How Much Do Copywriters Charge?

Good question. How long is a piece of string?! I find pricing really difficult and from speaking to other people who work for themselves I’m not alone.

Copywriters tend not to publish their prices so there’s a limit to how much you can glean about what we charge online, this is probably the most comprehensive guide to pricing in the UK (on the Professional Copywriters’ Network website).

how much does copywriting cost

I don’t post my prices because every job is different so I quote ‘per project’ taking a number of factors into account (which I’ll go into), a price online would only ever be a guide and I’m not sure how useful that is.

How much do copywriters charge?

Let’s start with competition.

Competition is only one element of how I charge. If I really wanted to be price competitive I’d have to charge $5/hour to compete with non-English speakers who live in countries where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the UK.

I can’t compete with them on price and they can’t compete with me on quality so I’m not $5 an hour!

If you compete on price it’s a race to the bottom

– said someone insightful

Like lots of freelancers, I don’t see myself as having direct competition not because I’m an arrogant twit but because I’m the person my clients have met and like, I might be local which appeals to them, or they particularly like my work or what I offer, and they choose to work with me rather than anyone else.

Copywriting isn’t competitive in the same way as, say, children’s books. Last week I bought my Godson some books for his 3rd birthday and while I knew they had to be by Julia Donaldson (she wrote ‘The Gruffalo’ – my Godson’s got very good taste) I could shop around to save myself money. Wherever I ordered them from the books would be exactly the same.

Not so with copywriting.

Levels of experience and skills differ, writing styles differ, when someone can deliver a project may differ, what they’re actually offering may differ too:

  • Will your copywriter do SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) research?
  • Will they add photos to your blog, upload it and write the meta tag and description?
  • Will they do hours of research or do you have to provide all of the information?
  • Do they take a detailed brief so they can tailor your copy?
  • Can they respond quickly if you’re in a hurry?

As a client you’re not choosing between identical ‘products’.

How copywriters charge:

  1. Per word

    Let’s do this one first because it will be quick. In my experience copywriters worth their salt don’t charge per word. Yes word length comes into it. All things being equal you’ll be charged more for a 1500-word piece than a 500-word one but the cost won’t be calculated per word.

    And what about a 4-word tagline versus a 300-word blog? I can promise you that writing the tagline would take as long as writing the blog, possibly a lot longer!

    In my experience charging per word is more common with proofreading and journalism where word count is a fairly reliable way of working out the amount of work involved.

  2. Per hour or day

    This method isn’t without its problems either. If you want someone to come in and provide in-house support you’ll probably pay them an hourly/day rate. Or if you want someone to do a few bits for you, like re-write a blog, you might just want them to spend an hour or two on it.

    But on the whole people like me, who mainly work on projects, won’t give you a price per hour. We might use an hourly rate to help us work out what to charge but we probably won’t mention the rate.

    If you do work with freelance copywriters who charge by the hour, £35 to £100/hour is the going rate (or £250–£800/day) depending on their experience, location (you’ll pay more in London than elsewhere), specific skills or specialism.

    And if that sounds like a lot remember that you’re not just paying for the time someone spends working for you, you’re paying for the skills they’ve built up over many years and for the convenience of having them dip in and out when you need them, it’s very different from paying someone £65 an hour 40 hours a week!

  3. Per project

    This is how I charge (and most copywriters I’ve spoken to do too) based on:

    – Research & meetings required: if I need to meet up with a client several times, have loads of calls or do lots of research I’ll charge more. This is another reason why charging by the word doesn’t work. A 500-word article based on information you provide is a lot quicker to write than a 500-word article based on two interviews and a day’s research.

    – Specialist skills: be prepared to pay more if you want a writer who has specialist knowledge or skills. Copywriters who have a niche or specialist area – say, they only work in investment – are going to charge more than generalists.

    – Timescale: some people charge more for a quick turnaround so you might have to pay a premium if you’re on a tight deadline. I often work late into the evening if time is tight and I guess it would be fair enough to charge for that but for some reason I never have, I must enjoy the pressure!

    – Time it will take: I’ve got a pretty good idea of how my skills/experience compare to other copywriters’ so I know what sort of hourly rate I should aim for (based on UK rates) and I use that x the hours or days a project will take to work out an initial price.

    – Different types of client: again, some people do this, some don’t – I charge charities less than businesses and if I really want to work with someone (maybe to build my portfolio in that sector) I might offer them a price they can’t refuse to be 100% sure I get the gig.

    Conversely, I’ve heard of people charging extra if they don’t really want to work with a client or do a particular piece of work. So if you’re given a very high quote check your deodorant is working!

    – ROI (Return on Investment): this is a funny one. Copywriters at the top of their game can charge £20,000 to write a sales letter, which would translate into a pretty hefty hourly rate. They’re using their competitive advantage – their experience, skills, masses of hard work and understanding of how to convert readers into paying customers to put that letter together – to justify that rate.

    They’re also taking the client’s ROI into account.

    If the letter is sent out to 500,000 homes and results in an increase in sales of £2m, it’s well worth the £20,000 spent on it.

    Clayton Makepeace (the highest paid copywriter in the world) earnt $1.4 million in his most lucrative month.

    I’ve never met anyone who charges like this and I don’t do it myself but you might come across someone who does. And if they can massively increase your sales you might be happy to pay mega-fees.

    But be warned. I’ve seen it done really badly by people cashing in on a brand’s value rather than charging for their unique skills and contribution.

I hope that’s some help in understanding how copywriters charge, we’re honestly not trying to operate under a cloak of obfuscation and intrigue, we want to give you as accurate and fair a price as possible!

If you’ve got any questions about pricing please feel free to ask me below.

Sally

6 thoughts on “How Much Do Copywriters Charge?

  1. Sally, a wonderful post and I am sure it’ll be very helpful to lots of people. I have sometimes found it difficult to explain to clients that pricing a project is not about any one thing; it’s usually a combination of various things, as you said. I have often felt under pressure to provide standard fees, and I have also been badgered into providing an instant estimate more than once. When assessing the project later, I have seen that the job was much more complex than I had at first thought, and have deeply regretted not taking my time on pricing the work. Pricing is still a real headache for me and the only thing about my work that I don’t like – at all! I love reading your posts. B

  2. Thanks Barbara, I hope so. I think people assume that copywriting is all the same, I’ve had people say my blogs are expensive but when I explain that I do the research, writing, editing, uploading, source photos, add alt tags, write the meta tag and description… they get it!

    Lots of us struggle with it and someone pressuring you can’t help, that’s very unfair. As time goes on I become more confident but I still find it difficult. I think I assume people are far more price sensitive than they really are, I’ve only ever been asked to reduce a quote twice in five years and I ended up not doing the work anyway, if they want cheap they can go to a content mill!

    Thank you! And I love reading comments like that 🙂

    Sally

  3. Hi Sally, I’m glad you shared this, I hope it helps people understand about what goes into our work. As a photographer, taking a picture takes only a moment… people don’t see the planning, meeting/telephone/email/contact time, travel, times of waiting for ie: light/rain to stop, image editing, uploading, photoshop requests and revisiting a location if needs be to get an even better image than previously captured. I’m just glad that I enjoy my work and being freelance.
    Happy creative time to you, look forward to your next blog. Smiles Helen

  4. Hi Helen,
    Yeah, even more so with photography than writing. If you make it look easy it means you’re doing it right 🙂

    I’m the same, I love what I do, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. That’s not to say it’s easy – but it’s worth it!

    Thank you, you too.

    Sally

  5. Thanks for the information. You didn’t actually mention any kind of baseline for charging per project. What a good starting point to consider all the information you’ve provided as factors to increase or decrease prices?

  6. Hi Lu,
    Thanks for your comment and sorry it’s taken me an age to respond, this week has been manic.

    In my experience, most topics (unless they’re more technical – and to be honest I tend to steer clear of work/clients I think will be a ballache these days) take roughly the same amount of time to research and write about so I have a “standard” price for web pages and blogs (I price all white papers and sales letters individually because they can be so different).

    I allow about an hour to put a brief together (via phone or face to face) for all projects, adjust for all of the other factors I mentioned, work out roughly how long it will take and come up with a price.

    Have I answered your question?!?

    Sally

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