So you are looking to beef up your copy because you want more leads, more engagement, and more sales… and you are wondering about copywriting rates.
The phrase “get a copywriter!” has probably been banging on your eardrums for some time.
So what’s the problem? Can’t you just pluck any copywriter off the street and call it a day?
Just looking for a halfway decent copywriter who “gets it” can be frustrating to the point where you’ll want to pull your hair out.
One major issue in your search is how much you should pay a professional copywriter.
Why do copywriting rates vary so much?
There are thousands of copywriters to choose from, and all charge drastically different rates. A quick google search gets you all kinds of numbers ranging from just $25 to a whooping $25,000!
Such a wide range isn’t very helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice to distill it down into one number?
Unfortunately, without knowing exactly what type of copywriting you need and for which purpose, it is impossible to give a straight answer. I’ll explain why.
I get it—it does seem dodgy when one copywriter quotes $1,000 when another quotes just $100 for the exact same thing.
But a lot depends on the context.
Not all copywriters are created equal.
Some are extremely talented. Others have no clue what they’re doing. Many fall somewhere in between.
A-list copywriters with a track record of raking in millions for their clients just using the power of the written word might charge $15,000 for one landing page.
But you could also find copywriters off Upwork to write a landing page for just $50. They just won’t have anything close to A-list talent, though.
As with any profession, the more experienced and talented the copywriter is, the more they will charge. Not to sound cliché, but this is one of those things where you get what you pay for.
Now I’m not saying you have to hire that A-lister and shell out tens of thousands for a single deliverable if you can’t afford that.
Seven things that affect copywriting rates
Understanding how certain factors affect the price of a copywriting project will help you get the deliverables that achieve the results you want.
We’ll cover the following:
- Type of deliverable
- Pricing models
- Depth of research
- Years of experience
- Subject-matter expertise
- Freelancer vs. agency vs. in-house
- How quickly you need it
Now let’s go into more detail about each.
1. Type of deliverable
Copywriters create all kinds of marketing deliverables and content. Each piece has a different goal that, in its own way, contributes to the overall sales and marketing strategy.
A few examples:
If you’re selling products, you might need product pages with Buy Now! calls to action.
If you’re providing B2B services, you might need a few white papers and some case studies to keep conversations going with your prospects throughout the sales cycle.
If you want to run a PPC ad campaign, you might need a landing page to collect and convert that paid traffic. You might even want the copywriter to write your ad copy, too.
Each type of deliverable has its own set of market rates, which we will list later in the article.
2. Pricing models
There are also lots of different pricing models hidden behind your copywriting project quote.
Some charge by the word.
Others charge flat project fees (this is what I do).
Yet others charge hourly.
Less commonly, a few direct response copywriters will want royalties, especially for long-form sales pages.
With most copywriters, pricing usually comes down to the length of the deliverable. Obviously a 10-page direct response sales letter would cost much more than a one-page opt-in form. Usually the longer it is, the more research needed to produce the copy.
But word count alone shouldn’t even be a pricing factor. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Depth of research
Copywriters of lesser ability will charge clients just by the word. They simply operate on the assumption that the longer the copy is, the more they should be paid for it.
While this might be a fair and valid assumption in some cases, paying by the word does not guarantee that you will get good copy. The danger of paying by the word is that it gives copywriters an incentive to inflate their word counts so they could make more money.
This is why I don’t include “word count” as one of the pricing factors here.
Instead, I believe that depth of research is a much better pricing indicator if you want to get well-researched copy that gets you results.
This research may include:
- Gaining subject-matter expertise
- Immersion in your market, your customers, and their pain points
- Competitor analysis
- Features and benefits of your product or service.
Finally, all this research would be put together in a handy creative brief to guide the copy.
A strong copywriter will also have a solid background in human psychology. This helps you because any time spent on research would then be hyper-focused on your readers.
4. Subject-matter expertise
Not only does a copywriter need strong research skills and background knowledge of psychology, but they also should have subject-matter expertise in your niche or industry.
A copywriter with the right expertise or speciality is usually easier to work with than the jack of all trades. One red flag is when they offer to do everything under the sun for any company in any industry. The better ones tend to niche down to a few specialized services for a few particular industries.
This is especially the case for complex niches such as industrial B2B technology, and even more so for highly regulated markets such as finance or healthcare. Copywriters working in these fields will undoubtedly be much more expensive than typical market rates.
While these copywriters will charge a lot more, their copy will resonate more with your readers because they understand how things work in your industry. Otherwise, if you hire a copywriter with little or no background in your field, you will often feel that they “just don’t get it.”
For these reasons, I would strongly recommend working with copywriters who already have subject-matter expertise within your industry.
5. Years of experience
Shopping for a copywriter with the cheapest rates is dangerous, not because you’ll waste the little money you spent on copy that doesn’t work. The real danger is the huge opportunity cost.
Bad copy will hurt your sales, drive your leads away, and in the worst case—harm your brand and reputation in a way that makes it hard to recover. And you’ll have to spend more money on another copywriter to either fix it or rewrite the whole thing.
Paying good money for a more experienced copywriter is the safer way.
But how many years of experience should they have?
It depends on how critical the deliverable is to your core business.
If you are just testing a new idea, or running a few A/B tests against your control, you might hire a less experienced copywriter. This benefits both sides. First, the novice copywriter will be grateful for a chance to hone their skills and will do their best to impress you. Second, you won’t be out much money if it didn’t work. But if it did, you would have benefited massively without having invested so much into it.
However, if the deliverables are vital to your business and brand reputation (e.g. a full website rewrite), you will want to get the best copywriter you can afford for such a critical project.
In my opinion, five years of copywriting experience is the minimum if you need support for essential marketing initiatives.
6. How quickly you need it
Sometimes you will urgently need new or updated copy.
However, copywriters—at least the good ones—are usually booked weeks in advance. If you need them to expedite your project, be prepared to pay more.
Because when you ask for a rush job, you are asking them to let you cut in line in front of others who booked their services before you. You are also asking them to reserve you the mental space and bandwidth to work on your project at short notice.
For expedited projects, the usual standard is a 20% to 30% surcharge on top of the total project fee.
7. Freelancer vs. agency vs. in-house
While freelancers usually—but not always—charge less than agencies, there are pros and cons with each.
The biggest risk with a freelancer is that they might ghost on you in the middle of an unfinished project. Unfortunately, this happens often enough to give freelancers a bad name.
So should you just hire an agency and assume that they’ll take care of everything?
While an agency may seem more credible than a freelancer, some might charge you higher rates for lesser quality work if they don’t run a tight ship.
What might happen with a poorly-vetted agency is that after their sales person “closes” you, you might get passed off to an account manager who might not have a full understanding of your specific needs. This account manager might then pass your project to an underling with incomplete briefing information. Finally, when the underling finishes the project, the account manager might pass it on to you without so much as a cursory check for mistakes.
Now, let me say that not ALL agencies are like this. I have worked with agencies before and many of them are truly fantastic.
What I’m saying is if you want to work with either a freelance copywriter or a digital marketing agency, please vet them properly and ask questions about their process.
Pay attention to the following:
- Do they respond to your emails in a timely manner?
- Do they answer your questions in detail?
- Do they seem honest and transparent?
- Do their personalities jibe with yours?
- How are their work samples in their online portfolio?
Don’t neglect to read their testimonials. Have their clients gotten results from their work? If their processes have been proven to get results, then by all means hire them.
Finally, one last tip on hiring freelancers:
Pay particular attention to where you find them:
- Word of mouth referrals within your industry or community are great.
- If they reach out to you in a personal way (not spammy!) through email, LinkedIn or Facebook, that’s even better.
- If you find them on Upwork or some freelancer platform, caveat emptor!
The upper tier of copywriters simply won’t be on platforms like Upwork—they don’t need to find work there. When posting copywriting jobs on Upwork, chances are you will get someone whose copy just isn’t that good. Worse, you may incur opportunity costs while sifting through the crap for months or even years to find a gem.
In-house or outsource?
Finally, if you want to bring a copywriter in-house, that’s also a valid strategy if your company wants to increase headcount and expand your marketing team.
The advantage of an in-house copywriter is that they will be 100% focused on your company without handling work from other clients.
Market copywriting rates for each deliverable (updated for 2020)
The following list is by no means exhaustive but it gives an indication of what copywriters are charging for which projects:
Home Page Copywriting: $1,500 to $3,000
Top-level Web Page Copywriting (About, Service, Product pages): $250 to $1,000 per page
Long-form Sales Page for Single Promotion: $5,000 to $9,000 (may include royalties)
Short-copy lead generation Landing Page: $500 to $1,500
Site Content Audit and Report (find gaps and opportunities in your content marketing): $1,000 to $2,500
Short-form blog post (<1,000 words): $150 to $800 per post
Long-form thought-leadership article (>1,200 words): $250 to $1,000 per article
Here are some prices being featured at the top of Google’s search results for “copywriting rates”:
Strangely, they are showing SEO copywriting even when I’m not specifically searching for SEO copywriting rates… must be a coincidence, or no?
FAQ pages: $500 to $1,500
Case Study: $1,200 to $2,000
White Paper (or Special Report): $2,000 to $7,000
Short Video or Podcast Script: $300 to $1,000 per minute
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign: $75 to $350 per ad
Autoresponder or Funnel Email Series: $100 to $1,000 per email
Stand-alone Email Campaign: $250 to $2,000 per email
Source: (AWAI, 2020)
If you wanted to hire an in-house copywriter as part of your marketing team with full-time employees, you can certainly do that. Their salaries range between $36K to over $110K.
Again, that’s a broad range. Let’s break it down by level of experience:
- Junior Copywriters: $51K
- Mid-level Copywriter: $58K
- Senior CopyWriter: $80K
Don’t forget to account for benefits and onboarding costs when hiring any full-time employee, which can add another 30-40% to these gross salaries per employee.
Source: (Glassdoor, 2020)