The vast majority of copywriting projects do not need to get completed in a rush. As we like to say, there’s no such thing as a copywriting emergency.
However, occasionally clients will have a copywriting need that they need done fast. And in these cases, you will likely want to bump up your rates and charge a copywriting rush fee. By “rush” we mean scenarios like a client reaching out to you on a Friday and needing copy by Monday.
Often this is a result of the client not having a project manager or someone staying on top of the tasks that need to get done for the project. But, should you want to take on the quick turnaround, there are a few things to consider.
What is the Definition of “Rush Job?”
Everyone’s definition of “rush” may vary. It’s your business so you get to decide! Typically, a rush job would be something within 48 hours. You may decide that’s 48 hours excluding weekends and that anything that needs to happen over a weekend is a rush job.
However, be careful you’re not tacking on rush fees due to your own schedule mismanagement. If you and a client kicked off a project and you told them you’d have the copy to them by a certain date, but waited until the last minute to get additional information you needed, that’s on you.
You may decide that within 24 hours you charge a higher rush fee than something within 48 hours. Again, it’s up to you, but it’s best to implement parameters for yourself so you know exactly what to do each time you’re faced with calculating a rush fee.
Calculating Your Copywriting Rush Fee
Once you have your parameters for what constitutes a “rush” job, it’s time to calculate the cost. There are several ways you can calculate a copywriting rush fee.
Percentage-Based Rush Fees
One of the most common ways to charge a rush rate is to charge based on a percentage of the project. It’s like the time-and-a-half overtime rates that some employers use for employees working holidays, for example.
That means if you calculate the project price at $1,000 for a “normal” timeframe, you’ll add a percentage fee on top of this. So, if you were using the time-and-a-half method, it’d be $1,500 for the rush version of the $1,000 project.
The percentage you use is up to you and you may determine that you charge 25% for certain scenarios, 50% for others, and perhaps even more!
Come up with a framework for these scenarios, adding it to the criteria you determined above for what is a “rush.” So, perhaps you charge 25% more if it’s within 48 hours, 50% within 24, 100% if it will involve giving up your weekend.
You may add criteria for the complexity of a project, too. So, one email may be a 25% increase while five webpages may be a 100% up charge.
A Note on Flat Rush Rates
You may decide that you have a flat $100 rush fee for any project that fits your criteria for rush. However, this flat fee doesn’t give you as much wiggle room. A flat $100 fee on a $1,000 project that eats away at your nights and weekends is only a 10% bump.
That 10% may be fine if you can complete your work in normal business hours. But that bump may not feel adequate to you if you’re burning the candle at both ends to get the work done.
Do You Need to Tell Your Client About Your Rush Fee?
No one likes to feel nickled and dimed. When you’re quoting a project rate, incorporate your rush fee into your project quote. You do not need to break it on its own line.
However, you may call it out to your client that the project quote includes the time to tackle this project faster than you would a regular project. Basically, you want to make it clear this is not a normal timeline and you’re helping them out.
Most clients understand this is simply a fact of doing business. So, rather than worry that you’ll lose a client by charging a higher rate (chances are, you won’t!), respect your time and value!
The best scenario is that you disclose your rush rates to your clients before you have to use them. You want clients who plan and respect your time. And you want to equip them with as much information as possible upfront.
If you work with a client on an hourly basis, then you will inevitably need to discuss a rush rate. This is where a time-and-a-half scenario can come into play, too.
When to Waive Your Rush Fee
Sometimes, it may make sense to waive your rush fee. If you have a client that you work with on a consistent basis that simply needs to check “accept changes” on the edits they’ve added to your piece or wants one or two headline options for a landing page you wrote, you may consider waiving the rush fee.
These small asks, particularly with a client you enjoy working with (and want to continue working with), may not be worth tacking on additional costs. Consider it the cost of being a good business partner to them.
Again, it’s your business so you may decide you never waive rush fees, and that’s fine, too!
When to Say No to a Copywriting Rush Job
We almost started the post with this section. That’s because sometimes it may make sense to turn down the job. If your schedule is jam-packed with copywriting projects and squeezing this client in to the front of the line means jeopardizing any of the other projects you already agreed to, then you may want to turn the work down.
A rush job may mean a bigger payout for you, but that doesn’t mean you should risk delivering sub-par work to clients who followed the proper project process.
Rush jobs should be jobs you take on because you have the time.
The other thing you need to consider is whether you can deliver good work within the timeframe! If a client wants a series of 10 emails turned around in 24 hours, that may not be a project you want to take on or even feasible! The stress of delivering your best work in a tight timeframe may not be worth it to you (or your reputation).
Helping out a long-term client who is in a pitch may be the type of rush project that works for you because you already know the brand and voice and have a good working relationship. (Taking on a rush job as your first project with a client is not a recipe for success!)
But, if you have time in your schedule or, for example, you’re willing to give up days you had planned to take off, then you’ll need to determine your rush fee.
If you DO say no to a rush job, but you find yourself with some time say a week or so later, check back in. You may find they haven’t even started that “rush” job!
No matter what you decide when it comes to rush rates, make sure you’re respecting your own time! If you do fast work for clients all the time without adding a fee, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
Your Turn! Have you ever charged a rush fee and, if so, how did you calculate your fee?
Last Updated on July 5, 2023