What Should Freelance Copywriters Charge?: Questions From a Copywriter, Part 1

I received an email from a guy who’s interested in applying his business education to copywriting. He asked me seven questions about copywriting that I didn’t answer. My reasons for that here. Assuming his questions are the questions of other getting-started freelance copywriters, I thought I would copy his questions from the email, paste them into this blog post, and answer them here so more people could benefit from the answers. The questions will be answered across two posts for the sake of length and readability (and let’s be honest, the SEO on these is going to be amazing).

The first few questions basically asked “What should freelance copywriters charge?,” so I’ve answered those few here.

  1. What is the average rate that your successful copywriters demand?
  2. Averages for everything vary widely, and for all kinds of copywriting-related services, so instead, I’ll give you some qualified numbers for what freelance copywriters should charge.

    • Just starting out: $50/hour.
    • Absolutely no less. That number also assumes you have basic, good quality writing ability. If you’re not a good writer (you don’t have to be a great writer to do this kind of work, just good), then this occupation will be very hard for you because you’ll have to learn how to write well first.

    • Experienced: $60-75/hour.
    • After I’d been copywriting for a couple years with increasing success, I gave myself a raise from $50 to $75. If you’re wondering when it’s time for a raise, this post might help.

    • Executive-level: $100+/hour.
    • If you’re good at what you do (and I mean good), and/or you’ve got the portfolio to back it up, charge $100+. I know a few freelance copywriters who charge over $100/hour as a regular rate, or have done so for certain services such as consulting. Depending on your experience and the kinds of clients you want to work with, you may or may not be able to charge that rate. The trick is to find clients who believe you’re worth that much, and have the money to pay. More on that.

    • Creative Staffing Agencies: $25-45/hour.
    • If you’re going to be working through a creative staffing agency (something I quite enjoy doing), you’re going to be paid less than you would if you’re working directly with the client. As the middleman, the staffing agency will take a cut of the hourly rate they bill you out at. They’re a business, after all, and they all have overhead to cover. I know some freelancers who refuse to work with them, and others who get all their work from them. The kinds of clients you want and the point you’re at in your career will determine if this is a good place for you to invest your time.

  3. What is a rate that acknowledges that I am new to the business, but indicates that I am still capable and qualified, and doesn’t drive down the rates of others who are capable and qualified?
  4. $50/hour.

  5. Can you recommend any good literature or blogs to help me understand the copywriting market in the Portland area?
  6. As far as I know, the Copywriter Conclave of Portland blog is the best (and only?) resource for freelance copywriters in Portland. THE book I recommend for all things freelance copywriting is The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. I also recommend the Well-Fed Writer blog, the Ed Gandia podcast, and Seanwes podcast/blog.

2 comments on “What Should Freelance Copywriters Charge?: Questions From a Copywriter, Part 1

  1. Mandy on

    Hey Amber–

    I love checking in on your posts here now and then. Sometimes I don’t have time to check for a month or so. Is there a reason that you don’t time-stamp your posts? I like seeing date-stamps for relevancy, seasonality etc…
    I’m hoping you guys have another meet-up soon, I missed the one in July due to schedule conflict.

    • Amber James on

      Hey Mandy,
      Finding time-relevant content is key! The short answer to why we don’t time-stamp our posts is because we don’t always post on a regular basis, and we don’t want readers to be turned-off by that. You can subscribe to the blog in the top right corner of any post so you’ll get an email whenever we post. Thanks for checking in on us, Mandy! 🙂



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