

This is obviously different to writing an email for Mr. Super-Affiliate or Agora Publishing, who have half-a-million clients and will make millions from each email blast.

Now, as a beginner it’s likely closer to the former, but these are all things you think about as you go along.

Let’s say you’re working with a small-time internet marketer. I’d look at two factors:

  • How long is the project going to take?
  • What is the potential value to the client?

As a beginner, you don’t have a track record. For instance, I could say now, “My email open rates are X% above industry standards, click-through rates are around X% better than everyone else’s and I average a sales rate of X%”.

This makes pricing quite easy because I look at the client and say “This is the value I can provide.”

I can also ask for a revenue cut and that makes everything better. The point is I know the value. As a beginner, you don’t and your client might not. That’s where your sales skills come in and why you get those numbers as quickly as possible.

Until then, rely on an hourly calculation. It’ll take you two hours and you want to charge $50 an hour as a beginner. Ergo, it’s $100 for an email.

Don’t Charge Hourly

Don’t charge your hourly rate. The client doesn’t need to know or care how many hours you work. They need to get a completed project at the end. That’s it.

Don’t think hourly either except for a rough-estimate calculation. If you think in hourly terms, you might be slow and inefficient. It doesn’t matter if your emails take five minutes or five hours, you need effectivenss.

Do a good job, no matter how fast or slowly.

Now, let’s get to the golden question: How much should you charge?

It Depends.

Go on your hourly desired rate and look up what other people are charging and charge a bit more than that.

Don’t offer bargain basement fees. It’s a vicious cycle. Let’s say the average is $100 for an email. You could say, “Well, I’m a beginner… I should charge $50.”

No… you charge $110 and make sure you’re slightly better than the competition. If you can’t outright charge this much because you’re an amateur, then you work and study until you can.

That’s how to scale your earnings per client.

Remember: direct response copywriting is a skill and it’s a highly effective one. You should not charge bargain basement prices because it’s not a bargain basement skill.

Your rate is tied into the results you can achieve, hence it’s difficult to give a strict figure.

But start at the average rate (most people who charge below average do so because they’re not very good) and then understand that the sky is the limit. You can charge as much as you like, providing that you provide the results and value to go along with it.


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