“I only want a few words. You won’t charge me much, will you?”

In a famous 1918 anecdote, US President Woodrow Wilson was asked how long he took to prepare speeches.

“That depends on the length of the speech,” answered the President. “If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.”

In my brand copywriting business, I’m often asked, “how long will it take you to write me a blog post?” Followed by, “it would take me hours, but you can probably knock them out in half an hour, right?”

Well, possibly. But more likely not. Not if you want something properly researched, original and engaging to your readers.

We’ve experienced a common misconception that, because someone is a professional writer, they have a superpower that enables them to dash off a few hundred words in the time it takes normal mortals to boil the kettle.

There is a grain of truth in this, because often, by the time we sit down to write, we complete a first draft pretty quickly. But to enable us to do that, we’ll also have spent considerable time on any or all of these other activities:

  • discussing the brief face-to-face or on phone, Skype, or email to understand your business, customers brand and objective
  • researching what’s already written by and about you – read websites, blog posts, watched videos and trawled your social media posts
  • researching your competitors
  • if you’ve provided a verbal brief, developing a written brief to confirm requirements
  • brainstorming ideas with other members of your creative team
  • sketching out ideas, sometimes dozens of them, looking at different ways of getting your message across to your audience
  • considering how those ideas fit your brand, tone of voice, personality…
  • researching the facts and figures relating to whatever we’re writing.

So by the time we get round to writing, the information we need has spent hours, or even days, percolating and buzzing around in our brains. That’s why, when we give you a price, we’re not charging per word (though there are some copywriters who do, bizarrely). We’re accounting for the value to your business of all the thinking we’ve been doing; all the strategy, research, planning and idea generating to ensure that what we’re producing delivers results for your business. Oh, and our rates also take into account the years (or decades, in some cases) of experience it took us to build up the expertise you’re investing in.

Of course, there are websites which offer to chuck out a blog post for a few quid. If you’re OK with that, I’m not going to try and change your mind, and, hell, everyone deserves the chance to earn a living. But, if you value your brand and respect your readers, you’ll understand why quality, bespoke content written by someone who has taken the time to understand what’s needed is worth the investment – as opposed to something possibly pilfered from somewhere else. Just as with anything else, it pays to invest in the best quality you can afford.

I’d love to know what you think. Let’s have words…

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One thought on ““I only want a few words. You won’t charge me much, will you?”

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  1. The investment is worth every penny & as a business consultant I sympathise. I’ve often dedicated between 4-6 hours of my time and expertise for my prospects before even getting a signature on a proposal. They may not choose to work with me but will always have gained some valuable insight to move their business forward even in that short space of time. If you are paying for expertise consider it an investment rather than a cost. You should reap the returns in the long term, and will add even more value to your business. As Arthur Nielsen once said “The Price of Light is less than the Cost of Darkness” (sorry for the speech marks Loris).

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