Should you ask for freelance referral fees?

June 23, 2011 by Dean Rieck · 9 Comments
Filed under: Ask Dean 

ask Dean about freelance referral feesI get a lot of questions from readers. Generally, I answer them with a short email.

But now and then I get a really good question and like to answer it as a blog post to share with everyone.

Here’s a question about referral fees I received recently from Trace Conger, a freelance commercial writer.

Hi Dean. Continued thanks for the great site. I learn something new every time I stop by. I was hoping you could throw some of your wisdom my way on the topic of freelance referral fees.

For the first time in my freelance career, I had to turn down work. I picked up three new clients over the course of a month and each had significant projects due ASAP (as if there is any other timeline).

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What exactly does a copywriter do anyway?

February 17, 2011 by Dean Rieck · 14 Comments
Filed under: Ask Dean 

ask Dean Rieck about copywritersWhat does a copywriter do?

Funny that I never talked about this before. But I’m learning that a fair number of people really don’t know what a copywriter does for a living.

Even copywriters don’t always know how to answer that question, because they may do just one specific type of writing and have no experience with what others do.

So I think a clear definition is in order, though that’s harder than it sounds.

I’d hate to just say something lame such as, “Copywriters write stuff for businesses” or “Copywriters help businesses sell products and services with the written word.”

These definitions are simply too limited. And they really don’t give you a clear picture of the day-to-day work of a copywriter.

Perhaps the best way to define a copywriter is to just give examples of the various things a copywriter does. A copywriter will …

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Hard sell vs soft sell: What’s the difference?

September 13, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 4 Comments
Filed under: Ask Dean 

hard sell or soft sellThere are a lot of things about copywriting that can be confusing.

For example, when a client says she wants more “oomph” in the copy, I kinda know what she means. But I’m not sure I could define it.

It’s the same with hard sell vs soft sell. I have a gut feeling for what those terms mean, but I’ll be darned if I can give you a clear definition.

It’s a question that comes up all the time. What’s the difference between hard sell and soft sell?

Here’s some copy that I would call hard sell:

NOW you can lose 10 pounds in 10 days GUARANTEED! Just drink one Quik Slim in the morning and one at noon to start melting those pounds away.

Here’s the same copy but rewritten for soft sell:

If you’re wanting to lose weight, consider replacing breakfast and lunch with Quik Slim. Some dieters have reported losing as much as 10 pounds in 10 days.

What’s the difference? The hard sell version uses more direct language. It makes a bold promise and includes a specific guarantee.

The soft sell version is more reserved and less direct. There is no promise or guarantee, only a suggestion of possible results.

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How do you know what a client expects to pay?

July 22, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 6 Comments
Filed under: Ask Dean 

Ask copywriter Dean Rieck!Recently in a post where I talked about writing a freelancing book, I got an interesting question.

Stacy from asked me about how to know what a client expects to pay on a project.

How do I get them to tell me what they expect to pay before I waste a lot of time on talking with people who aren’t realistic? I always worry that if I outright ask their budget, they think I’m asking just so I can charge the maximum amount.

Or can I just say something like, “My fees start at $XXX.” or “I typically charge $XXXX for project Y.”

Good question. And it’s one every freelancer faces.

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How do you guarantee something that’s free?

June 28, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 4 Comments
Filed under: Ask Dean 

Ask copywriter Dean Rieck!I get a lot of questions from readers of this blog. So I’ve decided to start an occasional feature called “Ask Dean.”

First up, a question from Joseph about guarantees. Specifically, how do you guarantee a free product?

Hi. I just read your article about offering guarantees to allay customers’ doubts about purchasing products. The article was great. However, I have a question: how would this relate to a company that offers their product for free?

I volunteer with a non-profit organization that gives away study Bibles for free. When people order these Bibles, they have certain doubts that have to be answered before they will order the Bible, even though the Bible is free.

Is there any kind of similar “guarantee” that can be offered to people when a product is free?

Thanks for any help.


That’s a great question. No one has ever asked me that before.

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