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Copywriting rates – you’re having a laugh

As per my last post, I do love being a copywriter. But these days there are a lot of us around, and when you couple that with an almost insatiable demand for copy/content there’s going to be a big squeeze on rates.

When I read about people writing ‘articles’ for a fiver a pop I thought I had seen everything, but today I got this in my inbox:

An online cartoon-based news and sitcom provider requires a witty humourist to provide headlines and captions from current news items to go with our in-house drawn cartoons.

We propose a 5 day week (Monday to Friday although content may well include Saturday and Sunday’s news items) and a total of 10 headlines/captions per a day (50 in all per week). You will be required to provide the headlines as well as the captions which must come from:
(1) Europe
(2) UK
(3) USA

The 10 headlines must be spread among the various news categories such as politics, celebrity, sports etc. Previous day’s headlines/captions should be delivered to us by 9am.”

And the remuneration for this, ladies and gentlemen?

“£50.00 per week (5 day week)”.

That works out as £1 per headline and caption. This is meant to cover:

  • Liaising with the client
  • Research (given that some of the overseas stories would be meaningless without some digging)
  • Thinking up the humour (sorry, humor)
  • Writing the headline and caption
  • Amends
  • Admin, invoicing etc
  • General expenses associated with being self-employed

You can’t even do the job at your own pace, but have to work on it five days a week.

Even a 16 year old in their first job at McDonalds gets £4.25 an hour, plus various benefits. The UK minimum wage for 16 year olds is £3.79 an hour.

Why would anyone want to apply for this?

Experience? A break from the usual routine? You’d be better off sending jokes in to radio shows, Private Eye etc.  I did once write a bunch of jokes in my spare time for greetings cards manufacturers. They only paid if they used them, but they did pay £25 a time – and that was over 20 years ago – and I did get a few used.

At five days a week, for peanut shells, this project is hardly a break or useful experience. Do they really expect to get anyone who is going to be any good at all for this sort of pay and these kinds of conditions?

But if there is anyone who wants to be ‘witty’ for shitty terms, just get in touch and I’ll pass on the details.



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