The ultimate salary guide for copywriters, content writers, editors, and proofreaders, Part 2.
Plus… 50+ six-figure niches to explore.
When content writers, marketers, and copywriters gather together, one of the first questions they ask each other is, “”what kind of work do you do,” or more specifically, “what’s your niche?”
In fact, we’ve asked this question dozens of times on The Copywriter Club Podcast as our guests have shared the ins and outs of their businesses.
And the answers we hear vary. Many of our guests work in very specific niches while others tell us they’ve avoided niching. Those without a niche often say it’s because they don’t want to get bored writing in a single industry or just one type of copy deliverable.
They may as well be saying, I just don’t care about maximizing my earning potential. Because working in a niche (or even a few niches) is the single most significant thing you can do to increase your income.
You’ve probably heard that before.
The experts who usually offer this advice, often point to anecdotal evidence like the fact that doctors who niche earn more than those who don’t (one we hear a lot is brain surgeons earn more than general practitioners). And they’re not wrong.
But is it true of content writers and copywriters?
We asked 942 of them about what they earned and whether or not they have a niche (or more than one niche), then we analyzed the results.
The numbers don’t lie. Copywriters and content writers who report having at least one niche earn significantly more than those without.
But don’t take it from us, let’s look at the numbers.
Of the 942 copywriters who took our survey, 260 reported working in a single niche. Another 460 copywriters said they worked in more than one niche. And 222 copywriters told us they didn’t have a niche at all.
Here’s how they stack up when we looked at their average annual income…
Copywriters with a single niche earned an average of $59,994. And a median of $38,000 (that’s the income number in the exact middle of all the income data).
Copywriters with multiple niches earned almost as much on average, $59,961. And they earned a slightly higher median income of $40,000.
But copywriters without a niche earned an average of just $37,002 or 38% less than copywriters and content writers who work in at least one niche. And the median of $15,000 is 60% less than the median of other two groups.
This data set substantiates what we found at the end of 2020 when we asked the same question and found that copywriters without a niche earned 48% less than those who had one.
We’re not talking a few dollars here or there… on average, copywriters without a niche are leaving more than $22,000 on the table every year.
(The difference in average percentages between 2020 and this year—38% less versus 48% less—is a result of having nearly 500 additional copywriters answer this year’s survey compared to last year’s—including a handful of six-figure earners in the no-niche set. Without those additional high-earners, these numbers would look even more bleak as the median numbers show. Want to help us with next year’s survey? Click here.)
But then we got to thinking… maybe it’s just newbies.
A lot of new copywriters aren’t ready to choose a niche because they’re just starting out. They’re likely to be charging low rates for their work simply because they’re new. Could that explain why copywriters without a niche earn less?
So we went back to the numbers and took out all the copywriters with less than a year’s experience. The numbers definitely get closer, but a significant difference remains.
|Multiple Niches||$65,122||5% less|
|No Niche||$56,864||17% less|
And what if we only compare copywriters with 3+ years of experience? Here’s what that looks like:
|Multiple Niches||$83,744||10% less|
|No Niche||$76,562||17% less|
The numbers don’t lie. Even when we only compare experienced copywriters and content writers with three or more years of experience, those without a niche are still earning 17% less than their peers who have chosen a niche.
And if we were to show you the median numbers instead of averages, the numbers would look even worse, as we saw above. But we don’t want to depress you so we’ll keep those numbers to ourselves.
So why do some copywriters still refuse to choose a niche and leave all that money on the table? Maybe because there are some copywriters who do fine without one.
24 copywriters without a niche reported earning more than $100,000, including one who reported earning $687,232. So clearly, it can be done. But these copywriters often have other advantages that make up for the lack of niche—like a wide network of potential clients or a massive email list, or they actually sell info products and don’t really write copy for clients.
If you’ve got an advantage like that, then you may do fine without a niche. But the rest of us… we’ll be looking for an industry where we can shine (and cash big checks from great clients who seek us out).
Here’s a bit more of what content writers and copywriters told us about their niches (or lack thereof)…
What we learned about copywriters with a niche…
Copywriters who had a single niche reported a wide range of annual income from $23 on the low end to $950,000 on the high end. Here’s how it breaks out in quartiles:
|1st Quartile (Bottom 25%)||$3,335||$23-10,000|
|4th Quartile (Top 25%)||$147,875||$72,961-950,000|
When calculating the average for the top quartile, we removed the highest reported income number ($950K) because it was roughly $280K more than the next reported number and skewed the data significantly.
Here’s how the data breaks out for copywriters with more than one niche…
Copywriters who told us they worked in more than one niche also reported a very wide range of incomes, from $1 at the low end to one person who reported earning $3,700,000. A second person in this group reported earning $1,000,000. Because these two top income numbers are so large and significantly higher than the next data point, we removed them from the average calculations for the 4th Quartile.
|1st Quartile (Bottom 25%)||$4,543||$1-12,000|
|4th Quartile (Top 25%)||$156,831||$75,000-499,227|
If you look closely, you’ll notice that this group of writers actually earns a bit more in the two middle quartiles than the single niche copywriters, although not massively so.
And finally here’s a breakdown of the income data for copywriters who don’t work in a single niche…
The copywriters in the bottom three quartiles of this group earn significantly less than their niched peers. But the top quartile bumps the averages up quite a bit. There are a handful of six-figure earners which skews the numbers higher for the top quartile. We removed the two highest earners from our calculation of the averages in this group to address that. Both reported earning more than double the next person on the list.
|1st Quartile (Bottom 25%)||$920||$20-3,000|
|4th Quartile (Top 25%)||$130,819||$55,000-687,232|
Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t have a niche?
The data suggests having a niche will help copywriters earn more no matter where they are in their careers. However, if you’re just starting out and don’t have any idea of who your ideal clients are, or even what kind of copy or content you want to write, it’s probably too soon to go all in on a single niche.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t start experimenting. Take some time to figure out your X-Factor (the thing that makes you different and superior that also aligns with a problem your client needs to fix—and something we teach in The Copywriter Underground and The Copywriter Accelerator). Find clients in a couple of niches you think you might enjoy working in. And then get to work.
If the work you do isn’t satisfying, then look for another industry. Or offer a different deliverable. Or maybe a different client. The more you can experiment early on, the sooner you can find a niche that will help you reach your business and income goals.
And that brings us to a question we hear a lot…
Which niche pays the most?
If you’re convinced that you should choose a niche (and if you’re not, did you even read the last 35 paragraphs?), the next question you might ask is: which niches pay the most?
When this question gets asked in The Copywriter Club Facebook Group, the most common comment tend to be “Finance,” “SaaS,” “Coaches,” and other well-known high-paying niches. And while it’s true that you can make six-figures serving these markets, there are plenty of copywriters who struggle in niches too.
We asked the copywriters who reported a six-figure income to tell us which niches they work in. These are all niches (listed in no particular order) where at least one content writer or copywriter earns $100K or more:
Travel and Tourism
Coaches, Consultants & Creatives
Agriculture? Really? If you can make six figures writing about seeds and harvesters, you can make six figures in any industry. Of course, most of these industries also show up as the niches for copywriters making less than $10,000 a year. Which suggests, it’s not the industry. It’s the connections and expertise you build while working in a niche that help you increase your rates and take on larger projects.
Specializing simply makes it easier for your ideal clients to find you, hire you, and pay you for the value you create.
Want more pricing and income information? Read How Much do Copywriters Make? here. Or click here to read Do You Need a Degree to be a Copywriter? to get the specifics on what copywriters and content writers at all experience levels make for 22 different copy projects.