How much does a copywriter cost?

in Working with a copywriter

As part of the talk I’ve been preparing for the University of Gloucestershire’s Creating Futures event, I’ve been thinking about the skills I think you need to have if you’re going to make a success of running your own business.

As part of this, I’ve been thinking about pricing and how to price your work properly.

Per project pricing

My preferred way to price work is per project. It’s also the preferred way of working of ProCopywriters, the UK’s largest membership organisation for commercial writers, of which I’m a member.

In this way of working my client and I agree the work that needs to be completed and we agree a fee to complete that work. Barring any dramatic changes of plan along the way, that’s the price the client will pay.

I like this way of working for several reasons.

  • My clients don’t care how long I spend working on something, they just care that they’ll get a high quality finished result at the end of it.
  • Different pieces of copywriting have different values. For example, website homepages or sales letters are high value pieces because they can make or break a sale and their purpose is to get people to buy. On the other hand, a blog post or a white paper might be designed to build relationships with prospective customers rather than directly make a sale. The level of investment it’s sensible to make in these scenarios is different.
  • I don’t spend my time clock-watching and making sure I don’t go over time, I spend it focusing on getting the work right.

Day rate pricing

Having said all that, sometimes, a per project fee doesn’t make sense. It’s generally because the client knows before they start that the scope of the project is likely to change considerably along the way. When this is the case, I’ll provide a day rate and bill the client according to the number of days I’ve worked on their project.

For reference, in 2017, the average day rate for copywriters was £339. (Incidentally, because it’s an average, it hides an enormous disparity between the lowest and highest rates, which were £100 and £1,800 respectively.) Generally speaking, the price you pay reflects factors such as:

  • the level of experience of the copywriter you choose and their track record
  • any specialist skills the copywriter has in particular sectors or areas of copywriting
  • whether the client is a start up or a charity or other organisation that may have a smaller budget for one reason or another.

Valuing the work you do is vitally important, especially when you’re providing something as intangible as words on a page. The first step is to recognise that the skills you have – and sometimes take for granted – are skills that other people value and need.

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