Want to get paid for copywriting? The good news is that there are some very profitable positions out there. The bad news is that they’re not for the faint of heart.
Copywriting takes passion and dedication. It’s a skill set that takes years to master. Only those passionate enough to work through the red edits all over their work are the ones who can tap into the lucrative business of writing online.
If you’re thinking, “Give me the red marks” (or these days the Google Doc comments and suggestions), you have what it takes to land one of these profitable copywriting positions.
Here’s a round-up of the positions experienced copywriters take to turn their writing passion into a lucrative skill.
#1: Freelance (Paid By Project)
Freelancing comes with many benefits (we’ll also talk about the cons in a minute). As a freelance copywriter, you’ll be able to tap into profits by:
- Working with more than one client at a time
- Getting paid by the project versus hourly
- Offering consulting services and writing services:
Here’s why each of these freelancing pros puts you into a profitable copywriting position:
Working with more than one client at a time: A salaried job comes with a ceiling on how much you can make per year. You sign on for a set salary and that’s what you can expect to make (unless you negotiate for royalties—see below). As a freelance copywriter, you can add several clients to your schedule and have a much higher ceiling on how much you can make from your skillset.
CON: Making more money by freelancing is a huge pro, but it also comes with the responsibility of owning and running a business. You won’t just be copywriting. You’ll be paying taxes, learning how to file for an LLC or S-Corp, invoicing, paying out of pocket for your own health insurance (if you’re U.S. based), and dealing with multiple clients, customer avatars, workflow platforms, and productivity systems.
Getting paid by the project versus hourly: Saying your hourly rate is $400 sounds outlandish to somebody hiring you for a full-time gig. That’s like asking them for an $832,000 yearly salary. However, as a freelancer, you can charge $400 for a project that takes you 1-2 hours to finish and not be looked at like you have 6 heads. This is because you’re not asking your client to pay you $400 forty-hours a week. Instead, you’re asking for $400 for a set deliverable.
CON: Freelancing doesn’t always come with a steady and predictable income. Even though you’re charging more for your work, you’ll have to be strategic to make more money than you would from a full-time job. In freelancing, there’s a famous saying of the “feast or famine mentality” where you easily get stuck into phases of overworking or not having enough work on your plate. Some people can handle this rollercoaster, while others would just prefer a set weekly salary.
Offering consulting services and writing services: With only 24-hours in a day and a set amount of coffee you can drink before your heart rate tells you it’s time to stop, there’s a cap on how much you can write per day. As a freelancer, you can spend the time recharging from writing consulting for clients. As a copywriting consultant, you can charge 4-figures to help them with their customer avatar research and present it in a way that’s easy for them to write top-notch copy in the future.
CON: By offering different services in your business, things can get messy. The easiest way to freelance is to have one deliverable and provide that one deliverable to clients (for example, sales pages). However, adding in new deliverables (like customer avatar research) can take up too much of your bandwidth and end up sneaking into your writing time.
Glassdoor sees an average freelance copywriting salary of $69,301 but we know if you put your mind to it, you can double or triple that in a few years.
#2: Full-Time (Salary + Royalty)
Copywriting full-time isn’t the most profitable position possible. However, what can turn this into a lucrative gig is tapping into a salary + royalty model. When you get a base salary of, for example, $57,871 per year and add a royalty on top of that…your royalties can start to add up.
Royalties are paid out based on the conversion on deliverables you’ve written. So, for example, if you write a sales page, you’ll get X% royalties based on the sales made by that page. These are called royalties and not commission because these sales pages can live on for weeks, months, or even years.
When you earn a commission, like as a sales representative, you’re talking to people on the phone and following up with them via email. Once you’ve landed that sale and made your commission, you’re on to the next sale.
With royalties, you’re not on to the next sale. Instead, you’re on to writing the next deliverable…while your first deliverable continues to make you royalties.
That’s how things get really profitable.
Royalties generally range from 2-5% of total sales.
Let’s do some quick math:
- Your yearly salary is $57,871
- You make 5% royalties on 12 sales pages
- Each sales page made $10,000 (we know this is so incredibly unlikely, but this will make explaining this much more clear), so you made $500 royalty per page
- Your annual salary is $57,871 + $6,000 in royalties
- Total annual salary: $63,871
Now, let’s say you write another 12 sales pages the following year. Each sales page makes $20,000 in sales. The 12 pages you wrote the year before (that made you $500 in royalties each) also make another $10,000 in sales each.
Now, your salary is $57,871 + $12,000 ($1,000 in royalties x 12 sales pages) + $6,000 = $75,871.
Depending on where you live, this could be a great income or you might be questioning it. If the latter is the case, remember this is just the average copywriting salary on Glassdoor, so there’s plenty of copywriting jobs offering six-figure salaries to more experienced writers.
We’ll talk more about royalties below, but this time we’ll focus on what that looks like as a freelancer.
#3: Freelance (Paid + Royalties)
What happens when you combine the benefits of freelancing with royalties?
The most profitable copywriting position.
Before you put your two-week notice in at your full-time gig, make sure to read through the cons we listed to freelancing in the first section. Just because you can make more money from freelancing doesn’t mean it’s for everybody. We’d say it’s a safe assumption that thousands of people who quit their job to freelance struggle to reach the salary they left behind.
With that said, there are also thousands of freelance copywriters who double, triple, or even quadruple their salary. These writers are working on a paid-per-project basis and are asking for royalties from their clients.
Time to get out the calculator:
- Let’s say you charge $1,000 per sales page and you’re working with a client to write 10 sales pages in one month
- You ask for a 5% royalty
- Each sales page makes $7,000 in sales (again, we recognize this is impossible but this will make the explanation monumentally clearer for you)
- Your royalties are $3,500 ($7,000 x 5%)
- This project made you $10,000 flat fee (10 sales pages x $1,000/each) + $3,500 = $13,500
What happens if you worked with 2 clients simultaneously, and by some miracle from the math gods, you made the same amount of money from the second client. That would put you at $27,000 for just one month of writing work.
There are still 11 more months left in the year.
That’s a pretty profitable copywriting gig.
The 3 Most Profitable Copywriting Positions
Choosing how to make money as a copywriter involves more options than just these, but these are the most profitable copywriting positions.
With these positions, you’ll be able to work with as many clients as you’d like, get a base salary plus royalties, or get the perks of freelancing and the benefit of royalties too.
- Freelance (Paid By Project)
- Full-Time (Salary + Royalty)
- Freelance (Paid + Royalties)
The key to choosing the right one for you is to make money only one part of your choice. There are so many other factors to consider when deciding how you want to monetize your copywriting skill. Money is one of them…but it’s not the only one.
Don’t forget to think about how you want to spend your time, how many people you want to be working with, if you like marketing yourself, and which position would help you end the day feeling fulfilled and happy with your work (cliché, but so important).
Take a holistic approach to this decision so you can enjoy the time you spend writing (because isn’t that what it’s all about?).