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Average Copywriting Rates: How Much Do They Charge?

Written by James Parsons • Updated February 19, 2024

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Average Copywriting Rates

Copywriting is a complex world. In it, you can find everything from the ESL freelancer charging a penny per word and operating out of Bangladesh to highly talented copywriters working with the biggest companies and charging $1 per word or more, and everything in between.

Then, of course, you have people who say they are writing your content, but it’s really written by ChatGPT.

Giving you a price isn’t useful information without context, so let’s talk about everything you need to know.

Pricing Models for Copywriting

Depending on who you hire and how, they might bill you in a handful of different ways.

Price per word is the most common for most freelance writers. It’s pretty simple; they have a rate they charge per word of content, and you order X number of words of content from them. You see this a lot from content mills and freelance writer hubs, where they have rates that reflect the quality level of the writing and the skill of the writer. Cheap per-word writing might be a penny per word (or even less in some cases), while high-quality writing can range from 5-10 cents per word up to, well, that $1 per word figure mentioned in the intro. On average, most low- to mid-level copywriters are charging in the neighborhood of 5-10 cents per word.

One note about the much-vaunted $1 per word rate is that it’s usually not just for the writing. Often, it comes with the name of the writer attached. They get a byline, which can be valuable to them as well, but more importantly, they are an authority in their niche, so you get to benefit from having them write for your site.

The per-word model has a few drawbacks. For one thing, it ends up pretty variable within a given range. If you ask for 1,500-word blog posts, and your writer delivers 1,700-word posts one week and 1,400-word posts the next, the actual amount they bill you for each week can change. It’ll all be within a given range, but it isn’t entirely predictable.

More importantly, it also incentivizes fluff. When a writer is paid per word, they’re incentivized to find longer ways to say the same things so they can write more while saying less. Good writers at the higher price levels ironically do less of this because they value long-term clients more, but cheaper writers will often hand you something where they’ve taken 2,000 words to answer a yes or no question.

You also have to consider a hybrid model if you’re asking for more than just pure copywriting. How does your writer charge for a revision, where maybe only a few hundred words of a post are changed, but the time and skill investment is still high? Do you want additional services like publishing, images, linking, promotion, or something else? Many writers who charge per word aren’t even going to consider a lot of these additional services, and those that do will have different pricing models for them, which can further complicate billing.

Price per project is another common model, particularly for mid-level and higher professional copywriters. These writers have fairly defined package deals where they do X amount of work, give or take, for Y amount of money. A blog post of a specific length, give or take a hundred words, with links, keywords, and proofing would be a fixed price. The freelancer might have ongoing subscription packages or one-off packages you can order. While the exact specifics of what you receive, including word count, can vary, the price is predictable.

Average copywriting per-project rates can be around $80 for 1,000 words, which is basic content with some attention to SEO but nothing fancy like images, publishing, or promotion. Often, copywriters who have project rates have additional services you can order for additional fees. This is also the model for one-off copywriting from very highly paid and high-reputation writers, many of whom might be more than happy to write a blog post for you for a few grand. It’ll be excellent content (and, again, likely comes with their byline for your benefit), but you definitely pay for it.

Per Hour Copywriting Pricing

Price per hour is the third kind of pricing. It’s common in a lot of kinds of freelancing and outsourcing since most people bill for labor rather than finished products. Since writing traditionally comes from publishing, where word targets and per-word rates are common, per-hour isn’t as common. That said, it’s not uncommon; it just might work a little differently.

The secret is that writers who charge per-hour rates often just estimate the hourly rate that it takes them to produce X number of words. Maybe they figure they can do about 500 words of high-quality content per hour, so if you want a 2,000-word post, they calculate it out to four hours of labor and charge a rate that fits their expenses, lifestyle and needs accordingly.

This also allows a writer to be flexible on their end without having to do weird variable billing on your end. A standard hourly rate, with X hours per post, can give you a standardized bill for each cycle. They can also adjust their rate based on the complexity of a project. If you want images, a video, or publishing, they can just add either hours of labor or increase the price per hour if it’s not logical for added hours.

The truth about hourly rates for copywriters is that they’re almost never actually tied to the number of hours a copywriter writes. There’s a lot that goes into producing great content, including research, outlining, thinking about the topics, fact-checking, and more, all of which are baked into the standardized rate.

Hourly rates for freelancers tend to be fairly high. This is because the freelancer is calculating how much they need to make to survive. Remember, they have to pay all of their taxes, do all of their investment savings, and all the rest – all those benefits they don’t get because they aren’t part of traditional employment – so their rates are higher to reflect that. Average freelance copywriter hourly rates can range from $30-60 per hour on the low end to $300 per hour on a higher tier. Sometimes, the same writer has both rates available, depending on how much additional work or how complex your subject is.

How AI Impacts Copywriting Pricing

One of the biggest issues we’re facing as an entire industry right now – and really, as an entire society – is generative AI. Generative AI is impressive on the face of it as a mathematical model that can create very realistic content based on a statistical analysis of existing text.

This has basically destroyed the entire world of low-level copywriting. Content mills that formerly at least had a moderate amount of work available for low-pay tiers are now completely empty because why would you pay even 3 cents per word when you can get a bunch of similar – if not slightly better – content for essentially free from GPT?

I’ve written elsewhere about the issues with generative AI, but the biggest one by far is the combination of lack of originality and lack of factual accuracy. Generative AI makes very human-sounding content very easily, but it does not have any concept of what knowledge or facts are because that’s not how it works. You can easily generate content, but you then need someone who knows what they’re doing to go through it all and make sure it isn’t just completely incorrect or off-base.

On top of that, generative AI requires existing human content to be fed into it to form its base. Not only is this a massive copyright issue that’s still being sorted out, but the problem is that to improve the generative AI, an ever-increasing waterfall of content is needed. But, more and more of the content on the internet has been generated by AI, so it’s basically training itself on itself, reinforcing its own bad habits.

GPT-4 Getting Worse

There’s also the copyright issue of the content you produce.

  • When a human writes a piece of content, by default, they own the copyright to that content.
  • When you pay a copywriter for content, what you’re actually paying for is the rights to that content, so you can use it.
  • When you make a machine generate the content, no human is creating it, so it isn’t copyrighted.

That third one is another point that needs to shake out in a court of law, but so far, precedent is leaning towards AI-created content not being copyrightable. If it’s found that your site is full of AI-created content, you don’t have any defense if someone else comes along and copies it all.

Evaluating Copywriter Rates

So, let’s go through the scale of possible copywriter rates and see what you’re likely getting for the price point you pay.

At the very low end, you have the occasional freelancer still charging somewhere around $0.01 to $0.05 per word. These are increasingly rare because they have to compete with the AIs, and the AIs don’t have human fatigue limits and can spit out drivel a lot faster. Plus, an AI isn’t going to have ESL grammatical issues and other problems that you generally used to find in these low-priced content mill producers.

This is the balance where you have the “cheap,” and you have the “fast,” but you don’t have the “good”. And, let’s be real here; a lot of the people charging this much for content back in the day were already just using article spinners or other tools to do a lot of the work for them anyway, so an AI doing it isn’t really much different.

I’ll say one thing here: this isn’t a bad tier, necessarily. AI killing off the income of low-level writers sucks, but you can still get use out of both cheap writers and AI when all you need are things like product descriptions, image alt text, and page metadata. Paying a copywriter to do all of that kind of sucked anyway.

Sample Copywriting Fees

Step up a tier, and you have the people still toiling away and making content. These people charge between $0.05 and $0.25 per word and are still a step above AI in terms of comprehensibility, reliability, and, often, extra services they have to add in to compete. This is formerly where the high end of content mills was, though content mills themselves are largely struggling these days.

A lot of the writers on this tier are honestly worth more than they’re charging, but they’re either doing it as a side gig and don’t much care that they’re undercharging, or they lack the confidence or the networking/web presence necessary to pull in the higher rates.

A step above that, and you have the people charging anywhere from $0.25 to $1 per word. There are a lot of writers here, and they run the gamut of quality levels, added services, pricing models, and the balance between expertise, speed, and technical ability. Copywriting at this level can be extremely competent, but there’s honestly a peak level to technical writing ability; beyond it, what sets writers apart is their subject matter knowledge, their insight, their ability to synthesize ideas, and in the case of the highest prices, their own reputations and bylines.

You can pay even more than that, too, but at that point, you’re generally getting into agency territory, and you’re working with entire content production teams, not just copywriters. For those prices, you’re getting images, SEO research with professional tools, other forms of media, and possibly even additional services like site improvements and proactive marketing.

Price Isn’t Everything

At the end of the day, one of the biggest things to know about the price of copywriting is that it’s just one factor that goes into the entire marketing industry.

The world’s best copywriter isn’t going to help your site if you have no idea what topics to have them write about, no coherence to your site, and no attention to SEO overall.

The Topicfinder Platform

Fortunately, I can solve at least one of those problems for you. Topicfinder is a personal tool that I built for use in my marketing agency to develop topic and content ideas for a wide range of different clients across different industries.

After years of work and refinement, I’ve made it public, and now you can give it a shot, too.

Written by James Parsons

James is the founder and CEO of Topicfinder, a purpose-built topic research tool for bloggers and content marketers. He also runs a content marketing agency, Content Powered, and writes for Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and other large publications. He's been a content marketer for over 15 years and helps companies from startups to Fortune 500's get more organic traffic and create valuable people-first content.

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