When you start considering a career in freelance writing, you look at how much you can earn. It may be enough to supplement your current income as a part-time job or it may become your sole source of income. Before jumping in to this career, it is helpful to know the average freelance writing pay to know if this direction is right for you.
Calculating Pay and What is Included
Someone just starting out in this industry can’t expect to command the same rates as someone with years of experience. Look on bidding sites like Upwork or Guru.com and you will see a wide range of rates. They can vary from well below minimum wage to over $100 per hour. With such a difference, you may wonder how pay is determined and what you can expect.
Two Types of Pay
Writers are paid either by the hour or by the project. When they are paid by the project, they must calculate how many hours it took them to find the hourly rate. As a new freelance writer, you will have to decide which way they want to work or if they are willing to charge both ways, depending on the project.
When you see figures for an hourly rate, you must understand that it is based on what the writer chooses to include. Some writers figure in the scope of the project and divide it by the number of hours it took them. Others calculate all hours spent on freelance writing work, even non-billable hours, and divide the total income by that number.
Non-billable hours include time spent marketing and doing administrative tasks such as sending out invoices or purchasing new supplies. While this work doesn’t have a direct impact on one project, it is time spent on your business and should be accounted for.
Types of Writing
Average freelance writing pay varies by the type of writing you do. Writers who specialize in one or two niche markets can often command a higher rate than a general writer. Their rates increase even more if they choose a high-paying industry such as technology or e-commerce.
The type of projects you take on also impacts how much money you can make. Writers who focus on white papers, case studies and SEO writing often earn more than someone writing blog posts and articles.
Another factor in your earnings is the client. If you mainly work with small businesses or local Mom-and-Pop stores, you will not be able to charge as much. They just don’t have the budget that Fortune 500 companies do. Choose one of these major corporations and you can make more in a day than what you would earn otherwise in a week or even a month.
So, What is the Average Pay for a Freelance Writer?
Now that you understand all of the variables that impact a writer’s average pay, you know that it is impossible to estimate how much you can earn without figuring in a few factors.
If you were to add up all types of freelance writing and average them, you would see a range of $11.83 to $63.26, according to payscale.com. This is national data, so where you live may be higher or lower. This amounts to between $21,000 and just over $116,000 annually. Jobs in this category include the following:
- Senior copywriter
- Managing editor
- Web content editor
Under each of these categories are many other jobs and titles. Then, you can further divide the jobs by online or print.
According to the same site, the national average for the freelance writer is $51,000. People who are entry level will earn an average of 20% less while those who are experienced will earn 21% more. Writers who focus on search engine optimization or editing will earn less while copywriters will earn more.
Location also impacts how much you earn. Note that this may include where the writer lives as well as where the client is located. For instance, Los Angeles has a 32% higher average salary. Writers who live there will need to earn more money for the higher cost of living. Writers in other locations who find clients from this area may be paid more because the client is used to the higher prices.
Surprisingly, New York is only 6% above the national average even though it is another major metropolitan area. Expect to receive less in areas where the cost of living is lower.
Using Pay Information To Set Rates
Now that you see the wide range of pay and the various factors involved in the calculations, you may be more confused than ever. How can you know what your rates should be? Can you even use this data to help you determine the right rates? The answer is “yes.” While it can be confusing, it is definitely helpful.
You can pay attention to job listings in your area. Even if the job is for a full-time writer position, you can compare the pay to what you would be able to charge. If you live in a small rural area, you can still use job listings in the closest metropolitan area. Just know that you will need to charge slightly less in many cases.
Instead of getting too caught up in the average freelance writing pay, focus on how much you need to earn to meet your own personal goals. Determine how much you need to work to make that income and look for jobs that help you meet those goals. It can be exciting or frustrating to see the average rates, but you can earn enough to allow you to enjoy life. One day, you may even make enough income that you can do all of those things you dreamed about long ago. When it comes to freelance writing, the sky is truly the limit.