Freelance Copywriter Rates: When Should You Increase Pay?

Steven Li
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Freelance copywriter rates vary, and discussing pay can be awkward on both sides of the table. Sometimes, there's a disconnect between how much you value a copywriter and how much they perceive their value-add to be. In those cases, it is critical that both parties address these concerns early on.

Freelance copywriter rates can often be negotiated, or you can use an online copywriting service provider that has standard rates you deem to be fair. If you work with a freelance copywriter, you may want to increase pay when you increase the workload, to avoid any disharmony. The workload is another factor that should be negotiated in advance, however.

Beyond the initial negotiations, you'll eventually be in a position to increase pay for your most high-performing copywriters. The question is: how do you know when it’s the right time to increase pay? Here are a few scenarios to pay close attention to while making that consideration:

1. When the Workload Significantly Increases 

Increases in the amount of work your copywriter does almost always warrants an increase in pay. Although this seems intuitive, it’s easy to think that someone’s work diminishes in value with increased output. But this conclusion can inspire resentment and also hurt productivity when you devalue your copywriter’s work.

Instead, when workload increases, consider that it becomes increasingly difficult to deliver without compromising for quality. While you might not increase payment with every contract renewal, you should consider how workload shifts impact your copywriter.

2. When the Scope of Responsibilities Change

Sometimes an increasing workload doesn’t come in the form of physically writing more copy. Often, as the copywriter and their employer develop a consistent workflow, oversight on the part of the employer decreases. In the copywriting world, this frequently means that directional materials such as project briefings become either more open-ended, or nonexistent entirely. 

Although this transition (less guidance) is an indication of trust, it expands the responsibilities of the writer. Hence, the work they’ll need to put into each successive assignment becomes increasingly difficult. This additional work, though not always physically tangible, implies increasing value and therefore warrants that you consider paying higher freelance copywriting rates.

When you provide your copywriter with less guidance because you trust them, I encourage you to take on the perspective of the copywriter and understand that more open-ended projects creates more work and brainpower for them. If they’ve gained your trust, you can now save time by “guiding” them less, and since your time is valuable, you could now increase their pay.

3. When the Economic Value of Retaining the Copywriter Increases

Whether it’s a growing user base, increasing sales numbers, or higher profile clients, perhaps the worthiest time to increase a copywriter’s pay is when the revenues related to their work increase. From a successful ad campaign to a viral PSA, if what you’re getting for what you’re paying seems overwhelmingly in your favor, it probably is. Having a good idea of the net effect of a copywriter’s employment should help you orient an equitable value proposition so that both sides of the table can walk away feeling satisfied with the deal.

Although a literal output-to-income ratio isn’t always a viable way of thinking about compensation, this is all to say that the context in which your copywriter’s output exists after it’s finished is not only of consequence but that changes in that context may very well warrant an increase in payment.

4. To Gain Loyalty From a Superstar Copywriter

Do you have a great copywriter you don’t want to lose? You might want to give them a raise. Increasing freelance copywriter rates often occurs because a client wants to gain the loyalty of a superstar copywriter. This is understandable, since it’s not easy to find a superstar copywriter.

You shouldn’t have to break the bank to keep a writer, but it’s important to make sure that you consider the value that a copywriter brings to the table, especially if your own writing skills are lacking. If you find a writer or firm that effectively produces your vision, then maintaining a healthy business relationship with them should be a priority, and the very best way to facilitate this is to have an open dialogue about compensation.

5. When You Want to Renew a Contract

Because copywriters will usually have more than one single client, including a raise in their contract renewals is an effective way of showing that you value the work they do. After the end of a contract period, employers who underpay their copywriters risk not retaining them. Not only is this unfortunate if you lose a talented writer or firm, but in the case of independent copywriters, there’s something potentially wasteful about investing financial resources and expanding a person’s resume only to inadvertently exclude yourself from future business with them.   

In summary, freelance copywriter rates should always be based off the value provided. If a copywriter is rewriting your ads and you suddenly notice your sales doubling, then you definitely shouldn’t complain if their rates are high. Remember that good copywriters are hard to find. Haven’t found one, yet? Find a dedicated copywriter, right here, today.

Steven Li

Steven Li is the founder of The Rising, a publication that covers how changes in the environment impact business, politics, and technology. He is also a contributing writer at Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.

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