Industrial Copywriting
Technical Copywriting
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"[Bill] interacted well with all levels of Guest personnel, and completed work consistently in a timely fashion against stringent deadlines — with an excellent grasp of details.

He gently, yet firmly, nudged Guest Industrial to a higher level of marketing communications."

Mark Curry
Former Senior
Product Manager
Guest Industrial

industrial battery catalog copywriting sample


FAQs on B2B Copywriting Services

How do we get started?

How does William C. Blake write copy? What's the process?

How do you charge for your work?

What are William C. Blake’s rates?

Who owns the copyright?

Do you ghostwrite?

How do you handle revisions?

How, exactly, do you handle projects that go beyond three drafts (and your estimate)?

Do you continue to be involved with your copy after it’s in production, e.g., typeset?

So, shouldn’t the copy get typeset as soon as possible?

What are your payment terms?

How do you accept payment?

Do we need to meet face-to-face?

When is the best time to reach you?

Will you sign a confidentiality agreement?

Will you sign a non-compete agreement?

What is the relationship between you and R.H. Blake, Inc.?

Are you OK working with our advertising agency (or web developers, or design studio)?

Do you work on spec?

What’s your turnaround time (for example, for a first draft)?

In one sentence, why should I hire William C. Blake to write copy for my technical-industrial project?

How do we get started?

In a hurry? Then do the following:
- Review my copywriting samples
- Read the next FAQ, “How does William C. Blake write copy?”
- Call me at 707-538-9743 or email me to arrange an initial no-charge copywriting consultation.

After our consult, I can get you an estimate within one business day for the typical copywriting project. If you agree to my Estimate/Agreement, you simply sign it and fax it back to me. Then mail your deposit (50% for new clients) along with background materials and your Purchase Order. After I have your signed Estimate/Agreement, we can schedule an in-depth phone conference. (I don’t need to have your deposit in-hand, I just need your confirmation that it's on the way.)

Please note, however, that I prefer to have your background materials prior to our in-depth phone conference so that we can make the best use of our time together. My Copywriting Creative Brief Form can speed your information-gathering process.

How does William C. Blake write copy? What's the process?

Here’s my ideal method, but variations are common:

1) An initial phone copywriting consultation: Who are you? What do you need? Why do you think I might be a good fit? (Note: to be extremely accurate on technical topics, I digitally record most client phone conversations — unless I am asked not to.)

2) I create an estimate, usually within one business day. The estimate includes all deadlines. With your acceptance, we move to the next step.

3) You email or overnight to me as much background information as is practical: data sheets, old brochures, product engineering notes, new product development notes . . . any information I can’t readily get from the Internet. You also email me a list of websites I should visit: competitors, meaningful industry associations, and so on. By having this background information, I can make much better use of your time in our next, in-depth phone conference.

To help you organize the background materials, I recommend you use a Copywriting Creative Brief Form, either mine or your own.

4) I digest all of the above information, then set up a phone conference with you and the project manager (if a different person) and possibly one or two others who will be closely involved in the project and its review, that is, the core project team. We thoroughly discuss the objectives and scope of the project. By the end of the call, I will have created a list of information and interviews that I still need from your company.

5) I will set up subsequent phone interviews with your technical people; you may choose to participate or not. As needed, I may also interview end-users, distributors, and reps.

6) Depending on your deadlines and the availability of needed information, we will mutually decide when I have enough information to create an initial rough draft of the project. When under a deadline, it’s not uncommon for the first draft to have numerous fill-in-the-blank placeholders and embedded questions.

7) The first draft is therapeutic: it begins many previously-delayed company conversations. Product “holes” begin to be filled. Fundamental questions about how the product will go to market become clearer. Therefore, it’s not unusual for the second draft to be significantly different from the first draft.

Comments about the first draft are either handled in another phone conference, in individual phone calls, or through detailed emails. When dealing with multiple reviewers, it is preferable that all comments flow through the project manager so the manager can intercept overtly-conflicting comments.

8) A second draft fills in many of the previous holes. Many fundamental questions have now been answered. More nuanced secondary considerations are now discussed, usually through emails or individual calls.

9) A third draft, ideally, should have 90% of the final text in place. The remaining 10% is either late-arriving technical information or discussions over word choice. Word choice is not a trivial matter and may involve legal review, particularly for product claims.

After the lawyers weigh in, I try to make the product claims sound real and human, that is, not written by lawyers. Ideally, all subsequent drafts are simply further word-choice refinements, technical corrections, proofing of typeset drafts, adding late-arriving graphics, and so on. Each draft should take less and less time to both revise and review.

How do you charge for your work?

I charge two different ways, depending on the services you need from me:

1) For copy-only projects I typically charge by the hour. After our initial, free consultation, I provide an estimate detailing how many hours I anticipate for each of the following: client contact, market research, additional interviews (if applicable), original concepts, first, second, and third drafts.

2) For projects where you want to buy copywriting, design, and production services from me. The copywriting portion is handled the same as above (that is, charged hourly, with a detailed estimate), while a quote is typically provided for the design and production portions. The quote, as you would expect, does not change unless you change the project’s specifications or fundamental direction. Such changes may require a revised copy estimate and design and production quotation.

What are William C. Blake's rates?

Currently, I bill my time at about 10% under what other firms of similar quality and experience charge. Please contact me for my rate and Copywriting Fees for typical projects. At that time, I can also email you my Terms and Conditions, most of which are already explained on this page.

My first phone copywriting consultation is no-charge. All subsequent time is billable. Billing is charged in actual minutes, not in increments of one hour or quarter hours.

My minimum job size is three hours. For maximum productivity and to keep my rates highly competitive, I try to do most client contact remotely, via phone, web-conference, email, fax, and overnight delivery. Therefore, client-requested travel is billable door-to-door, plus expenses.

Who owns the copyright?

Your company does, once all appropriate invoices are paid. All of my drafts include the following copyright notice: “©William C. Blake. Copyright transfers to (client’s company name) upon completion and full payment of project.”

Do you ghostwrite?

Yes. My name doesn’t appear on my feature articles. Typically, the byline is given to the client’s product manager or applications engineer.

How do you handle revisions?

My estimates usually include enough hours for three drafts of a given project. I tend to be very accurate in estimating my time for the first three drafts.

However, the overall number of revisions a technical project actually requires can vary greatly from client to client, and even from project to project. (I’ve “gone to press” in as little as two drafts and as many as 20. There is a direct correlation between the number of drafts and the number of reviewers. To keep the number of drafts low, keep the number of reviewers low.)

It is difficult for me to precisely quote my hours on all but the simplest of projects, such as a news release. On projects exceeding three drafts, I will do my best to keep your piece on-target and keep you informed — on a mutually-agreed upon schedule — as to my hourly totals.

This arrangement works very well for most clients.

However, if you must have a quote, instead of estimate, let me know. The only way I can develop a meaningful project quote is to ask you many more questions: What’s the greatest number of reviewers that may get involved? For a similar, recent project, how many drafts did you go through? How many weeks did that take? How many legal reviews? How many technical reviews? What is your worst-case estimate as to the number of drafts this project will take?

Your accurate answers will aid me in creating quote that is based on your experience within the company.

How, exactly, do you handle projects that go beyond three drafts (and your estimate)?

If at any point it becomes apparent that I, for reasons beyond my control, will exceed my total estimate, I will notify you in writing and send an updated estimate.

If the project continues to grow beyond the updated estimate, I will continue to update you with revised estimates on a mutually-agreed upon set point or schedule. For example, “Bill, tell me each time the estimate increases by 5 hours.” Or, “Bill, let me know weekly where you stand.”

It is not unusual for technical-industrial projects to go beyond three drafts. This happens for one or more of the following reasons:

a) A fast-evolving new product development. The deadline, or my copy, is forcing various technical and product issues to be fully addressed for the first time. Sometimes the issues raised are quite sticky, requiring more input from other company departments or outside suppliers. Clients are very understanding in these situations and therefore appreciate how difficult it can be for me to provide a precise estimate as to the number of drafts needed for completion.

b) An ever-expanding range of company reviewers. Sometimes this is a necessary step, as when improving the piece’s technical accuracy. There is a real danger, however, in getting too many reviewers involved. Inevitably, a large group of reviewers will generate comments that conflict or outright contradict one another. As a result, the copywriting can also get hopelessly watered down.

We all want to avoid the proverbial “camel designed by committee” situation. So please don’t let this happen to your project. If a piece requires more than three reviewers, I will do my best to keep your piece on-target. I will also keep you informed as to my hourly totals. When the project is done, I can, at no charge, do a post-project review to see how future projects can be streamlined for everyone’s benefit.

Do you continue to be involved with your copy after it’s in production, e.g., typeset?

Preferably, yes! Many things can and do go wrong in production (e.g., typesetting or web design), so at the very least I want to proofread the entire project, at least once.

More commonly, I review virtually every draft. The typeset page is magical. Reviewers pay much more attention to the project after it is typeset than when the text is simply in a Microsoft Word file (that is, when it’s "pure-copy"). The first typeset draft prompts all sorts of comments that reviewers didn’t think of during the pure-copy drafts.

So, shouldn’t the copy get typeset as soon as possible?

No, not necessarily. Brand new products and services may require several copy-only drafts as fundamental product and marketing questions are wrestled with for the first time. For these situations, pure-copy drafts allow for maximum flexibility and the fastest turnaround times. The other consideration is financial. With typeset drafts, you’re paying for both a typesetter and a copywriter, and that might not make sense if the project is still in its very preliminary stages.

The other consideration is that there’s an inherent conflict between typesetters/layout artists who want to spend enough time on an initial layout that you, the client, is impressed, while on the other hand the copywriter is saying, “This is all subject to change, so just do something basic and quick and we can refine it later when the copy is more solidified.”

(One advantage to using R.H. Blake, Inc. for single-source sales collateral is that I can better control how much time the artists spend on layouts. As a result, 80% to 90% of our first drafts are laid out — typeset — for the simple reason that clients will more thoroughly review a typeset layout than a pure-copy file. In turn, this can end up saving the client time and money by reducing the number of drafts needed.)

What are your payment terms?

For new clients who are start-ups or based outside the US without US offices: non refundable deposit of 100% upon acceptance of estimate.

For new clients with established credit, copywriting only projects: non-refundable deposit of 1/2 upon acceptance of estimate, 1/4 billed upon delivery of first draft and 1/4 billed upon completion.

For established clients, copywriting-only projects: 1/3 deposit upon acceptance of estimate, 1/3 billed upon delivery of first draft, and 1/3 billed upon completion. R.H. Blake, Inc. solely determines the criterion for “established,” on a client-by-client basis..

For projects including tangible items (for example, printing) in addition to copywriting services. Higher advances will be required based on: the value of the tangible items, whether a client is established or not, and other considerations.

Billing for work done to date: after one month of client inactivity, any work done to date that has not already been billed (that is, amounts beyond the deposit and the bill for first draft), shall be invoiced. Any project specifically put on hold by you will be invoiced for work done to date when I am told of the hold notice.

Cancellation of projects: all work done to date is invoiced when I get the cancellation notice. Ownership and copyright of any partially-completed projects automatically transfers to you, the client, when you have paid for all work done to date.

How do you accept payment?

Company check or bank wire for USA clients. For clients outside the USA: bank wire. Note: depending on how the bank wire is done, additional wire fees may apply.

Do we need to meet face-to-face?

Usually not. Face-to-face meetings are great, and I love seeing my clients’ facilities and products in action. However, it’s not necessary. In fact, I’ve worked with some clients for years before meeting them in person.

If it’s a truly unique situation, for example your entire “brain trust” is gathering for a trade show and you want me to participate, we can talk and I can give you a “travel package estimate” (my time and expenses) for my participation. Otherwise, phone, email, web-conferencing, fax, and overnight delivery take care of 99% of what I need.

When is the best time to reach you?

7AM to 5PM Pacific Time (10AM to 8PM Eastern Time). Typically, I return all business calls and emails within one business day.

Will you sign a confidentiality agreement?

R.H. Blake, Inc. and I are extremely careful with your proprietary information and intellectual property. There is absolutely no reason for us to share your proprietary information with people outside of your firm. Ever. We sign confidentiality agreements.

However, we may need to modify any clause that unfairly restricts our ability to freely market our services. For example, a clause that says I will not deal with any other company in your industry for seven years is too broad. More appropriate and acceptable clauses might be: William C. Blake and R.H. Blake, Inc. will not deal with any competitor during the course of our business relationship; all proprietary information will be returned upon the request of the client; and so on.

Will you sign a non-compete agreement?

As you know, non-compete agreements are usually more appropriate for employees rather than outside consultants. So, we’ve never been asked to sign one. However, I appreciate your concern and can reassure you: it would be both unethical and shortsighted of us (or any ad agency) to work on competing accounts.

Unethical for obvious reasons. Shortsighted because most of our B2B clients work in niche industries where everybody knows everybody else and even competitors talk to one another on a regular basis.

If there is ever a remote possibility that a potential new client might be a competitor with an existing client, we simply ask them both. Sometimes we have to say “no thanks” to a great prospect. Other times we discover that the two companies, while in the same industry, do not consider themselves competitors. They may even think of their products as complementary. In any case, it’s not our call, but our clients’.

What is the relationship between you and R.H. Blake, Inc.?

I’ve had a close relationship with R.H. Blake, Inc. since 1987. The president of RHB is Bruce Blake, my brother. He bought out our father’s previous advertising agency, Baisch, Blake and Penella, Inc. To honor our father, he promptly renamed the agency R.H. Blake, Inc.

Since 1950, the ad agency has provided advertising, marketing, and public relations services to technical-industrial, business-to-business clients.

Although I work on the West Coast, I have the support of RHB’s account managers, production managers, artists, and office staff in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s an ideal situation. I can bounce off ideas and concepts with the other executives, get full studio art development, and manage projects in production . . . all from the convenience, and low overhead, of my home office.

The arrangement is also simple for clients: I’m your single point of contact and all your questions can go directly to me. In turn, I can call upon the resources of R.H. Blake, Inc. at any time.

On a logistics note: I’m an independent representative for RHB. All invoices are remitted to Cleveland, as indicated on all of my invoices.

Are you OK working with our advertising agency (or web developers, or design studio)?

Yes. Even though I’m affiliated with a full-service industrial ad agency, R.H. Blake, Inc., I can write for other agencies, web developers, design studios, in-house production departments, and so on. There is no conflict. In fact, I have written for other (non-competing) ad agencies for over a decade.

I respect companies that are loyal to their suppliers while realizing that certain aspects of their marketing, such as technical-industrial copywriting, might be better served through another entity.

I only have two requests: One, that I am hired and paid by the client. And two, I have direct access to the client’s project manager. The second request simply acknowledges that technical-industrial topics can get lost in translation when the copywriter is not dealing directly with the client.

Do you work on spec?

No. Only in a few exceptional situations is spec appropriate for ad agencies, and almost never for technical-industrial accounts. Time and again, spec has been demonstrated to be an unhealthy time-waster for both clients and creatives.

What’s your turnaround time (for example, for a first draft)?

In general, for most moderately-sized projects, you can expect a turnaround of five to seven working days from the time that I receive all of the client-supplied information needed for the first draft. You should also allocate at least three to five working days to gather materials, have a phone conference with me, have me interview an additional tech person or two, and so on.

So, typically two to three weeks from initial contact to first draft is ideal.

Writing is like exercising a muscle: it becomes stronger with rest intervals. For each project, I have intense periods of studying, thinking, and writing, and then . . . I do something completely different.

When I next come back to the project, my mind has unconsciously developed many new ideas. At that point, I work on them intensely. Then I do something else for while. And so on.

After I have a complete draft, I edit it several times, again using intervals of concentration and rest. Only then do I have a draft worthy of discussion with you, the client.

I can work on shorter deadlines, but that usually short-circuits the number of ideas I generate. And at some point, I don’t think it’s right or fair for me to keep introducing new ideas after the client has begun to review my submitted drafts. (After all, we’re all trying to get the project into production.) So, for the best possible work, plan on two to three weeks for the first draft.

In one sentence, why should I hire William C. Blake to write copy for my technical-industrial marketing?

I have a rare combination of marketing expertise and copywriting ability that consistently delivers on-target messages for technical-industrial products.