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5 Real Truths About Freelance Writers and Money

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.

Many writers are uncomfortable asking for (enough) money

When you talk about freelance writers and money with those in the field, you discover that many writers are uncomfortable setting prices. There’s a whole lot of confusion about what to charge and a myth that there’s a standard rate out there someplace for almost any kind of writing.

Self-worth and earnings are connected

It’s my observation that writers view of themselves has a lot to say about how much they will earn. The connection between self-worth and earnings is pretty tight. Those writers who one way or another value themselves and their writing are more apt to ask for and get more money than those who approach the topic with self-doubt. Fortunately it’s totally possible to improve one’s self-worth. Appreciation of your own writing skills may come when you take a close look at some the dreck that’s passes for writing these days.

There’s no guarantee

Just because someone says they are a freelance writer doesn’t mean they will be successful, however they define success. Even if they’re pretty good writers, there’s another side of the equation. In addition to knowing how to write, you’ve got to let market  yourself and your writing… and even then there’s no guarantee. On the other hand, we have many more opportunities for paid writing today than we did before the internet. Bottom line? If you’re a decent writer and are willing to persistently market yourself you too can most likely make a living as a writer.

You’re entitled to a profit

Well, maybe ‘entitled’ is the wrong word. Profits generally come after some consistent writing and marketing. It’s totally okay, however, to want a profit from your writing skill and to work toward that. Yes, writing is one of the arts, which doesn’t mean you have to starve.

What’s your experience?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer



{ 14 comments… add one }
  • This is quite a rough topic. As mostly people who are willing to pay d not appreciate the art of quality writing. They wont pay much if they have someone sitting in third world countries willing to spin articles and charge a very less amount.

  • I want to get into the market
    I have been a writer for a long period, I do it for leisure
    Writing is my passion; I hope will have good returns

  • That’s pretty enlightening. I want to get into freelance writing too eventually. This should prove useful to me! 🙂

  • Never realised how fluid and dynamic the amounts that freelance writers make could be! Thank you Anne for this educational piece, enjoyed it fully and happy I learnt something.

  • Interesting topic. I couldn’t compete with regular freelance writers. I’d prefer as a self writer for my own blogs, and make money from their ads.

  • Oh did you hit the nail on the head with point #3 – no guarantees. I remember working for various content mills before Google whacked them all hard. Everyone thought it was great because of steady pay and all that. Then suddenly, BOOM, within about a year half of those gigs were gone; and the remainder didn’t last much longer.

    I remember making $1000 per month just from Demand Media at one point. Then, poof, overnight, gone. Talk about scrambling to replace dollars.

    • Hi Bill, yeah, if anything is true about writing and life is everything changes… seems like I’ve heard others say that too. 😉

  • I started freelance writing 3 years ago. The first year I spent a lot of time pitching ideas and sold a few articles. Last year I averaged $1000 a month and also finished a novel. For articles I get anywhere from .25 to .50 a word, but the advantage now is that I have relationships with editors and don’t have to “sell” myself so much. That said, I do find myself hesitant to ask for more $ even when I know my stories help sell magazines. I never intended for this to be a full time gig, so I am satisfied.

    • Excellent… yes, the relationships can make all the difference. Good for you!

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