You know your website needs better content, but how much should you (really, truly) expect to pay?
Asking about the cost of a “new website” is akin to asking how much a car should cost.
Well…what kind of car?
Is it automatic or manual?
Is it large or small?
Does it have leather seats and a backup camera or is the bumper being held on by duct tape?
The same holds true for web copy, the words that will populate the pages of your new site. A lot of factors determine how much content you’ll need, how dense it should be, and how much of an impact it will have on whether the visitors to your site do what you want them to do.
So, how much does web copy cost?
In a nutshell: It depends. (Yes, I realize that’s a very annoying answer. Let’s break it down.)
Who Buys “Web Copy?”
As a copywriter, I shouldn’t be telling you this but…not every website definitively needs to outsource professionally-created content. In a perfect world, is every site streamlined, cohesive, and easy to navigate? Well, yes, but that’s not how it works.
When you go to the mall, some stores are immaculate. Everything is folded neatly and you’re immediately approached but a helpful-but-unobtrusive sales associate who steers you towards what you didn’t even know you were looking for.
Every mall also has a handful of stores that make you say, “How on earth does that place stay in business?”
The sales floor looks like a bomb went off. The teenager behind the counter just cannot with you today. Rock music is blaring and the inventory seems to range between “offensive T-shirts” and “novelty pet items.” It’s a mess.
Websites are kind of like that.
If you’re building a website for professional purposes, you are best served paying a web content specialist to do the copywriting for it. Here’s why:
- Professionally-written copy converts better. It always drives up ROI.
- Your website is a representation of your brand, and your copy is your brand’s voice.
- All website content should be considered holistically; it should tell a cohesive story.
- Your site needs an objective eye to be its best self and you, site owner, are not objective.
If you’re building a website for fun, you probably don’t need to hire someone to write copy for you. If you’re happy with the tone and voice of your site and your customers agree (you can tell because they’re converting!), you probably don’t need new site content.
But if you’re just launching your brand, no matter how small? You need great web content. Your old site feels dated and clunky and you’re not sure how to fix it? You need great web content.
The website design you like is minimalist but your existing content is not? You need great web content. Remember that most of the time, the fewer the words, the harder the copy is to get just right.
If you’re asking yourself whether professional copywriting is worth investing in as you build a new site, it probably is.
You’re spending good money (and by “good money” I mean $1,000-$20,000 and way, way beyond) creating a beautiful new website. Don’t skimp on the content. It’ll show.
How Much Does Website Content Cost?
Web Copy “Buckets”
There are several different ways to “buy” web copy.
- You could pay a copywriter to edit the content you have so it fits cleanly within your new site parameters and appeals to your brand voice.
- You could hire a web copywriter to fill in the blanks, writing content for new pages and sprucing up what’s on the existing pages.
- You could have a copy specialist write all new content for the entire site based on your buyer personas and a collaboratively-developed site narrative.
Those options are, of course, gross generalizations. I’ve worked on 100+ page websites wherein most of the content already existed but needed to be made more web-friendly.
I’ve also worked hand-in-hand with web developers who brought me in to help clients nail down their sitemap (i.e. the outline of a website) and their brand voice, and then create 5-15 pages of totally original content.
Web content is like a haircut.
Some people just need a trim. Some need a full head of highlights and 4-inches cut off.
Other folks are best served shaving their heads and investing in a nice, lifelike wig.
Pricing Out Web Copy
Copywriting Red Flags to Look for
In web content as in other aspects of life, you get what you pay for.
You can easily find a copywriting service to write you content for your new website for $10 a page or less. Will they be words? Yes. Will they do anything other than take up space on your website?
No. No they will not.
If you’re looking to make a sustainable investment in truly high-quality, optimized web content, you should expect to pay hundreds and usually thousands of dollars.
Professional copywriters often price by project instead of per-page. The good ones don’t usually determine pricing on factors like “word count.” They are based in your home country and you can talk to them by phone.
Here are a couple of good resources to use to determine what you should pay for good web content.
Remember, if something seems like too good of a deal? It is. This is even more true when you’re talking about the Internet.
Cold, Hard Numbers
Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
I can only speak for what I’ve experienced as a professional web copywriter and what I’ve garnered from other web writers in my network. Like any professional service, prices run the gamut, but I’m going to try to give you some numbers to wrap your head around.
Because I know you clicked on this article for the numbers.
To edit all the content on an existing website that has 10 pages, you should expect to pay anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 for high-quality work.
What does high-quality work look like here?
A good content professional will spend time evaluating the content comprehensively, making sure the tone and voice lines up with what you intended for your brand.
They’ll check for grammar and syntax errors and pare down/flesh out content where necessary.
If they’re particularly comprehensive, they’ll improve your content’s SEO visibility by incorporating headers, using relevant and important keywords, and boosting the UX of the content itself.
A useful note about editing: It’s not always cheaper than starting from scratch! Sometimes you really should just commit to that wig and move forward.
Custom Content Creation:
Okay, now let’s say you’re a lawyer. You’re launching your own firm and building an all-new website to represent it online. You have a theme picked out and a developer to build the site, but you’re not sure where to start with content.
You hire a web copywriter to create all the content for all 12 pages of your new site. You should expect to spend anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 for high-quality content.
Whoa! That’s expensive! What does that include?
A lot of what you’re investing in here is time. A good content writer will spend a lot of time in the discovery phase learning about what makes your business different. This helps her position her content in a way that sets your firm apart. You’ll probably have lots of phone calls and she’ll do significant competitive brand research on your firm’s behalf.
She’ll also work with your developer to flesh out a sitemap. The sitemap is the foundation for the narrative of your entire site.
The content itself will likely take several rounds of revisions to get just right. And because you’re an attorney, the research phase that goes along with writing will be particularly dense (and compliance-focused) for your writer.
Once again, a worthwhile copywriter will pay a lot of attention to the SEO value of your site while she’s writing. You’re paying for her extensive knowledge of what makes website content “SEO friendly” so she can create content that helps your clients find you online.
You see, web copywriting is about way more than writing.
It’s brand research. It’s SEO knowledge. It’s organization and strategy and editing. A great content writer helps you look past the trees through the forest.
Could you get it done cheaper? Of course! But remember that for every dollar you save, you’re giving something up.
Pay More, Get More
(Within reason, of course.) Like any service professional, an experienced copywriter is baking a lot of value into her pricing structure. You’re not just paying for words, you’re paying for experience and consultation.
It’s an investment worth making early on.
The good news is, a lot of the monetary investment it takes to build a great, conversion-minded website comes upfront. A well-designed site with a solid content foundation doesn’t require as much money to “fix” later on.
Good content is expensive.
Good websites are expensive, too. But if you’re of the mindset that making smart, strategic investments in your business pays dividends down the road, you’re on the right track.
It’s time to hire a great copywriter.