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FREELANCER'S RATES?

QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:

I've got a question regarding copywriting/production rates. I'm an ad copywriter who has been doing a lot of freelance radio lately. I've been charging $450+ per script based on my standard fees with no complaints.

Although I'm competing with "free" production at local stations, my spots have been well-received and produce results. My questions are:

Are there "standard" industry rates for copywriting in the radio industry?

Should I charge an extra fee if I help produce a spot?

What are opportunities with other radio-focused agencies/companies for script work?

DAN REPLIES:

Are there "standard" industry rates for copywriting in the radio industry?

Definitely not; it's whatever the market will bear.

Should I charge an extra fee if I help produce a spot?

That depends upon your goals. By "help produce," I assume you mean physically attend the recording session. Or do you also mean helping in the casting and the selection of music and sound effects?

If you think being at the recording session, do you mean at a studio or at a radio station?

Would spending time inside the various studios in your market provide with you new, personal relationships with people who would be in a position to send more work your way?

Would being at the radio station provide you with any benefits?

The more the answers to the above questions are "yes," the more you might consider not charging an extra fee.

On the other hand, are you overworked and overbooked? Would "helping produce" place untenable demands upon your time & energy? Would you enjoy helping to produce, or would it be an annoyance?

IMPORTANT: Even if you decide not to charge extra for this service, do NOT present it that way. Instead, built it into your fee. Start by asking yourself, "What would I charge if someone already had a completed script and wanted me to help produce it for them?"

Just as an example, let's say it's $100. Why not charge $495...and include this added service, at the client's option, at no charge. But be sure to point out that for anyone else, you would charge $100.

In fact, it's not very likely that someone will want to hire you to "help produce" a finished script. Either they want you to write it or produce it or both. So why not give this added feature a high "retail" price? Instead of $100, give it a price tag of $195 or, better, $249.

And if there's a client who absolutely has to get "a deal" in order to feel good about himself, you have the option of "this time only, just for you" removing that added option and charging him only $450, instead of your regular rate of $495.

What are opportunities with other radio-focused agencies/companies for script work?

It's wide-open, dependent only upon your willingness & ability to market yourself. Very few agencies focus on radio, so often they're more likely to be in the market for an occasional freelancer.

Dick Orkin and I produce an annual radio creative event (INTERNATIONAL RADIO CREATIVE & PRODUCTION SUMMIT) for people who do what you do (albeit most of them do it inside radio stations). Maybe it's something you'd enjoy attending.

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