Every business that wants to grow needs good copywriting, for sure.
Whether they’re willing to pay for it is another story.
They may have someone in-house or another go-to copywriter at the ready. They may be doing it themselves. Or they may just be short-sighted or cheap.
In any case, there’s something most businesses are far more willing to pay for than copywriting. First, a quick email I got recently…
“Steve, I have a promo I’m working on right now, should be final this week. But I would love if you could give it a once over. Highlight anything you like, don’t like…add in anything you think is missing, e.g. if we haven’t caught the excitement enough. Fix any language you think is off. Basically a last edit.
Would you be open to that? I would pay you $500 (and if we decided to put more work into it based on any idea you have, we can always revisit the fee – I want to be fair).“
A lot of copywriters would scoff at $500.
But I can knock out edits and critiques like this all day. If that’s all I did, I’m convinced I could turn it into a solid business. Two of these a day (and they only take an hour or two each), five days a week, and we’re talking $250k/year.
Now, you can’t just promote “editing and critiquing” services. People don’t value that much.
And you might be thinking…
“Wait a second, Steve. If I offer editing and critiquing services, no one’s going to hire me to write copy anymore. There’s no money in cleaning up other people’s copy.”
You’d think, right?
At least, that’s the response I get every time I suggest this.
How can you possibly make good money doing copy critiques instead of writing copy, from scratch?
And even if you could, why would you want to? Doesn’t that kind of cheapen and diminish your value as a copywriter? Do you really want to develop that reputation?
All good questions.
To answer the first, yes, you can make good money critiquing copy that’s already there. Mainly because it doesn’t take nearly as much time. You can knock out a lot of critiques in the same amount of time it takes to come up with something original…
…which answers the second question, “Why would you want to?”
Because it can actually be more profitable! And even if it’s not, it’s a great way to fill in the gaps in your schedule. It’s a lot easier to squeeze in a copy critique than a full-blown project, right?
Does it diminish your value as a copywriter?
I don’t think so. Not at all. You can still show that you’re good at coming up with new ideas, and clients will be impressed when you polish what they thought was already pretty good.
“But what about my reputation? I want to be known as a copywriter who writes serious promotions and completely original copy, rather than the ‘clean-up’ copywriter/editor.”
Valid concern. You don’t have to lead with this idea of offering editing and critiquing services. Just let people know it’s an option.
How? It all starts with going back to something I talk about a lot: Position yourself as an Idea Generator and a Problem Solver.
Where do you get these quick copy critique gigs?
One simple way – reconnect with past clients.
Whenever I shake the bushes this way, money falls out. Every time.
Sample email (with “your name/quick q” as the subject line):
Hope all is well. It’s been a while.
Quick question. Anything I can help you with?
I don’t mean a copywriting project. I’m actually booked up right now. But if you need a second set of eyes on any ads or marketing you’re doing, let me know.
I’d be glad to give you some quick feedback and share a few ideas with you. Look forward to hearing from you.
Key point: you’re letting them off the hook by telling them you’re currently booked up. So they know you’re not writing to ask them for work. You’re writing to offer your advice.
They’ll be much more likely to respond, and that opens the door again. They see you’re doing well, you’re not hungry, and you’re being helpful. That’s appealing.
It works. And it does lead to paid work.
Have you done anything like this before? Open to trying it? Let me know.