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    Phone quote fear: how to avoid feeling pressured into giving a price

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
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      Email:

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      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

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    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 24/04/17

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    Or, 5 easy ways to stop getting cornered into phone quoting

    I know that lots of clients want to discuss pricing up front.

    But us copywriters are kind of less keen.

    Why?

    Because we’re terrified of being cornered.

    We’re worried about giving a price, then kicking ourselves afterwards when we realise it was too low.

    We’re worried we’ll quote too high and scare the client off.

    We’re worried we’ll fluff and mumble our way out of a job.

    It’s one of the reasons that so many copywriters avoid answering the phone altogether. They remove their numbers from their websites and cross their bum cheeks that the client will email them instead.

    So in this post I’d like to share my top tips on delaying the price quote conversation until the point where you feel comfy quoting.

     

    Why should we avoid talking pricing on the phone?

    Put simply, if you start talking about cost up front – before you establish your value – you risk turning yourself and your services into a commodity.

    The client thinks only about the end invoice rather than about the potential return on investment.

    If you quote an hourly rate, you risk being dragged into the race to the bottom caused by sites like Fiverr. Your hourly rate simply can’t compete with the prices quoted by people living in countries with a lower cost of living.

    Even if you give a fixed-price quote – without context it’s meaningless.
    Quoting $XX for a 5-page website might seem simple and make it easier for a client to compare your quote with others, but they need to know what’s included.

    Does the quote include:

    • Research time – how much? How many competitor sites will you review?
    • Meeting and discussion time – in person or online?
    • Rounds of amends – if so, how many?
    • Proofing – if so, how many rounds?
    • Optimisation – if you’re writing web copy, will you also research keywords, optimise title tags and meta descriptions?

    And the list goes on.

    We need to delay the conversation until we’ve shown the client how our services can really benefit their business.

    So, here are five simple tactics to avoid the dreaded price conversation:

     

    Delay tactic 1: Show your value on your website

    Obviously it’s a great idea to include examples of clients who’ve had similar issues and how you helped them.

    This can be done with testimonials, videos, case studies, and copywriting samples.

    Ensure you cover your customer’s potential barriers to using your services:

    • Talk about time saved.
    • Talk about money saved.
    • Explain how it helped their business.
    • Explain how it made them feel.
    • Explain the problems you solved, that they couldn’t.

    If you have percentages and figures, great, but even if you don’t, you can talk in a general way and impress them.

     

    Delay tactic 2: Include simple pricing on your website

    I recommend trialling having a few simple packages explained on your website together with pricing.

    Be sure you show all inclusions, rounds of amends and discussion time.

    It also helps to have comparison packages, so people can self select the package they want.

    Here’s an amazing example of pricing handled well by Copywriter – Anna Butler at Copybreak.

    Copywriting rates

    You don’t have to price everything you do – just pick a few types of jobs that you do frequently and they will act as a guide for your other work.

    Here’s an example from my copywriting site – a little out of date – it illustrates one way to show the inclusions in your packages.

    katetoon pricing

     

    Delay tactic 3: Diffuse the situation

    While we’re not trying to be slippery, it’s fine to tell the client that you’re not comfortable quoting until you have a more detailed idea of the job.

    Take some time to explain to the client why certain types of quotes don’t work.

    • Quoting by the word: Bad idea, sometimes the shorter the copy the better. I always mention the Nike ‘Just Do It’ tagline – only three words, but three words that transformed their business and branding.
    • Quoting by the hour: Bad idea, how can the client possibly know how long it takes you to write their copy. Yes, it may help them to compare your rate with someone else’s, but what if they are super slow and you are super fast?

    Explain that all projects are different and that you’ll need to know some basics – such as number of pages, number of words, rounds of amends, etc., before you can confidently come back with a price

     

    Delay tactic 4: Talk in ballparks

    If a client pushes for a price on the phone, give them a ballpark. Because yes, although all projects are a bit different, they’re not THAT different. You should be able to provide a rough guide.

    Keep the ballpark nice and wide. Gauge their reaction. It’s amazing how many clients say they don’t have a budget but suddenly do when you give them a figure!

    “Without a project scope, it’s hard to quote accurately, but I’ve worked on previous similar projects and they’ve come in at between $1K and $2K”

    To give ballparks it’s a good idea to have your rates worked out and your rate card worked out (grab our template here), this doesn’t have to be something you share publicly, but it’s great to have one on hand so you can provide quick answers.

    Keep the ballparks fairly wide – so that you have wiggle room later.

     

    Delay tactic 5: Talk comparisons

    I’ve never tried this tactic, but I know other copywriters swear by it. Basically you make light of the question as an avoidance tactic.

    “It will cost more than a cappuccino, but less than a car. Should we discuss your requirements more fully before we talk about cost?”

     

    If the worst should happen

    If you do get cornered into giving a quote, it’s not the end of the world.

    Go ahead with the quoting and proposal stages, and if your quote comes out higher and the client takes issue with this, simply explain why:

    “When I gave you a cost on the phone I didn’t have all the facts, now I know that you need XX pages and this many rounds of amends, I’ve included that in my costs. If the cost is too high, how about we chat through the scope of the project and see what we can do to make it fit within your budget.”

     

    A post shared by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on

     

    When talking price is a good thing

    At some point the price issue is going to come up; you can’t avoid it forever.

    If you have a steady workflow and are confident about your prices, why not talk about them on the phone?

    Talking pricing can get rid of tyre kickers quickly and save you heaps of time writing proposals for jobs that will never happen.

    Is it better to discover you’re too expensive for them now, before you waste heaps of each other’s time?

     


    Our goal as copywriters is to satisfy our potential customer’s desire for pricing information without shooting ourselves in the foot. We want to delay talking about price until we’ve had a chance to show them how our product can benefit the client’s business.

     

    Over to you

    When do you discuss price? What are your tactics for avoiding the uncomfy conversations? Leave a comment below.

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    7 (surprisingly common) copywriting mistakes that destroy your conversions

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 06/04/17

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Jay

     

    Admit it, you’ve been there.

    You come up with a marvellous bit of copy and proudly deliver it to the publisher, expecting marvellous results.You proudly pat yourself on the back. “This one is going to be a homerun.”

    And then, nothing. Crickets. Your copy converts like happy hour on a Tuesday morning.

    What happened?

    We often forget that great copy is more than the written words on the page. The foundation for copy success starts way before you even open your text editor.

    And that’s where even the most experienced copywriters make conversion-killing mistakes.

    Thankfully, these mistakes are easy to spot and fix, once you know what you’re looking for.

    Most conversion killers in copy aren’t technical in nature. You can write a perfectly decent sales page just by using a free copywriting template you can find on the interwebs.

     To turn decent copy into great copy, we need to improve what happens before and after the writing part. Here are seven mistakes even experts make that can destroy your conversions.

     

    1. Don’t price yourself too low

    One of the biggest conversion killers is underselling yourself. Surprised? Let me explain.

    Your primary goal as a copywriter is to provide value for your client, and you should charge accordingly.

    Use the excellent pricing course here on TCCS or the recommended rates to find a good rate for your service, then stick with it.

    Avoid:

    • Competing on price. You’ll always be undercharged by that guy on Upwork.
    • Charging per written word. Every project is different, and great copywriting is often about writing the bare minimum to get maximum results.
    • Deal hunters or window shoppers. The value of your service doesn’t change.

    The moment you start doubting your rates, your writing turns from valuable asset into a commodity. You become a human typewriter, a robot.

    How to fix it: Work with clients who see your value. Then you can focus on writing content that connects with the desired readers.

     

    2. Avoid writing copy for a poor product

    Gary Bencivenga once said, “Copywriters are a lot like jockeys. They’re only as good as the horse that they’re on.”

    In other words, if you’re writing for a bad product or campaign, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

    Note, that an unfinished product is not always bad. Proof of concepts and MVPs are good enough to base a business on, if there’s an established demand.

    The problem comes when your client doesn’t know who their target market is. Their product might not have a market at all.

    At best, you’re left guessing about what to write on your copy, which makes writing a huge headache and leads to questionable results. At worst, you’re writing copy to a non-existing audience, which leads to no conversions at all.

    How to fix it: Vet your clients carefully. Do they know their target audience? You can also work with your client to improve their product.

     

    3. Call and interview your customers

    Copy mistakesMost copywriters scour through forums, blog comments and surveys for user experiences, trying to get an idea of who their audience is, and then write content they think this audience will find compelling.

     It’s a fine method, but it isn’t great. Essentially you’re always two steps away from what the customer is actually thinking.

    Even if your message is essentially the same, it can sound alien. Like running a translation through google translate – it’s just … not the same thing.

    To truly replicate your reader’s voice, you need to first hear their unedited honest words.

    You do this by directly speaking with your customer.

    How to fix it: Get on the phone or Skype with someone from your audience. Drill into their frustrations. Ask enough questions to get them emotional. Record the conversation. Then use their exact words on your page.

     

    4. Write copy before design

    Copy comes first. Design comes second.

    Take a look at this landing page from IMPACT Branding.

    Copy before design

    It’s a minimal and simple design, but it’s obvious what you’re getting and what you need to do to get it.

    Now compare it with this beautiful portfolio page from Mikiya Kobayashi.

     

    Copy mistake

     

    It does a great job of showing off beautiful stuff, but I have no idea who this guy is, what he can do for me, and how I can contact him. You can imagine which page has better conversions.

    You might think these are extreme examples, but as you see from this case study by Thrive Themes, overdesign is incredibly common.

    How to fix it: Write copy first, then create a design that serves the copy.

     

    5. Don’t stumble on your own cleverness

    We know you’re the smartest person in the room. We know you can deliver lyrics like John Cena delivers a right hook.

    But we don’t CARE.

    We all love to show off our writing skills and metaphorical masterfulness, but it should never get in the way of the message.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love silly jokes and references, but it should never get in the way of clarity. The content should always be readable without understanding the joke.

    Feel free to experiment with humour and cleverness, but always focus on clarity first.

    How to fix it: Focus on writing clear and simple content first. Being too clever risks distracting and losing your reader.

     

    6. Back up your claims with examples

    You know what’s more effective than telling people about a pink magic dragon living in your garage?

    Actually showing people a pink magic dragon living in your garage.

    This goes double for your copy. Writing about the magnificence of your product without providing proof is a great way to get readers rolling their eyes.

    The best and easiest way to boost authority and provide proof is with practical examples and specific user testimonials.

    Examples breathe life into your content by making abstract concepts concrete. Readers can visualize your ideas playing out in their own life.

    You’re showing that your product can cash the checks you’re writing.

    How to fix it: Show a testimonial from someone using and benefitting from your product. Quote facts and statistics. Create a case study and show the results.

     

    7. Don’t say much when less will do

    This final point was going to be about editing and removing useless content, but I cut it out.

    How to fix it: Remove EVERYTHING that isn’t essential to your message. Simplify the rest.

     

     

    Over to you

    Now you know some of the mistakes that cause your conversions to tank, and what steps you can take to fix them.

    Remember that copywriting isn’t all about punching words onto a page. It goes much deeper.

    Have you made any of these mistakes? Leave a comment below!

     

    About Jay

    Copywriter

    Jay loves red wine and Monty Python-references. When he isn’t waxing lyrical for a guest post, he helps marketing writers turn drafts into diamonds at Copywriting Maverick.

     

     

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    Why writing for F-pattern readers is essential – and 4 tips to help you do it effectively

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Job posted: 28/03/17

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Tanja Gardner

     

    Do you sometimes get the feeling people aren’t actually reading your web page copy?

    The information is clearly on the screen, but it doesn’t seem to be registering with anyone.

    Well, your instincts may be spot on. But that doesn’t mean you’ve written lousy copy. It might be that you simply haven’t structured and formatted it for onscreen readers.

     

    F-pattern reading: the way people actually read on screen

    A little over 20 years ago, usability expert Jakob Nielsen published some controversial research about the way people read on a screen.

    Using eye tracking technology, he discovered that most people (79%) don’t read on a screen. Not initially, anyway.

    Instead they start by scanning the page or email in front of them in a consistent pattern—along the top line or two, then down the left-hand side of the screen. And then their gazes dart back out again in response to:

    • Subheadings
    • Bullet points
    • Text links
    • Some bolded text
    • Some images

    Because this pattern looks like a capital letter F (well, it does if you squint and tilt your head slightly), it’s often called “F-pattern reading”.

     

    Why this matters when you’re writing for the web

    What’s all this got to do with writing?

    Well, as people scan they check for signs that whatever they’re looking for is actually on the page. And if it is, then they’re likely to go back and read the copy in more detail.

    But if it’s not, then you’ll probably lose your reader.

    By knowing how people initially scan a page, you’ll know exactly where to put the information that tells them they’re in the right place.

    Here are four tips for putting your information in the right place, and making it easy for people to see that it’s there.

     

    Tip #1: Know what your readers are looking for

    To put the information your readers are looking for in the right place, you first need to know what they’re looking for.

    This is where research comes in. You need to know what your readers care most about—what they’re struggling most with now, and what they most want instead. And you need to know the words they’ll use to describe them both.

    Knowing what your ideal readers are looking for is the key to writing copy that keeps their attention.

    If you don’t, all the formatting and structuring tips in the world won’t help you get your words read.

     

    Tip #2: Frontload your page with the stuff that’s important to your reader

    If you know most readers start by scanning your top few lines, it makes sense to include the information they care about there.

    In practice, that means writing:

    • A clear, accurate heading that either speaks to your reader’s biggest frustration, or talks about whatever they wish they had instead.
    • A clear, accurate introduction that follows the heading and expands on it. Why should your reader put the time and effort into reading your copy? How will it help them? What will they get out of it?

    And don’t forget to use the same words and phrases your reader does. Nothing builds rapport like shared language.

     

    Tip #3: Structure your page for easy skim reading

    Reading something on a screen is usually harder – and slower – than reading the same thing on a printed page. That’s probably why people use an F-pattern approach in the first place.

    Which is another reason why knowing your readers’ scanning pattern can help you make their job easier.  Remember how they tend to look down the left-hand margin, and then out along subheadings? 

    Here’s how to use that knowledge in practice:

    • Divide your page into sections using subheadings. Make sure your page isn’t a solid wall of text. Break it up into sections that make logical, intuitive sense. And then write a clear, accurate subheading for each section.
    • Check whether your subheadings make sense on their own. Some readers glance through subheadings without initially reading the copy that follows each one. So make sure your readers can get a sense of how each section will help them purely from the subhead.
    • Frontload each section with the key information. Make it easy for folks who do read beyond the subheadings by talking about the benefits they’ll get from each section in the first sentence.

     

    Tip #4: Format your page for easy skim reading

    There are a whole bunch of formatting tips that can make your page more scannable. However, my top three favourites have to be:

    • Use white space to show how information fits together. The closer pieces of information appear together visually, the more closely readers assume they’re related. So leave more white space (e.g. an extra blank line) between sections than you do between paragraphs.
    • Use bullet points wherever you can. Remember how readers’ eyes are drawn to bulleted lists? Whenever you have a list of three or more items in a sentence, format them as bullet points. It will break up your text and draw your reader’s attention.
    • Use bolding judiciously. Bolding a phrase (or even an entire sentence) will emphasise the words and make them “pop” for your reader. Just be aware that when you emphasise too much nothing stands out, so limit your bolding to the stuff that really needs it.

     

    Writing for F-pattern readers takes effort – but it’s worth it

    Writing for F-pattern readers can seem like a lot of extra work, especially if you’re more familiar with print copywriting. But once you’ve learned the basic principles behind the techniques, it will quickly become second nature.

    And putting in the effort will definitely be worth it.

    Effective copywriting is all about getting your readers to take action. And they can only do that if they get far enough into your copy to understand why it’s relevant to them.

    And that means writing the way they actually read.

     

    Over to you

    Next time you’re reading a web page, think about how you’re taking in the information. Are you following the classic F-pattern as you skim it? How else can you use this knowledge to make your copy easier to read?

     

    Editors note

    A great article with useful tips – if you’d like to learn more about F-shaped writing, read this dusty old blog post ‘F is for user friendly content‘ I wrote way back in 2009!

     

    About Tanja

    tanja-gardner

    Tanja Gardner writes copy and edits books for heart-based business folk at Crystal Clarity Copywriting. For more top tips about writing copy that people actually read, download her free guide from her website.

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