How long is a piece of string?
Seriously, there is no universal rate card for freelance copywriting because, like most professions, you get a wide range of experience and expertise. Some ‘copywriters’ (i.e. those who call themselves copywriters but that have no commercial writing experience) charge a few pounds; others (the ones with experience and who know what they’re doing) charge hundreds or thousands of pounds.
So how can you be sure you’ve found a good one and not one that’s going to palm you off with substandard written drivel?
How do you find an excellent freelance copywriter?
- Ask around – Ask colleagues and other trusted business people whom they use. That way you’ll get an insiders view of what the writer is like.
- Google – Granted, a Google search will only bring up those who are good at SEO (but that’s what you need, right?), but it will come up with a selection of great writers along with their portfolios.
- Call them – The best way to work out whether you’ve found the right writer is to talk to them. Give them a call and sound them out. If you click, the chances are they are the writer for you.
- Professional Copywriters’ Network – Check out the PCN’s website. Granted, there’s no guarantee that the writers are fantastic, but the fact that they’ve stuck their neck on the line and are listed on the site would suggest they’re not half bad.
Why are there no prices on freelance copywriters’ websites?
As I said before, there is no universal rate card for freelance copywriting.
Every writer will approach charging differently so here are a few things to look out for:
- By the word – if they charge by the word, run a mile and don’t look back. Firstly, they won’t know how many words they’ll need. Secondly, they could write rambling drivel and charge the earth for it. Thirdly, if you restrict them to a certain number of words, you’ll get crap writing.
- By the day/hour – For a one-off project, this isn’t a good idea. Unless you specify the number of days/hours you could be opening yourself up to a massive bill. However, if you’re looking for ongoing help (i.e. a writer on a retainer), this is perfect. You can hire them to work for you a certain number of days per month and use them as an extension of your marketing team.
- Fixed fee – This is the best option for one-off projects. The price will include all research, content and a certain number of revisions. Most writers will ask for 50% up front with the remainder invoiced once the copy has been signed off.
How can I be sure I’ve found a good freelance copywriter?
You have to go with your gut on this one.
If you’ve done your homework, checked them out, chatted with them, and asked them loads of questions about their past work and are happy with their responses, you should be in safe hands.
Ask to see past work (although remember those projects were written to a specific brief so won’t necessarily be what you’re looking for, but they will show the breadth of the writer’s ability). Look at whom they’ve worked with in the past. Read their testimonials – all of these will build a picture of how good the writer is.
Isn’t it easier just to let the marketing agency write the content for me?
That is always an option (and often a cheaper one), but it’s worth bearing in mind that the writer in the agency is not going to be a copywriting specialist. They’ll be fairly junior.
How do I know that?
An agency is not going to pay the going rate for an experienced and highly skilled copywriter. Their in-house writer will probably also do other stuff too, will write in their house style (i.e. not in a way that will reflect your business) and therefore generate generic content.
You want something that will reflect your brand’s personality.
I want you to write for me
Great! Get in touch and let’s have a chat about what you’re looking for. If I don’t think I’m the right fit for you, I’ll put you in touch with other writers who I think will be able to deliver what you’re looking for.
You know, as an aside, years ago I was advised by a well-respected copywriter, not to market myself as a freelance copywriter because, in his eyes, the word ‘freelance’ devalued what I do.
I’ve always had an issue with that.
First and foremost, I am a copywriter. With over a decade of experience, I’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands (and that is working directly with them and not through an agency) and some of the most diverse SMEs you’ll ever come across.
Secondly, freelance is how I choose to work. I don’t want my wings to be clipped and to only work for one company. Having the freedom to work for a variety of industries enriches my work.
I’m proud to be known as a freelance copywriter and will continue to use that term.
It shows I am independent, worldly-wise (in a writing capacity), and a mine of ideas that will add a new dimension to every project I work on.
Getting back to the original question ‘how much do freelance copywriters charge?’, I urge you not to look at it as a cost but rather as an investment.
The content you pay for will be around for a long time. It has to be written with careful thought to ensure it resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach.
If you pay peanuts, you’ll get crap. If you pay well, you’ll get content tailored to your specific needs (and those of your audience), and that will perform time and time again.
Sally Ormond is proud to be known as a freelance copywriter. Her words have inspired audiences around the world to take action, making her clients very happy bunnies indeed.