Hiring Solar Copywriters, Part 2 – Paying by the Project

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Hiring Solar Copywriters

Hiring Solar Copywriters - Solar Energy WritersYesterday, we looked at the pros and cons of paying solar copywriters by the hour.  Today, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of project-based pay rates.

Paying Solar Copywriters by the Project

Whether for one-off blogging assignments or much longer writing campaigns, paying by the project has very obvious appeal for many clients.

You know what you’re getting and you know what you’re paying (more or less).  But the advantages don’t stop there.

Let’s explore why so many copywriters and clients prefer project-based payment systems.

Advantages of Paying by the Project

  • Pricing Certainty

Per-project rates offer greater certainty.  Whereas per-hour rates can sometimes go over budget, project rates are easier to determine in advance – usually.

Many clients enjoy this security – especially when resources are tight and they need to count every penny.  However, this certainty is not necessarily etched in stone (as we’ll see in the disadvantages down below).

  • Comparison Shopping

Per-project rates give you a standard metric against which to compare different copywriters.

As you shop around your project with different solar copywriters, you can easily determine which one gives you the best bang for your dollar.  This, of course, assumes that you’re comparing copywriters of relatively equal experience and ability.

  • Background Research & Incidentals

As the client, you don’t have to worry about miscellaneous charges.  It’s the copywriter’s job to factor in whatever research, travel, and expenses she’ll incur while completing your project.  You pay one lump sum and let the copywriter worry about execution.

Straightforward enough.  Now the downsides of paying by the project.

Disadvantages of Paying by the Project

  • Changing Project Scopes

You lose some wiggle room if you pay by the project.  Requirements often change over time.  You might want to expand a section, extend a deadline, or remove a few pages.

Any one of these changes requires that you reassess payment terms.  If work has already begun, it may be difficult to agree on what those new terms should be.

  • Accuracy in Value

Some clients feel that paying by the project exposes them to overpaying.  The rationale is that if a project is completed sooner than expected, the copywriter shouldn’t receive as much money.

I don’t agree with this reasoning, but I occasionally have to deal with it.

As the client, you’re paying for a finished product.  Assuming that the quality is up to your standards and all deadlines are met, it shouldn’t matter how long that product takes to complete.

I’ve actually had a client who refused to pay in full because he was upset (yes – upset) that I had returned the finished project back a full week ahead of schedule.

When asked about the quality of the work, he admitted that it was excellent.  But he placed greater value on time invested than on the finished product itself.

I included this disadvantage here – not because it is a true strike against paying by the project – but because both clients and copywriters need to be aware of miscommunications.

  • Dwindling Commitment

This one is rare.  But I’ve met clients who shared horror stories of projects that extended far past the expected deadline.

As a result, the copywriters they hired became increasingly less committed to the project.  After a certain point, these freelancers felt that they had already completed as much work as they needed to do.  Any hours over were provided at a loss to the copywriter.

This should never happen.

  • It’s the client’s responsibility to clearly communicate all expectations and provide all relevant resources in advance.
  • It’s the copywriter’s responsibility to estimate how long the project will take, based on this information.

If the project takes longer than expected (and the scope, deliverables, etc. remain unchanged), the writer needs to finish the project as agreed – even if he or she must put in extra hours.

As I said, this is rare, but it’s something both sides need to keep in mind.

And this concludes our discussion of project-based payment systems.  Tune in next time when we discuss paying by the word (or page).

In the meantime, share your own experiences with project-based payment systems that worked (or didn’t work) for you.

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