Recently, one of my copywriting students asked me if she should be charging her copywriting clients upfront and, if so, whether she should be charging the full amount, 50%, or another percentage.
Here’s the thing: I suspect the copywriters that have their clients pay upfront comes from a fear that the client isn’t going to pay them at all and getting some of their fee is better than getting none of their fee.
And, in my 20+ years of writing copy, I’ve never had a client fail to pay me. Sure, I’ve had some clients that were slow to pay me, but that usually was more of an innocent mistake than some desire to deny me my due funds. (And IF that should ever happen, here’s your game plan to handle it.)
That said, it’s your business! So, here are some things to consider.
Invoicing Once the Project Wraps
Personally, I prefer to have my clients pay me after the project has been delivered and they’re perfectly happy—and that’s what I recommend to my students, as well. I think it shows confidence in your skill and confidence in the fact that your client will be thrilled with what you deliver.
I think, too, that for newer writers, it’s better to charge only after the project is delivered since they’re a little more “untested.” In a way, it’s a risk for a client to hire them, and only asking for payment once the project has been delivered and the client is perfectly happy is a good way to help take that risk off a client’s shoulders. Asking them to hire a less seasoned writer and to pay upfront for the services from that less seasoned writer may be too much risk for many clients to take.
Just like you’re concerned of a client not paying you, clients may worry that you’re not going to deliver your copy. Trust goes both ways!
Invoice Upon Delivery of Work if You’ve Worked with a Client Before
Of course, if you’ve worked with a client before and didn’t charge up front, then I’d strongly recommend you keep invoicing upon delivery of work. If you suddenly decide to start charging upfront, that may leave your clients wondering what happened to the trust built in your relationship.
Charging Copy Clients Upfront
If you’re going to charge copywriting clients up front, consider what makes sense for the situation. If, for example, you’re taking on a project that is going to take 2 months of your time, then you may consider something like a 50% deposit with the other 50% due upon the project’s completion.
If your gut is telling you to charge all upfront, you’re welcome to test it out. However, from a client’s perspective, it is easier to get me to say “yes” to hiring someone if I have to pay only once I get the promised deliverables.
Of course, the bigger the project, the more clients want to ensure they’re getting the value for which they paid. Consider what is the best win-win situation for you and your client, especially if you really don’t want to walk away from the project.
How to Charge Repeat Clients
You can, of course, continue to invoice your client the same way you always have. But, if you do significant amounts of work with a client, you may decide that on your second (or whatever number project) that you’ve build some rapport and invoicing upon delivery of work is something you’re comfortable with.
It’s Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Many copywriters think of their processes in black and white. But so much of successfully running a freelance business depends on knowing when to flex certain policies and when to hold back.
For example, if you’re working with a major corporation, chances are, they have a system for billing (and they’re likely good for the money). Other clients may not have a system set up for billing. And you may not have as much trust that they’re good for the payment.
You are 100% within your rights to charge some clients up front for work and invoice others only after you’ve completed the project. As Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students know, you need a system for tracking invoices. If you have that, it’s easy to know where each clients stands.
Your turn! Do you (or would you) charge a client upfront? If you were client, how would you feel about that? Why? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on October 13, 2023