I’m sure you’re aware of the existence of freelance web copywriters who produce content for websites on a freelance basis. They may be commissioned to produce written content for an organization, or to take on a customer engagement project for a company. You might even have heard of them – SEO copywriters, Content Marketers, or in-house copywriters who pitch and write product descriptions for e-commerce sites.
If you’re considering the freelance writing career path, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to price your services and how to negotiate pay for your copywriting project.
How Much Should You Charge?
As a copywriter, you’ll often be asked how much you should charge. This is both a tricky question to answer and a common one at that. It’s always a bit of a mystery to non-writers how important price is to them. They might not see the need to negotiate over the price of an article when it’s been determined that they’ll enjoy the benefits of the content they’re reading.
In a perfect world, you’d charge what you’re worth. There would be no question about it. However, in the real world, things are rarely this easy. You’ll usually find that you have to ask for what you want. Sometimes, this can be a bit tricky. For example, if you’re a contract writer, you might be used to getting your work done for a certain price. If, on the other hand, you have a reputation for providing quality work at a reasonable price, it would be hard to justify charging less than that. You’ll typically need to find a way to convince the person you’re speaking with that your price is indeed reasonable, before any kind of deal can be struck – especially if you’re on the other side of the negotiation table.
If you’ve been given a specific price in mind, then that’s the amount you should charge. As a general rule of thumb, you can usually get away with charging between £25 and £50 for a 400-500 word article, depending on the industry, the competition, and how well you know the subject matter. For longer articles or if you’re doing copy for a B2B client, expect to charge more. The more you know the subject matter, the easier it will be to justify your price.
Should You Negotiate Your Price?
Whether you should negotiate your price depends on your position. If you’re at the beginning of a negotiation, you might want to ask for the price first before doing any work. The other party will often counter-offer with a price that’s significantly lower than your initial request. You can then accept the counter-offer or ask for a better one.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been provided with a fixed price and are simply seeking to justify it, then you’re in the wrong. Your first priority should be to write a high-quality piece that will deliver the results the publisher is looking for. In certain circumstances, a reduction might be expected. If you’ve delivered a similar piece in the past and it was accepted without complaint, then you can probably assume it’s good enough for another go-around. You don’t necessarily need to ask for a reduction, though. Just write the best article you can and put your name to it. If you meet the person who commissioned the piece, then great. Otherwise, you can always send them an email to let them know you’ve produced something high-quality.
Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what’s more important to you. Do you want to write a great piece for X amount of money? Or do you want to write the best piece you can and ask for what you want? It’s a common phenomenon for people to want to write a certain amount of words for a certain price. Sometimes, this can be unrealistic. If your price is too far below your normal rates, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Remember, being realistic is the key to a successful negotiation.
How Much Should You Be Paid?
As a freelance writer, you’ll usually be paid per project. The more you do, the more you’ll earn. With that said, you need to set a price beforehand. This will be based on your experience, your research, the amount of effort you put in, and of course, your unique qualities. For example, does your voice sound like someone others would want to speak with? Could you explain complex topics in a simple way that the layperson will understand?
If you’ve been asked to write a particular piece for a short amount of time, then you might be able to get away with charging less than you would for a longer piece. In the beginning, you might want to ask for £25 or £30 for a 400-500 word piece, depending on the industry, the competition, and how well you know the subject matter. Experience and research will also have an effect on what you could charge. For example, if you’ve written several books on the subject matter, then you might be able to charge more than someone with no experience in writing books on the same topic. Additionally, if you’ve been asked to write a white paper, then you could charge more than someone asked to write a simple blog post. Knowing how to charge for your copywriting talent is important in establishing yourself as a professional.
What About Pro Bono Work?
You may be asked to do some pro bono work for a not-for-profit publisher or an NGO. Often, these are small, independent organizations who can’t afford to pay you what you normally would. You may be asked to write an article for free, or to take on a project for zero-cost. In these instances, you’re under no obligation to negotiate your price and can demand what you want. However, if you’re doing the work for a charitable cause, then you may want to look for ways to give back. Be sure to mention this when you’re asked to do pro bono work. If you can’t find any opportunities to give something back, then that’s a sign you’re being exploited and should not do any pro bono work. It’s not worth it, as you’ll never be able to establish yourself as a professional if you’re only doing charity work for money.
As you can see, asking how to charge for website copywriting can be a tricky question to answer. While there’s no standard answer to this question, there are numerous ways you can approach it. Just remember to be realistic about what you want and need. Ultimately, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a reader, and ask yourself, “Does this article solve a specific problem for this audience?” If you can answer “yes,” then it’s worth it. If you can’t, then it might be a good idea to look for other jobs.