Many people are born with one of two skills.
You may either have an easy time crunching numbers or excel when it comes to reading/writing.
Which one are you?
If you’re great with numbers then you’ll probably cruise through school and have no problem finding a high-paying job.
This is because math is incredibly commonplace in the business world and there are thousands of ways that your skills can be used.
However, the career path is a little less defined for people who are good with the written word. What’s even worse is that most writing gigs are known for not paying much money at all (unless your name is J.K. Rowling). If you love to write and are thinking of starting a career as a writer then you’re probably wondering: How much money can you make as a copywriter?
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at exactly what a copywriter does, how much they make, and how you can get started.
TL;DR You’re a good writer and want to make money? Let’s discuss how much money you can make as a copywriter!
Jump To A Section
What Does A Copywriter Do?
When you say that you want to become a “writer” there are plenty of different things that you could mean.
It’s a little bit like saying you want to be an engineer. There are many different types of engineers and a computer engineer is going to have a much different role than a civil engineer.
When it comes to writing, the first two professions that jump to mind are usually a journalist or a novelist. A journalist is going to spend their days writing news stories. On the other hand, an author is going to spend months or years at a time working on a single novel. While these might be good choices for some people, this article is going to focus on copywriters.
Copywriters create and write content that is used in advertising, marketing, and promotional materials. Their written words, which are usually referred to as sales copy, are used to increase brand awareness and convince readers to take action. Every advertisement, web page, or brochure that you’ve ever was probably the work of a copywriter.
For example, let’s take a trip to the financial services company Discover’s website and take a look around:
When we visit their section on Debt Consolidation we can see there’s plenty of information about how consolidating debt works and what the benefits are.
It’s easy to assume that this text was written by the same person who designed the webpage. However, this is rarely true.
Instead, this page was most likely written by a copywriter.
The text was chosen very carefully with the intent of convincing the reader to call/email Discover about getting their debt consolidated. Getting the wording just right on a page like this is incredibly important. This is because even a small change in wording can drastically increase/decrease conversions.
In fact, just about everything you read on a company’s website was probably written by a copywriter (or a team of copywriters!). The same is true for things that you see on advertisements, marketing materials, or social media.
Here’s another example from Zoma Mattresses. As you scroll down the page you see information about their mattresses, what makes them better than the rest, and why you should upgrade.
As you can see, copywriters usually play a critical role. This is because a top copywriter will need to have sales/marketing ability, product knowledge, as well as a talent for writing. Having a quality copywriter on your team can definitely be a huge advantage.
So how does someone go about becoming a copywriter? Let’s take a look at the three different career paths for copywriters.
Where Do Copywriters Work?
Just like almost all professions, there are a few different routes that aspiring copywriters can take. The best route for you is likely going to depend on your personal preferences.
Work at an agency
Getting hired at an agency is usually the most common way to get started copywriting. An agency is just a big firm that handles copywriting needs (among other things) for lots of different clients.
Usually, it’s relatively easy to get hired as an intern or at the entry-level with an agency. This is a good starting point because you’ll get plenty of training/education. You’ll also have the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals.
The downside to working at an agency is that the pay usually isn’t great at the entry-level. Additionally, you can expect to deal with plenty of office politics, get worked to the bone, and receive little credit for your work.
After putting in a few initial years at an agency, the common career move is to try and get hired in-house with a company.
If you’re working in-house for a company then this means that you will only work with that one company to help them handle their copywriting needs.
Instead of working at an agency and working with lots of different clients, now you’ll be working exclusively with one company.
The work environment here will definitely depend a lot on the company that you choose to work for. However, in general, the pay will be a little bit better if you’re hired to work in-house. There’s also a little bit better potential for working upwards. Getting hired in-house is also a good idea if you eventually want to transition into marketing, advertising, or something similar.
Work as a freelancer
Depending on your personality type, working as a freelancer could either sound like the best or worst thing ever.
As a freelancer, you’re essentially responsible for your own career. This means that you will need to find your own clients, perform the required work, and handle all communication.
Freelancing is an attractive option for lots of people because you get to act as your own boss. You can set your own hours and work whenever you please. Additionally, your income is dependent on the number of projects that you can win. This means that there’s no sitting around and waiting to be promoted.
However, freelancing usually isn’t for the faint of heart. As a freelancer, you can expect your income to be volatile and uncertain. You also have to be able to manage and train yourself effectively since you won’t have a manager who is going to check in on you.
We highly recommend taking a copywriting course to get you started.
So, How Much Does A Copywriter Make?
As with all professions, your income is generally going to be dependant on a few factors. Mainly, your years of experience, your location, and the career path that you choose to take (agency, in-house, or freelance).
According to information from Salary.com, the median salary for copywriters in the United States makes $52,348. However, The Balance also performed a study to measure the range that copywriters make. They determined that the top 10% of copywriters earn a salary of about $118,760/year ($57.10/hour). On the other hand, the bottom 10% of copywriters usually earn about $30,520/year ($14.67/hour).
As you can see, these numbers range greatly. A few factors can influence a copywriters income:
- Location – Working from New York City will probably make more than working in Hartford, Connecticut.
- Experience – Someone who has 20+ years of experience and has written for tons of different brands can negotiate a higher salary than someone who is just starting out.
- Focus – A copywriter with highly specialized knowledge in a specific industry (say finance or medicine) can earn more than someone without this knowledge.
- Branding – Yep, even freelance copywriters need to brand themselves. When selling on platforms like Fiverr, you need to work on your reviews and seller ratings. Top Rated Sellers can charge the big bucks!
Now, let’s take a look at the two different ways that a copywriter makes money.
How Does A Copywriter Make Money?
There are two main ways that a copywriter is compensated.
Neither of these can necessarily be deemed better than the other – there’s pros and cons to each style. The way that a copywriter can be compensated is on a project-by-project basis…
Project-based pay means that you get paid a lump sum for completing a project.
You will usually be paid after you have completed the project. However, some people will have no problem paying before the project is completed. Sometimes, for larger projects, the work is broken down into smaller sections. This way, you can complete part of the project and receive part of the payment.
The benefits of working on a project basis are that you can complete the project as quickly as you want. Project-based pay also usually means that both parties are satisfied with the terms of the deal, as they both agreed to move forward.
The downside of working on a project basis is that sometimes you have to wait to be paid until after the project is completed. This can mean that you will have to do lots of work upfront without receiving payment. Additionally, you will need to be very specific about what exactly is or isn’t included in the project.
Hourly pay is what most employees are familiar with. You’re assigned a project and then paid a certain amount per hour until that project is done.
When it comes to copywriting, there are pros and cons of hourly work.
One of the pros is that you will be compensated more if the project ends up taking you longer than anticipated. Hourly pay also takes some of the pressure to be incredibly productive off.
One of the cons is that hourly pay motivates you to stretch out your work for as long as you reasonably can. For example, if a project might normally take you 1 hour you might be motivated to take 2-3 to complete it. This lowers your productivity and gives your client less bang for their buck.
If copywriting sounds like something that you’re interested in then you’re probably wondering how to get started. Let’s take a look at that!
How Can I Get Started As A Copywriter?
If this article has gotten you pretty excited about copywriting then you’re in luck, there are a few ways you can get started.
Remember that there are three different paths that you can choose from:
- In House
To go the agency route, you will simply need to apply to entry-level positions with agencies. These types of job listings can be found on job sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, or Linkedin.
The same goes for in-house positions. Keep in mind that there are a few things that interviewers will be looking for when going through the hiring process:
- A college degree, ideally in communications/journalism – This definitely helps but is not always required.
- Previous copywriting experience – If you do not have a degree then you should try and get any experience that you can before apply to work at an agency or in-house.
- A portfolio of your work – This is a good way to quickly showcase your skills to interviewers. If you don’t have a portfolio then you should consider making your own website or creating an account of Medium.com (where you can post articles).
Of course, if you want to go the freelance route, then you won’t need to worry about getting hired or going through the interview process! Instead, your main concern will be landing clients.
To do this, it’s a good idea to check out common freelancing sites such as:
Here are a few other good ideas for finding potential clients:
- Reach out to friends and family to let them know that you’re now offering copywriting skills.
- If you’ve had any previous clients or employers, reach back out to them and ask for referrals.
- Cold email businesses that you think might be interested or could use your skills.
- Add a section on your LinkedIn that lets people know you are looking for clients.
- Build a website that highlights your skills as well as examples of your work. Create a simple application form where people can reach out to work with you.
We hope that you’ve found this article valuable. Hopefully it’s given you some insight on how much money you can make as a copywriter.
As we’ve discussed, many freelance copywriters make $50,000 to $100,000 per year. However some sellers have even pushed way beyond that!
If you’re interested in learning more, please subscribe below to get alerted of new articles as we write them!