I am a solo professional (hence my title on this board.) I don't have a product nor do I have a team. (I am just setting the context for this question.)
I am in contact with other copywriters and I have a good grasp of the average price range of typical copy projects.
(Some unconstructive stuff edited to lower the temperature:)
Here's the question: very small company owners and managers never, ever seem to ask me up front how I would approach your job or what I have done before that resembles it. In 95% of the cases with smaller businesses who approach me, the initial question from the lead is "what is your pricing/rate?"
It never, ever seems to be a satisfactory answer to this type to say "well, what do you want to have done?"
I am not a prima donna - I have had too many teeth kicked in over the years. But the "labor rate" driven question always seems to lead no where.
And I believe it is beneath me (yup, you got it) to answer the up front rate/price question directly - unless it is some fixed price special I am running.
The usual dialog along these lines goes like this:
- Them: "How much is your rate?"
- Me: "I quote by the job. What do you need specifically?"
- Them: "We want a (case study | screen cast script | web copy | etc). Tell me your price."
- Me: (Sigh) "I charge $xxx - $yyy for jobs like that.
- Them: Dead silence, gone forever.
It seems like the small fry are in the biggest hurry to do a quick poll and avoid engaging with the provider.
Just to transpose this kind of question to more technology focused providers, it's exactly the same kind of question that gets asked of software providers: "What would you charge to write a web site/DLL/.Net application for us?" With absolutely no further detail provided.
But I also wonder if I am mishandling these types of requests entirely.
My question is this:
How should I handle a price or rate request from a prospect who seems too antsy to discuss any details or who is extremely vague and general?
Is it asking too much to say (in essence) I'll give you a ballpark range when you give me 15 minutes of your time to discuss details or you spell out what you need in writing"?
Most of what I do professionally I can't really put into an online shopping cart. There are many variables:
- Is it one shot business or does the client need several related pieces of work? (bundling may lower the price I can charge.)
- How much research does the deliverable require? (Some clients have lots of raw information in hand. Others may have a project that requires digging and interviews.)
- What is the client's level of expectation of the work? (Direct response copy is quite labor intensive. Informational content that doesn't have a requirement of eliciting a conversion in itself usually requires less effort.)
The general concensus among working copywriters in private fora is that clients who fit this pattern overall are not reasonable.
I wanted to hear what is going on in the head of users and customers for a change on this subject. Any professional forum of the same kind of pro tends to be an echo chamber.
Also, it would be interesting to read what has worked for other independent contractors who receive pings from the general public.