Copywriting Rates

To determine how much you should pay a copywriter there are six things that you need to consider.

  1. The level of quality you expect
  2. Industry standard rates
  3. The type of copy that you need
  4. How you value your time
  5. Expected returns from the content
  6. Market forces

1) Quality

Finding a copywriter is easy. They are a dime a dozen, but you get what you pay for. If you opt for the cheapest copywriter available then you will get copy that is packed with cliché proverbs (like the previous sentence), spelling and grammatical mistakes, and you could do more harm than good to your brand. To employ another tired truism: if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

Settling for the cheapest writer can often be the most expensive option as you spend time and money fixing or replacing bad copy. Some websites offer copywriting services for as low as $5 (cough Fivver cough) which is a bargain price to learn an important lesson about the true value of quality copy!

2) Industry standard rates

Determining the industry standard rates is not as straightforward as you might think. Most copywriters are independent freelancers. Rates differ from person to person, company to company, industry to industry, country to country. To simplify things we have taken a few examples of rates from across the world and averaged them out below.

ProCopyWriter.co.uk suggests that hourly rates in the UK run between £30-£100 (US$39-$132,), with daily rates £250-£800 (US$330-1,056) depending on experience. ProCopyWriter.co.uk suggests that per-word rates are unfair because they often result in writers going unpaid for time spent briefing, consulting, revising, and communicating. Calculated based on a 300 word piece, written in an hour ProCopyWriter.co.uk’s suggested rates per word would be between £0.10 and £3 ($US0.13-$4).

Project type High AVG Low
Writing $4 $2 $0.13

TheNextweb.com, on the other hand, acknowledges that a price per word is the most common method of determining how much you should pay a freelance copywriter. Their analysis is based on a per word basis. 50% of copywriters earn between $0.12 and $0.25 per word while the top 25% charge $0.83 per word on average, and the bottom quarter charge only $0.03.

Cohort Average Per Word
Top 25% $0.83
25% $0.25
25% $0.12
Bottom 25% $0.03
Average $0.31

The same analysis also looked at the top 10% of copywriters in more detail. Those in the top 1% earn over $2 per word, the top 5% about $1.70 per word, and the top 10% $1.30 per word.

Cohort Average per word
Top 1% $2
Top 5% $1.70
Top 10% $1.30

WritersMarket.com has one of the most comprehensive pricing breakdowns, in which they organise data based on sector, project type, and billing methods, but the information is based on sales data from 2005/2006.

Project Type High (per word) Average (per word) Low (per word)
Advertising $3 $1.63 $0.25
Advertorials $3 $1.92 $0.75
Direct Mail $4 $1.50 $1
Email Copywriting $2 $1.12 $0.30
Business & Sales Letters $2 $1.42 $1
Ghostwriting for businesses $2 $1 $0.50
Web Page Writing $1.25 $0.86 $0.35
Average $2 $1.35 $0.59

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, rates run from $0.20 to $2 depending on the project type.

Project Type Low (per word) High (per word)
Writing nonspecified $0.20 $2
Writing sales/PR $0.30 $0.95
Ghostwriting $0.26 $0.50
Average $0.25 $1

Calculating all of the data together we get a low average of $0.28 per word, and a high average of $1.74 per word. There are limitations to how much meaning you can derive by calculating the mean of a data set, but nevertheless this should provide some clarity into a notoriously cloudy subject – and besides, I am a writer, not a mathematician!

Overall Averages based on the figures presented by Editorial Freelancer Association, WritersMarket.com, ProCopyWriters.co.uk, and TheNextWeb.com (average of the top 50% and bottom 50%).

Currency Low AVG per word High AVG per word
USD $0.28 $1.74
GBP £0.28 £1.33
EUR €0.26 €1.59
CAD $0.37 $2.29

3) Type of Copy You Need

As you can see above in the rate breakdown by WritersMarket.com, different types of copy demand different rates. This is a reflection of the difference in research, writing, and consultation time demanded by different projects.

On one end of the spectrum, general blog articles are usually the most inexpensive option followed by web pages, advertorials and other online content. At the higher end of the spectrum, white papers, and sales letters generally cost considerably more. Many writers charge thousands of dollars for sales letters, reflecting both the amount of time it takes to craft a sales letter and the massive ROI a well written sales letter can generate.

As a rule of thumb, the more technical or esoteric the topic, the more research and consultation will be required, and the higher the price will be.

4) Your time

There is a simple shortcut to determining how much you should pay a copywriter. If you value your time at $75 per hour and it would take you two hours to write a blog, then that blog would be worth $150. Of course this is only a quick calculation, copywriters are more than just time-saving devices, they bring expertise and reliability that translates into compelling copy.

5) Returns

For things like sales letters, email marketing content, or sales copy many copywriters negotiate a percentage fee. They ask for a small cut off all the revenue generated by their copy. Most prefer a flat fee, but it is no shock that some copywriters push for a percentage fee. Well crafted sales copy can generate 5,6, or 7 figure returns and can be reused year after year. This is partially why sales copy is generally more expensive. When you are considering hiring a copy writer to, for example, write email sales copy as part of a campaign which will reach 50, 000 people, generate 5, 000 leads and result in 500 sales of over $1, 000 then that piece of copy is worth over $500, 000. Of course no one would pay $500, 000 for copy, but if you believe that the content was even 1% responsible for generating that revenue, then that content  would be worth $5, 000.

Determining the value of copy is not always straight forward. How much is a blog article worth? Or a tweet? To ascribe a monetary value you need to consider how much you value exposure, impressions, CTR, engagement, organic search results, and other less direct forms of ROI.

6) The market

Like any commodity or service, the cost of copy comes down to the market. How much are you willing to spend? How low is the writer willing to go? An individual writer’s workload may fluctuate. To avoid pricing themselves out of the market they may drop their rates. If they are in high demand you may have to pay more to make it worth their time.

The Write Content Marketing Advice

Shop around. As with any product or service, you should compare prices and quotes. An hour or two of research could save you a considerable amount of money down the line!