Freelance copywriting jobs can mean fast business and a nice chunk of change, even for the beginner freelance copywriters. Of course, this is if the newbie understands ways to strategically charge for their freelance copywriting services. Setting a rate is often sticky and tricky, especially for beginners, because you don’t want to be forced to turn folks away and certainly want to get what you’re worth.
Why You Must Charge at Least $50 an Hour
Before we even begin, this is 2011. Do not work for less than $50 an hour. If you plan to, keep your day job and stop freelancing, because it’s pointless, unless you are doing this just because you like the challenge and you don’t need the money.
Seriously, if you don’t think your copywriting talent is worth $50 an hour, wait until it is, then start your business. More than likely, if some little bird told you that copywriting is what you should be doing, then you are already worth $50. What “little bird” do I mean: You have proof that you get this copywriting thing and have proof on some level that you’ve got what it takes because a client told you, or you have repeat business from a client, or because you asked and were told your work product brought in business. The bottom line is, anything less than $50.00 is insulting.
You also have to consider that there will be factors relating to running your business and getting your projects completed that will take time and incur expenses, like marketing your business, administrative work and minor outlays that will eat into your $50 an hour. That $50 when it’s all said and done, may end up really amounting to $25 to $35 an hour.
DON’T start out by undercutting yourself. Word gets around, and it will be harder for you to raise your fees later. Equally important: It’s not about your price; it’s about your value!
Please note: This is not the same as working pro bono to get experience when you have absolutely nothing to use to demonstrate your copywriting skills.
For straightforward, run-of-mill projects, you can set a flat fee. A flat fee does not change. Charge a flat fee for example, when a client asks you to revise a flyer or create a sales letter and provides you with pretty much everything you will need to complete the job; or when you are asked to critique a web page or write a blog post, etc., for which you don’t have to do much research, and they are clear as to exactly what they want.
However, when you are uncertain as to the time it will take you to finish your client’s project due to uncertainty about the client’s objectives or you expect a series of delays and rewrites on their part, charge an hourly rate. Also, tell your client there is a minimum for which they will have to pay. In other words, you tell them, for instance, the minimum is four hours even if it only takes you an hour. This is not uncommon in business. Just make sure you are clear, up front and honest. And put it in writing!
When you set your copywriting rates, consider and apply the following important steps:
1. Justifying Your Copywriting Rates
People see the end result in their mind and don’t take into account all of the labor that goes into reaching that powerful result. Show your client the value they are getting for the money they are spending by detailing the individual tasks you have to perform in order to complete the assignment from the beginning of the project to the very end. Note the interviews, file organization, telephone calls, creating rough drafts, conferences, researching their competitors, reviewing background data and other material, editing, proofreading, redrafting, travel time, etc. Incidentally, this specific information should appear on their invoice, as well.
2. The Type of Copywriting Services or Type of Project Can Influence Price
The type of copywriting project you work on can shape your copywriting rates. A blog post, white papers, Facebook wall entries, brochures, newsletter articles, press releases, Youtube and PowerPoint scripts, radio ads, case studies, print advertising copywriting will require different types of preparation, the research methods and writing styles. Other necessary components that add value to your copywriting services, e.g., using HTML or designing a piece for search engine optimization mean you can charge more.
3. Subject Matter Can Affect Copywriting Rates
The topic will also shape your copywriting rates. A blog post written on a general topic, for example, may be charged at a lower rate than a blog post focused on a specialized idea. If your background is in a specialized field such as law, medicine, fitness, non-profit, bio tech, finance, botany and you have esoteric knowledge that a general copywriters don’t have, that adds value to your service and thus your price should be higher. Additionally, the more technical, involved and complex the writing is, the higher your rate can and should be.
Use the Following Price Ranges as a Gauge for Flat Fee Billing
Articles used as web content: $50 to $500 for a 500-word article
Press releases $100 to $600
Sales letters $200 to $2,000 per letter
Flyers $50 to 300
Case Studies $500 to $1,000
Print Advertisement $500 to $2000
Web pages $100 to $500 per page
Brochures $50 to $300 per panel
Use the Following as a Gauge for Billing Hourly
Beginner $50 – $75.00/hour ($100 for specialized background)
Mid-level $100-$200/hour ($250 for specialized background)
Veteran Freelance Copywriters $250-$450/hour (unlimited for specialized background)
If projects are ongoing, you can charge a lower copywriting rate than you would for an assignment where you are hired on one-time basis.
As you can see, there are many factors that account for the rate charged by freelance copywriters, so think hard and take everything into consideration before blurting out a price that committing to a contract you’ll be stuck and unhappy with.