Choose Two: Good, Fast, or Cheap?

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Hey there!
I’m Courtney Fanning the copywriting and brand strategy brains behind Big Picture. I use my literal master’s in selling stories to help 1:1 clients and DIY students write purpose-driven copy that sells and scales. 

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Written by Courtney
Copywriting & brand strategy brains behind Big Picture.

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Prior to venturing off on my own to start Big Picture, I worked in tech. It was a far cry from my publishing background, but fortunately, marketing and copywriting skills are highly transferable, so off I went into the world of MVPs, UX, and data-driven decision-making.

My first couple of months felt like an immersive language course—so many acronyms and foreign terminology!

But the first concept I learned that really struck a cord was the Project Management Iron Triangle.

“You can have it good, fast, or cheap. Pick two.”

As a service provider, I grapple with these constraints every time I jump on a sales call with a prospective client.

Have you heard these words come out of your/your client’s mouth?:

“I want compelling copy that resonates with my ideal audience and rockets my stats/leads/sales to the moon. AND I need to hand copy over to my designer by tomorrow morning. AND I can’t spend more than a few bucks…split over a 12-month payment plan. You can do that, right?”

[Service providers, can I get a groan, shudder, and a tru dat?]

The thing is, I find myself expecting the same impossible trifecta from my own contractors and coaches.

Not only is it not realistic, it’s not fair to the human beings behind the work.

So how do you pick between GOOD, FAST, OR CHEAP?

Presenting a BP Double Feature


  • 👩‍💻How to choose which model is right for you as a service provider.
  • 👯‍♀️How to choose which requirement to give up, as a client.


In other words, you’ll get good quality work done quickly, but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

As a service provider, this strategy works if you’ve got a lot of experience under your belt, prefer working with one person at a time, and/or your systems and processes are streamlined to the max. You’ll also be required to stay laser-focused so you can find your flow and create stellar work that’s always delivered on time. Because you can charge what you’re worth ( 😉 ) you can work with fewer clients a year and still reach your money goals.

As a client, you’ll get top-quality work, delivered quickly, and can rest assured that you’re your contractor’s top priority. But, it’s super important that you have all your ducks in a row first, so you’re not changing your mind halfway through the project, which can alter the scope of the work, and add additional budget to the project.

I am naturally a deep-work person and hate “code-switching”. (A.K.A. Multi-tasking or starting and stopping multiple projects at the same time.) I’ve tried it and it’s not for me. I’m actually insanely good at multitasking but I find it drains my energy and zaps my creativity. I end up trying to “just get it done and off my plate” instead of luxuriating in the creative process and coming up with really excellent, original copywriting that makes my client’s websites sing.


In other words, you’ll get good quality work on a budget, but it won’t be completed quickly.

As a service provider, this strategy requires generating a high volume of clients to make enough money, and the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time (or have a hefty backlog of client work waiting to be done.)

As a client, you’ll have to be okay with waiting several weeks to several months before receiving any deliverables and accepting that you’re pretty much never your contractor’s top priority.

In my business, I have a tech person on call for any crazy back-end website issues and I know that when I come to him with an issue, it may be several weeks before he’ll be able to look into my problem and provide a fix. The upside is he’s very good at what he does and I can afford his services.


In other words, the quality of work will be sub-par, but it’s cheap and the turnaround is fast. (::cough::UpWork/Fiverr ::cough::)

As a service provider, this strategy works if you’re not concerned with the gold standard or re-writing the playbook, and you’re following a “churn and burn” model. (I.e. Getting as many clients in and out of your doors as quickly as possible.)

As a client, you’ll get what you pay for. The quality isn’t going to break any new ground, but you’ll get something close to what you need, and you’ll get it ASAP.

I once hired someone to photoshop an image for me and it was fine but I did have to go back and ask them to fix something I assumed they would have done to make it look less janky. It was cheap and fast and the work wasn’t something that would reflect poorly on my business if it wasn’t stellar.

What about the other combinations?

The other combinations tend to be one-sided, meaning they work better for one party, but not the other. For example, Good, Not, Fast, Not Cheap gives the service provider more time to complete good work, but as the client it’s going to be slow-going, and still cost a lot of money.

At the end of the day, every business is different, and if you’re running an agency or sub-contracting work, you might be able to make a particular combination work that doesn’t work for a one-person business.

It’s good to experiment with different ways of running your projects and learning what works best for both you and your clients. There is always a bit of give and take on both sides, so rest assured, if you feel like things are working well for one client, but feel off for another, you’re not doing it wrong. That’s just the reality of working with your fellow, fickle, multi-faceted human beings.

Now go get ‘em, Tiger.


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