Freelance Writers and MoneyFreelance writers and money is a favorite topic on writing forums. Everything from how much to charge, to discussions about non- or slow-paying clients to ideas for increasing income to wondering how publishers can pay a few writers huge advances is discussed.

In fact, there’s a whole category about freelance writers and money here.

It’s fairly obvious that because we writer tend to work in isolation we often don’t have a clue about how other writers earn.  Although what I earn really doesn’t say much about what you earn, or can earn, some understanding of what’s true about freelance writers and money can be helpful.

Earnings vary widely

The actual earnings of freelance writers is pretty hard to figure out. Payscale says we earn an average of $24.70 – with a range from a low of $10 to a high of $58. Glassdoor says the average annual pay is $42,120. We’ve all heard of writers making six and seven figures and we know that some make darn close to nothing. Plus knowing averages isn’t much help when setting your own fees or deciding how to market yourself and your writing.

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professionalThe other day new writer asked me, “What makes a writer professional?”

I asked her why she wanted to know.

“Well, I earn supplement our household income by writing,” she responded. “I wondered if I can consider myself a professional writer if I’m only working part time?”

As we kicked this around a bit, I realized there is very little standard when it comes to writers. For example, Wikipedia says:

“A professional writer may be freelance, meaning he or she works on a self-employed basis, or fully employed in an occupation where a professional writing standard is a prerequisite, such as journalism, marketing, advertising, public relations, the military, or technical writing.”

Well sure, but that feels convoluted to me. First of all, I’m not sure what “a professional writing standard” actually is these days. And this definition leaves out novels and other works of fiction. It doesn’t mention blogging either.

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