Do you charge by the word, hour or project?

When you’re talking to copywriters you’ll discover there are many ways they charge. You might come across project pricing, hourly pricing, and by the word. It’s confusing, so I’ll explain each one in turn.


Project pricing

The most common scenario (and the method I generally use) is to project price. This is usually the best solution for both parties. 

You’ll have a project, such as web copy, a series of customer stories, or emails to create. Writing the copy is rarely the first part of the project. The write will need to understand your business and its values. They might need to carry out some customer insight or general industry research. The structure of the copy must then be planned prior to writing, editing, and submitting the first draft. You might have amends and various approvals might be required. 

All this work forms the basis of your project. If the scope is agreed, and a fixed price provided, you know where you stand. As does your copywriter. It’s fair and transparent.


Hourly pricing

Most copywriters have an hourly or day rate in their heads. But to simply charge by the hour is fraught with difficulties. 

It can be like you writing a blank cheque unless you fix a set number of hours. Or implicitly trust your copywriter. Fixing hours can also restrict creativity. Nobody does their best in a hurry.

Coupled with this, an experienced copywriter will have developed the skill to complete some types of work faster than inexperienced copywriters. Should they charge less? You’re gaining from their years of experience so it’s only fair they benefit too.


Pricing by the word

Very few copywriters favour this method of pricing. And you shouldn’t either. 100 words of highly creative messaging will be of far greater value to you than 1,500 words of waffle. Don’t always assume less copy should equal less money. Focus on the value to your business. 

How will the copy help your business grow? Will it help you gain more customers? And what is a new customer worth to you? 

Be prepared to pay for a copywriter’s knowledge and experience in addition to their time. After all, that’s what will help your business grow.


Other methods of charging


You might consider hiring a copywriter on a retainer. This must work for both parties to be sustainable. 

Firstly, it’s best to get to know your copywriter before considering this route. For it to work, you must trust and respect each other. 

Secondly, instead of simply retaining them based on hours, consider structuring the agreement around a selection of tasks. For example: two researched articles; two emails, and four social media posts. In this way, your copywriter feels valued and you’ll get the specified work.



There are times when a copywriter will get involved based on a commission agreement. This is most common when conversion copywriting is required. Again, the agreement needs trust and respect. You must have a clear system for determining the orders or enquiries gained from the copy in order to calculate a fair commission. 

All told, most experienced copywriters choose to charge mainly by project. Many of us have tried other methods and know this is the fairest and most sustainable system. It clarifies our value and provides you with certainty for your investment. 

Want to chat about pricing? Please do get in touch.

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