Write From Home
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
Tips for Web
by Brian S. Konradt of BSK Communications
Before you pitch yourself as a copywriter who writes copy for Web sites,
know exactly what's involved, what questions you need to ask your client
— and know how much to charge for your time.
The most obvious difference between writing conventional copy and Web
site copy is that the latter involves non-linear writing. An entire Web
site can contain numerous Web pages connected to one another, and each
Web page can contain limitless copy.
Conventional print materials usually dictate the length of your copy;
i.e., if a client asked you to write a brochure, you can determine how
much copy you're going to write, how much time it's going to take —
and thus, how much to charge. But if a client asked you to provide copy
for a Web site, you cannot determine the amount of copy you're going to
provide or how long it's going to take.
Procuring a Web site copywriting assignment requires you to ask the
client different types of questions so you can charge accordingly and
make your time profitable. Here are some tips.
In most cases you won't know how much copy you're going to provide. Your
task is to determine the scope of the project — and then estimate how
much time it's going to take you. Ask the client if you'll be writing a
portion of the Web site or the entire Web site. Find out what type of
information the client wants at his Web site and what purpose it'll
serve. The client may want to sell products, distribute free, helpful
information to his existing customers, solicit new customers by having
them fill out an electronic response card, provide a free on-line
"look-up" service, give away free software, or all of these
Ask the client if he has existing conventional print materials
available. His company may already have a hefty load of printed
materials that can aid you in providing the type of useful information
he wants showcased at his Web site. However, be warned when a client
asks you to "re-format" or "re-type" a brochure (or
any printed material) for his Web site. Usually, adapting conventional
print materials for Web sites involve an extension of skills — and an
extension of time. Placing a conventional brochure in Web site-format
may require you to seed the copy with links; or create electronic reply
cards that the user can complete on-line and send the information
instantly to the client's e-mail account; or create "hot
buttons" that run applets or perform some type of action.
You may also be required to copywrite icons, buttons and tiny footers at
the bottom of Web pages that make browsing the client's Web Site a lot
Ask the client the scope of your functions. Are you just writing copy?
Or will you be required to embed your copy in HTML code? Will you be
working with a Web site designer? Or will you be required to outsource
portions of the project to other freelancers to supplement your skills?
Is the client expecting you to create his Web site or simply provide
copy for it?
What to charge is always a sensitive topic — and unfortunately,
there's no universal pay rate structure or a magical pricing formula. To
make matters worse, information on what to charge for Web site
copywriting is scarce, since this is a relatively new type of medium and
copywriters are still struggling to figure out the easiest way to charge
without getting underpaid.
One suggestive way is to charge an hourly rate until you can properly
estimate a Web site copywriting assignment — then you can charge
project rates, which may make your time more profitable. You may also
think about getting paid on a retainer basis, if the client wants you to
maintain the contents of his Web site and update it each month with new
Konradt is the owner and operator of
a web site dedicated to help writers master the business and creative
sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is also the principal of BSK
Communications & Associates, a communications/publishing business in
New Jersey, which he established in 1992.
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