Get It in Writing
Never start work on a copywriting project without a written agreement. If you do, you risk misunderstandings and other issues occurring and won't have anything in writing to back you up.
For example, a client calls you to ask for your price to write a newsletter advertisement. On the phone you say, “$350.” He agrees and says, “Go ahead.” So you get to work. Once the copy is approved, you submit your invoice. The client balks, “Wait a minute. You said the price is $250. I'm not paying a cent more!” If you didn't get anything in writing, you're in a tough position to defend yourself.
Disagreements over pricing and terms can occur even with longstanding clients. Don't assume that just because you've known a client for years that you can rely on a handshake agreement. Always get things in writing.
How do you avoid situations like these? Make sure that both you and the client are on the same page by using a written agreement. This can be as simple as a one-page letter or e-mail that details your understanding of the project, pricing, and terms.
Your agreement should answer such questions as:
What is the project?
When is the deadline?
What is the copywriting fee?
How many rounds of revisions are included in this fee?
What are the payment terms?
What happens if the project is canceled by the client before completion?
Here is an example of a typical letter of agreement:
Letter of Agreement
ATT: John Smith
Thank you for considering my services!
The project, as I understand it, is to write a one-page print advertisement for your New Gizmo.
I will deliver the draft copy of this ad to you on or before Friday, June 16th.
My fee for this project will be $1,200.
Should you request any revisions to the copy, I will complete these promptly and for no additional charge. This is provided the revisions are assigned within 30 days of you receiving my initial draft copy.
Please note the following:
The quoted fee is for copy only; it does not cover design and production.
Regarding proofreading, I do check each draft carefully for errors. However, I strongly advise that you have the copy proofread at your end before production.
I will take care to write copy that complies with the law, but I am not a lawyer. It is your responsibility to submit all copy for legal review.
I look forward to working with you. If this project is a “Go,” simply let me know by return e-mail that you agree to these terms, and forward any required purchase order documents.
What if the client cancels the project?
If the client cancels a project after you've begun working on it, you're entitled to a “kill fee.” This is usually calculated as a percentage of the total project price. So, if you've completed 25 percent of a $1,000 job, you can bill the client $250. Make sure you explain your kill fee policy to your client before you take the job.
To save time, the best way to handle a letter of agreement is by e-mail. Simply send your client the letter within an e-mail and ask him to read and approve it. He can just reply to the e-mail to indicate his agreement.