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Should You Pay Copywriters Hourly, Monthly, or a Flat Rate Per Project?

Erica Gordon
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What’s the best way to pay your copywriter? Hourly, monthly, or a flat rate per project? The first thing you should know is that a good writer is accustomed to making pretty good money. There’s a common misconception that writers pinch pennies for income. While the majority of writers won’t get rich and famous, they don’t need to be the world’s next J.K. Rowling to generate a healthy income in this profession. Earning a high income as a writer depends on a few factors including the industry, the type of writing, and skillset of the writer. Because of these different factors, charge rates among professional writers vary widely. Some writers charge a flat rate per project, some charge by the hour, and others charge a monthly retainer. The question is, how should you pay your copywriter? Let’s discuss these different variations of pricing, and the best way to go about hiring quality writers. The Business of Copywriting Copywriting can be a very lucrative profession, because of how valuable this type of writing is. Copywriting is part of the larger ad industry, which is worth more than $2.3 trillion worldwide. Anytime you’ve seen a brochure, billboard, text on a website, an email offer, or a catalog, you know that a copywriter wrote that copy.

Copywriting is unique in its ability to prompt action from a reader, which makes it quite different from editorial or news writing. To be a great copywriter is to know how to sell. Great copywriting converts customers in the sales funnel. It’s not atypical for a business to compensate a writer with a $5,000 flat rate for a project, and find the copy they paid $5,000 for generated $100,000 in sales. Hiring a quality copywriter can yield a very high ROI for your company. So, how do you attract a quality writer to create these same results for your own business? Let’s get into the three most common pricing models first. Hourly Pay

Typically, only the more junior writers charge hourly. But for many used to a commodity model, hourly pay makes sense. Yes, on freelancer platforms, people are charging up to $125 per hour. However, don’t forget this industry secret: The top copywriters in the world do not charge per hour. Top copywriters typically charge a flat rate per project. But $125 an hour sounds great, right? Wrong. An hourly rate distorts the true value of the writer. Essentially, paying a writer by the hour undermines their skills, as the writer gets paid less the faster they get.

A fast copywriter charging hourly makes zero sense, since the reason top copywriters are fast is because they’re good at what they do, and they’re experienced. The best copywriters are well aware of their worth. If a copywriter isn’t getting paid a generous salary in corporate or in an agency, they are getting paid a flat rate per project or they’re on retainer. Flat Rate Per Project Many quality copywriters accept by-the-project offers. For some, writing is a side gig and the project balances well into other responsibilities. For others, the gig is a portfolio booster from a reputable brand, a one-off engagement. These copywriters can be experts in their field. If you are seeking a copywriter for a one-off engagement without needing ongoing copy, a flat rate may be best. Paying a Monthly Fee

A monthly flat rate is another type of payment model used by high-caliber copywriters. These copywriters are typically freelancers with multiple clients. Some companies hire temp workers to fulfill a campaign or larger project that turns into 6-12 months or more, too. Monthly retainer agreements offer many benefits to the writer, not limited to security and the opportunity to create many types of content. If you are looking to bring on an in-house writer, hire a contractor, or use the same writer beyond three months, building a copywriting team by paying your copywriters on retainer is a solid choice that eliminates a lot of the hassle surrounding onboarding.

Pricing Boils Down to Needs

At the end of the day, how you pay your copywriter depends on your needs. A good rule of thumb is to avoid hourly copywriters, as the best writers work on retainer or a flat rate. Since businesses rely on copywriting to integrate with marketing strategy, it pays to invest in quality.Before hiring your next copywriter, ask yourself these questions:

1. How long is your project going to last? 

2. If you like the writer, do they have the bandwidth for more work if needed?

3. Do you need a staff writer, go-to contractor, or someone here and there whenever you have copywriting needs? Taking into consideration your business’ needs will help you determine which pricing model fits best for your situation. For example, if loyalty from a great writer is what you want, then a monthly retainer makes sense. Don’t forget that you get what you pay for, and although good copywriters don’t typically come cheap, they’re worth every dollar. Want to learn more about what copywriters charge? Book a call today to discuss pricing, value, and deliverables.

Erica Gordon

Erica Gordon is a lead strategist for Copywriters.com, an SEO content writer, blog writer and a copywriter. Erica has over a decade of experience writing for top tier publications such as Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Elite Daily and Thought Catalog. You can follow Erica on Instagram @ericaleighgordon to say hi and see her full portfolio.

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