Tara Hall

design. write.

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Jul 20, 2016

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How I create a web content estimate Part 2

In part one of this two-part article series, I covered the information needed from a client to put together an estimate for web content. I also shared a reliable resource, the AWAI pricing guide for web copywriters, for determining cost.

In this second article, I share with you an actual estimate (sorry, not the per-page cost) for web copywriting and walk you through the different aspects of the estimate.

Because the estimate that I provided was part of a larger client proposal from an agency, my estimate includes more than a fee for the work. It’s an outline of the work that the client can expect, which may be found in a contract.

Home page estimate

Page type, as I mentioned in the previous article, can help determine cost because content amounts can vary based on type.

In my estimate, there are two pages types: the home page and landing pages. I separate these two pages because we tend to treat them differently although as you will see in my estimate the work is nearly the same.

Home pages receive more emphasis, therefore, are more valued and valuable. In my experience, home pages are often the most visited website page or among the top most visited pages on a site.

Having a home page that works effectively to engage your visitors and draw them further into your website is worth the investment that your clients make.

Here’s my proposal for the company’s home page:

Let’s walk through this point by point.

First bullet: Brand and audience

The client has two target audiences: preschool and daycare center directors and parents.

The parents, in this case, are primarily millennial moms from the mid-20’s to late 30’s with at least one child in preschool or daycare. Having a clear description of your target audience is key to understanding what matters to them. What you write must address the issues important to them or problems unique to them.

The tone of the content has to reflect the brand voice. When working with a client to write content, you need to know how the brand wants to be perceived by its audience. Does is want to perceived as formal, casual, authoritative, funny, or something else?

Second bullet: Call-to-action

Because the client has two different audiences, each one will have a different call-to-action. Ideally, there will be just one call-to-action for each audience, and it will be clear to the visitor which action to take.

Third bullet: SEO

Another member of the team that I’m working with is responsible for SEO. This includes analysis of specific web pages and generating a list of possible keywords for the client to choose from.

With the SEO consultant’s help, the client selects keywords and maps them to specific pages. Then I optimize my web copy for the one or two chosen keywords.

Often, a home page is optimized for a company’s name, but you can optimize a home page for a secondary keyword—particularly if the keyword describes what the company does or offers to its customers.

Fourth bullet: Word range

Having a word range is important because it sets limits for the amount of content you write.

When it comes to content, home pages are sometimes shorter than other web pages—unless you’re a news website. I’ve set a limit of 350 to 500 words, which is on the longer side for a home page.

Some home pages have fewer than 100 words and still rank well for certain keywords, but if the client chooses a secondary keyword, then more content is preferable to optimize the page.

When I set a word range, I leave it up to a client to determine whether to exceed or fall short of the range. If the client exceeds the range, then there is a per-word cost to pay. I include this in part to discourage a client from far exceeding the recommended range.

In the case of this client, I want to include enough content to optimize the home page for a secondary keyword. Although Google has no minimum word count recommendations for SEO, there is a benefit to having more content rather than less with some keywords.

But it’s a balancing act. The majority of web visitors skim a web page. Few read a web page word-for-word. As much as I may want to optimize a page for a term, I want to write for human readers and not for search engines.

Fifth bullet: Editorial revisions

If I’ve learned anything as a freelancer, it’s to limit the number of reviews. Too many rounds of review and revision can eat away at your time and reduce the amount that you make on a project.

Due to the tight deadline on this project, the client has only one round of review and revision for the home page. Typically, I allow two rounds after which the client can either approve the content or pay for additional rounds of review and revision. If I include two rounds of review, then the fee increases accordingly.

I’ve included a $100 charge per round. While I don’t want to discourage a client from requesting additional revisions, I don’t want to encourage too many rounds or the project may stall. A client too preoccupied with finding just the right word can delay a launch indefinitely.

Landing page estimate

As I mentioned earlier, my home page estimate and landing page estimate are similar. But there is one significant difference between the two. Here’s the landing page estimate:

Fourth bullet: Word range

Depending upon the landing page, there may be more content than on other pages, including the home page. I’ve increased the number of words on a landing page to 700, but kept the same minimum 350.

As with the home page, I want to ensure that enough content is written to optimize a page for at least two keywords. Then the client can choose a branded term and a non-branded term or two non-branded terms.

When you optimize for non-branded terms, then you may need more content to do it properly because non-branded terms may be more competitive. Example: Canon Rebel is a branded term for one of Canon’s digital SLR cameras. Digital SLR camera is the non-branded term used by all DSLR camera manufacturers.

To optimize the content for digital SLR camera, you may need to write more content to give yourself more chances to repeat the term.

Final thoughts

I’ve been working with the client for more than a week, and we’ve stuck to the points outlined in the estimate without any issues. If I had one regret, it’s that I didn’t take into account the time I would spend interacting with the agency team and not just the client. Lesson learned for next time.