How Much Do Quality Copywriting Services Cost?
Content marketing is serious business. Over 90% of marketers are currently using custom content to generate leads, and sales, according to research by the Content Marketing Institute.
25% of the average marketing budget is dedicated to custom content. But how much should quality content cost? The short answer is, enough to get the quality you need to reach your goals. The long answer is much more complex.
Despite the fact that 54% of marketers will be increasing their content budget in 2013, 52% believe they lack the budget to perform their job adequately. Ted Karczewski of Brafton has highlighted the fact that by all standard success measures, low-quality content won’t get your business anywhere.
It won’t help you rank high on Google, convert leads, or gain a bigger share of voice on social media. You’re far better off investing in 1 piece of content that engages your buyer personas than 6 pieces which fail to answer their real-life questions.
How Much Do Content Creators Cost?
Content marketing requires human effort, energy, and talent. There have been no technological advances to date which can emulate an experienced writer’s ability to engage readers through storytelling. Because the process of creating content is so human-driven, there’s no standardized industry measure to determine fair costs for content.
While most freelance writing rates are based on words written, not hours put in to a given project, the most-reliable data sources are on copywriters salary. In the aftermath of Google’s latest algorithm updates, it’s clear that quality content is the only way to win the arms war. While some digital influencers like Seth Godin can frequently write articles that are less than 200 words, it’s critical to remember that thhe’ve earned the right to be heard.
The US Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) states the average copywriter salary is $55,420 per year, or $26.64 hourly. Although, what they actually take home depends on their withholding allowances, but it is easy to find a w-4 calculator online so determining that isn't that difficult. Eloqua reports that mid-sized companies should expect to spend around $150 per piece of content from freelancers. While an individual’s speed can vary significantly according to their subject matter expertise and experience, Osmosio has written that quality content can take between 4-6 hours. Assuming your company is using content between 1000 words per blog article as a simple unit of measurement, your average cost per word will be $0.13 using BLS data, and $0.15 by Eloqua’s estimates.
These measurements aren’t absolutes, but rather limited snapshots of costs in an industry that’s rapidly growing and changing. Lower-cost content isn’t always indicative of low-quality, and many highly-talented copywriters are willing to charge lower freelance writing rates if they’re highly familiar with the topic. There are sources that offer content at mere pennies per word, but low-quality content could end up costing your company less than you receive in return.
Factors Which Can - and Should - Affect the Cost of Your Content
Keep in mind that what constitutes quality and value in one industry isn’t sufficient in another. Not only does your copywriting need to be unique, it should be tailored to the expertise and sophistication levels of your buyer personas. The more research, statistics, and facts necessary to impress your prospects, the more you should expect to pay for content. Here are some factors that can drive a fair cost-per-word for your needs:
1. Are Graphics Needed?
Highly-complex topics are sometimes best illustrated with the help of charts and graphs. Even if you’re not in a technical field, it’s important to remember that 40% of the population processes images better than text. If you’re asking a freelancer to source or create images, it can affect pricing.
2. How Much Research Is Required?
While subject-matter experts will charge more on average, they’ll also result in more-authoritative content. Regardless of how technical your field is, it’s essential to hire copywriting services that can produce accurate and up-to-date information.
3. How Fast Do I Need It?
If you need your content quickly, it’s reasonable to assume that your costs will rise.
While content marketing is a relatively new field, the increasing need for high-quality content has lead to an increase in outsourcing. Mashable reports that 62% of companies are currently using freelance copywriting services. Investing in quality will position your company as a thought-leader, and allow you to soar to the top of Google.
How do you determine fair rates for freelance copywriting services? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Not sure where Eloqua gets their data from. As someone who has commissioned freelance work and provides freelance content writing, you’re not going to get quality for 13 cents per word. Any freelancer working for such a low rate is either not smart enough to write well or is going to be working 24/7 just to earn enough money to make ends meet.
I agree, Gary. I am guessing Eloqua is getting their data from content mills. Companies then do a bit of research on copywriting rates, and these numbers come up. They think it is the fair market value. It’s unfortunate.
Ditto – although it isn’t really clear whether the Eloqua is talking about salaried or freelance writiers. I did a “survey of surveys” five years ago and found they all consistently found that freelance copywriters earned on average $75 per hour and the really good ones $95-$120. I’ve been charging in the upper range ever since and have not lacked for work.
I agree that the salary info they give here is way out of touch with reality. I would like to point out another error that the writer of this article made. The writer assumes that most writers are freelance, and that they are by choice. While there is nothing wrong with being a freelance writer if that is what you want to be, it has been my experience that companies who hire a writing staff, including a copy manager to lead the team end up with higher overall quality content. Why? Two main reasons. First, the hired writer truly become subject matter experts and can really know and understand both the target’s needs and the company’s goals. Second, staff writers have a vested interest in the success of the their content and the company whereas freelance writers come and go with the specific assignment. I used to lead a team of creative copywriters and I always got better content from my staff writers than my freelance writers.
The problem with this article, is it is assuming that freelance copywriters earning $55,420 p/year are BILLING 40 hours a week at $26.64, 52 weeks of the year. Therefore, a freelance writer can afford to charge $150 for an article that took 4-6 hours to write.
The reality is, only about 50% of hours are billable, the rest is made up of admin, quoting, meetings, marketing efforts, and other assorted non-billable tasks.
A freelancer will then have to pay business expenses (phone, internet, printer ink, subscriptions, travel, etc.) as well as other expenses such as income tax, insurances, superannuation, and provisions for holiday/sick leave and everything else that a salaried employee does not have to pay for.
This takes a HUGE bite out of your earnings, which is why the calculations in this article are grossly misrepresented.
To earn $55,000p/year as a freelancer, there is NO WAY you can do that by charging $26p/hour. Times that by 4 and you might be closer to the mark.
It is for this reason that all copywriters should charge the client by the project and project cost of your time. Not a per word or per page format, even charging $.30 per word you will not earn your value.
Yes, per-project basis is definitely something to think about.
That’s a ton of great information.
Gary, you said that most people charge a LOT more than $0.13 per word. Really?
Currently, I don’t write copies, but I usually charge only 1-2 cents per word.
Is there some resource anybody could point me to that can help me approach clients in the right way and get them to pay me what my content is actually worth? I’m not the best writer or anything, but I am working for a very low hourly wage ($10 or less).
As one freelancer to another, HELP! :)
John, things usually change over time, as you gain reputation. I’ve checked out your website, at Writtent – we pay to our writers more than your current rate. So, I’ll reach out to you some time later – to add to our writers list for orders coming in from clients.
I find this article and your response to JR John to be extremely helpful as well as insightful. Currently, I work for a “friend” (big mistake, I know!) and have been feeling incredibly underpaid for the amount of work I am turning out each week. As I am typing, I am realizing how pathetically underpaid I am. My work is always top quality. I have years of copywriting and editing experience, but am accepting a paltry $10 per page, which is frankly, unlivable.
The real problem is that I accepted the work nearly three years ago, but the scope of the projects and the use of my time has grown extensively. I am a freelance writer and am currently searching for higher paying steady gigs. I operate a blog (when I have time these days at http://www.boannie.com) and find that this underpaying (and seemingly permanent gig) is sucking up all of my time. I also feel trapped as it is three years later and this is a friend.
I want out, but am wondering if anyone has any real substantial leads or sites where an experienced writer can tap into quality jobs at fair rates?
Thanks for your time!
Chrissy, I believe we’ll be able to help you out with a steady stream of leads. I’ll reach out to you once we are open to accept more writers.
Writes an article about copywriting…
Makes a bunch of spelling and typo errors in the article…
Doesn’t edit or proofread the article…
Posts is anyway…
“it’s critical to remember that thhe’ve earned the right to be heard.”
if you seriously consider 10 cents a word to be your ” professional rate” – which is the price quoted to hire a writer in the “Pricing” link above – then this site qualifies as a content mill and the articles here are worthless for legitimate copywriters who know the value of their work.
Content mills are the new sweatshops.
The comments here are very helpful! I’m only just getting started but I realized I’ve been working for a horrendously low rate. I do prefer to charge per project and not per word depending on the amount of research involved. The issue here is, Indian clients don’t pay well and International clients assume they can offer their offshore freelancers peanuts. Which is partly true because there is plenty of competition but there arises a lack in quality.
I would love to connect to a copywriter with experience and get a few pointers on how to get better while developing a niche.
Any help is appreciated! Thanks!
Diwangna, thank you for stopping by. With all the social media in place connecting, following and meeting these days is super easy :) Just google Copywriters with a name, brand, website – and reach out to them :) I’m sure you’ll find plenty of inspiration.
Very interesting, thank you. I m a ghostwriter who has been asked to write a website and was looking for an idea of what to quote, this really helps I ll be coming back to this site! Thank you for this post. I ve been doing research to determine my own pricing; and I wasn t actually finding much despite my excellent Google-do ninja skills. This helped me immensely in making my decisions. Thank you.
Thanks very much great article
1.it should sound like an anecdote or personal experence.
2.provide proof like screenshoots product shoots or before and after shoot
3.if you did’nt like the product try not to overemphasis on the fact that they should by it- just give your opinion and let your readers decide.