284 
Rates Are Declining in Advertising; Still Sustainable But Retirement Is
Elusive
Sheryl White, a nationally recognized advertising copywriter, is the first to confess that
she’s not great at price negotiation, “If they throw out a number and say 200 less I’ll say
okay. I’m really a bad negotiator.” Sheryl talks about how the rate for a copywriter has
gone down. Like many in this business she knows her bottom-line limit:
It’s hard to get $75 an hour. Most are trying to go with a $500 day rate. I won’t go
for less than $700 a day. Unless it’s a long-term gig and then I’ll bring it down
because I’ll have a steady income for the next two months.
Sheryl suggests that the rate has declined, “It used to be a lot more. A lot more.” On a
personal note, I remember my own rates, in the late 90s and early 2000s, being $80-100
for freelance writing on Internet and advertising projects. Sheryl comments, “That’s what
we should be paid. People are getting $1500 a day. I’m in direct response. I was in
general when I started. Pharmaceutical always paid top dollar.”
I ask Sheryl if it is becoming more of a freelance world in the advertising arena? She
replies:
It’s hard to say. It’s kind of like cable when it first came out. Everybody expected to
see a huge revolution and there wasn’t. It came out years later and it was. People
want you to be more virtual but they also want you on staff so they can see what
you are doing. More competition is definitely there. They’re going to make the rates
drop as low as they can. Unfortunately, somebody will take it (PAUSES). There is a
shop it’s called “Creative Urgency” (NAME CHANGED) when a job comes out
they send it out to everyone they think is right for the job. Usually, they pay you so
little -- 25 to 30 dollars an hour. And what they mean is that depending on
experience they are paying you 50. What I found out is “Creative Urgency” (NAME
CHANGED) -– sure they’re in to make money what they charge is triple of what
you’re getting paid. They make three-quarters more and I refuse to work for people
like that.
Sheryl continues to speak to the decrease in rates and attributes it to so much competition:
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