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What to Charge for Writing a Case Study When It’s the First One You’ve Ever Written

The Experience and Portfolio Sample Will Have Greater Value Than the Fee You're Paid


Hello Susan,

My name is Adam and I am an aspiring copywriter in south Texas. I stumbled upon your site from a Google search, which led me to your LinkedIn. I have a question and need a bit of guidance, if you don’t mind.

I was recently offered an opportunity to write a case study for a digital marketing agency. It’s actually the agency’s success story of working with one of its clients. I have written a few blogs for the agency and completed a handful of web copy projects as well, but never a case study for them. In fact, this will be the first case study I’ve ever written, period.

Of course, the marketing agency wants me to give a price for the case study before beginning the work. How would I even go about pricing this out?

Obviously, there would be an hourly component considering the time needed for interviewing the agency rep and the agency’s client. Would a per-word model be preferred? Per page? Should I consider extra cost if I am going to incorporate design elements?

I greatly appreciate your time and advice.

Sincerely,

Adam 

Hey Adam,

Did they provide you with any case studies to use as examples? Then you’d know what they expect in terms of format and length.

If not, then try to get an idea of how long they expect the case study to be. There’s nothing wrong with asking them to clarify their expectations.

I’ve written some case studies that were a single paragraph and others that were over 1,500 words. Obviously, the latter took a lot more time and work.

An alternative is to provide several quotes and let them pick. For example:

  • 200 words – $100
  • 400 words – $175
  • 1,000 words – $425

Please think the above numbers through, Adam. They’re pulled out of the air. I didn’t do the math to be sure they make sense. (If you’re an experienced copywriter reading this post, please know that you should be able to charge significantly more.)

Another approach. Once you have a sense of what they’re looking for, roughly calculate how many hours the job will take you and also factor in what you think they’re willing to pay for the copy.

So, let’s say you plan to spend 10 hours at $50 per hour but you suspect, based on your conversations with them, that they’re probably only willing to pay $200 total, then you’ll either need to adjust your price or risk losing the job.

Since the client is paying to have you write a story about their agency, the money for this case study will come out of the agency own budget, not a client’s. Generally speaking, marketing agencies are cheap. They’re typically small businesses with thin profit margins. While they encourage their clients to spend money on marketing, they rarely take their own advice.

They’re probably looking for a very affordable price. That’s why they’re asking someone who hasn’t written case studies before. If money wasn’t an issue, they would choose a copywriter who specializes in writing case studies and has hundreds of completed samples.

But don’t let your inexperience concern you. The agency chose you, and that’s a good thing. It shows they have confidence in your potential. They’re willing to take a chance on you. And it’s quite possible that this is the first of many doors they could possibly open for you.

Because you’re an aspiring copywriter, it may be worth your while to do the case study for less than you’d like in the interest of obtaining a sample for our portfolio, gaining experience and solidifying your relationship with this agency.

I know you’re anxious to make money. But at this point in your career, you’re still “paying for your education,” or what some people call, “paying your dues.” But write a few case studies and get some professional quality samples to show customers, and you’ll soon be able to land more case study work and charge full rate for your skilled services. 

One more thought. You mentioned adding design elements. Check with the agency that that’s something they want you to do. I would think as an agency, they likely have an in-house designer. They may not want to pay you, a freelancer, to do design work when they already have a pro on their payroll who can do the job and likely has better tools (and talent) at their disposal than you do.

Hope that helps. Let me know how you make out on this gig.

Susan Greene

Professional Copywriter

Thank you so much Susan, that was incredibly helpful. And you make a great point about the design elements.  They do have designers in-house, so that takes care of that part of the question. I think my spinning head was  shooting out all my thoughts. So really the only variables here are interview time with the agency and client, and then the copy itself.  

Thanks again, and I will certainly let you know how this works out!

Adam

Want more tips to grow your freelance copywriting business? Request my FREE Copywriter Report. Email Susan Greene at FloridaCopywriter@gmail.com and put “Copywriter Report” in the subject line.

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