Suggested rates for hiring copywriters
Fair, realistic rates let copywriters do what they do best: capture attention, raise awareness and make sales.
Our 2017 survey of copywriters found an average day rate of £339 – with rates typically reflecting the copywriter’s experience. More experienced copywriters generally charge more.
As a comparison, business consultants charge an average of £475 per day (according to IT Jobs Watch). Solicitors charge at least £100 per hour.
We believe that copywriters should aim to charge rates that reflect the value they offer. As a client, you might consider the value to your business of finding an additional customer – or increasing sales by 5%. Copywriters aren’t just great at selling – they might also help you change perceptions, spread messages and compel people to act. What are these changes worth to your business?
Pricing by the job
This is our suggested pricing model. The copywriter quotes a simple, flat fee to cover all the elements of the copywriting job, taking into account all the factors listed below. Copywriter and client agree to revisit the fee if the work turns out to be different from the agreed scope.
Some copywriters may ask for 50% of the fee upfront, particularly when dealing with a new client.
Copywriting fees vary. In terms of the copywriter, factors that might affect the fee include:
- Experience. More experienced copywriters can command a higher fee, as can those who have worked on bigger brands
- Specialised skills. Copywriters may charge a premium if they can demonstrate highly developed skills in certain areas
- Location. Copywriters based in London and other urban centres may charge more
- Client status. Copywriters may choose to offer discounts and/or different rates to certain types of client, such as startups, SMEs or charities.
In terms of the specific project, the key factors are:
- Briefing. The copywriter may need to help the client develop the brief before work can begin. This is not necessarily undesirable, but it does need to be acknowledged and charged for when appropriate
- Planning and strategy. The project may need to be carefully planned before writing begins. For example, a website might need to be structured before content can be developed, or an ad campaign might need its strategy to be clarified before creative work can start
- Creativity. The project may require significant time to be spent developing creative ideas as well as writing. For example, an advertising slogan or product name may not take long to ‘write’, but generating options and choosing the right one is a major undertaking
- Complexity. The subject may be highly technical or otherwise difficult to get to grips with, and/or the copywriter may be unfamiliar with it
- Relative importance. The client may advise that, based on its importance to their business, the project requires a higher (or lower) level of input from the copywriter than usual.
- Relative prominence. Some aspects of a project may require a higher level of input than others, because the copy produced will receive more attention. For example, the home page of a website may merit more effort than lower-level information pages
- Amendments, revisions and working versions. An unusually high level of amends may be expected, and/or the content may be expected to go through many working versions before approval. This may be due to the nature of the topic, the number of people involved in the project or other factors. The copywriter may stipulate the level of amendments covered by their price
- Alternative versions. The copywriter may be required to generate two or more alternative versions of a piece of text, of which only one will be approved and used
- Research. The copywriter may need to obtain source material in order to complete the writing, whether through interviews, online research or other methods
- Meetings. The copywriter may need to travel and meet the client face to face. Some copywriters may accept meetings as an overhead, but others will include a charge for meeting time, or charge for meetings separately
- Third-party liaison. The copywriter may need to brief, be briefed by or collaborate with other people involved with the project – designers, web developers, PR agencies and so on
- Other auxiliary tasks. The project may include other tasks outside writing, such as image selection, uploading content and so on
- Bulk and/or regular orders. The project may be very large, and/or the client may be offering a recurring assignment (such as regular blog posts), and the copywriter may discount on that basis. Note that discounts should be agreed on actual named and confirmed projects, not on the vague promise of ‘work in the pipeline’
- Unusual working methods. The copywriter may be required to work in an unusual way, such as editing text in page layouts
- SEO. A website project may include keyword research, SEO writing and/or developing META tags in addition to ‘normal’ web copywriting.
In some situations, the converse of these factors may apply. For example, a copywriter might be able to offer lower rates once they are very familiar with a client’s business, since less research or thinking time is needed.
If pricing by the job is not acceptable to the client, pricing by the hour or day is the next best option.
An hourly or daily rate may also form a useful ‘rule of thumb’ for copywriters preparing prices: gauge the likely time required, multiply by the hourly/daily rate and increase the total as required to cover any relevant factors listed above.
In addition, some clients or prospects like to use an hourly or daily rate as a rough price benchmark – even if it isn’t used to price actual projects.
For most copywriting jobs, we strongly discourage pricing by the word, for the following reasons.
- Pricing by the word positions copywriting as a commodity rather than a professional service. We believe that copywriters offer their clients far more than just words on a page, and that the way they are paid should reflect this.
- Per-word pricing is often used to negotiate unfair prices. Some rates offered in the marketplace, if converted into hourly rates in a realistic way, would be below the UK minimum wage. A copywriter working ‘full time’ at a content mill would earn less than £5000 per year.
- Typical per-word prices are for ‘writing only’. They do not take account of any of the factors listed above that affect the time and effort required to complete a copywriting project. Therefore, copywriters are incentivised to work too quickly, so their content is factually inaccurate, badly written, poorly edited or otherwise substandard. Conversely, copywriters are discouraged to add value through client discussion, research and reflection.
- Per-word prices encourage quantity over quality. Five hundred words, or even five, might be far more effective than 5000. When you pay per word, you risk ending up with more words than you need.