Freelance Copywriters: You don’t have to say Yes to standard industry rates or fees.

copywA few days ago I got involved in the comment stream on a post about the fees freelancers earn. The post itself was actually about freelance designers and coders etc. There wasn’t any data on what most freelance copywriters earn.


A copywriter did post a comment in which she noted that “industry rates” for copywriters were pretty dire.

This got me scratching my head a little. Why? Because I can’t imagine a situation where I would allow myself to be confined by an industry “rate”.

To put it another way, working within the spread of an industry rate in voluntary. You will be confined by those rates only if you voluntarily agree to be ruled by them. There is no law that says you have to do that.

Your other choice is to totally ignore those rates and set your own fee levels in accordance with the value you offer your clients.

How can you go about establishing higher fees for your work? Here are three ways to get started.

1. Differentiate yourself

If you don’t want to be ruled by industry rates, make sure your website doesn’t look and read like all those sites that do submit to those rates.

To differentiate yourself, you need to communicate a unique value proposition. Actually, it doesn’t have to be totally unique, but it does have to be rare. A client needs to look at your site and immediately feel, “Hey, this person isn’t like most other freelance copywriters I come across. I’m seeing something different and unusual here.”

Often that differentiator is going to be related to how you communicate your niche or specialty. But you can also differentiate yourself by tone of voice, or the use of design.

Just make sure you stand out from the crowd. As Apple used to say, Think Different.

2. Maximize your perceived value

When some copywriters earn more than others, it doesn’t mean that the first group has more skills than the second. More often it means that those within the first group “look” better.

Put simply, the more professional your website looks, the higher the rates companies will be prepared to pay you. This is akin to a book being judged by its cover.

If your website looks like it was cobbled together with a free template and some stock images, you are setting yourself up to be paid within those industry rates.

But if your site looks sharp, and has been designed by a professional designer, you’ll be sending a message that says you are worth more than the average freelance bear, and expect to be paid accordingly.

There are other ways to increase the perceived value of your freelance business, but I’ll tackle those in a future post.

3. Don’t work with clients who don’t understand your value

If a prospective client wants to pay you the industry rate it means they are looking for a bargain. And if they are looking for a bargain when it comes to copywriting, they just don’t understand the value of good copy.

For a company to buy cheap copywriting makes about as much sense as an aircraft manufacturer buying cheap engines.

Strong copy is the engine of commerce. Words matter. So it’s always worth paying more for good copywriting.

If your prospects don’t understand that, move on until you find one who does.

Clients who get your value will pay you what you deserve instead of some random “industry rate”.

Wrapping it up…

Like I said earlier, to be confined by published rates is voluntary. If you don’t want to volunteer, simply up your game and make yourself stand out.


Coaching for freelancers



writing for the web ebook

If you found this post helpful, sign up for my e-newsletter and get a free copy of my 35-page guide…

Writing For The Web #1 — 7 Challenges every Writer and Copywriter faces when writing for the Web.

Sign up and I’ll send you the link for the download, and then you’ll receive my most recent post as part of my e-newsletter every Tuesday morning.

Sign Up for my Excess Voice Newsletter…


(Your email address will be used only for the purpose of sending you this newsletter, and you’ll be free to unsubscribe at any time.)

Share on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

1 thought on “Freelance Copywriters: You don’t have to say Yes to standard industry rates or fees.

  1. Hi Nick,

    A lot is said about the ‘value’ of a copy or design, or any service, to a business. Being new to freelancing I have some questions.

    How exactly to decide that value beforehand? How would a client know or understand or perceive the value of your writing, designing or other skill unless they use it and see it actually working for them?

    How can they be sure that the value you are portraying to them is really what it is and that they should pay you (and not someone else) the amount you are asking for it?

    Thanks for the nice information.


Leave a Comment