Freelance copywriting rates vary in the UK, which makes answering the 'how much does a freelance copywriter charge' question a little subjective.
Often, copywriters base their rates on experience. Sometimes, a niche speciality like pharmaceutical copywriting or science writing increases the rate charged.
So how much do you have to pay for the best results?
I used to have an FAQ section on my website, which dealt with copywriting costs. And a load of other questions that crop up every time I talk to someone about the benefits of hiring a freelance copywriter.
But I thought I'd condense everything down into a single blog to save you opening and closing those pesky '+' boxes.
If I missed anything out, feel free to get in touch and make a suggestion.
I’ve only ever had one business approach me who didn’t ask this question at the start of the conversation. What a gem!
It’s a fair question, though, so here you go:
I quote a job rate that includes everything you need to get the best results. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single page, a small or large website, or a short or long-form blog article.
According to a survey by the membership organisation Procopywriters, 50% of copywriters base their freelance copywriting rates on a project fee. 47% of copywriters charge by the hour, and 3% charge by the word.
Here’s why I don’t quote an hourly rate:
I write fast, probably twice as fast as someone with less experience. So comparing hourly rates would be like comparing apples and pears. The same principle applies to day-rates.
Charging by the hour is also a little ambiguous because it's what you get for hours billed that matters
However, a project rate with the deliverables, process and expectations broken down in detail leaves you knowing exactly where you stand.
And if you wonder why I don’t charge by the word, a copywriter's job is to say the most with the least amount of words. It’s not a case of bashing out 500 words as fast as possible if you want something usable. Speed writing is for the copy mills.
Besides, one of the most effective straplines I’ve written contains three words. It took time to get right, but it’s still in use 15 years later.
Typically, I don’t write free test pieces. The only exception is if it’s a big project — the brief is on-point — and the tone-of-voice requirement is crystal clear.
That said, I’m happy to write a paragraph or two to give you an idea of what to expect. All I ask is to fill out my brief template and agree to pay for the work if you use it.
Yes, I write well-researched, long-form articles between 1000 and 2000+ words to position businesses as an authority.
But I tend to steer away from short blogs because they don’t offer the reader the degree of information needed to generate value.
Did you know the average word count of an article in the first position on Google is 1600 words?
Section of a long-form blog article written a performance coaching company.
Can you write 20 blogs in a week?
Unfortunately, no. But there are plenty of writers out there capable of spewing words out for fun . . . and pennies.
The most valuable blog articles are well-researched, strategically planned and written with purpose and relevance.
Get it right, and the reader thanks you for taking the time and trouble to provide something useful.
But it takes a great deal of creativity to write a captivating story.
If you’d like to see a before and after version to compare good-versus-rushed and cheap, drop me a line, and I’ll send you copies.
I provide two rounds of revisions in the price.
I used to offer unlimited revisions. But I found it caused clients to overthink and procrastinate before coming back to the first or second version anyway.
Always look for something in copy that you genuinely feel isn’t right — but for everything else, trust your copywriter.
Yes, I write enticing email subject lines and super-clickable email content. My record performance is a 36% email click-through rate.
I also write landing page content. Like the following page for an online Schools learning provider called School Galaxy:
Oh, yes! Everything I write is optimised for a keyword and a synonym while remaining clear, concise and relevant.
I also label up the H-tags and provide image and page meta titles and descriptions, just as Google likes.
But if you think the following example constitutes SEO copywriting, please don't request a quote.
“Sell My Car will ensure the process of selling your car, or selling my car, is quick, safe and pain free to sell your car in Nottinghamshire and surrounding areas.
We will beat any written quote from we buy any car, sell my car or for that matter any quote with no hidden charges or administration charges.”
Absolutely not. But I know some copywriters who pass work over to junior writers or online services.
If you find me busy and need work doing in a rush, I’m happy to pass you on to other freelancers who I trust.
I tend not to pitch for pharma work because it’s a specialist niche. However, I did write the content on an Alzheimer’s site for Roche.
And I don’t work for recruitment agencies. There’s something about relentlessly targeting people in good businesses to move them away that doesn’t align with my values.
Besides, well-run companies with a humanistic approach and a people-centred culture attract the best talent anyway.
Yes, feel free to use my editable freelance copywriting brief. And the free blog planner template if it's helpful.
I'll ask you to complete my briefing doc if we work together unless your brief is already rock-solid.
The blog planner is great for putting a 12-month strategy together. And mapping the progress in a single view dashboard.
I’ve been in the web industry for a long time and have plenty of contacts.
I'd be happy to introduce you to people I trust who have excellent skills.
Alternatively, if I deliver a hi-fi prototype to support UX copywriting, it’s launchable as a live website. See VIP Cosmetics or UV Medicare. And DD Allen if you're a musician or band.
I move the project into the platform team's hands to get you all the security of working directly with the developers. The platform also provides several benefits over WordPress.
You got me!
I typically charge around £1200 to write high-performing content for a small business website. This buys enough time to give you a fast payback and the best results possible.
You'll receive everything in an exact format with all the SEO work included.
My rate sits inline with the average charged by a professional freelance copywriter with several years of experience. Like me.
Long-form blog articles come in around £360 for 1500-2000 words. Drop me a message if you’d like to see an example.
If you need excellent web content or an engaging blog article, the secret to success lies in a well-written copywriting brief.
Or as Brad Shorr's article in Forbes states, "The test of a good creative brief: if the editor, client, or company leader looks at the finished piece and says, 'This is exactly what we wanted!' the creative brief is a smashing success."
If the brief is right, you'll receive everything you expect, in the time required, for the price you want to pay.
So how much time should you invest in a brief?
"Make it your goal to put as much effort into writing your brief as you expect to get back from your writer". (Source: Digital balance.)
The good news is, I've created a briefing template to make life easier.
And I've written a guide in this article explaining how to complete every section, to save you time.
Go ahead and download the copywriting brief template. No email address required.
But before you put pen to paper or start hammering on a keyboard, read the following notes:
Feel free to skip to a section.
Although it sounds obvious to state whether you need a certain number of website pages, a sales landing page or a blog article, the devil is in the detail.
Think hard about the word count.
For example, some businesses feel they are well known in their niche and need a website to reinforce credibility.
If your website exists for presence and credibility, you might not need 500+ words on every page.
But if SEO is essential, then the more relevant website copywriting you have, the better.
Blog word counts are also important. Readers rarely see value in 500-word posts. And the average word count for a blog in position one on Google is 1600 words.
Word counts on web pages don't usually affect the price. But there's a big difference between the cost of a 500-word blog article and a 1500 word alternative.
Any information that triggered the need for a professional freelance copywriter is useful.
The more information you provide the copywriter about your audience, the better.
If you already have detailed personas then add references in this section and provide the persona docs as an attachment.
If not, start with the job titles (B2B) or consumer type (B2C). Then explain the audience's function, responsibilities, demographics (age, location etc.).
Here are a couple of examples:
Mums in the UK aged 30-50 years old with children in school. Works full time utilising flexi-hours to fit in with the school run. Hectic homelife means no spare time available for hobbies or leisure pursuits, looking for a better work-life balance.
Degree educated marketing manager aged 30-40 years old. Strategic planner responsible for integrating communications strategies across multiple B2B channels. Performance measured by an increase in lead quality and volume with KPI's. Good general written and verbal communication skills. Requires niche expertise to help boost customer engagement with high-performing content.
4. Do they have an existing perspective about your business, products or services?
Most sales and marketing communication fails because the message isn't relevant to the audience's emotional triggers (needs), or because the audience is sceptical about the claims.
A professional copywriter knows how to deal with both issues, but only if they know they exist.
For example, if you sell permanent technology, but the market perceives it as temporary, the copywriter needs to know about it.
Or suppose you sell products with clear benefits, but the audience thinks the products are expensive. In that case, the copywriter needs to know about it.
Market perceptions are extremely powerful, but anything negative is simple to overcome with the right approach
5. How would you like them to feel?
It's easy to think in terms of selling tangibles, but the truth is people buy products and services based on emotion.
People might make a rational purchase, but there's always emotion behind the decision.
Someone might buy a prestigious vehicle like a Mercedes Benz to satisfy a sense of pride. Someone else might buy a racey Alfa Romeo to fulfil a sense of excitement.
Dig deep into the reasons why people are likely to buy your product or service and add them to your brief.
Here are a few examples:
● Removing doubts● Reducing risk or fear● Avoiding frustration● Feeling inspired● Taking pride● Feeling in control● Feeling needed● A sense of recognition● A sense of reassurance● Fear of missing out (FOMO)
6. What do we need them to do?
The call to action (CTA) is your ultimate preferred outcome. And the more an audience understands what they are getting in return, the more likely they are to take action.
If your CTA is to buy tickets for an event, is there an early bird discount? Or does buying tickets early get you the best seats?
If you want your audience to get in touch with you, why? It pays to be precise.
7. Who are your competitors?
We all have competition, even though we hate to admit it.
But the more a copywriter knows about your competition, the easier it is to spot their weaknesses.
Competition research also gives a copywriter a broader insight into your niche.
At the very least, provide website links to your three most relevant competitors.
But if you want to provide additional information, feel free.
8. What makes you unique?
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the thing that makes your business stand out.
Your USP needs to address the most important motivator in your ideal customers' minds to have an impact.
Businesses often confuse USPs with values, so many USPs contain words like passion, dedication, and excellence.
But genuine USPs have a what and a double why.
The first why stands for why it matters, the second why stands for why it's relevant.
Here are a couple of examples:
1-minute disinfectant contact time
Why it's relevant
Most disinfectants need 5-10 minutes to kill bacteria and viruses. This makes them impractical for use in busy environments like clinical practice, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.
Why it matters
A 1-minute contact time means faster turnaround and less potential to leave live pathogens on surfaces.
Permanent modular buildings
Why it's relevant
Despite their benefits, most modular buildings are not permanent.
Why it's relevant
Permanent modular buildings offer the same longevity as traditional construction, but at less cost, and with less disruption on-site.
9. How do we need to say it?
One of the main reasons people hire a professional copywriter is to communicate with a specific tone of voice.
Your tone is how you say things rather than what you say.
Big brands spend thousands of pounds developing tone of voice guidelines to ensure continuity across all channels.
If you're an owner-managed business or an SME, it's unlikely you'll commit a big brand budget to a tone of voice exercise.
But there's still a lot you can do to help a copywriter get the messaging right the first time.
Avoid only providing one or two-word descriptors in your tone of voice guide.
For example, you might feel your tone is engaging and inspiring.
However, all professionally written copy is engaging, regardless of the tone. And the copywriter's idea of inspiration might be different to yours.
Start by thinking where you want to be in the four dimensions of the tone of voice:
1. Funny versus serious2. Formal versus casual3. Respectful versus irreverant4. Enthusiastic versus matter of fact
Then elaborate on your thoughts:
An empowering and uplifting tone inspires your audience to improve and excel.
A friendly yet informative tone sparks a sense of fun.
A professional and ambitious tone of voice is more of an academic approach, ideal to position you as a trusted thought leader.
Here's an example of patient and visitors hospital copy suggested by Nielsen Norman Group, world leaders in research-based user experience:
● Serious: we shouldn't try to be funny while speaking to patients.● Formal: the hospital has a traditional and prestigious brand personality.● Respectful: it should not look like we're making light of a serious situation for patients.● Neither enthusiastic nor matter-of-fact: we should convey some sense of empathy, but should not appear overly emotional.
Liz East's work on the Virgin Airlines tone of voice guide is an excellent example if you need further inspiration.
Liz starts by defining three overarching values:
Optimistic. Inclusive. Adventurous.
Each value expands into a more detailed explanation, like this:
Confident. Vibrant. Witty. Upbeat.
We love to fly. Every journey with us is an excellent adventure. So we turn up the optimism and write with warmth and a smile. And then we smile a bit more.
● Turn up the positives. Turn down the negatives.● Chop the waffle.● Shorten your sentences.● One point, one sentence.● Write about the benefits, not just the features.
10. Do you have any evidence to support your USP?
It's useful to know if you have things like independent tests, market research and case studies to back up your claims.
Testimonials are also useful, especially when they contain specific metrics like 'we generated £30k in lead value from our new website in the first week'.
11. Style Guide
Ideally, you have a one-page style guide to provide your writer with all of your house rules.
House rules cover spelling, capitalisation, sentence case and grammar rules. And the style guide ensures everything written for your business is consistent.
For example, is it Project 7 or Project7?
Or is the proper name for HOCl, written as Hypochlorous Acid, Hypochlorous acid, or hypochlorous acid?
What about compound words versus hyphens? Do you prefer mindset or mind-set?
Although the examples I've mentioned are quick to correct in the revision process, sorting out the impact of removing things like the Oxford comma is more time-consuming.
The Oxford comma is the last comma in a list, and it's a hotly debated topic.
If you didn't know what an Oxford comma is, or how to recognise one, okay.
But most writers use Oxford commas so if you object; it's best to make it clear in your brief.
Suppose I write 'I love my parents, Ronald McDonald and Madonna'. In that case, I'm suggesting my parents' names are Ronald McDonald and Madonna.
But if I add an Oxford comma, the sentence makes sense: 'I love my parents, Ronald McDonald, and Madonna'.
However, suppose an Oxford comma isn't allowed. In that case, I need to change the structure to 'I love Ronald McDonald, Madonna and my parents.
Some house rules also impact the tone of voice: like the use of conjunctions and contractions.
In formal writing, some readers might object to starting a sentence with a conjunction (for, and, nor, or, yet, and so).
But in most writing, conjunctions help text flow seamlessly from one paragraph to the next.
And contrary to popular belief, there has never been a rule in English grammar that says you can't start a sentence with a conjunction.
Another thing that stiffens and formalises tone of voice is avoiding contractions (they're versus they are, won't versus will not, etc.).
One again, contractions, like conjunctions (and the Oxford comma) are a style choice, not a grammar rule. But it's easy to get caught out:
A couple of years ago, I wrote the content for a professional Will writing site.
The client chose my headline 'Will writing doesn't have to be an expensive, stuffy experience you put off until it's too late!'. (We wanted a clear distinction between the more formal suited and booted Solicitors approach.)
After I delivered about 5000 words for the website and blog, the client announced they wanted contractions removed, except from the headline.
Apparently, the client didn't talk like that. They meant they didn't use contractions in formal documents. So they thought it better to have the website content written in the same style.
Unfortunately, the changes stiffened and formalised the whole tone-of-voice, countering the objective they wanted to achieve in the first place.
Whatever your particular house rules, make them clear in the copywriting brief. You don't need to add an entire page, but writing down the high-level rules is an excellent place to start.
12. If you were a high street brand or car, what would you be like?
Brand and vehicle association might seem simple. But branding experts often use the technique to get a sense of how a company sees itself.
Clients often struggle to articulate their personality in writing . . . because they're not copywriters. So the brand and vehicle association tactic is useful.
Here are three examples:
1. Alfa Romeo — spirited, passionate2. Volkswagen — dependable, trustworthy3. Virgin — adventurous
13. Is there a copy style you've seen that you like?
Businesses often hire a copywriter to replicate something that inspires them even if it's from another industry.
So if you have any examples of websites you like, add links to the brief.
14. Keywords for SEO
According to a study conducted by SEO platform BrightEdge, 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search.
Which is no surprise when you consider that internet users conduct over 2.3 million searches a minute across the world. (Source: Internet Live Stats).
Landing high up in Google's search results can generate tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of new business every month. So it pays to get SEO right.
Copywriters weave keywords seamlessly into the content, so the text seems natural. But your writer needs to know which words to use.
Google AdWords provides a free-to-use keyword planner which shows the monthly search volume and competition for any keyword:
Paid tools like Ubersuggest by Neil Patel, provide more granular information:
Ubersuggest also tells you what you're up against, competition-wise:
Now you know which tools to use, here are a few pointers to help you make the best use of keywords:
Choose a primary and a secondary keyword for each page. The WordPress SEO plugin Yoast refers to a secondary keyword as a synonym.
Why only two keywords? Because the writer uses the keywords more than once. So if you add several keywords to a brief for a single page, the copy ends up looking spammy and insincere.
Avoid highly competitive keywords if possible. They may trigger the highest search volume, but unless you have a website with very domain score, it's unlikely you'll rank high.
Conversely, check out the search volume when looking at low competition keywords (the two are related).
Last year I received a brief from a client to write a blog article centred around a keyword that generates zero search traffic.
Zero search traffic means the audience doesn't consider the keyword in their quest for product information. Which also means the keyword doesn't feature as a buying trigger.
15. Timings and deadlines
Avoid using a.s.a.p. wherever possible.
Make it clear if your copywriter needs to provide first revisions and final approved content by a specific deadline.
Good copywriters always need a little lead-in time due to workload. But they often have gaps when waiting for feedback on existing projects.
16. Do you need UX website wireframes or a hi-fi prototype?
Are you new to the wireframe and prototypes concept? Head over to my UX Copywriting page for more information. Otherwise, read on.
I'm fortunate that much of my copywriter career entailed putting real people in front of websites and seeing how they managed tasks.
It's incredible the difference it makes presenting content in different ways. Getting things right can double or treble the conversions from the same content.
Feel free to leave the content layout to your website designer. But if you'd like to get better results from your copywriting spend, leave a note in your brief to have a chat about wireframes.
17. Would you like help with graphic design, website design or technical SEO?
I'm a former digital agency director, and I've been lucky enough to work with great web designers.
Whether you need a freelance web designer or an agency, I'm happy to point you in the right direction.
Especially if you've just received quotes of £500, £5,000 and £15,000 from the same brief, it happens!
Despite the surge in popularity around rich media content such as video and social media advertising — blogging remains an essential part of the marketing mix in 2020.
And a blog planner template helps to bring order to the process.
Firstly, businesses who blog get 67% more leads than businesses that don’t, according to a HubSpot survey of 3,400 professional marketers.
Secondly, websites with blogs have 434% more pages indexed on Google according to Tech Client.
WordPress, the business that started it all, provides configurable blog modules with a one-click instal.
And well-known SaaS providers like GoDaddy, Wix, and Squarespace also provide a simple way to get blogging with websites you pay for with a low monthly fee.
Yet will all the best intentions — small businesses (and even some larger ones) — find it challenging to plan, manage and publish articles consistently.
Before long, organising blog content turns into a stressful experience with disparate documents on local machines — often buried in lengthy email threads.
The people who need to provide input (sales staff, marketing personnel, even copywriters) soon get bogged down trying to figure out what the hell should be done by who, and when.
I know this because I spend 50% of my time as a freelance copywriter writing blog articles for start-ups, solopreneurs, and SMEs.
The key to successful blogging (publishing well-written, no-fluff, thought-provoking articles) is planning.
Often, businesses approach article-writing in silos: by the piece; by the week or by the month.
But . . .
Moreover, inconsistent planning means jumping from one business task to another (multitasking) — every time you need to write a blog post.
And according to inc.com, multitasking comes at a price:
How a blog planner helps you work more efficiently
Plenty of blog calendars and content management templates exist. Some are available as free downloads, others you access as part of a paid subscription to sites like template.net.
Yet I’ve never found any of these resources useful. Not unless you have a well-drilled team working on a detailed marketing plan with a content strategy. And tasks that include persona creation, in-depth SEO, funnel marketing and multivariate testing.
For most SMEs, all you need to get productivity and stress-levels under control is a simple dashboard that gives you
● a list of article titles;● an objective for each one;● a primary status so you know where you are;● a link to a corresponding article brief and working document; and● a one-page view of all the information.
I’m so convinced this approach saves countless hours of downtime, nail-biting and hair-pulling — I thought I’d make the template I use available for FREE.
The template is ready to use, straight from the box. None of the functionality is locked, so you can add new columns if you wish, or edit the existing jump-list values using data validation.
But before you jump in and hit the download button, pay attention to the data in the three most critical columns:
This is your article reference. I’ve added numbers from 1-52 to give you the incentive to write an article a week. However, you might not need this many.
TIP: Always keep the numbers in sequence, and when you create articles, prefix file name with the corresponding number to make referencing easy.
The human brain is wired for order, and if you re-sort the list, you’ll be amazed at the impact this simple principle will have when you revisit the template.
Eye-tracking experts working in user experience refer to this as an increase in cognitive load caused by disparate eye fixations.
In practice, it means stress!
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not logical to add a finished title (headline) in a planner. Deal with proper titles in a corresponding article working doc.
Copywriters often invest an hour or two crafting headline titles using a range of proven formulas — and often deliver more than one example for consideration.
It makes no sense to spend time finishing a headline before you’ve populated the planner with a few ideas.
Speed is the key to completing your dashboard effectively. So avoid doing anything that gets in the way of filling out this document quickly.
Write a high-level objective to flesh out specific points of interest that the writer needs to communicate. Deal with the detail in a corresponding briefing document.
TIP: Often, what you want to talk about and what the reader needs to know are different things.
Remember, the objective is to demonstrate knowledge and authority about a subject the reader finds valuable — not to use the article as a fluff piece to pitch your product or service.
Understand your audience and keep it relevant.
There you have it — the simplest, fastest-to-use blog planning template you’re likely to find anywhere on the internet.
If you have any issues downloading the file or need advice on how to extend the template further, DROP ME A LINE HERE.
In his self-penned 1963 song ‘It’s Alright Ma I’m Only Bleeding’, Nobel winning poet, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan mused that advertising is a lie and the promise unattainable.
Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking, you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
© Bob Dylan
Volkswagen’s ill-fated diesel emissions claims became a PR disaster. And billionaire Elon Musk's purported $72 million investment in BitCoin Code duped thousands of people with a website using stock images of a fictitious Managing Director and voiceover artists masquerading as real customers.
Promising what can’t be delivered is bad — advertising untruths are dishonest — and businesses using these tactics soon get found out.
So in 2014 when Detroit automotive manufacturer Chrysler announced that Bob Dylan would be the face of its new ad campaign, the news was met with scepticism. Dylan, after all, was anti-establishment and anti-capitalist.
Chrysler is no stranger to using music celebrities in their commercials. Eminem and Jennifer Lopez have been the subject of successful campaigns. But what did they see in Dylan that the sceptics missed?
Far from blowing in the wind, the answer is all the story.
During the early twentieth century, Detroit emerged as the epicentre of American automotive manufacturing. A powerful symbol of capitalism and the labour that worked there.
By the mid-twentieth century, one in every six working Americans was directly or indirectly employed by the automotive industry. Detroit became known as ‘Motor City’.
But by the 1970s, Detroit was in decline. Buffeted by an oil crisis and the rise of international competition from Japanese and German carmakers.
Although Detroit is now a shadow of its former self, the industry has been steadily fighting back and Chrysler was keen to capitalise on this with a new campaign.
Selling features and benefits wouldn’t cut it in the competitive world of car advertising. Chrysler needed to make people proud to buy American again.
Bob Dylan may have his critics, but he’s a worldwide celebrity loved by millions of people. To many, a national treasure.
But above all, Dylan is fiercely patriotic.
Chrysler’s new commercial was broadcast during the 2014 Super Bowl. The cries of ‘sell-out’ aimed at Dylan weren’t concerning as this increased the number of people talking about the ad.
The script is a narrative designed to convey the value of Detroit’s legacy. The story resonates with an America at odds with the influence of the outside world.
Is there anything more American, than America?
Cos you can’t import a vision
You can’t fake . . . true cool
You can’t duplicate legacy
Because what Detroit created was a first, and became the inspiration to the rest of the world
Yeah, Detroit made cars, and cars made America
Making the best, making the finest takes conviction
And you can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line
You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won’t find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it
Because we believe in the zoom, and the roar and the thrust
And when it’s made here, it’s made with the one thing you can’t import from anywhere else
So let Germany brew your beer
And Switzerland make your watch
Let Asia assemble your phone
We . . . will build your car
The Ad played out over a well known Bob Dylan song called ‘Things Have Changed’.
Exactly the point Chrysler wanted to communicate.
The visuals are strong. But it’s the words that make the impact.
It’s not clear whether Bob Dylan wrote the script. But the script writing oozes the poetical structure and flow that makes Dylan’s writing so revered.