Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What's the Rush? How to Avoid Copywriting Rush Fees

You're looking at the calendar and sweating bullets. Tomorrow's deadline for uploading or publishing your company's latest article has creep up on you for whatever reason, and now you have 24 hours to commission and receive a completed draft from your writer. But when you get him on the phone (assuming he's available at all), he requests a humongous extra payment for the job. Yes, you're looking at a rush fee -- or a missed deadline. Pick your poison.

There's no set range for such fees in the copywriting world. Peter Bowerman has mentioned attaching a 20 percent rush fee to some of his jobs, while others may charge anything up to twice their usual rates. I used to charge 20 to 30 percent, based on how much of a scheduling inconvenience the job created. Because that's really what a rush fee is -- not an attempt to cash in on a client's obvious desperation, but a kind of inconvenience fee.

You see, busy freelancers typically juggle multiple jobs day by day, week after week, and in some cases we're booked weeks or even months in advance. While I try to build some flexibility into my work calendar, I've found that a couple of "I have to have it tomorrow!" requests can bring my planning down like a house of cards, which in turn jeopardizes my ability to produce for my other clients as promised. Reliability is everything (well, next to writing ability) for a copywriter. So the rush fee discourages clients from grabbing our labels and begging us to turn our schedules upside-down. In fact, these days I won't even accept a rush job. The extra money isn't worth the chaos. 

So how can you prevent the marketing equivalent of a four-alarm fire from breaking out? The same way you prevent real fires -- through foresight. While not every single nail-biter can be avoided, here are a couple of helpful tricks for making things run more smoothly:

  • Keep an editorial calendar. If you run recurring blog posts, email blasts or newsletter articles, plan out the entire marketing year in advance if possible. If it isn't, then even a quarterly plan would be better than winging it from month to month. then share the plan with your writer, and start collecting whatever background information or other materials you want to send him.
  • Stockpile. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- stockpile those articles! Not only will always have something ready to post or publish, but you'll also have more options as to how you'd like to fill that next chunk of blank space. Maybe the September article would work better for October, for instance. If you have both of them well in hand, simply swap them out. This strategy works well with your editorial calendar because you can pre-purchase several month's worth of material far enough in advance to avoid any rush fees or sudden unavailability from your writer.

In short, the easiest strategy for not paying rush fees is not to rush. Work with your freelance copywriter to iron out any scheduling questions well in advance, and both your marketing budget and your blood pressure will benefit!