Content of the material
- How much can you earn as a freelance writer?
- Practice patience
- And related articles for freelance writers trying to boost their income:
- 5. Make Money Writing on Medium
- 3. Figure Out Your Ideal Writing Client
- Breaking Into Magazine Writing
- Translating pay rates into the cost of content types
- What type of content do you want to produce?
- Should you become a freelance writer?
- How to make money freelancing
- Get Paid to Write
- How to be a freelance writer and make money
- What Do Freelance Writers Do?
- Caveats of the Data
- Location, Location, Location
- Full-Time Versus Part-Time
- Background Information
- The Cost of Doing Business
- How much do freelance writers make?
- Can Freelancers Retire? 7 Basic Ways Writers Can Prepare for Retirement
How much can you earn as a freelance writer?
As you likely suspect, this really depends. I’ve heard of some freelancers that earn upwards of $250,000 each year. And, of course, there are others who treat freelance writing as a side gig and as a way to earn some extra cash—so, they make anywhere from $10,000 and up each year.
I’m a big believer in income transparency for freelancers, which is why I break down my freelance numbers in each of my year-end recaps. I share:
- My gross income
- My total expenses
- How many total clients I worked with
- How many clients were new versus existing
But, how much can you expect to earn as a freelance writer? Let’s dig into some details.
If there’s one thing I can tell you for certain, it’s this: Anybody who promises that they’re going to teach you how to earn thousands of dollars freelancing in a matter of weeks is probably lying to you.
Like building any business, earning a solid living as a freelance writer is going to involve an investment in time and a real commitment to patience.
Need proof? Let’s do this thing:
- 2014: This was my first year in business as a freelance writer (granted, I started in July—halfway through the year). I earned roughly $5, 300 before taxes.
- 2015: This was technically my second year, freelancing. But, it was my first full year. I earned roughly $32,000 before taxes.
- 2016: I earned just under $80,000—not including those big checks I wrote to the government.
- 2017: I earned right around $102,000.
- 2018: My gross income came in around $98,000. That’s right—it was less than the prior year, and I still survived.
- 2019: I earned about $118,000. It’s proof that freelancing has highs and lows.
See? Freelancing is something that builds on itself—it’s absolutely not going to happen overnight. I’ve invested years in making a living that I’m proud of.
I know, getting started is rough and oftentimes disheartening. But, if you keep trucking along, the snowball really starts rolling. Once you have a solid portfolio under your belt, you can chase down bigger clients.
Once you land a few gigs with those bigger clients, your name really gets out there—meaning even bigger, higher-paying clients are more likely to approach you.
So, basically, the lesson is this: Be prepared to put in the work and invest the time. There’s absolutely no way around that.
The average freelance writer salary is excellent information to know when you are getting your freelance career started, but remember that it is only one piece of the puzzle. You can expect to make more or less than that average based on your experience, the goals of your business and your writing niche.
It is up to you to take the steps necessary to thrive as a freelancer. Build that portfolio, value your own work, set and achieve goals on a regular basis, and build a strong network of like-minded professionals around you, and you will boost your freelance writer salary in no time.
And related articles for freelance writers trying to boost their income:
- How to Grow Your Freelance Writing Rates (and When It’s Time to Ask for More): When you become your own boss: How do you know when you’re due for more money? Learn when to ask clients for more.
- How to Get Better Pay and Build Bridges as a Freelance Writer: Freelance writers don’t need the skills of music mogul Pitbull to negotiate good assignment terms. Here’s how to get the best pay and contracts while building bridges with clients.
- The Go-Getter Guide to Growing Your Freelance Writing Business: We’ve compiled 50+ articles with some of the best tips, interviews and advice from 50+ experienced pros to help grow your freelance writing business.
5. Make Money Writing on Medium
Medium is a free blogging platform that is made for writers.
Medium created a partner program so that writers can get paid to write on their Medium profile or on Medium’s thousands of publications.
Some writers make thousands a month on Medium and have a whole writing career out of this, while others make a few hundreds or less.
This is a fantastic way as a new freelance writer on how to make money writing easily.
Medium is also a great writing portfolio platform to build your writing samples as a new freelance writer while making money writing!
3. Figure Out Your Ideal Writing Client
Now, this goes hand in hand with your profitable niche. Your writing client can determine whether your niche will be high-paying.
Let me help you see this.
When I first started out as a freelance writer and learned how to make money writing, I marketed myself as a health writer and parent writer. I landed a health writing gig for $25 a post.
Since I was new, I took the gig. It was bylined, and I was able to keep building my portfolio.
A few months later, I was able to land another health gig. I earned $85 a post.
Both of these posts were the same word count (500-700 words). Both posts were about health related topics. So, why did the latter project get me more money?
The writing client.
The first writing gig was for a start-up business.
It was a brand new company and focused more on their product and marketing material for local businesses than it really did on their blog content and lead generation tactics for online customers.
The second client’s entire business was online. They had a health product that they created and needed help getting their product in front of more eyes.
This meant they understood the importance of blogs as a way to create an inbound marketing strategy.
This also meant that my content was much more valuable to their bottom line than my first health client.
And this equated to make money as a writer and more.
It’s up to you to understand your ideal client. Do you want to work with:
- Tech companies
- B2B companies
- Small businesses
- Online businesses
- Non profits
For me, I try to stick with digitally native brands in the B2B market.
This is a great market to make money writing online.
Breaking Into Magazine Writing
One high-paying writing niche that’s a little tougher to break into is magazine writing.
Writing for a magazine can net you anywhere for $0.10-$2 per word. That can add up to a lot of money. If you’re successful in this niche you can make a lot more versus freelance blogging. The only downside is that your work may be a little less consistent.
If you want to break into magazine writing one of the best places to begin your search is the Writer’s Market. This book contains hundreds of different publications that will pay you for your words. Not only that, but the Writer’s Market has the name of editors to pitch as well submission guidelines and pay.
This is one book I’ve had on my shelf for a couple of years now and is a wealth of information.
Translating pay rates into the cost of content types
Although charging per word might not be the ultimate method of calculating pay with your freelancers, knowing the approximate word count for the content types you need can help you estimate initial cost figures to work from.
What type of content do you want to produce?
- Blog posts/website articles
- Quality posts should be 800-2,200 words, depending on strategy
- Social media posts
- Typically 5-150 words per post.
- Usually billed monthly or per project for bulk work.
- Intermediate to expert freelancers should include some strategy and research.
- Marketing emails/newsletters
- Typically 100-800 words.
- Usually billed at a flat rate per email.
- Rate could be higher if research, media, distribution, or cross-publishing is required.
- Design is not included in the content rate.
- Business resources (ebooks, white papers, etc.)
- Typical ebooks range from 1,500 to 5,000+ words, while case studies often range from 300 to 900 words (usually translating into 1-3 pages for print collateral).
- Ebook writers are often more experienced freelancers (and quite possibly subject matter experts).
- Should always include research, sources and media.
Get a better idea of the cost for your content plans. See how ClearVoice can help you power your content marketing.
Should you become a freelance writer?
First, you need to find your reason for becoming a freelance writer. Without a solid reason to pull you through the long hours, it can be difficult to make your dream a reality. The benefits of becoming a freelance writer can be absolutely amazing.
You have the opportunity to build your freelancing business from the ground up. You have the option to choose how much you are willing to work, when you are able to work, where you will work and how much you will charge for your services. However, you need to determine why these benefits matter to you.
Would you use the newfound flexibility to spend more time with your kids? To pursue a new passion in your free time? Or to make your own schedule while you travel the world? You’ll need to understand how these benefits will play out in your life.
Find something to hold on to. As you start to build your business, you’ll likely need to put in long hours on top of your regular job. As you get closer to the tipping point of being able to afford to quit your regular job, the longer those hours might get to you. You’ll need to draw on the reason why you are doing this to find the self-discipline to carry on.
How to make money freelancing
There are many reasons businesses hire freelancers. Scott Galit, CEO of Payoneer, echoed what many freelancers have discovered in recent years: Today’s hyperconnected “borderless world” has created unprecedented work opportunities for talented professionals, no matter where they’re located.
“There’s an obvious appeal to freelancing,” Galit said. “Businesses worldwide can tap into a larger and more diverse talent pool than ever before, and … freelancers and service providers [can] secure work with international companies. Freelancing offers smart, talented, hardworking professionals and business owners in emerging economies such as Argentina, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and Serbia a major breakthrough in job prospects and earning potential that they would have never thought possible a few years ago.”
For freelancers who want to market themselves better and earn more money, Steel advised creating a presence across multiple freelancing networks and asking clients to leave reviews on those sites. He also noted that branding yourself and promoting your work through a blog and social media channels can help you gain exposure, credibility and, ultimately, business growth.
“If you’re good at your job, there really is no limit to how much you can grow your business,” Steel said. “Many of the most successful entrepreneurs we come across just keep growing, and it’s because they’re bold and eager to promote themselves. Companies will be more drawn to you – and be willing to pay more – when they see you’re serious.”
Tip: Boost your credibility and earning potential by earning industry certifications. For example, freelance project managers can earn project management certifications, and IT certifications can enhance programmers’ and IT professionals’ resumes.
Get Paid to Write
If you’re interested in earning some extra income by writing I hope that one of the ideas above has inspired you to take action!
Freelance writing can be a fantastic way to earn money and can even lead to full-time income if you can consistently produce quality work.
Do you have any questions about earning money through freelance writing?
How to be a freelance writer and make money
But here’s an often overlooked scary thought that might happen on your way to earning money freelance writing:
What if your content marketing actually works? What if you get all of the clients you want? Will you be able to handle them?
Every service provider needs to answer those questions honestly because there is often a disconnect between what we say we want and the actions we take.
Fear of success can prevent us from crafting the bold, strategic plans that will truly teach us how to make money as a freelance writer.
Without realizing it, self-doubt causes us to make weak and safe moves that limit our potential — because we’re unsure if we’re capable of building relationships with prospects and managing a full roster of clients.
What Do Freelance Writers Do?
Freelance writers work for a variety of clients to produce editorial, advertising, marketing, and other written materials. As independent contractors, freelancers typically work from a home office, but they may also work from libraries, coffee shops, or other spaces. Because their clients vary, freelance writers work for a variety of supervisors, most often for editors. They typically work alone, but may occasionally coordinate with photographers, art or graphic designers, and fellow writers, …Read more
Caveats of the Data
While getting a median average salary does give you a solid number to think about, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to the data.
Location, Location, Location
According to the BLS data, where you freelance does play a role in how much the average varies. For example, in California, the annual mean annual wage is $96,120 where in Alaska it drops off to $75,410.
This location-specific data may come as a surprise to you because, as freelancers, we can work from practically anywhere. Thanks to freelancing freedom, where we call “home” doesn’t explicitly tie us to any geographical location for our work.
Full-Time Versus Part-Time
The data obtained from the Bureau of Labor also doesn’t differentiate between those freelancing full-time and those at it part-time. Based on the numbers, I lean more towards believing that the figures listed are based on reports from full-time freelancers.
However, there are plenty of part-time freelancers that hustle harder (and make more) than any full-timer I know. Remember, the more time and effort you put into your business, the bigger the reward you can reap.
Also not factored into the data discussed above is experience, educational background, or general expertise in your chosen field.
One of the main reasons people niche down is because they are considered “experts” in their field and therefore can charge more than a “jack-of-all-trades.” Depending on your qualifications, your exact numbers may vary a bit.
The Cost of Doing Business
The above data probably doesn’t account for the many costs associated with running your own business.
For example, as a self-employed entrepreneur, you’re responsible for a plethora of taxes, social security, medical insurance, software subscriptions and the list goes on (and on and on).
Even if the salary listed looks hefty, remember that a significant portion of that number is sloughed off for the not-so-fun administrative things.
How much do freelance writers make?
The pandemic increased the demand for freelance workers. With U.S. businesses realizing that talented professionals don’t necessarily have to be bound by geographical location or an employment contract, freelance writers embraced new opportunities and can expect to earn an average salary of $65,676 in 2022, according to ZipRecruiter.
Carol Tice, creator of Make a Living Writing and author of dozens of books dedicated to making money as a freelance writer, believes that the most lucrative path involves content marketing.
“When you compare types of writing, sophisticated content marketing work – content strategy, whitepapers, case studies, client e-books – appears to be a faster track to good pay for newbies than sales-focused copywriting such as direct-response, email marketing, and sales pages,” she said. [Learn how to develop a content strategy.]
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