A Clueless Client Drives Me Up the Wall…

Up in arms over cheapskates

I just turned down a large six-month project that I won via a small test piece because a clueless client has no concept of the value of killer evergreen copy and content and was unwilling to pay adequately for it.


The fellow didn’t want to pay anywhere near what a professional copywriter is worth, despite the fact that he paid me a bonus for the test piece I did for him because I told him I would not even take the test unless I was compensated better for it.


He loved what I did and picked me as a result of it but then wanted to pay me LESS than he paid for the test piece (that is, his compensation per piece would have been a mere fraction of the price he paid for the test piece). He paid $50 for the 647-word test piece and then wanted to pay me $187.50 (Upwork’s 20% fees included) for developing and enhancing more than 7,000 words of copy!




People who want the moon but are not willing to pay for the spaceship that gets them there, OR a percentage of the income they receive from what I write, OR pay me great up front to write the evergreen copy that will turn browsers into buyers, are hopelessly out of touch with the going rate for professional writers. (I repeat: professional, tried-and-true writers, as opposed to hobbyists, charlatans and wanna be’s…)


I reckon this poor fellow will hire a fly-by-night who will succeed only in shooting him in the foot if he doesn’t want to pay professional rates for professional results.


You get what you pay for when you hire a copywriter. Just so you know…


Here’s what you should be willing to pay a professional writer/editor to do a professional job for you (gleaned from Internet searches in 2012 during the height of the Great Recession, mind you!)–and P.S.: as a semi-retired professional writer, I don’t charge these prices anymore:



Online/Web Site Writing
Varies widely; “business” sites pay higher
$1 to $3 per word
$60 to $100 per hour

Advertising Material
Copy/Scripts/News Releases
$350 to $500 per page
$750 to $1,000 per project for brochures
$75 to $150 per hour

(articles commissioned by advertisers)
$0.40 to $2 per word
$100 to $3,000 per article
$40 to $100 per hour

Corporate/Business Writing

Reports/ Marketing Plans/ Technical Writing
$1 to $2 per word
$300 to $12,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Varies according to publication/project
$30 to $60 per hour
$500 to $20,000 per project

Ghost Writing
Articles Generally 2-3 times the usual rate
Books $10,000 to $50,000 flat fee
Entire advance + 50% of royalties

Government Writing
News Releases/Studies/Reports
$1 to $3 per word
$500 to $100,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Writing only; layout extra
$0.30 to $1.50 per word
$400 to $6,000 per issue
$50 to $80 per hour

Newspaper Writing
Large Daily Newspapers
$0.30 to $1.00 per word
$250 to $2,500 per article
$330 to $1,250 per column

Smaller Community Newspapers
$0.10 to $0.50 per word
$75 to $1,000 per article
$75 to $500 per column

Periodical Writing
General Interest/Consumer Magazines
$1.00 to $2 per word
$500 to $10,000 per article
$400 to $1,500 per column

Trade/Special Interest Magazines
$0.30 to $2 per word
$500 to $4,000 per article
$300 to $1,000 per column

Radio (highly variable)
$40 to $80 per minute of script

Television (highly variable)
$60 to $130 per minute of script

Speech Writing
$500 to $8,000 per speech
$60 to $130 per hour

$25 to $80 per hour
$200 to $800 per day


Common professional editorial rates fall within the ranges indicated below, but rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors.

The industry standard for a manuscript page is 250 words

Top of Form

Type of Work Estimated Pace Range of Fees
Copy editing, basic 5-10 ms pgs/hr $30-40/hr
Copy editing, heavy 2–5 ms pgs/hr $40–50/hr
Developmental editing 1–5 pgs/hr $60–80/hr
Proofreading 9-13 ms pgs/hr $30-35/hr
Researching NA $40-75/hr
Substantive | line editing 1–6 ms pgs/hr $50–60/hr
Writing 1-3 ms pgs/hr $50-100/hr
5¢-$2/wd(evergreen copy costs more)



                                                $ 50 MORE PER DAY IF DEADLINE IS WITHIN TEN BUSINESS DAYS

Freelance writer

Writers who create content for clients but work for themselves are often paid by the word or by the project, but many have hourly rates. The Editorial Freelancers Association, which updated its rates this year, reported a range of rates for writers between $50 and $100 an hour.

Other types of freelancers, including editors, graphic designers and project managers, may charge $60 or more an hour. But freelancers pay more in taxes, provide their own benefits and often don’t have paying work, or billable hours, for 40 hours each week.   (MSN.COM, June 22, 2012)