Freelance Advertising Copywriter

What is a Freelance Advertising Copywriter?

You know that slick guy in his understated Savile Row suit?

Smoking Marlboro reds and drinking whisky.

At 10am.

I don’t know what he is, but he definitely isn’t a Freelance Advertising Copywriter.

A Freelance Advertising Copywriter is the person who comes up with the creative ideas and words that convey messages about your product, service or brand to your audience.

He or she helps you raise awareness or funding, attract new customers, get existing customers to spend more, or generally get your brand known.

And that’s where I come in.

How do we go about this?

There are no set rules.

Every client has different needs. Every client has different levels of in-house know-how and marketing experience.

However, this is how it might play out:

After we’ve agreed scope, fees and timelines, I’ll need a brief.

For some clients, this will be second nature. For others, we’ll have to work together to get the brief right.

If you need to understand more about the briefing process, give this a read.

Creative ideas exploration
This is where I lock myself in the loft and unleash the right hemisphere of my brain, searching for creative ways to express your message.

I’m looking for single-minded ideas that will help stop your target audience in their tracks. Along the way, I’ll keep checking in with my left hemisphere, to make sure I stay on brief.

I keep pushing in different directions until I have a shortlist of ideas. These will be presented in the most appropriate way to help you understand my thinking – outline scripts, rough visual ‘scamps’, or more highly finished visuals.

This thinking may be backed up with mood boards to help explain how I see the final execution – colours, typography, photography or illustration styles.

Stage one presentation
We’ll get together (or liaise remotely) to discuss the merits of my ideas.

You may have thoughts on how certain concepts can be improved.

You may reject some ideas.

If I feel that personal likes and dislikes are stopping the best ideas coming to the surface, I’ll defend them.

But ultimately, this is a team game. Your views are as important as anyone else’s.

Back into the loft I go, with a flask of tea and packet of Hobnobs.

I’ll develop the one or two preferred routes, taking all of your comments into account.

Once we’re both happy that the ideas are spot-on (this may involve more rounds of changes, focus-grouping or getting the CEO’s nod of approval), it’s sign-off and production time.

Many of my clients, such as design or ad agencies, have their own production facilities or go-to resources.

Sometimes I’m asked to oversee the production process. This may involve choosing designers, photographers or illustrators and directing the process through to delivery of final artworks or video files.

Visuals? Time for a quick cred check

Most Freelance Advertising Copywriters won’t present their ideas visually. If they do, more often than not, it’ll be in conjunction with an Art Director.

This is the way things have worked for decades in advertising. A Copywriter and Art Director work together as a creative team to realise the ideas, words and visuals.

Although I can, and do, work with Art Directors, I have a bit of an ace up my sleeve.

Having studied Graphic Design, my first two jobs were as an Art Director in London ad agencies. Then for many years I freelanced as both Copywriter and Art Director.

After a couple of stints as Creative Director, I decided to concentrate mostly on copywriting. But, thankfully, I still get the chance to flex my Art Director’s muscles from time to time:

– Visualising (pen and paper, and Photoshop)
– Storyboard development
– Picture research and editing
– Project mood boards
– Art directing photographic shoots
– Art directing illustrators
– Art directing video productions

How much might this cost?

Until there’s clarity on the brief and scope of the job, all I can tell you is the day rate that I base my fees on.

I charge between £420 and £500 per day, depending on the brief, project size, turnaround time and scope of project.

If I work on-site at an agency, they usually book me for X amount of days and give me a purchase order number. Simple.

More often than not, I estimate my time to complete a project. In fact, this is always the case when working with direct clients.

But, before you commit to anything, you’ll receive a firm proposal – occasionally with a contingency allowance if the project includes an element of ifs and buts.

Once the fee’s agreed, 9 times out of 10 I’ll ask for a 50% deposit before starting work. The balance will either be paid at project stages or on completion, depending on the nature of the work.

Any fees for other creatives involved (designers, photographers, illustrators, artworkers…) will either be charged upfront to make sure I don’t end up in the poor house, or they’ll invoice you directly. Again, this all depends on how long your particular piece of string is.

What do my clients say?

Jonathan is that rare thing – a highly creative person who knows how to focus his imagination and get under the skin of the problem at hand. It also helps that he genuinely does combine an art director’s eye with a copywriter’s fluency. That’s why he gets results. If I were a client I’d want him on my side.
Peter White – Creative Director

You can find more client testimonials here.

If you’d like to discuss an advertising project, please get in touch.

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