The importance of a good copywriting quote.

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When you start out as a copywriter it seems pretty simple. Get some clients, write some ace copy – get paid! And seriously, who doesn’t want to write for a living?

But sooner or later you’re going to come across the dreaded “quote creep”. This is where your definition of the work and the client’s definition of the work are, well, different. And if the work wasn’t defined before you started, it can be hard to get back on track.

There are a number of different terms for the copywriting quote. It may be bundled in with your creative brief (where you tease out the client’s details, offerings and tone), you may call it a ‘project scope’ or even a ‘project agreement’. No matter what you call it or how it’s presented, there are certain things you should be sure to include.

One way to think of this is death by detail. You want to include so much detail that your client’s questions are answered, and there is a clear boundary to the service you’re providing.

The basics

Include who you are preparing the quote for, any reference numbers you may use internally to refer to this project, and the date the quote was prepared. You may also want to include an expiry for the quote, which can encourage the client to lock in your quote sooner rather than later.

In the footer of the document, make sure you include your business details – especially how someone can contact you. You want to make it as easy as possible for your potential client!

Project Scope

In this area you want to detail the services that are to be provided. I like to do this in bullet point form, and start with the following sentence:

(Your Business) will deliver the following service/s to (Client’s Business) This is the full scope of services to be provided.

You don’t have to use this at all – it’s just a nice way to start the list. Remember death by detail. Rather than:

“Two paragraphs of copy for 56 products”

Use:

“Two paragraphs of copy for each of the 56 (client) products as currently displayed on (clients website). The purpose of this copy is to encourage potential customers to purchase. One paragraph is defined as a maximum 100 words of copy.”

And you may laugh – but I know of someone that has been burned by the definition of paragraph. The client expected upwards of 500 words, and that definitely wasn’t how the copywriter saw it! If these things aren’t defined, often you just have to meet the client’s expectations – even if you’re going to lose money.

Additional Scope Items

This is a great opportunity to upsell your client into your other services. It is absolutely not required – but what if your client is after web copy and they haven’t considered SEO? You could add it in here.

Example:

“SEO research and keyword analysis for above-mentioned 56 (client) products, designed to assist the client’s website with ranking for… (etc).”

Project Deliverables

What will the client actually receive at the end of the day? How many revisions will you provide?

Example:

“(You) will deliver the following items to (Client). This is the full list of items to be delivered.

  • One word document (.docx format) containing 3 x examples for style and tone consideration (for client approval to proceed. Once this has been received, further changes to style and tone will be considered ‘out of scope’ and a new quote will be provided)
  • One word document (.docx format) containing all copy as per above scope (2 paragraphs for each 56 items)
  • Up to 2 revisions on each product
  • (etc)

Project Timeline

How long do you plan to take? When does that time begin? What happens if you are running late? What happens if the client is running late (with feedback, etc)?

Example:

(You) will allocate (x) weeks to work on this project from the date the initial deposit is paid.

If the project extends past the allocated (c) weeks due to delays from (Client), extra time is considered ‘out of scope’ and a new scope may be drawn up. In this instance, (You) has the right to terminate the agreement and invoice for the pro-rata amount of time worked.

If the project extends past the allocated (x) weeks due to delays from (You), (Client) has the right to terminate the agreement and make no further payment.

Required items to be supplied

What do you need provided to you in order to complete your work? List these here.

Example:

  • Full product list (56 products) including current item descriptions and features.
  • Access to the current (client) product database
  • Client brief/questionnaire completed by (client) in full

You may already have a completed client brief at this stage – and that’s completely fine!

Payment Terms & Deposit

Ahh, the money part. In this section you can specify your payment terms and deposit needs so the client is clear on their obligations.

Example:

A 40% deposit of the total project cost is required before (you) can commence work. This deposit is non-refundable.

A further 20% is payable when the style and tone has been approved by (client).

The final 40% is payable upon completion of the project (document delivered to client).

Revisions including requests for changes that are not covered in the above project scope will be charged at $xx/hour +GST in addition to the above quoted project costs. 

You may even prefer to request full payment before you deliver the document – it’s completely up to you how you structure your payments, you just need to remember to invoice on time!

Next Steps

What does the client need to do to get started? Make it clear!

Example:

If you require any changes to the scope, please contact (you) at (email) or (phone) so items can be added or subtracted as needed.

If you wish to proceed with this quote, please confirm your acceptance via (email, signed copy of document, etc) and ensure you quote the reference number (x if needed). A x% deposit invoice will be generated and sent to you directly for payment, along with our client brief questionnaire to be completed.

Again – you may already have the client brief, it depends on which point you ask for this.

Phew! I did say death by detail, didn’t I? By providing a solid quote/project scope, you’ll make your life (and your client’s life!) much easier in the long run. A little bit of pain for a lot of gain. If “quote creep” starts to happen, you can quickly direct the client back to your quote and let them know you’d be happy to quote for the additional work if they’d like. Easy!

Have you experienced “quote creep” before? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!


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