There are unscrupulous freelance meat markets which give the impression that copywriting comes down to how many words you can afford. You’ve probably seen this sort of website; jobs are posted for freelancers to desperately bid their way to the bottom where price and quality swill about like iniquitous bin juice.
These websites mislead clients and miss the point of what good copywriting does, as any decent freelance copywriter will tell you.
Planning, research and a thorough analysis of what motivates your readers is what determines high quality copywriting, however long that ends up being. When clients ask me how long their copy should be I answer: as long as it takes to communicate your message and persuade a reader to do something.
I’d rather begin with copy that’s a little too long, then distill our message until the brief is addressed in its most evocative or snappiest form. (Copywriters: let’s not get into the tiresome debate about whether long copy or short copy is best because it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever format suits the job).
Let’s not rule out word count altogether though. Yes it’s a useful guideline if your copy must fit within the perimeter of unalterable design constraints. But it shouldn’t be the deciding factor in how much copy you need.
If you believe budget really is the only factor that affects your project’s success then let’s work out a compromise that won’t sacrifice quality, like shrink the scope or look at photography and other mediums. Or better still, perhaps question the value you really put on carefully crafted copy that speaks honestly to your customers. Just be wary of what you’ll find on those unscrupulous meat markets because you won’t find scrupulous freelance copywriters like me there.