In every sweet new freelancer’s heart, a hope appears. A hope for their first BIG job.
Not the one off blog post or the teenie tiny splash page with three bullets and a button..
I’m talking The BIG One.
Maybe it’s a daily email retainer that pays all the business bills.
Maybe it’s the long form sales page for a high value product that pays the big residual down the line.
Or maybe it’s my personal favorite, a full funnel from paid ad to upsell (or down) with webinar scripts and 3 VSLs, and affiliate mail to boot.
My first 4-figure “big break” came in the form of a simple funnel: 4 Facebook ads to advertorial teaser to webinar email reminder series to short sales letter to cart.
It was June, and I was a freshly minted Copywriter. I’d actually minted myself, since, sadly, there is no fairy godmother of copy to sprinkle dust and make the declaration to the world on our behalf.
And by “minted myself” I mean, I announced it on Facebook. And if it’s Facebook official, it must be true.
So here I am, faced with a big job straight out of the gate…
Aside from one course and reading some books, I had natural skill and a dream.
And a vast network…
I knew I needed a portfolio fast, so I’d reached out to my Mastermind Group for leads. The job was mine the very next day, “Just send me a proposal.”
What in the world was I supposed to charge for that much work…and how much time would that actually take?
Clearly, I wasn’t gonna be a super rookie and charge by the hour.
I didn’t have a mentor to turn to at the time, but I did have ONE PROPOSAL TRICK I’d learned from business consulting…and I’d been using it for the few tiny jobs I’d had up until this point.
Pre-proposal time tracking is the key to proper pricing…
It is NEVER too early to start tracking your time. Before I was asked to propose on my first full funnel, I had been tracking my time as I studied and worked on a tiny smattering of mini-jobs.
I knew how long it took me to write an email.
I knew how long it took me to do client research.
Even though I’d never written one, I kind of knew how long a sales page would take based on the other stuff (although I was very light on the editing time).
Armed with just this tiny timeline, I could figure out how to price my very first job.
Here’s an example:
I knew if it took me a half hour to write a persuasive, infotaining email, and I had to write 30 of them for the launch, and I needed to make at least $100 per hour over a 20 hour “chargeable” week to live…well, my emails had to be $50 per. Right? **
And so it went. For every part of the funnel I figured out the minimum it would take for me to survive while writing. Of course, you ultimately want to charge more than what you need to stay alive eating ramen. You want to be at or, once proven, well above market rate.
Still, for your first few jobs, getting hired to write copy while staying alive is a very valid goal.
Do not wait until you have a BIG opportunity to figure out how long things take. You will inevitably lose your shirt, and possibly your house by way underestimating how fast you can write, way overestimating the number of hours you can write in a day, and thus, charging less than you should.
You MUST track your time NOW.
It’s free to use the basics, it’s super easy and it’s available on your phone and desktop, so you have no excuse to not understand IN TOTAL how you spend your day.
Don’t make the mistake of just tracking writing time either!
You need to know how many hours you have to work for clients…how much time you prospect, read, learn…and how much time is sucked away scrolling on social.
I’m not an affiliate of Toggl…Just spreading the word on an app I love and use.
I do sometimes promote products as an affiliate (if you have one you’d like me to try, by all means, get in touch) but Toggl is not one.
** Pricing is illustrative only and is in no way indicative of my actual charge rates (or living wage rate).