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“How much do copywriters make per hour?”
“What exactly does a copywriter do?”
“Are copywriters in demand?”
“Is copywriting a good career?”
“Is copywriting difficult?”
“Is copywriting a high income skill?”
“Does copywriting pay well?”

These are just some of the many many questions on many people’s minds with regard to copywriting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

Freelance copywriting has become an area of interest for many around the world. 

Now, more than ever before, you can work from just about anywhere at just about anytime thanks to:

  • Improved internet access.
  • Highly capable tools.
  • Increasingly powerful devices.

Working as a copywriter on a freelance basis allows you to work on a flexible schedule. You get to plan your work around your life instead of the other way around, as is the case with traditional work.

In addition, as a freelancer, you get to select clients and projects based on your interests. 

However, the answers to the questions above aren’t as straightforward as you’d imagine. 

Some copywriters make a substantial income from their work. Others don’t. Some make a couple of dollars per hour, others make hundreds. Why is that? Simply because elite copywriters know certain things that others don’t.

Copywriting is a good career, but that depends on:

  • Your skills, abilities, and qualifications
  • How you attract and work with clients
  • Your willingness to sacrifice sleep or activities on occasion 
  • Your ability to handle perspectives as well as approaches that differ from your own

Of these, your expertise, skills, and knowledge are the most crucial. Why? In most cases, they determine whether a client gives you the job or not.

Being skilled and highly knowledgeable is a major confidence boost for many prospective clients. 

Before taking another step, take a copywriting course

You will: 

  • Learn all you need to know about exceptional copywriting.
  • Understand how to write in an effective and engaging manner.
  • Become a pro at crafting content for a diverse range of clients. 

Once you have the knowledge it’s time to determine how much to charge for your work. This guide will take you through all you need to know, so you don’t end up over- or under-charging clients. 

Let’s get one thing out of the way. There isn’t an industry-standard pay rate for copywriters per se. There are, however, three distinct ways to charge clients:

  • Per Word
  • Per Hour
  • Per Project

One important point to keep in mind is that regardless of how you charge, you need to show why. Your rate card should communicate the value of your copywriting clearly. 

This can help potential clients see your service as an investment as opposed to an incurred cost.

Let’s examine the three ways you can charge for copywriting one by one.

1. Should You Charge Per Word As A Copywriter? 

Yes and no. 

Here’s why.

Charging per word means you offer your service at a fixed rate for every word written. For instance, let’s say you charge 50 cents per word. If the word count comes to 1200 words, your client will part with $600 dollars for that particular article. 

As you can see, that’s likely too substantial an amount to charge for a single task. When charging per word, think of the cost implication your rate will have on your clients.

When working as a freelance copywriter, it’s easy to try and make a quick buck. And why not? There’s a level of uncertainty in this type of work. You may go for a while without getting a project. It’s perfectly logical to think of making the most of whatever comes your way.

However, keep in mind that giving a good rate could mean getting more work or a referral from a client. Pricing is, after all, a customer retention technique.  Moreover, they could also refer you to other prospective clients in their networks.

When you think of it that way, what’s a few hundred dollars upfront compared to a long-lasting working relationship? Or a series of referrals and new opportunities?

The Good

  • Charging per word is ideal for projects that need lots of copy. Writing content for a blog or website pages? Working on a publication? Then pay-per-word is your best option.

The Bad

  • This approach isn’t suited to one-off work or projects that aren’t copy intensive such as billboards and print ads.

2. Don’t Charge Per Hour Before You Read This

A per-hour basis entails setting an hourly rate in dollars. You multiply the hours worked by your rate to get your earnings. 

You should be careful not to spend too much time on a project in the hopes of increasing your earnings. 

Keeping clients waiting too long will cause inconvenience and even breed mistrust. This may affect your chances of working with them in future.

The Good

  • You will better monitor and evaluate your time usage.
    Since you have a fixed hourly rate, having too many hours billed for one task means you’re less productive. 

The Bad

This method has its disadvantages. 

  • Prospective clients are likely to compare you with other copywriters. If what you charge is on the higher side, they’re likely to choose someone else. 
  • Charging per hour limits how much you can earn. There are only so many hours in a given day that you can dedicate solely to work. 
    Furthermore, even with a high pay rate, you can only work on a project for so long before it’s all done.

3. Charging on a Per Project Basis

This the final option you have as a freelance copywriter. And frankly, it may very well be the best of them all. 

With the previous two ways of charging clients, there’s not much room for flexibility. This isn’t the case with charging per project.

Every project you take on has a unique identity. The requirements, resources, and time requirements vary. Each client has specific needs as well as objectives to meet. For this reason, determining what to charge depending on the project is a better approach.

Doing this ensures you get paid for the value you offer. You can give a breakdown of what every dollar or cent will accomplish for your clients.

How Much Is Too Much?

Every copywriter’s dilemma is how to make just the right amount for a particular writing gig.

A good way to set your pay rate is to utilize comparative pricing to your advantage. This is especially ideal if you’re starting out. Check out how much copywriters are charging on sites such as Upwork and Fiverr for work similar to yours.

To get a clearer picture of what makes for a fair price, keep the following factors in mind:

  • The topic. Certain topics may necessitate higher pay (e.g., those calling for extensive research). If you’re writing on a scientific topic, you’re likely to charge more.
  • Deadlines. The time period within which to complete a task determines how much gets paid for it. Some copywriters may charge a huge amount for work that needs to get done in very little time.
  • Level of experience. Look at the number of successful projects several writers have completed. How much do they charge given how long they’ve been doing this?
  • Location. Copywriter pay can vary depending on where you are. Some areas may have a higher number of writers. As such, this can lower how much people charge, in a bid to be competitive. On the other hand, certain regions may have many high paying clients as opposed to others.

Now that you know all this, it’s time to create captivating copy. Here’s a TED Talk on how to do just that by CEO and copywriter Jean Tang:

Know More To Get Paid More

Recent years have seen a rapid rise in the number of freelance workers competing to get hired. If you want to stand out and get paid what you’re worth, then you need to invest in yourself.

Disruptions in the work environment mean there’s a need to develop a diverse skill set. This way, you’ll be capable of effectively handling any task that comes your way. 

To do this, you need to broaden your knowledge of copywriting. Furthermore, you may want to master an area and become a specialist (e.g., in SEO copywriting). 

Small Revolution offers a comprehensive learning solution. At your own time and pace, you can learn all you need to get yourself ready for your next writing job.
Have a look at all the Small Revolution eCommerce Copywriting course has to offer. You can opt to take a specific module or save by enrolling in the bundled course.

Photo by Freepik / CC BY

Katrina
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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