Mark Atkinson – Content Writer
There’s a cloud that hangs over any self-employed copywriter. It’s called the ‘word count’.
Traditionally it has served, and still serves, a practical purpose for publishing editors to define the length of an article in terms of the number of pages it will cover.
Outside of the publishing environment – when pricing a job such as a website, brochure or newsletter for example, the word count phenomenon becomes a dangerous trap. One costs jobs according to time – and time bears absolutely no relation to a word quantity. It does, however, have everything to do with factors such as complexity of the job, or the amount of research needed.
As a professional content writer, I have unwillingly been drawn on some occasions into taking on copywriting jobs based on word counts and have often seen my profit wither away as a result. Poetic ways to go off-brief can more easily emerge during the project for as long as the agreed word count has not yet been reached.
For jobs that are purely based on a fixed project cost – established through a firm brief and how much time you estimate you’ll spend on the job – variations to brief are much easier to tackle, whereas word counts can easily leave you between a rock and a hard place.
So don’t count your chickens before they hatch and don’t count words.
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Mark Atkinson - Content Writer