3 questions freelance copywriters should ask before quoting a website

This copywriting enquiry landed in my inbox the other day:

“Dear sir, I’m looking for a copywriter to provide content for a new tech start-up website. How much do your services cost?” They might as well have said ‘Help, I need a copywriting quote. That is all.’

The fact they didn’t personalise the email also flagged up warning signs right away: hence why I didn’t respond.

But if you did decide to investigate further, what information is missing to help you, the freelance copywriter, provide an accurate quote? Well, a lot really.

That they’re a tech start-up has no importance in costing the project, except that you may quote lower than if the client was a large corporate. The fact is all projects are different. Websites are more complicated to quote for than print projects because they have UX and SEO considerations.

So what questions can fresh-faced freelance copywriters ask to help with providing an accurate website estimate?

  1. Is there a sitemap?

If you ask how many pages need to be written, the client may not specify all links or sub-pages. A sitemap should reveal all pages, implied or otherwise, and provide a detailed overview of what needs to be written. It should also reveal what stage the client is at.

  1. How will you get the information you need to write the website?

For example, is it based on existing material (ie. existing site, links, notes, documents, etc.), or will you need to prepare questions for a briefing, visit their offices, stakeholder interviews, etc. This all gets factored into the time. And time is money.

  1. What are the SEO considerations?

Any web copywriter worth his salt will include keyword research in the cost. However, meta-descriptions involve more time and should be a separate line in your quote. Additional content strategy work, such as link building, should also be a separate line.

If the prospect answers these questions in detail you should have all the information you need to provide a quote. If you find it’s like drawing blood from a stone, save yourself the hassle and move on. You can thank me later.

Remember, always factor in revisions; and if it’s a large website project involving collaboration with designers and developers, for example, make sure you factor project management into the overall cost.


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