How Do Copywriters Get Paid? 7 Examples (PLUS 6 Tips To Negotiate Better Copywriting Payment Terms)

May 15, 2024

Copywriters get paid per word, per project, an hourly rate, on a retainer, on commission or royalties, on salaries, or performance bonuses. The payment model a copywriter chooses depends on the type of project and industry they’re working in. In-house copywriters hired by an agency or business usually receive a regular salary. Deanna Blanchard, a direct response copywriter from Asheville, North Carolina, shares that she was paid a set amount twice a month regardless of how much she wrote. When she started going freelance, she would charge a flat fee arrangement and request a 50% downpayment for large projects like landing pages and direct emails. 

The payment terms for copywriters are usually specified in a contract or work agreement. Copywriting coach Liz Slyman from Austin, Texas explains that the contract should define when payments are due (e.g., upon invoice, 30 days after invoice, or upfront payment). It should also detail any compensation or fees due if the client cancels the project halfway. Liz says that the contract should state who is responsible for ancillary costs related to the project, like licensing fees and paid tools.

Many copywriters receive payment through standard financial channels such as cash, checks, direct deposits, wire transfers, PayPal, and even credit cards. Electronic platforms often charge 2% to 3.5% of the transaction amount as a fee. Nicki Krawczyk of Filthy Rich Copywriter recommends incorporating these costs into their project pricing rather than charging them as separate line items. She says that this helps maintain client satisfaction. For example, if a project is priced at $1,000 and the payment processing fee is 3%, the copywriter can increase the project fee to $1,030

According to Upwork, copywriters get paid an average hourly rate $30. Indeed reports that the average annual salary of copywriters in the United States is $64,270. Hambone1138 on Reddit shares that they get paid close to $200,000 per year as a copywriter. They mention the pros of being a freelance copywriter which include a higher earning potential. However, they also mention that you wouldn’t get some growth and career opportunities that you’d get when you work at an agency.

In this article, I’ll show 7 examples of how copywriters get paid. I’ll also give 6 tips so you can negotiate better copywriting payment terms with potential clients. At the end, I’ll introduce a different and more lucrative business model than copywriting.

7 Examples of How To Get Paid for Copywriting

1. Per Word

Copywriters who charge per word are paid a specific rate for each word they write. It is common for producing shorter or more straightforward content. This includes articles and blog posts. This payment model is straightforward and transparent. It aligns payment directly with the volume of work. According to Upwork, a beginner copywriter can earn $0.05 to $0.10 per word. A a 500-word article could earn them around $50.

Set a minimum word count if you’re charging per word. This ensures that small jobs are economically viable. You can also implement different rates for different types of content. For example, technical writing could be priced higher per word than general blog posts. Specify whether headings, captions, and other elements are included in the word count.

2. Per Project

Copywriters can get paid on a per-project basis. They charge a flat rate for the entire project. This is suitable for projects that involve creating a series of related copywriting materials. An example would be a full marketing campaign. This could include emails, landing pages, and ad copy. 

Ensure you and the potential client have a clear agreement on what the project entails. This includes specific deliverables, deadlines, and the extent of revisions included. For larger projects, break the payment into milestones. This could be upon completion of certain stages of the project or at specific time intervals. Specify how requests outside the agreed-upon scope will be handled. This protects you from unpaid extra work and helps the client understand potential additional costs.

A copywriter might charge $500 to create the content for a small business website or $2,000 to manage all the copywriting for a product launch. This pricing strategy allows copywriters to consider the project's complexity.

3. Hourly Rate

Charging per hour for copywriting jobs is best suited for projects where the scope is not clearly defined. It’s also more suitable for jobs where the amount of work required can vary significantly. This pricing model can be used for projects that involve high levels of strategy. This includes branding sessions, marketing strategy development, or content planning.

Before starting, give your client an estimate of how long the project might take. Be upfront about your hourly rate and any other fees that might apply. Clear communication prevents misunderstandings and helps clients budget accordingly. You can also use time-tracking tools to record the time you spent on each project.

You should charge around $30 an hour as a freelance copywriter. According to Upwork, copywriters earn around $19 to $45 an hour. More experienced copywriters can charge around $100 or more. The rates can go higher if they specialize in high-demand areas or possess a strong track record of success.

4. Retainer

Copywriters working on a retainer basis receive a fixed monthly or quarterly fee for a set amount of work or dedicated hours. This payment structure provides copywriters with a steady income or recurring revenue agreement. 

When charging on a retainer for copywriting services, you should define the scope. Outline what services are included in the retainer agreement. Specify the number of revisions, types of content, and other deliverables. Calculate your retainer fee based on the value you provide, the complexity of the work, and the time commitment required each month. A copywriter on retainer might be paid $2,000 a month. They can be required to produce weekly blog posts, manage social media content, and oversee email newsletters. 

5. Commission or Royalties

Copywriters can earn income through commissions or royalties. This is suitable for projects tied to advertising or product sales. This compensation model aligns the copywriter's earnings with their performance. The more sales the copy generates, the more the copywriter earns. 

Clearly define what constitutes a commissionable sale or what triggers a royalty payment. Ensure there are clear terms on how these payments are tracked, calculated, and paid.  If possible, gain access to sales tracking data. This transparency allows you to monitor the success of your work and ensures you are paid accurately.

According to the American Writers & Artists Institute, copywriters can earn 2% to 5% royalty on every sale. A copywriter involved in a direct-response advertising campaign might earn a 4% commission on the sales generated. This could lead to substantial earnings if the campaign is successful.

6. Salary

Copywriters employed by companies or agencies often receive a fixed salary. This payment model provides a consistent income. It’s regardless of the specific tasks or the amount of content produced. 

Before negotiating a salary, research the typical salary ranges for copywriters in your area and within your specialty. Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and LinkedIn Salary can provide insights into what companies are paying. Consider negotiating other benefits. This could include health insurance, paid time off, and flexible working conditions. According to Indeed, the average copywriter's salary is $64,270 annually. Glassdoor says that a copywriter can make $55,000 to $96,000 annually.

7. Performance Bonuses

Copywriters can increase their income with performance bonuses, usually 30% to 40% of their annual income. A copywriter who earns $60,000 per year may receive a bonus worth $18,000 for the tangible impacts of their work. These include high conversion rates or exceeding marketing objectives.

You can align your compensation with the results you achieve. Establish specific, measurable metrics that determine when a bonus is triggered. These could include achieving certain traffic levels, conversions, sales increases, or other relevant performance indicators.

A copywriter responsible for an effective email marketing campaign might earn a bonus for their contribution to brand awareness. This bonus system motivates copywriters to produce work that exceeds expectations.

6 Tips For Copywriters To Negotiate Better Payment Terms

1. Research Market Rates for Copywriters

Researching the going rates helps you set competitive prices. It also positions you to negotiate. Use resources like industry surveys, related articles, and money-focused publications that cover current trends in copywriting compensation. Some copywriters also implement seasonal rate adjustments for slower months during summer and winter.

2. Demonstrate Copywriting Value

As an experienced copywriter, highlight your previous successes and the specific copywriting skills you bring. Showcase how your work has benefited past clients. You can provide examples of successful campaigns or projects that led to measurable outcomes. Discuss the experiences and expertise you offer. Emphasize how these can solve the client's current challenges.

3. Articulate the Copywriting Needs of Potential Clients

Articulate why your rates are justified based on the specific scope of the project, your experience, and the expected outcomes. Detailed explanations help the client understand the value brought to the table.

If the project requires high-level expertise or is expected to drive significant returns, these factors should be highlighted as justification for your rates. This approach clarifies expectations. It also establishes your professionalism and commitment to delivering tailored, high-quality content.

4. Offer Copywriting Pricing Options

Options like per word, per project, or retainer models cater to different client needs and project types. Offering a tiered pricing system lets clients choose the model that best fits their budget and project requirements. This shows your adaptability as a service provider. It also makes it easier for both parties to agree on mutually beneficial terms.

5. Be Selective of Potential Copywriting Clients

As a professional copywriter, you should demonstrate that you value your work by being selective. Establish minimum requirements for projects and stick to them. Declining offers that don't meet these criteria ensure you're adequately compensated. It also reinforces your professional standing. This approach communicates to potential clients that you are committed to maintaining high standards in your work.

6. Practice Copywriter Negotiation

Consider role-playing negotiation scenarios with a peer. This exercise allows you to prepare for various client interactions. You can also develop effective responses to common challenges during negotiation talks. Practicing in a simulated environment helps refine your approach. It makes you more skilled at securing favorable terms in real situations.

What Factors Influence A Copywriter's Rate and Payment? 

Experience, expertise, market demand, and project complexity are the factors that influence a copywriter's rate and payment. Copywriters with more experience and expertise command higher fees. This is because of their proven ability to deliver high-quality, effective content. 

If you are in high-demand niches or niches, you can charge more. You can also justify higher rates for complex projects. These are projects that require extensive research or creative effort. If the client asks for a fast turnaround, this can also increase costs. Businesses in lucrative industries or with larger budgets may pay more for copywriting services. Copywriters working for them may be expected to yield substantial returns.

What Should Freelance Copywriters Include in Their Contracts To Ensure Fair Payment? 

  • Detailed Scope of Work. This section should outline what the project entails. This includes the deliverables, deadlines, and specific requirements. It ensures both parties agree on what is expected. It also prevents scope creep and misunderstandings.
  • Payment Terms. Clearly defined payment terms help avoid future disputes. This section should specify the rate (per word, per hour, or project-based), payment schedule, and the form of payment. It’s also wise to include conditions for late payments to encourage timely compensation.
  • Cancellation Policy. This policy outlines what happens if the client cancels the project midway. It should specify any fees or percentages of the project cost due to the copywriter upon cancellation. It protects the copywriter from financial loss after allocating time and resources to the project.
  • Ownership and Rights. The contract should state when the ownership of the work transfers from the copywriter to the client. It should detail whether the copywriter retains any rights to the work. This includes the right to include it in a portfolio.
  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure. This is crucial if the copywriter is working with sensitive information. The contract should specify that the copywriter is obliged to keep the information confidential. This protects both the client’s business interests and the copywriter’s integrity.

You should use a standard contract for general copywriting services. A customized contract is better for projects involving more complex or unique elements. This helps address specific needs and it offers better protection for both parties. Customized contracts show professionalism. It also shows you are ready to accommodate the concerns and requirements of your clients.

Is Copywriting Still Profitable in 2024?

Yes, copywriting is still profitable in 2024. According to Indeed, the average copywriter's salary is $64,270 annually. Fiverr, a platform for freelancers, reports that there are over 10,000 copywriting-related services on their platform.

Alex Cattoni, a copywriter, marketer, and the founder of the Copy Posse has earned $45,375 in a month as a freelance copywriter. This includes $8,000 from a monthly retainer for comprehensive marketing and copywriting services. The rest is from a commission based on sales from a major launch campaign she managed.

According to Success Okechukwu, a direct response copywriter and sales strategist, you can $50,000 a month as a freelance copywriter. But, this is possible through royalty deals and aiming for high-ticket products. 

Mitch Fodstad, a senior copywriter started with $15 an hour at a WPP agency. He then became an in-house copywriter at Harry’s where he earned $50,000 to $58,000 a year. Now, as a senior copywriter at a full-service agency, he makes $100,000 a year.

Is There a Better Way To Get Paid Online Than Copywriting?

Local lead generation is the best way to get paid money online. While copywriting offers a good way to make money online, the competition is high. Despite the many copywriter job offerings available, there are also many copywriters looking for a job. If you’re new to copywriting and don’t have much experience, you might be passed over for copywriters with more experience and expertise. Demand for copywriting can also fluctuate making it a difficult source for a steady income. Clients can also get selective and nit-picky which would mean revisions that could frustrate you.


With local lead generation, you connect local businesses with potential customers in their area. By leveraging digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising, local lead generators can attract high-quality leads for businesses in various industries. Unlike copywriting, which often requires continuous effort to secure new clients and projects, local lead generation can yield passive income streams once systems are set up and optimized. With the potential to earn substantial income while enjoying greater autonomy and scalability, local lead generation emerges as an attractive alternative for those seeking to diversify their revenue streams and achieve financial independence.

Local lead generation offers a lucrative opportunity where you won't have to compete in a saturated market with other copywriters. Instead, you carve out your niche locally and become the go-to source for business needs. It's about building an impact in your community and setting up a system that makes money for you continuously.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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