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Are you a copywriter guilty of Googling “how much to charge for a blog post”?

Yeah, we’ve been there too.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding pricing yourself as a writer. People charge by the word, by the hour, by the project, or by some combination of all three. And on top of all that confusion, you’re being hit with the “starving artist” myth—the one that tells you you’re destined to suffer financially for daring to choose a creative path.

But the truth is you CAN make money writing. Copywriting can be a profitable career. You just need to start thinking more like a business owner to make it happen.


First things first…

There isn’t one right way for writers to set prices. Sorry, but if we told you there was, we’d be lying to you!

We’re not going to say you have to charge this specific amount, or price your copywriting service in this specific way. Instead, we’re going to run you through the unique pricing problems facing writers, present you with options, and explain the benefits of approaching pricing like a business owner. These are the specific methods that let us grow our own copywriting business from a $1,000 profit in our first year {yikes!} to one that consistently makes six figures.


Four stacks of coins increasing in height next to an alarm clock


Hourly vs. Project Rates

Let’s start at the high level: should you charge for your services by the hour, or by the project? Both have their pros and cons, but we do have a preference.


Hourly rates

In an hourly rate pricing system, you track the amount of time spent working on a project, then bill your client based on the number of hours you logged.


  • Prices look lower at first glance, which can entice clients to book you.
  • If projects require time-consuming revisions, you get paid for that extra time.


  • Your initial estimate for how many hours a project takes can be wrong, which can lead clients to be unhappy with how much they end up paying.
  • It doesn’t account for the other hours—the ones you spend thinking about the project when you’re not writing, and all the hours you spent building up your expertise.
  • There’s only so many hours in a day, which means you’re setting a hard limit on your earning potential.


Project rates

In a project-based pricing system, you charge your client a flat rate to complete the entire project.


  • Clients like knowing exactly what something is going to cost them.
  • You can more easily build in the value of your time and experience into the price.
  • It’s easier to raise your rates.


  • If your client drastically changes the scope of the project or asks for time-consuming revisions, your initial price may no longer reflect the effort you’re putting in.

Which pricing system you prefer to use will likely vary based on your circumstances. However, we consider moving to a project-based pricing system a crucial part in the success of our copywriting business. We believe it’s the easiest way to start charging what you’re really worth, because let’s face it: copywriting is about more than just the hours spent putting words on a page. Project-based pricing is the easiest structure to build in that value of your creative, mental, and emotional energy.


Three stacks of coins at different heights with a plant sprouting from each


Finding consistent income through retainers

One of the toughest things about working in copywriting is that your income can be pretty inconsistent. Whether you’re charging by the hour or by the project, you’re only making money as long as you have a client with something for you to work on. And when you suddenly wrap all your projects and don’t have those clients anymore, you panic.

Instead of constantly scrambling to land new clients, consider creating a retainer system for your copywriting service. In a retainer relationship, you agree to do a certain amount of work for a client over an extended period of time. It’s a great way to plan ahead financially AND to create a stronger relationship between you and your clients.

Retainer models are also great because they’re totally flexible. Maybe you sign a retainer client for twice-weekly social media posts delivered for three months. Maybe it’s an email newsletter delivered every month for a year, or six months worth of blog posts. The length of time and the amount/type of content are totally up to you and your client to decide.

When it comes to pricing, you can fit a retainer model into your existing hourly- or project-based structure, or create a unique package pricing model just for retainer clients. Every version of a retainer system offers you more consistent, predictable income, because you know exactly where the money’s coming from for a set period of time.


Hands fanning out a stack of money


If you’re not interested in developing a retainer system, still put some thought into how you can adjust your copywriting service to keep your clients coming back for more. It’s way easier to continue working with an existing client than to go out and try to create that relationship from scratch. Essentially, every client that hires you influences your income directly and indirectly: Directly when they pay you for your services, and indirectly when you’re not burning hours looking for someone new to hire you.


How to price yourself for success

So now you have an idea of whether you want to use an hourly- or project-based pricing system, and you’re planning for client retention. What else do you need to price yourself for success? {Here’s where you really start thinking not just like a writer, but as the owner of a writing business!}


Start with these key steps:

1. Figure out your personal ROI for content. In other words, what do YOU want out of your projects {not just what your client wants}? Are you looking for portfolio pieces? To hit a revenue goal? To gain case studies?


2. Know your pricing system. If you have to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new project, you’re wasting valuable time.


3. Set expectations upfront on your website and/or during your sales call. What can the client expect you to deliver? In how much time? How many revisions are allowed, and what time frame do they need to take place in? Again, this will save you a lot of time and headaches.


4. Be honest with yourself about your income goals — and what it will take to achieve them. If your goal income dramatically outpaces your prices and labor potential, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Make sure you do the math!


5. Track data and update your pricing regularly. It’s great if you hold onto a client for years and years… but if you’re charging someone the same rate as 5 years ago, you’re probably not getting your money’s worth.


6. Be upfront about pricing changes. If you adjust your prices, your clients need to know. And if anyone gives you a tough time about your prices, consider not working with them. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.


Now you’re managing pricing like a business owner—so you can make money like one, too.


However you charge, know your worth!

Sometimes it seems like the “starving artist” myth is being thrown at you from every side. And believe us, we know how damaging that can be. We’ve known since we were kids we wanted to be writers, and in the time since then we’ve heard it all. Okay, but what’s your REAL job? How are you ever going to make money writing? What can you do with an English degree except teach English? I hope you have a backup plan.

Despite the fact that society consumes a HUGE amount of creative content, creators themselves are pretty undervalued. And that doesn’t make any sense! Without creatives, there would be no content to consume in the first place. So never believe you’re not valuable just because you’re creative. Your work is valuable and in-demand, and you deserve to be paid accordingly.

Whatever pricing structure you land on, and whatever you decide to charge for your services, make sure you know your worth. You deserve better than poverty wages. You deserve to have a career that supports you. You can’t single handedly change how society values creatives, but you can price yourself to reflect the true value of your work.


Want more help figuring out how to run a successful, profitable career as a writer? Check out our free guide!

How to Grow Your Content + Copywriting Business: 10 Changes You Can Make To Become Fully Booked with Writing Projects You Love

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