If you’re struggling to set the correct freelance copywriting fees for you, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ll look at different pricing methods, copywriting rates, and other pricing considerations to help you decide on your own copywriting fees.
Pricing your work is one of the most difficult steps in any freelancer’s path towards making a living, so here’s my view. Hope it helps.
How to Charge For Freelance Copywriting
There are many ways you can charge clients:
Rate Per Word
This method is one of the most common ones that beginner copywriters will find advertised on the market. It becomes more useful with longer projects.
However, there are a number of downsides. For one, it doesn’t take into account the brainstorming or other non-writing work for a project. It can also lead to a conflict between the copywriter and the client. You’ll aim for wordier copy to make sure you get paid more, but the client will want more concise copy so they don’t have to pay as much.
Overall, this is not the best way to price your freelance copywriting fees. A lot of starting projects will work this way, but your goal should be to move on to other methods as soon as possible.
Rate Per Hour
This is a slightly better option than pricing per word as it allows you to include other factors outside of just word count. Pricing per hour takes into account researching, brainstorming, and time you’ll need to manage other aspects of your freelance business.
For longer or uncertain projects hourly rates should be your go-to method. Good examples are when clients are vague about a project’s goals or you aren’t sure how long it will take you to finish.
This method has some shortcomings though, as it takes the emphasis off creating quality copy. A blog post might take you 4 hours when you’re starting out, but as you improve it may only take 2 hours to create the same post. This usually leads to you hampering your own work to increase the number of hours.
Use this very handy freelance hourly rate calculator to check your hourly rate is about right.
Rate Per Page
Pricing per page is another common method for pricing your services. This option has many of the same downsides and benefits as per word pricing but works well for pricing things like website pages e.g. Landing Pages, About Us pages, Emails etc.
One main issue is that not all pages are alike. A landing page may not require much content but that content has to be spot on to convert the user. An About Us page or a Sales page may have a lot more content.
Probably one of the most flexible methods, charging by project allows you to adjust your pricing to fit the nature of your work. It is best for larger projects with a clear outline of what is needed.
Getting the most out of this method involves charging a downpayment. For instance, you could charge in thirds; one-third at the start, the second halfway through, and the last third when it’s all delivered. Basing your fees on a project rate takes the pressure off both parties in the process and centers the workaround providing quality copy.
The obvious downside to charging a flat rate project fee is scope creep or simply not having a clear understanding of the work expected in the first place. So make sure you provide the client with a clear outline upfront as to what is included and what’s excluded in your service.
Rate Per Post
This method ties your freelance writer fee to a deliverable, which can be comforting for clients. You’ll still want to get some money down at the start and then charge the rest in smaller quantities per post.
It is riskier, but this method can also be used outside of a larger project. If your client is looking for an unspecified number of blog posts or articles, this method allows you to adjust quickly and charge based on how much work is required for each one.
It’s every copywriter’s dream to be on a retainer, in theory. A retainer is the most stable and well-paying method, if a company has you on a weekly or monthly retainer you’ll have much more security in your income and a stable amount of work each week you can plan around.
However, in my experience, there are downsides to this seemingly ideal rate model. I’ve had two things happen to me with retainer-based clients.
One client stopped providing a brief for each piece of work and communication as to what they wanted each month was very vague. In their head something changed when we moved to a retainer, they expected me to have some sort of psychic connection via which I just knew each month what they wanted.
The second problem I’ve had with monthly retainers is expectations on turnaround time. This stemmed from the client assuming that because they were ‘retaining’ my services that meant I was available at the drop of a hat.
How to Set Your Freelance Copywriting Fees
Whichever method you choose, it won’t mean much if you don’t know how to correctly set your freelance copywriting fees. Here are some important deciding factors to consider for your copywriting rates:
Experience vs. Skill
Experience is what everyone seems to be looking for in the job market nowadays. However, your skill level is just as important for deciding on pricing.
Even if you haven’t been in the business for very long, you can definitely charge more if the copywriting you have done shows great customer conversion or engagement. The goal is always to charge what your copywriting services are worth.
If you’ve specialized in a certain niche or have a background that would be helpful when writing a project you can charge more than normal. Some clients may be turned off by this, but more often than not they will pay the added fee for your expertise.
Most high earning freelance writers specialize in a specific niche. Freelance copywriting rates are higher in niches such as technology and technical writing, financial services, health (if you have the right credentials) etc. There are also other types of projects/types of copywriting that pay higher typical rates such as; grant writing.
Depth of Research
Alternatively, you might need to become somewhat of an expert on a topic before you can begin to write on it. If your project will involve deep research into a specific field or complicated topic you should take that into account for your fees.
Type of Clients
Not all clients will be able to pay higher fees, but if you manage to land a big fish don’t be afraid to up your fees a bit. Higher-end clients can and are willing to pay more as long as you can provide high-quality copy.
Also, be very mindful of the requirements of bigger corporate clients. In my experience, there are normally multiple stakeholders meaning numerous rounds of revisions and lots of ‘rules’ to follow in terms of tone of voice, brand positioning etc. They also have a habit of taking ages to pay the bill. So make sure you price accordingly to reflect the total effort you need to put in.
You never spend all of your time typing away at your desk. Copywriters aren’t machines and often spend a portion of their work hours being less productive than they’d thought. Unpaid hours are an unfortunate fact of freelancing, but shouldn’t be a burden or harm your income.
You also need to factor in all the time you spend on tasks relating to your freelance copywriting business, that aren’t directly billable e.g. marketing, outreach, accounts etc.
In a recent post I read by Daniel Rosehill, he argues for a 25% billable ratio for freelancers to factor the unproductive/non-billable hours of your workday into your copywriting rates.
How soon does your client need the copy? If the deadline for a project is urgent or you’re provided less time than normal, it’s alright to charge an extra premium for the rush.
Your work should be able to pay the bills. If you’re living in a city or country with a high cost of living, you’ll want to increase your prices accordingly.
You aren’t the only copywriter out there, but keep in mind that a lot of them are charging far too little for their work. Don’t try to undersell the competition, try to outdo their quality and secure higher-paying jobs.
Other Pricing Considerations
Should I Post My Rates on My Website?
Transparency is always a good thing for the client-copywriter relationship. Listing your copywriting rates on your website will help you avoid clients who underpay. It will also make it easier for the right clients to decide if you’re within their price range.
Should I Charge a Deposit?
Always charge a deposit. This is especially true for new clients or unreliable ones. There are too many clients who are willing to take advantage of you and your work if you let them.
You should also have a policy of requiring that clients sign a contract outlining the work you’ll provide. It helps prevent you from losing time and money to unreliable clients and makes you appear more professional.
Should I Offer a Discount for Recurring Work?
While it’s important to charge what your work is worth, having recurring projects or clients is just as important. If you have a few consistent clients you can rely on, it eliminates a lot of the panicked scrambling for work in the future.
Copywriting is a skilled and difficult career, so you shouldn’t be getting less for your work than you would at a minimum wage job. The hundreds of ads calling for freelancers that pay 1 cent per word or worse can make that hard to remember.
Use the above methods and pricing considerations to avoid underselling yourself and your work. If some clients aren’t willing to pay for the quality copy you provide, there are plenty of others who will.
How Do I Decide on Pricing?
Pricing is always going to be a case-by-case decision. If you feel that you can charge a little more, go for it. If you feel like you might need to charge less to secure a consistent client, go for it.
However, there are some factors you’ll want to consider every time you set your fees for a project:
● Cost of living in your area
● Your skill level and experience
● Reliability of the client
● Work required outside of writing
How Do High-Income Copywriters Charge?
Most high-income freelance copywriters charge per project, per post or are on a retainer. It can be difficult to secure projects paying like this when starting out, but once you’ve established yourself you should aim to transition to these methods.