Understanding how advertising copywriter rates are determined is essential if you hope to land these types of freelance writing projects.
Factors Used to Determine Pay
As you might expect, the pay for advertising copywriting projects depends on many of the same factors that are used to determine pay for other types of freelance writing assignments. For example:
- The quality of work in the writer's portfolio
- The writer's past experience
- The writer's education
- The size of the company
- The company location
- The income this particular project is expected to generate for the company
Average Advertising Copywriter Rates
Advertising copywriting is a highly competitive field. For every project, there are hundreds of talented writers hoping to get the gig. This is especially true in today's economic climate, as the recession forced many companies to lay off full-time employees. Many of these displaced workers entered the freelance market, creating enough of a surplus of talent to keep overall pay rates down. For this reason, you should use figures regarding average pay rates simply as a starting point for determining compensation for a particular project.
Copywriters can either be paid by the hour or by the word. If an advertising copywriter is paid by the hour, rates range from $35 per hour to $150 per hour, with $90 per hour being the average pay rate. For writers who are paid by the word, advertising copywriter rates range from $0.25 per word to $3 per word, with the average pay rate being approximately $1.63 per word according to the 2008 Writer's Market.
Specialties within the field of advertising copywriting include catalog copywriting, email ad copywriting, and direct-mail copywriting. Catalog copywriting tends to pay slightly less than other types of advertising copywriting, with rates ranging from $25 per hour to $100 per hour.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for advertising copywriters working full-time in the United States is $54,410. Indeed.com's informal survey of advertising copywriters reports an average salary of $64,000 per year as of September 2010, although they list the similar job title of "marketing copywriter" with an average salary of $53,000 per year.
Analyzing Pay Rates
If you're accustomed to writing for a "content farm" website or producing low-paying articles for your local newspaper, advertising copywriter rates may seem very high. However, it's important to keep in mind that this type of work is heavily researched and tightly focused. It requires a great deal of creativity and the willingness to make many revisions in order to produce work that is acceptable to the client. In addition, you'll still be responsible for all the expenses associated with self-employment - including a higher tax rate.
Freelancers who are just getting started in the advertising copywriting field often get their first assignments through online job boards or bidding services. While this can be a great way to start your business, the pay rate for these types of assignments tends to be lower than what you would expect from a client you contacted directly. Online ads receive inquiries from copywriters around the world, many of whom offer work at very low prices. Unfortunately, these low prices make it hard for other writers to compete successfully.
As you're applying for advertising copywriting jobs, remember that the highest paying opportunities will be with advertising agencies. Private businesses or industrial product firms sometimes hire their own copywriters to work on specific projects, but these jobs are considered less prestigious and thus typically come with a lower salary.