I was watching an online training about freelancing a few weeks ago, and something the trainer said threw up a big red flag.
(By the way, I’m always taking new trainings and watching webinars to pick up whatever new tactics are out there. I strongly encourage you to do the same. You may know a ton already, but there’s always a new insight to gain.)
Anyway, this trainer was talking about how to price your services. He asked the studio audience how much they charge and then said, essentially,
“Okay now: Double it. And, once you get lots of clients at that rate, double it again.”
Double it again??
Wait a minute here. As a new copywriter, if you take this advice, you will price yourself right out of business.
I do agree that many service providers are undercharging for their expertise. And I do believe that you should command rates that are worthy of the value you provide.
But…as a new copywriter…your work just isn’t worth $150 an hour.
YET. Will it be eventually? If you keep working and getting experience and honing your skills? Absolutely.
But right now, within the first few years of your copywriting career, if you double and double your rate, you’re going to price yourself right out of business.
How to Price Your Copywriting Services Starting Out
When you’re building your experience and your business, you need to charge a reasonable rate. Reasonable means that:
- It adequately compensates you for your time
- It’s a price that’s similar to the going market rate for your level of experience
- It’s a price that your level of clientele is willing to pay
It’s very easy to get squeamish about your rates and charge too little. Very easy. This is one of the biggest reasons that people “don’t make it” as a copywriter. They charge too little, or they charge by the word. (Read more about why that’s a huge mistake here.)
But you also can’t go too extraordinarily high over the going market rate for your level of expertise. If you’re new to copywriting and new copywriters generally make around $50 an hour in your city, no one’s going to hire you for $150 an hour.
(Or, if they do once, they’ll certainly never do it again.)
Now, of course, you may be using your hourly rate to calculate the total project price.
Consider Your First Clients
Remember, too, that your first clients are going to be local small business owners, then likely design shops, and newer solopreneurs. It’s very probable that they simply can’t afford to pay you $160 per hour for a 15-hour project.
I have no problem with you trying to make as much as you can. In fact, I fully support it! Part of the reason I started this business and created our trainings was to help writers earn comfortable, even cushy, incomes.
But you have to be sure that your rates don’t price you right out of your career. Pricing your services may never be a comfortable subject for you. However, when you calculate what’s reasonable to charge, you have a good baseline to work with.
And then, later on when you’ve developed a great deal of expertise and built a robust portfolio of work, then you can think about doubling your rates. You’ll be able to command these rates because you have a portfolio of work and experience backing it up.
But if you still need work in your portfolio? You can still price your services so both you and your client win. Remember: $50/hour will get you to six figures.
Your turn! What’s the trickiest part for you about calculating or telling new clients your rates? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
Victor Cross says
I ran my own hot tub business for about three years. I refurbished and sold used ones and did house-calls to repair broken ones. The hardest part from day one was pricing. I can’t tell you how many times I went in the red on a deal because I felt bad for my customer and wanted to be a good guy. I’m hoping that I might be better at it with this training and the knowledge that now I’ll be offering my services to businesses that expects to have to pay for advertising instead of trying to convince someone to buy what really amounts to a luxury item.
Nicki Krawczyk says
Absolutely – pricing your services can be very tricky. But you’re right, it’s also so much easier to sell things/services the directly benefit a business than it is to sell luxury items! If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out the How to Price Your Services course within the CCA, too. 🙂
Thanks for commenting!
Stephanie S says
Would you suggest charging by the hour or by the project (for beginners)? I just started the CCA course so I apologize if this is answered later in the course (I’m still going through the intro materials).
Nicki Krawczyk says
Yep, it’ll be covered, but I’ll answer it here anyway! 🙂 Generally, by the project is going to make the most sense. By the hour can work better if you’re doing long-term work with a client and the workload is going to vary/be fluid.
Thanks for commenting!
I could really use some advice on what to charge for a signle “about me” page. Any resources? How do I find the going rate?
The Filthy Rich Writer Team says
That’s always hard to assess. Here’s a post by Nicki with some great information about knowing what to charge – http://filthyrichwriter.com/copywriting-qa-by-the-minute-the-hour-the-word-how-you-should-charge/