The Real Cost of Hiring a Cheap Copywriter

I know a thing or two about cheap copywriters.

Because…I used to be one.

I know there are at least three types of cheap copywriters, and even though you think you’re getting a good deal, I’m here to tell you: nothing good ever comes from hiring a cheap anybody.

So now that I’m not cheap – what am I? Expensive?

I like to think of myself as reassuringly expensive. I’m not unaffordable (for most businesses), but I am serious, so I charge the standard rates for a professional copywriter in the UK.

My prices are high enough that my clients know they’re getting quality work from someone who knows what they’re doing.

But things weren’t always this way.

My shameful history as a cheap copywriter

When I first started copywriting in 2015, I was being paid £20 a blog post.

To give you an idea of the average cost of a post, today – in 2019 – my starting rate for a blog post is six times that.

But in 2015, I’d never been paid to blog before, so I didn’t know how awful it’d be to slave over a post for four hours and only get £20 for my efforts (that’s about £5 an hour).

The first time I was asked to write web copy, I charged 4p per word.

I’d done hours of research and tons of self-proclaimed reputable websites offered similar prices (now I know these sites were content mills).

I went with the highest rate I could find (4p per word) and started writing.

It was only after I sent a £33 invoice for a web page and a brochure that’d taken me days to write that I realised, somewhere along the line, I’d gone terribly wrong.

It’s true that you can find an okay copywriter on the cheap.

I, for one, worked hard for my clients even when I was being paid peanuts. I only ever received positive feedback and my clients always came back for more.

But, I can confidently say that all cheap copywriters are one or more of these three things:

1. Inexperienced

I’d be lying if I said a cheap copywriter is a bad copywriter.

That’s not true.

A lot of the time, they’re just inexperienced.

That’s what I was. I was hopelessly inexperienced.

Yes, I knew how to write, but I had no idea what I was doing when it came to the complex world of copywriting.

You see, a ridiculously cheap copywriter is admitting their lack of experience – without even meaning to – because all good copywriters know the amount of work it takes to research, plan, draft, write, optimise and then edit copy.

When you’ve done these things over and over again, you know how much you should be charging.

Low prices indicate that a copywriter doesn’t know how to do the job properly – even if they’re well-intentioned and want to do the best they possibly can.

The proof is in the pudding: a lot of my clients come to me with projects they’ve already paid a copywriter to do – but because the first job wasn’t done to a high standard, they’re forced to pay me to do it all over again.

By trying to save money, they actually lost more money.

Almost like a rehearsed script, they tell me how their original copywriter charged them practically nothing for the work.

The truth is: when it comes to copywriters, you get what you pay for – just like everything in life.

A good copywriter is an investment that makes you more money, so don’t worry about spending money on the right one.

2. Speedy Gonzalez

Sometimes, if a copywriter isn’t charging you very much, that’s because they’re not planning to put a lot of thought into your project.

They’re going to rush through your work, Speedy Gonzalez style.

(If you’re a Marvel fan, like me, you might appreciate a reference to The Flash here.)

My point is: more likely than not, the quality of their writing will reflect this. I’m talking glaring typos, painful grammatical errors, and terribly constructed sentences.

It takes time to write good copy. It takes research, planning, thought, and meticulous execution.

All of this costs money. So if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

3. Uninvested & Uninterested

It’s impossible for your copywriter to be as invested as you are, but your copywriter should make you feel like they’re interested in your project.

Some people have the mistaken belief that passion projects should either be discounted or entirely free.

Not at all.

If I’m passionate about your project, you’re going to get the best out of me, so it’s only fair I charge my appropriate, standard rates.

As I’m writing this section, I only have content mills in mind: those companies I researched four years ago who were (and still are) selling their copy for 4p a word.

When copy is that cheap, it’s not being crafted, it’s being churned out with no real thought or care.

How do you find a good copywriter?

When you’re searching for a copywriter, here are a few things you can do to find your match:

  1. Ask for recommendations from fellow business owners. Maybe they know a good one.
  2. Read the testimonials of any copywriters you find.
  3. Request to see a copywriter’s portfolio.
  4. Know the ballpark figures you should be paying. Consider that rates differ depending on a copywriter’s experience, location and specialisms.

So how much should you be paying for your copywriter?

Good question! To find out, read my blog post How Much Does a Copywriter Charge? 

Over to you

Do you have any (good or bad) experiences with ridiculously cheap copywriters? Share your story with us!

Get posts like this sent straight to your inbox. Join my mailing list now!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *