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  1. Max Kitchen wrote on

    Great work Glenn.

    However, I can’t help thinking that a picture featuring a member of ZZ Top would have been more appropriate, given that I can grow a pretty damn fine beard by the time it usually takes me to finish my weekly copy jobs :)

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Thanks Max. Or should I say Billy? BTW, where’s your Gravatar?

  2. Micky Stuivenberg wrote on

    Thanks for compiling this Glenn, it should give prospective clients a bit of an idea of what to expect.

    The averages look about right, but I’m a bit surprised by the minimum and maximum times some copywriters have given you. That seems a bit extreme…

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Yeah, they were a bit of a surprise to me too. Interestingly, the person who estimated half an hour on the home page copy (and 9hrs total for all pages) was one of the only copywriters to say they’d expect their work to be “Excellent – It would be the best I could make it”. So did another person who estimated 9hrs total. The rest who were under 10hrs total all said “Very good – I’d be proud of it, but I could still improve it if I spent more time or had a better understanding”. And the one who totaled 60hrs said the same thing!

  3. Shauna wrote on

    A great post on perspective! How long it takes to do something well and why it’s worth the time (and the money you pay for it) doesn’t always go into the equation. So many things are ‘instant’ these days that people have begun to question why it takes xyz amount of time to finish something when the person over there can do it in half the time – quality doesn’t often rate a mention! Let’s be proud to be artisans!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      I agree, Shauna. Not that I think everything needs to cost a lot. But clients need to understand that they can’t possibly get good quality if they’re paying peanuts. Not unless the copywriter’s bending over because they’re just starting out (I did that). But even then, it’s not going to be their best work, nor will the relationship last long.

  4. Anna Butler wrote on

    Great to see the results, Glenn.

    It’s always a balance between what a client is willing to spend and what their timeframe is, vs producing a decent result within those constraints.

    Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that I haven’t gone back to 3 months later – or 3 years later – which I didn’t think I could have written differently… but differently isn’t necessarily better.

    And sometimes it’s a matter of recognising when good is good enough, and when extra time finessing isn’t achieving a result commensurate to the time and money it is taking to do so.

    So I try produce a result I’m proud of (that I hope my client loves) which, yes, might benefit from a little more work, but will get the job done well enough on time and on budget.

    As far as my own site, well that is ALWAYS a work in progress – but that approach isn’t going to be practical for client work now, is it? ;-)

    Talking of the time writing copy takes, I penned a blog some time back discussing why it can take a week to write a single page of copy, which I think probably complements and expands on what you’ve discussed here. (

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Exactly, Anna. I’m hoping the light-bulb moment for clients will be when they realise most of the time, copywriters wouldn’t settle for the copy they write if it was for their own business. That brings things back to whether it’s good enough, not whether it’s perfect. In other words, even when clients pay reasonable market rates, they’re still getting what they really want. Close, but not quite. So what are they likely to get if they’re paying peanuts?

      1. Anna Butler wrote on

        I think we’ve all seen examples of $5 web pages.

        …And it ain’t pretty!!

  5. Laurie wrote on

    Wonderful work Glenn, gives some nice perspective and helps me see where I fit in the pack. This also helps with estimating fess and time for larger projects.

    Pretty little graphs too!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Thanks Laurie. Pretty graphs! I’ve never been accused of that before! ;-)

  6. Anne Maybus wrote on

    Great article, Glenn. I always wondered if I was taking too long on my work. I hate having to rush my writing.

    Length of content doesn’t equate to quality of content, does it? It’s time and effort that make the difference.

    Sometimes when clients look at the few sentences I hand them, I know they are wondering what they are paying for. If only the knew the work that went into getting those few sentences crystalised and perfected.

    Love your work!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Who said, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time”? Blaise Pascal? I think it’s been attributed to quite a few people. But I always remember that line when a client asks me if my price will be less because, “I only need you to capture my business and mission and client needs in 50 words or so”!

  7. Sam Stone wrote on

    Thanks for putting this together Glenn. I find it very beneficial. I am only new to copywriting, I am also a technical writer, so it is great to see what the average times are that copywriters spend on certain pieces.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hey Sam. Thanks for stopping by. Where’s your Gravatar? Would love to see your smiling face here. Especially now that I know you were at my sister’s wedding! :-) (Go the techwriter brigade!)

  8. Bec Christensen wrote on

    Great article Glenn, I especially loved your first point/paragraph. I am often lost for words when I’m challenged about the time it takes to complete projects. Now, thanks to you I have a ready made response (duly acknowledged of course).

    I have not yet mastered the art of quoting the hours it takes me to do a job, and am always under-doing myself on my hourly rate. Often I do this because I’m worried about justifying the time to clients, many of whom are extremely cost driven.

    Thank you for sharing the results of your survey, giving me further perspective, and also making me feel like I’m not alone in my dilemma!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      You mean, “Copywriting is more than just typing”, Bec? Yeah, sometimes I think clients think that’s all that’s involved. Happy for you to use it. It benefits us all.

      I’ve been a full-time professional writer for 20 years. 11 years of that as a copywriter. I still struggle with estimating. It’s tough because the writing is a living beast. Sometimes it jumps onto the page willingly. Others it needs to be driven with a stick. It’s impossible to tell which it’s going to be, before you start. And clients are equally unpredictable…

  9. Simon Hillier wrote on

    Great post Glenn,

    Thanks for going to the effort to gather the information and share it. And, of course, for explaining why copy takes time to finesse.

    There sure are some very interesting and diverse answers.

    Call it fragile writer’s ego, or just the way my momma brought me up, but I can’t help wanting every client to be delighted with the work I do for them.

    Trouble is, when budgets are tight, it’s not the most cost-effective policy :)

    Ahh, if only copywriting was like law and we could bill by the hour every time we even thought about a client. I’d be writing this from a hammock on the coast of Mexico!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Haha. I agree, Simon, it’s very difficult to not do more than the budget allows. Take that job I was talking about on G+ the other day… I put in 20 hours unpaid! Granted, some of that was accidental, but my time management oversight was only possible because I wanted to give them more time to make the copy just right. The problem was I let “more time” become “way too much more time”.

      1. Simon Hillier wrote on

        I hear ya! :) Let’s not even begin to imagine all the wonderfully ridiculous, impractical and irresponsible stuff you could have blown that 20 hours on.

        1. Glenn Murray wrote on

          Exactly! I have a list.

  10. Lisa Cropman wrote on

    Amen to that Glen! I’m also learning that ‘good enough’ is more practical (and profitable) than perfection – but it ain’t easy! Brilliant post. Thanks for the insight. Lisa

  11. Matteo Duò wrote on

    Hi Gleen,
    from your post: “If you want your copy to read as if it was written by a subject matter expert, you have to give the copywriter enough information that they can become a subject matter expert (at least in the very specific area covered by the copy). You also have to give them the time to process it. Plus you have to dedicate some of your time to teaching them.” As I finished reading these sentences, I said out loud “Amen” :D
    It’s so difficult letting clients understand how any information and details they’re able to provide us would help generate better copy. They just can’t see how much work there’s “behind” the actual copy we provide them with. In short: they think they’re paying for words, while they actually get way more than that (new perspective, analysis, SEO, etc.).

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Absolutely! I’m glad to know it’s not just me experiencing these frustrations. Not that I blame the client. How can they be expected to know? Hopefully this post will help. A little. :-)

  12. Matteo Duò wrote on

    Edit: *Glenn.
    I’m so sorry.

    You can call me “Mateo” and we’re even.
    Again, sorry.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Haha! I didn’t actually notice. But thanks for pointing it out. Mateo. ;-)

  13. Vanessa Anthony wrote on

    Wow! Glenn, so refreshing to hear somebody break it down for clients so unapologetically. You’ve inspired me, right when I needed it, too. We can all get pretty beaten down at times by the attitude of clients who don’t appreciate the time and effort we put into our work. I often end up putting in longer hours than quoted (not charged) in an effort to create work I’m truly proud to hand my clients. It can be so demoralizing to hear potential clients say things like, “I could do it an hour,” or “That’s so expensive,” or my favorite, “What kind of deal can you give me?” After years of building my own copywriting business from scratch with no nest egg, no net, no start-up capital and acquiring many adjunct skills along the way (WP web design, SEO, social media) I am finally to the point of recognizing that it just doesn’t pay to underquote and overwork. I wish someone had been around writing posts like this when I first started out.

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  16. jason wrote on

    Great article and it all makes complete sense.

    I had a writer review my basic copy for a website. I took me a fair chunk of time to write it all out in basic form so i could give them a thorough understanding.

    The message was there it just needed refining and perked up a bit. And fix my grammar and remove unneeded words. I was too close to it to properly edit it myself and figured with their experience i would have a copywriter edit it.

    I was about to find out that not all is created equal.

    I have a new but very simple product on the surface. But it is quite complex with the problems it solves. Its kinda hard to believe. I for-warned them not to underestimate it in the copy. I gave them everything they needed to write good copy, well i thought so anyway. I even had videos for them to watch to explain it out really well.

    It took about 6 weeks for them to get it back to me with many revisions in between. What i got was very monotone, didn’t speak to me or anyone else and almost didnt make sense, and every seperate piece of work, which was meant to be original all sounded the same and read the same. Was a shame for the amount of work that went into it, let alone the wasted 6 weeks.

    I believe good copywriting is a challenge and some do it better and they are definately worth every penny. After rewriting it myself i know how long it takes and i know its not great copy.

    Anyone with expectations of greatness in a weekend only need to be reminded of, how long did it take them to write the their own basic copy. In hindsight I just think they may have underquoted me and were a little embarassed or proud to ask for more, even tho I offered more.

  17. marc wrote on

    Thanks for compiling this – a real eye-opener!
    I’m in the UK, so this might be a very different market (mother tongue and all ;-) but…
    I’m about 80% of the way through a 100+ page charity website, which I’ve been given 10 days for. Today is day 8, and I’ve scheduled my time effectively, so looking OK. I think you also get faster on big sites, cos you know more about your subject matter, but some of these timeframes – hoo! Even the jobs I would consider to be absolute golden strolls, I’d expect to be pushing the low end times and getting very good quality (and I’d never award myself ‘excellent’ either, on the advice of my solicitors, Hubris & Petard) .
    Still though, always good to have a reference point!

  18. NewbieCW wrote on

    I know this is an old post, but after just reading the first few sentences of the article. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I’m just starting out as a copywriter and was feeling frustrated with the seemingly insane amount time it took me to complete a relatively short piece of copy that I was ultimately satisfied with as a perfectionist. I can’t wait to arrive at that sweet spot where I “know” in a relatively short(er) amount of time when good is “good enough.”

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Don’t hold your breath! ;-) I’m writing a series of case studies around Cisco and GitHub technologies, and the most recent one took me 8 hours to first draft. :-\

  19. David Shields wrote on

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m not a copy writer but have been tasked to write a page for our new website. I understand the nature of the subject I’m writing about but even knowing where to start from a customer’s perspective, a reader, a technician, or just people browsing in order to attract them to the subject, is not that easy. I have started but continuous reviews by myself, evn following day, means that I continually ask myself, is this good enough. It’s definitely not easy and as I have many other tasks, roles, to concentrate on this is causing concern. However, we do need it written, so persisting with it and hopefully, will read well and the reviewer can provide constructive feedback. Thank you.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Thanks for your comment, David. Yeah, there’s a lot that goes into it, isn’t there? Not least of which is the self-doubt and second-guessing! ;-\ But the silver linining: it sounds like you’re thinking it through exactly as you should be!

  20. Mark wrote on

    Great article Glenn. I write well crafted excellent work like I drive a car on the motorway in the UK – 80 words an hour max, would love to say 70 which is the limit, but more realistically 75. That’s my decision, but if I have a passenger in the car that wants me to go faster, I have to question whether they’re the right passenger for me. :)

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Haha! Fantastic analogy, Mark! Thank you. :-)

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