How Much Should You Pay for Copywriting Services?

How much should you pay for copywriting services?A few months ago, I received an email from an Internet company that provides ghost blogging services. The pitch was sound: increase your SEO and improve your website by consistently blogging, but get blogging off your “to-do” list by outsourcing it with their company.

Sounds good, right? But the price of the service gave me pause — not because it was too high, but because it was astonishingly low.

Curious, I went to their website and did a little clicking around. It turns out that their writers work on spec. In other words, they write the posts, but only get paid when (and if) the posts are accepted. They work in the hope that they will be paid for that work.

First, I do not suggest writers work on spec. Next, based solely on the price point for a month’s worth of blog posts, those writers were not being paid very much when their articles were accepted.

The service is clearly not a very good deal for the writers, but is it a good deal for you as a business owner when you get copy written at such a steal?

Of course, as a professional, I am biased, but regardless, I say “no.”

Quality content costs more.

Recently, on a webinar, Sonia Simone of Copyblogger responded to a question about pricing by saying that a single outsourced blog post might cost a business owner anywhere from $25 to $200 — but the difference between the low and high end of that range would be in the quality of the work. In fact, you can get blog posts written on sites like Fiverr for as little as $5.

And you’ll get exactly what you pay for. As Warren Buffet said “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

It’s true that there are exceptions to the old “you get what you pay for” rule. You might be lucky enough to find a student, a mom working from home, or someone just starting out who is a talented copywriter and charges incredible rates. If so, hold on to them, praise them and give them a bonus now and then!

However, be ready for their prices to go up as:

  • They get more experience.
  • Their clients come to realize that they are good at what they do.
  • They gain notoriety and become more in demand.

An experienced copywriter is an investment.

Many business owners would agree that investing in quality equipment upfront is a good business practice. Whether you’re buying a machine to produce your widgets or computers for your employees to use, you don’t want the cut-rate version that requires constant repair and downtime.

Likewise, the copy for your website, marketing materials, blogs, and so on is also an investment in your business. Quality copy does so much more for your business than just throwing any old words out there and hoping for the best.

“Writing … when you have no talent at written persuasion is a false economy (i.e. saving money in the wrong way) … .Using an amateur because you don’t want to pay for a pro, even though one is needed, is not a way to save your money.” -Jay Conrad Levinson

If you want a copywriter that is not only a talented wordsmith, but really understands marketing, keep in mind that this comes as a result of much time, experience and knowledge. A skilled professional like this is priceless.

So, how much should you pay for copywriting?

The only answer here is that you should pay what you can afford in order to reach your ultimate goals.

An eBook on content marketing from Internet marketing giant Kapost reports that marketers for a mid-sized business should plan to pay at least $1290 per month for blog posts (approx. two per week) from a reputable freelancer and $2,500 per month for a premium content piece (i.e. eBook, white paper, etc.).

Larger businesses pay at least $1720/month for blogs (approx. 2 posts per week) and $3,500/month for premium content.

Consider the following 5 questions when determining how much to invest in your copy:

1. What’s the scope of your project? How much copy do you need? If you’re looking for a high volume of copy (i.e. a brochure, Web site content, sales page, and email messages) or consistent copy over a long period of time (i.e. several blog posts each month), you might be able to negotiate a better rate in exchange for a pre-determined amount of work.

2. How quickly do you need it? If you are in a hurry, you should expect your costs to go up. Most writers ask for a rush or accommodation fee for last-minute projects (i.e. I ask for it when a less than 72-hour turn around is requested).

3. How sophisticated is your topic? You should also expect to pay more if your topic requires a good deal of expertise and research. Someone who already has knowledge in your field or is ready, willing and able to put in the time to do the required research is worth paying for, as they’ll save you valuable time in the long run.

4. Do you need images? Do you need technical skills? A freelancer who will find or create images to go with the copy deserves appropriate compensation. In addition, the same applies if you want someone who has the technical skills to post the copy to your website or blog.

5. Do you want an experienced copywriter? My mentor, a seasoned direct response copywriter, earned $40,000 for direct mail packages he wrote for one of his clients. Many professionals are paid $5,000 and more to write online sales page content. Having been in business for more than two decades, the investment you’ll make for my services is more than if you hire a “newbie” who is just getting started and seeking to build their portfolio.

When you want content that supports your business, drives sales, increases your bottom line, and builds your good reputation (all things that excellent copy can do), you should be ready and willing to invest accordingly.

I know pricing can be a sensitive topic, so I’d like to open it up to (courteous) discussion in the comments. Are you willing to compensate a professional accordingly for creating quality content that represents your business in its best light? Please share your thoughts below because I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.

Comments

  1. I would pay a higher price for good quality articles. I’ve seen some of the lower rated ones, and some of them are pretty awful and obviously not written by the site owner. If those were one that I had paid for, I would be spending a lot of time fixing them up. So yes, I would spend more. Thanks for the great article. It was an interesting read. Jeanne
    Jeanne Melanson recently posted…Alarming Number of Severe Birth Defects Stun Washington State CountiesMy Profile

    • Hi Jeanne – even when you don’t pay a lot for content, if it’s not well-written and needs revisions, as you suggested, it can take up more of your time than you had planned. Appreciate you sharing your comments here.
      Thanks.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  2. I really enjoyed this article, Debra, as I have been searching around also for copy writing services. My current budget doesn’t allow me to spend ‘big time’ on such services but when it does, I will definitely be looking into it more. You need to have faith in the person who writes an original article for you. At the moment, I enjoy writing my own blogs but have used PLR articles to give me a push at times too.
    Thanks again.
    Liz
    Liz Delaney recently posted…Step into your Fears and Develop your GiftsMy Profile

    • Liz, if you enjoy writing your own blogs then keep it up. I’d be curious what your experience has been like with PLR articles. Some folks I know have felt like that had to totally rewrite the piece and therefore, it took them more time than they had planned.
      Thanks.
      🙂
      ~Debra

      • Hi Debra. I have looked at many PLR companies. if I don’t like their style of writing, I don’t buy from them. I have found a couple who I feel are close to my style. i do change them round a bit just to put my slant on them, but they don’t take me long. I tend to use them sometimes as a base for what I want to write.
        Liz Delaney recently posted…Friday Findings – CanvaMy Profile

  3. This is an interesting challenge, and not just for writers…

    If you consider yourself a professional, and wish to command professional fees, are you willing to pay others their professional fees? And another challenge…if you are a professional offering services below what it takes to live on, how will you make a living doing what you do? And how will others make their livings?

    I realize there is global competition, and others can live on less. But I asked my Stateside writer, photographer and other artistic friends why they bid on jobs on freelance sites for so little money. Several agreed that if they had nothing else to do, they might as well make $10 or $25 as nothing. In my view, they would be better off spending that time writing their own marketing material, or bartering with aach other since it’s hard to write your own. If they focused that ‘downtime’ on finding the clients who WILL pay a professional fee, they be much better off in the long run.

    But hey, I’m just the business coach here.
    Lorette Pruden recently posted…Team Nimbus NJ | 908 359-4787My Profile

    • And before all the proofreaders and editors come out of the woodwork:

      Yes I typed too fast and did not proof my last post. :{
      Lorette Pruden recently posted…Team Nimbus NJ | 908 359-4787My Profile

    • Lorette, I recently attended a teleseminar where the host offered listeners the option to attend either at no cost or up to $195.00. I paid to attend for just the reason you suggested above – wanting to pay a colleague for her professional services as I would wish others to pay me for the value of mine.

      I personally don’t bid on jobs on sites like eLance, oDesk, Fiverr, etc. However, I see how, for some who are just getting started and need to get some projects “under their belt” in order to build their portfolio, it MAY be worth giving it a shot (but only temporarily).
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  4. REally great article, very interesting!

  5. Very good and interesting post Debra. You continue to bring a lot of good thoughts and ideas to your posts and I for one, am enjoying not only the material but the way you present it. We need this type of information as to make much better decisions if and when we choose a copywriter. Thanks.
    John Logan recently posted…My Pal JimMy Profile

    • Thanks John. It feels good to know that you’re receiving value from the blogs I post on the topic of copywriting. The reason I share these tips & pointers is to help you succeed in your marketing efforts. Here’s to your sweet success.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  6. Hey Debra…this was an excellent post! I’ve never been paid to write blog posts or articles, and I’m not sure I’d want the work even if it were offered…unless there was passion going to it. I have ghost written speeches and been paid well above beyond the range you talk about here. It’s about passion and connection, and for those things you have to know your audience and connect with the message.

    Thanks for some really valuable content.
    Larry Hochman recently posted…A Study In MindfulnessMy Profile

  7. The points that you have highlighted Debra are relevant to all professional service providers. Admittedly, when one is starting out and trying to establish credentials we may under-charge with the expectation that it will be made up with testimonials and referrals. So you have the Coach who is willing to do free sessions or ‘samplers’ or an accountant who will do the tax return for less than the competitor to get the business. The danger here is the motivation level of the provider and how long they can put aside their worldly requirements.

    That is fine for a short while as long as it is part of the business strategy and the service provider knows when to raise the price to equal the value of the service. Then and only then, is it a win-win situation.

    The prerogative to discount must remain with the service provider and if there is a merit case, then go ahead and earn some good Karma but make sure you do it with heart.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Smart Moves to get that PromotionMy Profile

    • Hi Vatsala,
      When I started my business the investment in hiring me was based on my experience. I didn’t undercharge, I asked for what I thought I deserved based on my skills at that time.

      When it comes submitting a proposal specifically for a copywriting project, I don’t “discount” my work. I do discuss the scope of the project and what is involved. The investment also takes into consideration that now I have many more years of experience and value to bring to the table (vs. when I started in 1989).

      Regarding “good Karma” – I have donated my time to projects that I believe in and want to contribute to. I think it’s always a good thing to give back to your community (professional and personal) with heart.
      Thanks so much for your feedback.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  8. Thank you for this article!

    I am a copywriter myself, and it never ceases to amaze me the “things” I hear people say when they learn of my prices. It is true that you get what you pay for and for those of use who are doing this for a business and taking it seriously, yes, articles that run for $5 or $20 seem absurd.

    Of course, we know what the buyers will be getting if they pay that fee, right? Part of our job, I believe, is to continue writing articles like this which educate those who are needing some clarification.

    Thank you so much for your truth in words!
    Shannon

    • Yes Shannon, there is a lot to be said for educating others on the benefits & value of working with a professional. I remember, when I first started (25 years ago), I’d hear people say “My cousin’s brother’s son can write this, he’s an English major.” Once of twice, that same person returned later and said “would you review what he wrote as I don’t think it hits the mark?” Not surprising.

      As the blog suggests, there are people out there with writing talent & skills who may charge a reasonably low fee, I think they’re just getting started & when others recognize their value (and they gain experience), their prices will rise as well.

      Copywriting is an investment in one’s business. After all, it’s the words you use to communicate your marketing message that make a first impression and begin the relationship building process. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.
      Here’s to your sweet success,
      🙂
      ~Debra

  9. Awesome post Debra!

    You are so right! Good copywriters are worth their weight in gold because nothing is more powerful than words that sell or words that convert a prospect into a buyer.

    I have outsourced articles in the past and had a wide range of results. and yes often some were so poor I had to rewrite myself.

    Now I just write my own because my aim is for people to know, like and trust me.

    A lot of very imforative content in this post.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jenni Ryan recently posted…Attraction Marketing Tips: Are you Being Authentic?My Profile

    • Hi Jenni, copywriters do more than write articles or blog posts for others. Most of my work over the years has been writing brochures, Web sites, sales pages, direct mail packages, etc. The articles & blog posts I write are usually my own (unless I’m invited to be a guest), not for my clients. However, I know there are some talented ghost writers out there.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  10. Wow, very informative article. I never knew what one could expect to pay a professional copywriter, but did know there’s a slim chance in getting a quality piece for 5 bucks 🙂 Thanks for sharing your knowledge and glad I’m armed with this info now.
    Brian McDaniel recently posted…Video Marketing Must Have IngredientMy Profile

  11. Debra,
    thanks for writing this timely post. I am looking for a copywriter and having an idea of going prices really helps.

    I completely agree with you paying “just” what you can afford or think the work is worth to you, will cost you more in the end.

    I will add that hiring the right seasoned copywriter makes a difference, for example my audience, message and content are faith based/inclined so the copywriter that I work with needs to know/understand that market in order to write relevant copy for me.

    I believe hiring quality people is the way to go in the long run – I tell my clients that all the time, there are so many stylists out there but you must work with a stylist that gets you and your innate style – you hire them for their know how but also for their shortcuts.

    Thanks again Debra, love your article.
    Catherine Storing recently posted…Love the person you spend the most time with: YOUMy Profile

    • Yes Catherine, if you outsource and the copywriter doesn’t understand you, your product/program/service, it’s a challenge for him/her to then write about. For instance, if someone calls me wanting a technical writer (i.e. to write a technical how-to manual for software), I’m not their gal. I’ll refer them to someone who can do the job.
      Thanks for sharing.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  12. Debra, there is so much about the world on internet marketing that i just don’t know. I had no idea that there were ghostwriters for blogs as well. I am always wondering how I can make a little extra money to help out here and just maybe i could do something like this! Thanks! 🙂
    Belinda Rose recently posted…A Heart Full of Gratitude For Every MomentMy Profile

    • There is always something new to learn Belinda. I think there are probably ghost writers for all kinds of things these days.
      If you want to offer that as a service, I think you need to fully understand your clients and their businesses so that when you write on their behalf, your style conveys their voice and personality.
      Good luck to you should you decide to pursue this path.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  13. Thanks for the information Debra! A good copywriter can make all the difference in the quality of content you put out. It often costs more than you expect, but definitely worth the cost to have copy that intrigues your prospects and makes them want to call.

    • Samantha, please keep in mind that you’re not just paying them to write, you’re paying them for expertise you don’t have (much like going to a dentist or a lawyer) and they also contribute their marketing savvy to the equation.
      In essence, they’re saving you the time, sweat & tears of doing it yourself so you can focus on your strengths in running your business. Plus, you’re not just investing in copywriting, you’re investing in your business. Here’s to your sweet success.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  14. Wonderful, thought-provoking article, Debra! Because money = energy, I truly believe that the money paid should be in alignment with the service/good provided…it makes sense for both people! When someone is good, but willing to write a blog post for just $5, I totally agree with giving them an extra something from time-to-time! Ultimately, it boils down to what feels good and right for the parties involved 🙂 If it feels good, then it’s alll good! Thank you for this! 🙂
    eyenie recently posted…UNlearning, Brain Dumps & Sparkles: Women Living in NEON Interview with Kesha BrownMy Profile

    • Merci Eyenie. When you feel like you’re in partnership – respecting one another and striving for the same goals – then it does feel fabulous. And then, beautiful results blossom.
      Bon chance!
      🙂
      ~Debra

  15. Hi Debra,
    This was a very interesting post and I learned a lot from it as well as the many comments that have come in. I write my own copy so it never occurred to me that people outsource for this. I do understand that many people struggle with writing and in regards to the success of their businesses and getting their “message” out there, it could be detrimental.
    And I agree 100% that when considering a copywriter, they need to be on your same/similar wavelength so that the essence of the message is authentic.
    Thanks for this new awareness!

    Kelly 😉

    • Thanks Kelly. People have been outsourcing copywriting for many years for Web sites, brochures, sales pages, direct mail packages and more. These days while many people do write their own blog posts, there are those who feel crunched for time (or struggling with ideas) and therefore, they hire a professional to do it for them.
      It is important that the copywriter understands your business, your products/services, your values and your audience before they put a pen to paper.
      Have a great day.
      🙂
      ~Debra

  16. You’re right Debra, copywriting services are an investment and you do get what you pay for.

  17. I can’t believe what I am reading, and now I understand why so many of my clients are from the US.$12 per hour is my latest “breakthrough”. It hasn’t worked well as a client losing strategy, so the next increase is on the horizon. Anyone need a subcontractor? I’d be thrilled to get $20 for 500 – 800 words.

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