How to Become a Premium Copywriter and Stop the Race to the Bottom on Rates

image of premium copywriter Gillian Hill sstanding confidently next to a door with a laptop. The text reads 'how to beecome a premium copywriters and stop the race to the bottom on rates'

When you first set yourself up as a copywriter, chances are, you found some work — any work. And that probably meant taking jobs at a lower price than you’d like. Maybe you found work on job boards or somewhere like Upwork or Fiverr. Maybe you took some low-paying work through Facebook contacts. Anything to get your portfolio filled up.

And the plan was to start increasing your rates, right? (Right?!? Remember that!) But it’s one thing to decide to charge more, and it’s another to sit there and quote on a discovery call or complete a proposal or bid. 

You know you need to position yourself as a premium copywriter, so you can stop competing on price. You’ll face burnout if you keep working at the fees you started on, and you know your work is worth more now.

To charge more for your services, you need to be providing more value to your clients – a premium copywriting service –  so they know they’re getting more while paying more. So, the big question is,  how do you do that?

 8 Ways I Position Myself as a Premium Copywriter:

1. Invest in Continuing Education

Before becoming a premium copywriter and editor, I was an attorney. It was a requirement of my profession that I submitted CLE hours every year (Continuing Legal Education). So I’ve always valued spending time and money on developing my skills.

As a copywriter, this is not something that is required, but I know it’s made a huge difference to my skills and therefore the results I can give my clients. 

Instead of testimonials that say a client loves my work, I can now include quotes that say things like “Gill doubled our conversion rate.” 

I keep up to date with a fast-paced and changing industry, which means I can sound confident when I talk to clients on discovery calls. I also know that delivering good results leads to longer relationships with existing clients (which we all know is cheaper than going out and finding new clients).

2. Use a CRM Tool

Once you start to attract clients who are beyond the beginning stages of their business, they’ve often worked with and value premium copywriters.

Which is great for you, because they expect pricing that matches a premium copywriting service. But it also means you can’t just send your proposal in an email, or your copy as a Google Doc draft.

When I moved to using Honeybook, I noticed a big difference in the client onboarding system, and an increase in my proposals being accepted.

From the first touchpoint when someone contacts me through my website, to when they sign up and pay my first invoice, they receive consistent, high-quality documentation and correspondence through Honeybook. 

And several have mentioned how easy it is to approve a proposal, sign it, and then pay the invoice, all within the CRM. Reducing that friction for the client is 100% worth it for me, because they are more likely to sign and pay early, without a lot of back and forth on email and sending them different links and documents to open.

3. Built My Brand Identity as a Premium Copywriter

One of the ways my CRM looks professional is due to consistent visual and messaging branding of all the touchpoints for a potential client. And the same goes for my website. 

While I do get many clients through social media and reaching out to answer posts in Facebook groups, it helps to have somewhere to point them to that looks professional and visually appealing. That meant creating a website worthy of one I’d create for my clients!

By showcasing what you do professionally with a well-designed website, and keeping branding consistent across all social media, your website, and CRM, you inspire trust in your audience. This indicates that you are not a newbie who might agree to the proposal but ghost them days or weeks later. Testimonials across your website and other social media show them that other clients trust you and have had a good experience with you, as a premium copywriter.

4. Provide Strategy, Not Just Writing

The more you work with clients, the more you see that it’s not just about writing the copy they ask for, but understanding the offer, whether it works for their ideal audience, and where it sits within their entire business. By offering audits and strategy, you can suggest to your clients what needs to be created before going on to do the writing that creates it.

If you haven’t already started offering this, a great place to try it out is with returning or retainer clients. These are ones where you probably already know a lot about their business, past offers, and their ideal client. That should allow you to start offering some strategic suggestions to show your value and lead to you creating proposals for paid strategy work in advance of (or combined with) your copywriting. And once you’ve done paid strategy work for a client, be sure to turn that into a branded and detailed package you can offer on your website.

5. Engage on Social Media to Attract Premium Clients

While most of the other upgrades involve me spending some money, I choose to do my own social media. At the end of the day, I have to spend either time or money on each of these areas to up-level my business. 

Social media lets you showcase what you do and why you do it. But more importantly, it allows you to connect and nurture relationships with business owners, which in time will lead to them wanting to work with you if you are a good fit. 

If you choose to outsource (which many do, knowing that the value of their time is worth more on other revenue-driving activities), don’t forget to spend time on the apps yourself responding to comments and reaching out to others.

6. Research My Client’s Customer

Eventually as a copywriter, you hit a project where you know you wrote great copy, but it just didn’t work. And once you start to dig into it, you often find that it’s because your client didn’t really understand how their audience feels about their problem or what they want in a solution. You can only write about the offer your client creates.

And business owners are often willing to spend more money on a premium copywriter because they’ve been burned with this problem before, too. They may have learned the hard way that talking to their audience is a key part of making sure their offer is sound before any copy is written.

Interviewing a handful of your client’s audience takes work. You need to help identify who to reach out to, draft emails, set up interviews, record and transcribe them, and then assimilate everything you learned into a document. And that takes time that you should get paid for.

Once you can confidently explain to clients why this research is essential, it becomes much easier to incorporate the cost of that research into your proposal. It also makes it far more likely your copy will land and do its job, leading to happy clients who will give testimonials and return to you again and again.

7. Understand Brand Voice

One of the first things I ask a potential client before I work with them is if they have their brand voice documented. If not, I always recommend building their brand voice guide before I create any copy. This is something I didn’t really understand when I first started out — I just wrote in my own voice and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be called on to make lots of edits. 

By thinking about brand voice first, I can dial in exactly how a client can sound different from their competitors. Just like with Voice of Customer research, it was probably something I was doing to some extent anyway in the past, but it was just rolled into my general research for the client. 

By making it something of value to them that they can use elsewhere (with social media managers, employees, VAs, and other writers) I can charge separately for this essential component of the research, and therefore spend the right amount of time on it. 

if you are unsure how to create a brand voice guide, then check out my course on how to get started and identifying brand voice.

8. Build Editing Into My Process

This was also something I didn’t spend as much time on when I was a beginner copywriter. I would put the draft through something like Grammarly, but that was about it. 

I’ve definitely been stuck on a delivery call debating a typo or justifying starting a sentence with ‘And’ instead of explaining the more important aspects like the persuasive techniques, the brand voice, or the messaging. I’ve sensed that the client’s opinion of the work has dropped after spotting a typo, which can be frustrating if I know the marketing and conversion principles used have been solid.

There are so many aspects of how and which spelling or punctuation to use that is subjective. The main issue is to stay consistent through the draft, which can be hard if you’ve picked whether to hyphen or not at random in the first paragraph.

One of the things I love about being a premium copywriter is that we get to play with words, analogies, and ways to communicate standard topics in new and imaginative ways. But the flip side of that is that sometimes that fun new idea doesn’t sound quite right as we put it into writing. 

Having a second set of eyes can help make sure our ideas work for the reader and can help us justify them to a skeptical client. Knowing another established copywriter agrees with you can give you the confidence to justify your choice based on brand voice, voice of customer, or copywriting techniques

And even for premium copywriters, it’s easy to slip out of the client brand voice and into our own, especially if we’re writing on the same topics or industries frequently. A proofreader or AI-based program like Grammarly won’t be able to spot when you fall out of brand voice the way a brand voice specialist can. And more importantly, won’t be able to suggest an alternative that brings you back into brand voice. Because if you moved out of it in a certain place, it’s likely because the brand voice wasn’t coming easily for you there.

When a client can’t follow an analogy or get where the copy is going, chances are they’ll tell you it doesn’t work, or they don’t like it, or worse, ‘something isn’t right, but I can’t put my finger on what.’ They will lose trust that you are the premium copywriter you held yourself out to be. An editor who is also a copywriter will give you constructive criticism; if something needs to be changed, they’ll tell you that, but they’ll also explain why and usually give suggestions for how to fix it. 

Sometimes big risks can provide big payoffs in terms of showcasing that you’re a premium copywriter who’s not just doing what everyone else does. And I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing worse than taking that risk and not really knowing if it worked or not before you deliver the copy.

We all know that feeling of being stuck on a draft, having an outline laid out and some copy filled in but not being able to finish the last 10%. Not only is it frustrating because you start to question if you’ll ever find the right words, but it also means that completing the project takes so much longer, and often eats into time you’ve allocated for other client work The reason I charge an hourly rate as an editor is so that I can do this type of developmental editing if needed. A proofreader or non-copywriter editor might struggle to help write marketing-specific on-brand voice bridging paragraphs and sub-heads. By having an editor who is also a premium copywriter spend 30 minutes on your copy, they might unlock your writer’s block and save you several hours of getting to the final draft.

Where Will You Start Building Your Premium Copywriting Business?

In times filled with AI writing programs and mad-lib style templates, it can be easy to feel as if your copywriting skills are threatened. But if you level up your services, add in strong strategy, voice of customer, brand voice, and editing services, as well as creating a solid brand, you can become indispensable to your clients in a way those cheaper services can’t replicate.

Premium Copywriter Editing Services

Want to know more about how, as a working copywriter, I edit for brand voice, conversion, and more? Book in a call and I can explain my process, timelines, and costs