Worried About Charging High Fees? Why You Must Charge What You’re Worth

Freelance writer using calculator with laptop computer

Do you know your value?

Imagine I emailed you today and said, “Hi, I saw your profile on LinkedIn and noticed you’re a copywriter who has completed an e-newsletter training course.

“I need someone to write my bi-weekly e-newsletter (26 issues per year) for our Outback Travel website, Top Wire Traveller, on an ongoing basis. We’ll supply the images.

“Please provide a quote, based on a monthly retainer deal. If you have any questions, please give me a call.”

Then I attach links to past newsletters, so you can get a feel for the voice and type of content. (By the way, please don’t apply, it’s just an example!)

How much would you quote me?

You turn to your copy of the AWAI Pricing Guide and see the professional fee range is $800-$1,500 per issue.

And this is where the Great Pricing Dance begins …

What Do You Know About Your Prospect?

If I’m your first (potential) client, then be very careful.

Your first instinct is to charge much less than $800 per newsletter. Why? Because in your mind, you’re a novice, a beginner. (If you feel like this, check out this article, Are You a Newbie or an “Experienced Newbie?”)

So you can’t charge much, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes … in this case, me. What do you know about me?

  • I seem to know what a copywriter is. This suggests I likely understand their value.
  • I’m aware you have the necessary training.
  • I clearly have a need for your services. Even better, I’m looking to set up an ongoing relationship with a writer.

What’s my mindset … to pay rock-bottom or to pay for quality?

Well, if I was looking for the cheapest price then I’d have gone to one of the content mills where prices are more likely to be bargain-friendly. So there’s a good chance that by searching via the professionals on LinkedIn, I understand the benefits a trained copywriter can provide.

Next step? Take a look at a few past newsletters and decide how long they’ll take to create, on average. Let’s say you decide each newsletter will take half a day.

The next step is where most aspiring writers stumble …

Charge What You’re Worth

Let’s say you’re thinking, well, a beginner would only make $15 per hour, so then you might do the following:

  • You want to give yourself a bit more than that, so you value your time at $25 per hour.
  • Half a day is 4 hours and 4 x $25 = $100. So you’ll charge $100 per newsletter, right?

Wrong.

Remember, I (the prospect) likely understand the value of a quality copywriter. AWAI’s Pricing Guide is giving you a range of somewhere between $800 and $1,500 per newsletter. What do you think will happen when you quote $100?

I’ll immediately think, “$100?! What kind of junk am I going to get for $100?”

Then I’ll strike you off my list.

You take a closer look at my newsletter. Imagine I have an online shop and in every issue, I feature a range of products. Hey, maybe these newsletters are earning me a healthy income. Or maybe not.

There’s only one way to find out. It’s time to reach out to me.

You may ask me about open rates and click-through rates, the size of my subscriber list, and whether I make many sales directly from the newsletter. With those answers, you should have a good idea of whether or not I’m making money directly from the newsletter.

If I am, charge me accordingly … somewhere between $800 and $1,500 per newsletter.

If I’m not, well, maybe suggest ways I could monetize my newsletter. Then charge toward the lower end of the professional fee range.

“But wait,” I hear you thinking. “If I charge say $1,000 per issue, that’s $250 per hour!”

Great, congratulations! What’s the issue? The prospect’s still getting value and you’re earning a healthy living.

I’ll let you in on an important secret, one freelancers often forget. Those 4 hours per issue you estimated? By the time you invoice, chase information from the client, spend time emailing back and forth … it’ll likely blow out to more like 8 or 10 hours.

So your hourly rate is now somewhere between $100 and $125 per hour. Still great, but nowhere near your original estimate of $250 per hour.

Now, let’s take your original idea of charging $100 per issue. Guess what? Your real rate just dropped to between $10 and $12.50 per hour.

Do you really expect to survive on that?

As a rule of thumb, whatever length of time you estimate a job will take, double it.

I spent many years quoting engineering projects, from the smallest job to multimillion-dollar projects. And now I quote web writing projects. Regardless of the industry, this rule holds true.

We almost always underestimate how long a task will take to complete … by half.

While we’re on the subject of money …

“But I’m Not Worth That Much”

Why not?

  • You have the necessary training.
  • You’ve invested time and money developing your skills.
  • In the example we’re using here, the prospect contacted you. So clearly the prospect thinks you’re the real deal.
  • You have specialized skills businesses need.
  • You know a whole lot more about persuasive writing than 99% of the copywriters listed on those low-paying content mills.

So tell me again why you’re not worth that much? 🤔

And if the prospect passes you over because the price is too high, thank them for the opportunity to quote and move on. There are plenty more prospects out there … prospects who understand the value you bring to their business.

Apart from earning a healthy income, what are other benefits to charging at the high end?

  • You immediately position yourself as a professional. Rightly or wrongly, people will perceive you as being more professional than someone who charges lower rates.
  • You can take on less work to achieve your income goal.
  • You can take more time on each project and exceed your client’s expectations. Maybe you throw in a small bonus for free … “By the way, Mr. Client, I optimized this post for the following keywords. Thought they might be helpful.” Your client will love you!

Wrapping Up

Know your value … and understand why you’re worth as much as you are.

You have skills businesses need. Past wages in another industry are no indicator of your value as a trained copywriter.

As our real estate agent said when we sold our house and downsized, “Always remember, this home is worth what the market’s willing to pay for it.”

And that’s where you sit as a copywriter. The market’s willing to pay good money for your services.

So grab the opportunity with both hands!

Need more advice about writing fees? Business-building coach Ilise Benun gives you a stack of practical tips on what to charge and a whole lot more in this information-packed webinar, How to Land the Best Writing Fees.

If you have any questions about determining your value, ask us in the comments below.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 4.7
Published: December 7, 2021

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)