How much are you charging?

by 36 replies
Ive been working as a copy writer for a few months now, my career is just getting started, and one of the things that im currently dealing with is the inability to accurately measure how much should I be charging.

In one of my last projects, I charged 400 USD for a 10.000 words project, this is a 0.04 rate per word, I know that is significantly low compared to what others copywriters are charging, but thats my main problem, how do I know when im ready to increase my rates? And how do I communicate that to my clients?

When I started earlier this year, I charged 60 USD for a similar project, extremely little, but I was so happy about it, since then my rates has clearly increased, but I still think there is much more room for improvement.

It will really help me if you tell me your experiences with this, how much are you charging? Are you charging now the same rates that you charged when you began? How did you know it was time to increase your rates?

Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated.
#copywriting #charging
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

    Ive been working as a copy writer for a few months now, my career is just getting started, and one of the things that im currently dealing with is the inability to accurately measure how much should I be charging.

    In one of my last projects, I charged 400 USD for a 10.000 words project, this is a 0.04 rate per word, I know that is significantly low compared to what others copywriters are charging, but thats my main problem, how do I know when im ready to increase my rates? And how do I communicate that to my clients?

    When I started earlier this year, I charged 60 USD for a similar project, extremely little, but I was so happy about it, since then my rates has clearly increased, but I still think there is much more room for improvement.

    It will really help me if you tell me your experiences with this, how much are you charging? Are you charging now the same rates that you charged when you began? How did you know it was time to increase your rates?

    Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated.
    I know hundreds of REAL copy writers. When I say real, I mean men and women making their living, and for the most part, a pretty decent one...

    by writing copy.

    I don't know ONE, not one, NONE, and especially if they make a 6 figure US dollar income.....

    NOT one, who would ever charge by a word count. It is perhaps the silliest of all questions, the mark of less than an amateur, and probably will prevent you from reaching your potential...to even think about word count when writing copy, unless that is what the job is, in the case of limited space, like catalog description or Amazon books.

    Even then, set a price. And of course, the old IT DEPENDS comes into play. Now a copy writer can make some money with non direct response copy, and many agency ones do.

    BUT, I doubt if they work on word counts, unless space is an issue.

    The sooner you newbs get out of word count, the faster your progress.

    The question. Can anyone point me to a succesful direct response copy writer with a track record who sells copy by the word? If so, I'll eat crow.

    GordonJ
    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by GordonJ View Post

      ...NOT one, who would ever charge by a word count. It is perhaps the silliest of all questions, the mark of less than an amateur, and probably will prevent you from reaching your potential...to even think about word count when writing copy, unless that is what the job is, in the case of limited space, like catalog description or Amazon books.
      Hi Gordon, I've been in the book publishing and copy writing business for over twenty years, and there are many different ways that professionals price out their work. Word count is one legitimate fee measurement, hourly rates are another, and flat fees are yet another.

      Our editors, indexers, and proofreaders are all paid by the word and many authors write with word-count in mind. That said, I charge my copy writing fees by the hour. The rate is $75 CDN per hour.

      There is no right or wrong in this. Depending on where you're getting the work from, you may end up in a bidding war for business and have to adjust rates in order to win that business. But I always caution freelancers about bidding too low. If you want clients to see you as a professional. then charge as a professional. Much of this is about perception.
  • Profile picture of the author neshaword
    D,

    As soon as you mention the rate per word, you automatically enter the content writing zone. That's not necessarily bad, but I know for sure that copywriters play by the different set of rules. My advice, hit the rate per project approach, even if it means that you have to set the price for every project individually.

    Since you mentioned it, the current rate of $4/100 words, I put it this way because it's easier to calculate, is a little bit low, especially for a native speaker, I guess. My friendly advice is for you to aim anywhere between $5 and $10/100 words. You do the math. Delivering 10K words per project is a serious work. So, you have every right to ask to be compensated accordingly.

    Cheers,
    Nesha
  • Profile picture of the author DavidGWelch
    Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

    I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

    The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

    Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      You convince your clients by convincing yourself. If you, yourself are convinced and they remain unconvinced, time to change them.

      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

      I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

      The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

      Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
    • Profile picture of the author Enyum Patrick Elechi
      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      Thank you all for your advice and observations, I was really needing them.

      I understand your point about getting paid for words numbers and not for projects, and I believe you are right, I hate being payed like that, in a lot of projects Ive found my self trying to reach 5000 words or 10000 words adding unnecessary things to my copy writing, just to reach the objective, those situations really mess up with the quality of my work, but the true is the systems made us do that.

      The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems? In the clients mind, they are paying you for concrete and concise things, not for your creativity, in their minds that just like an accessory to the main thing they are buying: words. So how do you change their minds in that? is quite a difficult thing.

      Besides from that, I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
      Your words as a copywriter makes all the difference. You should use your knowledge of copywriting to persuade the client to pay higher. When talking to clients, I use the word INVEST rather than PAY. That way, I put it in the mind of the client that the money I'm asking for is an investment that will yield high returns for him or her; that works for me most times.

      I understand there is always an inertia when you want to ask for more, especially if you are used to charging low. You will feel you might lose the client. It also happened to me. Just summon courage and ask for what you worth, while proving to the client that his investment will be worth it. You will be happy you did.

      All the best.
    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      I will also like to know what are your thoughts on when a copy writer should start thinking to raise their fees. Im really trying to make a living out of this, right know, im making more or less 1000 usd per month from my projects, its not a lot of money, and I want to increase my gaining.
      I gave this same answer to another poster on WF, when they asked a similar question about charging more. And while I try not to repeat my answers, I think this answer fits your question...

      So, my advice to you is - Starting with your next project, charge just a little bit more than you think you're worth.
      Not so much that you feel like a fraud, but enough to stretch your comfort zone.
      (If you think you're worth $25 per hour... tell them your fee is $30 per hour)

      For one thing, you just might get it. And that alone will help raise your self esteem.

      Then once you build your reputation, and confidence, raise your rates again.

      It's really up to you to decide what you're worth - Then balance that out with what your market will bear.

      Like a wise man once told me "If you place a low value on your own worth, the world will never raise your prices for you."
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      SARubin - Direct Response Copywriter / Advertising and Marketing Aficionado

  • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
    Avoid charging per word at all cost.

    You will devalue your offering and won't be taken seriously.

    Charge by the hour and forget the word count.

    You can do some research and find the standard hourly rates.

    It really comes down to your experience, niche area and your style.

    Good luck.
    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

      Charge by the hour and forget the word count.
      C'mon. Are you really going to charge your client for the time you spend ruminating on that next great sentence? lol

      Every price quote is different, based on many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

      Frank
  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    The thing is, how do I convince my client to use a different systems?
    The key is to climb out of the swamp and look for real-world clients. If you truly do live in Phoenix, you have tens of thousands of businesses there who need marketing copy. Most of them would not dream of paying someone less than minimum wage for writing.

    Read some posts in the Offline Marketing section to see how to snag such clients. They will be happy to pay a project fee.

    On the other hand, your posts read as if they are written either by someone who is not a native English speaker or someone who lacks a mastery of the fundamentals. Invest in some instruction to brush up on how to write correct English, as well.

    Good luck,
    Marcia Yudkin
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    Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
  • Profile picture of the author winbig007
    hi David

    I have to agree with GordonJ and others. Charging by the word count is simply the wrong way to go and you will end up in some backroom sweatshop if you continue this practice.

    Only by the project!

    Also, what's one of the most important aspects of the copy you write? Testimonials!

    Tell your clients you are offering this low fee and asking in return a great testimonial if they like what you write. Then follow up and see what results they are getting and get a 2nd or 3rd more powerful testimonial also.

    These go on your web site and in any marketing package you might send it.

    Think of yourself like a new artist. When they start out selling their work, it's dirt cheap, compared to some. Maybe only a few hundred dollars a painting.

    But each year as they get more repeat business and known. Their price goes up until they charge $20,000 a painting (or whatever) - When I buy these expensive paintings, (I have several) I want to know the artist is known by "others" and respected by what they do. Their art is in museums or wherever.

    I want to know other people love their work. In fact, that's the ONLY way there's any value to what they produce. The same is true for you. You must create your value so people will wait in line for you. It's supply and demand.

    It's tough to become great - but it's worth it!

    You're going to do the work anyway, so you might as well make you and it great!

    Make sense?

    I hope that helps.
    Tony
  • Profile picture of the author subarnajaman
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    How much you should charge your words is usually a function of self-worth.

    If you have a high self-worth, you will attract clients willing to pay it.

    Hard to believe, I know.

    But you more experienced copywriters, back me up on this, ok? Because I know I'm not alone in this thinking.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    When I started, I was lucky to be making $2 an hour after all the work I put into stuff. I thought I would work much faster than I ultimately did, or I SORELY underestimated what it'd take to get things done, or I didn't hold the line when someone foisted a giant creep of scope on me.

    When I started valuing what I do, that is to say - when I stopped thinking in terms of "what are people willing to pay me?" and started thinking "how can I deliver so much value that people have no problem paying what I ask?", I started getting fees I never would have imagined.

    I'm only just getting started, too (as far as charging what I'm worth and ignoring anyone that doesn't see the value in paying that).

    Before, when I approached it from an "I don't know when the next one will come along, so I better do everything in my power to get this client to sign on the dotted line" mindset, a SCARCITY mindset - I'd attract miracle-seeking clients and people that were just a bad fit for working with me. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I had to let all that go and trust that there were people out there who value the work. That someone out there needed me and my perspective. And that I'd find them.

    THAT was when I started working my way up.

    And the higher my fees got, the more likely I'd be working with pros who trust me to do what I do and don't expect constant progress updates, validation, and endless editing privileges. They hire me because I have a skill that they don't. Or my skills allow me to get it done much faster than they could, so they respect me. And I respect them too - they're not just a source of cash. They're partners.

    I credit Rick with telling me to fire all the bottom feeders. Where before I felt like $100 was the best I could do (and then I had to do with ego-maniacs, micromanagers, and people expecting a miracle for spending their last dime on me - which is BIG FLASHING RED WARNING SIGN by the way), now I can name a mid 4-figure fee for e-commerce listings and the client doesn't blink (because he or she understands investing in business growth and closing the sale).
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Thanks, Angie.

    You've come a long way very quickly.

    Yes, over-delivery as a deliberate strategy can be an extremely effective way to lift your income.

    It's a true point of distinction. Especially when vast majority of copywriters don't do it.

    For you to do that, while you're chasing down your next projects, is especially noteworthy.

    I'm happy for you.

    So when are you going to come out with your own product that shows people how?
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    LOL Rick - maybe soon, man. Just gave the J-O-B notice and am going freelance full-time very soon.
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      LOL Rick - maybe soon, man. Just gave the J-O-B notice and am going freelance full-time very soon.
      Now that is good news! I'm really excited for you!

      P.S. Did you get the "you'll be crawling back to us on your knees begging for your job back" yet?
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    • Profile picture of the author perryny
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      LOL Rick - maybe soon, man. Just gave the J-O-B notice and am going freelance full-time very soon.
      Congratulations, Angie! Keep on rockin' and knockin 'em out the park!

      -Rob
    • Profile picture of the author Copydog
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  • Profile picture of the author Princess Balestra
    Gotta flip the question over an' thinka chargin' ... as in powerin' up.

    See, I connect up my phone right now when she is deado, an' I got mebbe a daya chat n' txt n' play time before she goes back on the charger.

    Any geeks bring out a phone gonna power for 3 or 4 days, I am srsly interested even if it roasts my clutch bag.

    10 day phone?

    I figure people gonna lick their way up Everest for onea those.

    So I guessya gotta ask what happens when chargea copy fills up the battery powerin' any biz device?

    What persuasive functionality do the words confer upon the idea/product/message transmitted by said device?

    Prolly the value starts with that kinda chargin'.
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    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

  • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
    Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

    Ive been working as a copy writer for a few months now, my career is just getting started, and one of the things that im currently dealing with is the inability to accurately measure how much should I be charging.

    In one of my last projects, I charged 400 USD for a 10.000 words project, this is a 0.04 rate per word, I know that is significantly low compared to what others copywriters are charging, but thats my main problem, how do I know when im ready to increase my rates? And how do I communicate that to my clients?

    When I started earlier this year, I charged 60 USD for a similar project, extremely little, but I was so happy about it, since then my rates has clearly increased, but I still think there is much more room for improvement.

    It will really help me if you tell me your experiences with this, how much are you charging? Are you charging now the same rates that you charged when you began? How did you know it was time to increase your rates?

    Any advice you could give me would really be appreciated.
    I'm late to the party here but I'll try to offer you some advice.

    Never charge by the word or by the hour. Charge by the project or the results you can deliver for your clients.

    When should you raise your rates? When you feel your skills and expertise are worth more than you're currently charging and that you can find clients who are happy to pay the new rates. The more client testimonials and winners you have written, the easier it becomes to charge more. Keep in mind that your past/current clients may not be willing to pay your new rates. That's where your own ability to market your business comes into play.

    Keep working on building your own marketing skills. The copywriters who do very well consistently year after year are the ones who know how to market and promote themselves effectively.

    Struggling copywriters say "how can I get clients?'. And they start hunting around for any suggestions or ideas they can find.

    Marketing-savvy copywriters say "how do I want to get clients?". And then they go out and do it.

    Good luck,

    Mike
  • Profile picture of the author lynnswayze
    Basing pricing on anything other than the end result = commoditization.

    Whether we're talking words or hours, that thinking and that pricing model attracts bottom feeders, as Angie calls them. Remember that pricing is a marketing strategy. Your price signals who you do and don't work with.

    I want to add here that this is also a poor way to go about writing articles and blog posts for clients, too. Content mills will pay you by the word. It's an outdated model that puts the focus on the wrong thing - the words. Always charge by the project if you can. That lets you direct the conversation back to the end result you're bringing for the client, not on how many hours you work or words you write.
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidGWelch
    I wanted to thank everyone here for your advice, you really gave me some good tips on how to improve my charging systems.

    Im trying to start charging by the project to all my clients, and I have definitely leave word counts in the past. I havent raised my fees though, because I dont think my skills are good enough right now for doing that, and I dont want to scam my clients. I will keep practicing and studying for at least a couple of months before raising my fees.
    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by DavidGWelch View Post

      I wanted to thank everyone here for your advice, you really gave me some good tips on how to improve my charging systems.

      Im trying to start charging by the project to all my clients, and I have definitely leave word counts in the past. I havent raised my fees though, because I dont think my skills are good enough right now for doing that, and I dont want to scam my clients. I will keep practicing and studying for at least a couple of months before raising my fees.
      Forget practicing and studying. Get one project. GET RESULTS.

      You want confidence to charge people high figures? Show them you can sell the shit out of whatever they're trying to move.

      THAT is where confidence comes from. Not a certain number of projects under your belt. Not a certain type of client who takes you under their wing.

      When you prove to YOURSELF that you can sell something with words and sound strategy, you'll find it much easier to charge high fees because you'll UNDERSTAND the value you provide.

      Trust me - the first time I sold $13K in a day with one email, I was over the moon.

      The time I sold $400K with a postcard campaign, I whooped. Like, out loud.

      The time I sold $970K with a catalog, I ran around the office high-fiving people.

      And when an email series did $8.4MM? Let's just say that's definitely a feather in my cap and gets brought up when discussing my qualifications.

      Everyone on this board who talks about per word and per hour rates has NOT sold ANYTHING. At least nothing worth mentioning in your samples/portfolio.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    The reason copywriters can charge a LOT of money for a script or sales letter is simple:

    You provide an ROI.

    Sounds like you don't have that knowing... and confidence, yet.

    And that's fine. You need to prove to yourself that you're worth a LOT of money.

    Just keep showing up, and declaring, "This gig will be my most effective work, ever."

    And if you do that every single time...

    You'll be making 5-figure-a-month with ease.

    Mark
  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    I hope copywriting hopefuls are taking notes. The responses here from the more experienced copywriters are extremely realistic and actionable.

    You can do it. Follow their lead.
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    One has to believe what is possible.

    First, you have to get a small win.

    Next win is a bigger amount.

    Third, win bigger again.

    Keep re-setting the belief as to what is possible for YOURSELF.

    A cold calling ad space guy I mentor started out selling to single location
    restaurants for 2 and 3k in Pounds.

    Then he moved up to multi- location businesses.

    Now he broke the 10k barrier.

    Then came shopping malls.

    Next Internet-based companies.

    Then multi-million dollar helicopters.and Wind Turbine Contracts.

    Talks with Addidas and American Express.

    AMEX are wanting to work with him at a minimum 200k package.
    He's packaging deals at 2 price points higher.

    Now those last price points are already being sold by other media reps to AMEX,
    so this adds to his belief he can get that kind of money too.

    So it's a progression as his belief to what's possible and talking to those
    that already invest larger amounts of money than the previous contacts he makes.

    This took 4 months.

    He's 24 years old.

    Best,
    Ewen
  • Profile picture of the author projectmind
    Hi,

    Interesting thread. Completely agree charging by the word is NOT the way to go.

    However I see where people charge by the hour, or by fixed price. And those who charge by the hour, tend to charge over $100 per hour, which does not seem so bad, at least to those without the years of experience. I am at that point right now. I am writing copy for different projects but still as I look for further projects I am responding to some that are by the hour. Not sure what to do after reading this thread!
  • Profile picture of the author szaby
    Quick noob question don`t mean to highjack this.But the period of time you do to research a market is it included in your hourly rate or not simple yes or no will do.
    Thanks
    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Is the period of time you do research worth nothing?

      Why charge for time not for research? You can present the result as an hourly rate (i..e, if you're willing to do the writing part for $x, now charge $x+2/hour).

      If I hired you to write me a sales letter, I would care about the quality of the letter and the total price, I would not even stop to think that you assigned some of the money I paid to research, some to writing and the rest went for the accupressure massage that allowed you to do the job by the deadline.

      If I hired you to write me a sales letter and you quoted me $1000, I would not be more impressed if you said, $275 for research and $725 for the actual writing of the sales letter than if you just said the total price.

      The research is an integral part of what you do... If you don't understand the product/service, how are you going to write a great sales letter.



      Originally Posted by szaby View Post

      Quick noob question don`t mean to highjack this.But the period of time you do to research a market is it included in your hourly rate or not simple yes or no will do.
      Thanks

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