October 27, 2021

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

Freelance Writer Pay Cycle: When Will I Get Paid!?

When you are fresh on the scene as a freelance writer, or when you transition to a copywriting career, you need to understand how pay cycles work. While it varies from client to client and job to job, freelancer writer pay almost never follows pay schedules for a traditional job. It’s important to be prepared for this.

Copywriting Pay Schedules

There are typically three ways copywriters set pricing:

  1. Per word
  2. Per hour
  3. Per project

Most of the time, when you get into client work, you will be part of a larger marketing team. Often, you work together on projects, you being the content specialist alongside a graphic designer, developer, CMO, etc. Actually, these are some of the most desirable kinds of copywriting jobs. They’re a valuable type of copywriting client because they mean you’re working with a relatively well-established company.

However, you should understand that the type of client you have does impact pricing. Here’s a breakdown of the typical schedule for copywriter pay.

Weekly Pay

Weekly pay is probably only going to happen if you’re working on a per hour basis and you’re on a freelancer platform, like Upwork or Fiverr or Freelancer. Also a content mill, I suppose, but please respect yourself and don’t do that unless you have to. When you’re paid every week, it’s pretty predictable.

Monthly Pay

I think the most common way marketing copywriters get paid is per month. Honestly, it’s just easier to bill clients once a month, especially if you have them on a blog subscription plan or some other regular work that rolls over each month. Monthly pay means you don’t have to wait too terribly long for your first paycheck, and the pay is usually pretty dependable month to month.

60 Day Pay

This is the version in which you may have to wait quite a while before making any money, but it’s actually pretty common as well. Most digital marketing agencies or copywriting agencies invoice clients net 30. As a copywriting agency owner, I invoice clients once a month. This means that work done on September 1 for a client is billed on October 1 and I’m often not paid until the end of October. I’ve actually structured it before where I pay my copywriters in advance, so they don’t have to wait so long, but at some point it becomes financially impossible to front aht much money. So, if you work for a digital marketing agency or similar, you may have to wait 60 days for pay. Of course, you’ll only have to wait for the first 60 days; eventually things catch up.

Project Pay

Project-based pay is something you usually see around launching websites, apps or products. This can be a really unpredictable way to get paid, because projects are notorious for unexpected delays. I’ve written websites before that ended up not being completed for six months… eight months. Now, you can always set the expectation of a deposit and payment at conclusion, which is a typical way web developers do it, but even that could leave a major gap between your initial money and your final payout. It’s important to consider whether you can do without that money for an indefinite period of time.

Freelance Financials: What to Save

The last thing you want to do is deteriorate or damage a client relationship by being too persnickety about money. I realize that’s a privileged opinion, and not everyone can afford to wait for a long time to get paid. However, I would strongly suggest to anyone going into full time freelance writing to bank 60 days worth of income. Again, I get the privilege behind that statement and don’t want to upset anyone. But if you want to operate your freelance business with a lot of confidence, and plenty of financial cushion, I think two months in savings is really important. 

A copywriting career can take you everywhere you want to go. Check out my YouTube Channel or follow me on Instagram for more vids and content like this.

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