The average day rate for a copywriter in the UK in 2017 was £339. It’s not guesswork either. The figure comes from the annual survey of the Professional Copywriters Network, which I’m a member of. Assuming a short 7-hour day that’s about £50 per hour.
But that’s an average, and hourly copywriter rates across the country do span a typical range from £30 to £100+ per hour. In answering the question, how much for a copywriter? It depends on a lot of different factors. And it’s worth considering them all.
An obvious point first, the time it takes to write a 10-page website just won’t be the same as that taken to write a single-sided leaflet. That said, writing something really short to fit a small space can be just as challenging as writing something long and unbounded. Short doesn’t naturally equate to cheap.
And whatever kind of writing project it is, it’s important to understand that copywriting is not just about the writing, there’s a lot of other legwork besides. In my view it’s actually about 6 things beginning with ‘r’: research, ruminating, (w)‘riting, refining, relaying and revising.
So if there’s lots of research to do, lots of thinking and planning and lots of people involved in signing off on the copywriting, then it will take longer, irrespective of how many words there are to write. A fixed project price needs to take the project’s overall complexity into account.
The experience and background of your copywriter will also play a part in how much you pay as it impacts on quality, speed and efficiency. Not all copywriters are trained in copywriting and their writing experience and skill set can vary widely.
Some will specialise in specific kinds of writing, some will be more generalist. Not all have the knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO) that’s needed for effective website writing. Others won’t have the ‘editorial’ capability to write an objective newsworthy press release. Some won’t do long copy like case studies or feature articles. And so on.
Add to this the copywriter’s own knowledge of business administration, their understanding of marketing and sales and their first-hand involvement in a variety of different market sectors. Some will naturally bring a lot more to the party than others.
And after all that’s been said above, it’s the worth that the copywriting brings to your business that should ultimately govern how much you pay for it. It’s that age-old question once more, is it a cost to the business or an investment?
How much should you pay for website, ad or brochure copywriting that continually helps you bring in many thousands of pounds worth of sales over its lifetime?
And what about all the saving you make in terms of time and stress?
If you really can’t do it yourself or you just haven’t got the time to do it and there’s a pressing deadline to meet. Then you need a reliable solution and a copywriter’s going to provide it. What then is its true worth to you when it lets you get back to doing everything else you need to attend to?
And so back to this average UK copywriter’s ‘£50 an hour’, is it fair enough? Well just compare it to some other professions’ typical hourly rates: window cleaner £20; plumber £30; business consultant £70; software developer £90; solicitor £100. Naturally biased though I am, it seems pretty reasonable to me.
For my part, I’ve been writing copy for more than 25 years, having worked hands-on in sales, marketing communications (marcom) and press relations both at home in the UK and abroad. I’ve worked on the client side, the agency side and now as a freelancer.
A background in engineering and technology means I’m also lucky enough to get to write for a whole range of very different market sectors. And no I don’t recognise the perceived difference between online and offlline writing that I read about either. I do both in equal measure. Try me 😉