Saturday, July 7, 2007

How Much Does Freelance Writing Pay?

Three times this week, I've found through mybloglog stats that people have arrived on my blog by asking questions about what types of rates freelance writing pays. My answer to that question is that it varies.

Because the question has come up so frequently with my blog arriving on Google as an answer, I thought I would provide a more direct response.

I've been a writer for a little over a year although really, I've been a writer in my heart my whole life. My first paid gig was with a forum where I was paid to write interesting posts. That job paid me $12 an hour through Odesk. That was a really good rate for paid posting and isn't that easy to come by. Many paid to post jobs are a nickel or a dime per post. My next gig was with paid blogging companies and they paid $5 a paragraph with one clickable link. This was quite lucrative for a while until the rules changed and required three posts for that price for one of the big companies that had plenty of blogging work available.

I was lucky enough to be told about a writing agency hiring new writers. My first assignments with that agency averaged about .01 per word, sometimes a bit better. Most of this work required a little research and was mostly keyword dense articles or travel articles. If I could write fast and only had to do minimal research, I could make about $15-$20 an hour. I could earn that anytime day or night and in my pajamas :)

I was hired shortly after I started writing full-time by a doctor who wanted me to ghostwrite for him. He paid me 2.5 cents per word but his work probably paid me less than my .01 jobs because I had to do a lot of research and a lot of revising of my work to get it just right. I enjoyed the work though.

Today I work for various clients and my average rate is probably somewhere around .02 per word. Many writers starting out can expect to make about $0.01 when they start. There are writing companies out there paying .005 per word as well.

Are there jobs paying a lot more? Yes, there are freelance writing gigs at 0.40 per word and even more but they're typically fewer and further between and can't be written very fast. Some of my writing work is so easy that it doesn't even require an edit from me or a backward glance because I've learned on those jobs that they only pay a decent wage if you can edit as you go.

Are there downsides to freelance writing? Definitely. Sometimes you have to write about topics that are boring. Sometimes you compromise creativity and good writing for keyword density. You don't get sick days, you don't get benefits or a pension plan and you have to pay your own taxes. You can also spend time chasing down invoices from people less than eager to pay you for work delivered but is it a good job? Yes! I love my job.

My blog also has plenty of information about where you can go to look for writing jobs as well as information about other ways to earn so feel free to dig through my archives or contact me with questions. I've had plenty of help and guidance along the way and am happy to reciprocate in kind with others looking to start out in writing.

___

16 comments:

Sun Singer said...

The pay gets better and better in time. Most of us can't earn Jo Rowling's kind of money the first time out. :-)

Malcolm

Dana Prince said...

Thanks Malcolm for the comment. Most of us can only dream about that kinda dosh! LOL.

Danielle said...

Hey Dana,
I haven't been by here in a long time and realized I'm missing out on a lot! I really need to get to know more writers. Maybe I should get over to communati! I signed up - just can't remember as who!

Dana Prince said...

Hi Danielle,
yes...Do meet more writers. I've gotten leads from writer friends, shared leads with them and gotten great advice as well from seasoned professionals. Communati is a great place to meet others. Another suggestion is Suzanne James' friday night chats. She does writer workshops at the chat room at www.inspiredauthor.com. It's good for learning and can be a real laugh sometimes too.

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

Very informative post! It's also interesting to find out how other writers are faring.

Dana Prince said...

Midnight raider...thanks for writing to me.
I stopped in to your Refrigerator Raider blog and LOVE IT.
I write a health blog as well at healthniche.blogspot.com.
I think I'm going to blog about your you there :)
Cheers,
Dana

Charlotte said...

Hey Dana,

Great blog; great info. The pay definitely gets better as you go along. A couple great sources for writing jobs are Anne Wayman's site at www.aboutfreelancewriting.com and www.telecommuting-writing-jobs-com.

Charlotte

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Charlotte. More sources are always good to have :) I am hoping to revise my average pay on this post soon. The numbers were low for a while but do seem to be climbing lately for me, which is great :)

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ashwin said...

Hey Dana,

I couldn't help but keep lapping up everything you had to write...

Just a thought. I didn't know who else to share it with...

Don't you think it is kinda repititive and underpaid to be working on so many articles, write-ups and other projects where you still paid peanuts compared to what the guy who made you write the article would be making. I mean, why is it that our entire community of writers just keep writing away endlessly instead of thinking how to LEVERAGE?

You did that, didn't you? You found a team. I think that was very smart indeed.

But most of us still remain in the never ending - client-me-client loop forever, eh?

Where does the word stop?

Dana Prince said...

Ashwin, I wholeheartedly agree with you. In my short time of doing this (just under two years) I have more than doubled my rate writing rates.

I have also started to write a lot in the internet marketing niche and through learning about it I can honestly say that very soon I plan to do more in the area of internet marketing for myself. That way, I'm reaping the rewards of my own writing work instead of helping someone else do it. There was a great discussion on a forum I visit where a group of writers felt exactly like you and many of them took matters into their own hands by starting websites, raising their rates and marketing their services in a way that would allow them to make more money.

I'm all for continuously working to better my career. My creating a team was one small step towards that goal. Thanks for posting :)

Anonymous said...

Dana,
I am like you. A writer-at-heart, who never submitted anything to anyone until 3 months ago. Normally, I'm a recruiter by trade, but the urge to write is so strong.. I finally wrote two articles (on request) for my little town newspaper, (strictly volunteer work and nothing for the electric bill), just to pitch in and to get my writer's feet wet. Well, they loved me, and I had a byline for the first time in 55 years, so of course I am devoted to them. Now I'm trying to get my "paying feet" wet.
One penny per word?? Yike.
What do you think of companies advertising for multiple writers, to write articles for their clients' web sites? How do you respond to these ads?
Help.
Donna

Dana Prince said...

HI Donna,
I started off at a penny a word and it helped me build my writing business. Those gigs taught me a lot about writing for the web and SEO and research and writing fast and I am glad that's how I got my start. I don't think you have to start there but if you're getting offered those gigs and can write quickly they can definitely help you learn to command higher rates!

~Michelle~ said...

Hey Dana,

I just got recently interested in doing freelance writing leaning towards nature articles or journal accounts as I am a nature lover at heart and I have always loved writing and it is definitely my passion. I actually write murder mysteries for kids helping them to deal with situations in life based off my experiences.

I want to learn everything I can in starting freelance writing. Do you have any suggestions?

~Michelle~ said...

Hey Dana,

I just got recently interested in doing freelance writing leaning towards nature articles or journal accounts as I am a nature lover at heart and I have always loved writing and it is definitely my passion. I actually write murder mysteries for kids helping them to deal with situations in life based off my experiences.

I want to learn everything I can in starting freelance writing. Do you have any suggestions?

Dana Prince said...

Hi Michelle,
Welcome.
I'd suggest you read up on the Absolute Write Forum http://www.absolutewrite.com (go to the water cooler). There are magazine mast heads and plenty of advice there for those trying to break into magazines.

If you're looking at getting started with online content, sift through this blog (I provide a lot of helpful 'getting started' posts in my early posts), and http://www.inspiredauthor.com is also a great resource as well as http://www.wahm.com (The Wahms Who Write section of the Message Boards).

Good luck! A great way to start is to create a blog with writing samples to show your potential customers and to cruise online writing job boards (such as http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com) and forums where you'll pick up plenty of advice and links to resources. It's a very helpful industry!