“How much should I charge per word?” is one of the scariest, most misguided questions a copywriter can ask.
And I don’t really blame new copywriters who ask that question, since there are plenty of “work farming” companies that happily advertise their “copywriters’” price per word.
So let me make one thing very, very clear: Professional copywriters do not charge by the word. We just don’t. And we refuse to work with companies or clients that might ask us to.
Why? Well, it’s actually pretty simple:
First, copywriting isn’t just about writing as much as possible. In fact, copywriting is often about trying to get the right message across in the most concise way possible.
Charging by the word actually penalizes you for doing your job well!
Content writers sometimes charge by the word, but I discourage it even in that case, too, because of my second reason:
Only about a third of copywriting is actually writing.
Another third is concepting: The time spent thinking and strategizing and playing around with wording before you actually sit down and begin writing in earnest.
The final third is editing. You make revisions yourself to improve your drafts, you incorporate feedback from your clients to create a perfectly polished document, and you make small tweaks with your designer to fit everything into an appealing layout.
Charging by the word means you don’t get paid anything for two-thirds of the copywriting work you do!
Instead of charging by the word, professional copywriters charge by the hour or by the project. Charging by the hour is pretty straightforward, and charging by the project involves coming up with a project price largely based on how long you think a project will take you to complete it.
In both of those scenarios, since they’re both time-based, you’re getting paid for all of the time you spend concepting, writing, and editing—not to mention time spent in meetings or on calls with clients.
Generally, charging by the word is a sign that a copywriter is very green—too new to know better. Or, it can also be a sign that the “copywriter” doesn’t know that he or she is actually a content writer, instead.
Either way, these aren’t messages anyone wants to send to a client. If you want to be a professional copywriter, set your hourly rate and then calculate your project rates mostly based on that.
Your turn! Do you find pricing your services confusing? What questions do you have? Let us know in the comments below!