How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
If you’ve ever wondered about freelance writing income, this article is for you.
How much do freelance writers make per article? That’s a question everyone who desires to transition or start a freelance writing career would ask. If they are changing from a different or traditional role, is it worth the change or would it be a loss?
Let’s find out.
How much does an average freelance writer make?
By right, the amount of income you can make depends on many factors and varies greatly from person to person. An entry-level generalist writer would wage less compared to an experienced writer in a unique niche. Hence, when thinking about the freelance writing business and income, we start by looking at the baseline: how much does an average freelance writer make and what is the average salary?
According to ZipRecruiter, the most common rates (at 23% of the total consensus) are at $18 – $25 per average hourly wage, $3.2k – $4.4k per month, and $39k – $53k per annum in the US. Meanwhile, according to Indeed, for most freelance writers in India, it can go around ₹163 per hour, ₹26k per month, and ₹368k per annum.
Still, freelance writing jobs are different compared to traditional in-house roles. They do not guarantee the stability of waiting from paycheck to paycheck so that you can estimate your annual income until you actually calculate it near the end of the year. We’ll cover some of the common ways used to calculate how much freelance writers make.
Common ways to calculate freelance writing rates
To calculate it, you need to consider the measurable aspect of doing the write-ups. How many words can you write, how many hours do you need to complete your write-ups, and what other costs are related to doing the tasks?
For beginner or entry-level writers, you can offer your rates based on word count. If it is something that would require spending a large amount of time doing research, then giving a rate by the hour would be best.
If you are more confident at tackling difficult topics, then it is wiser to rate it per article or per project. That is because you can either offer a competitive price in return for continuous work (and get paid at each milestone), or you can charge a higher rate compared to hourly and word count due to having a higher level of expertise (thus you won’t be ‘punished’ for effectively completing work with fewer hours, while still being of higher quality). Experienced writers, can rate at least $300 per project for a 1.5k words article.
Another example of writing job rates based on expertise is that a generalist content writer can charge $50 for one generic article, while a cybersecurity consultant can charge at least $250 for one cybersecurity-related article.
Aside from that, depending on your local freelance writing association, they usually provide a basic guide on how to rate based on the type of work. For instance, among them are the Editorial Freelance Association and the Malaysian Writers Society.
Factors that can affect a freelance writer salary
It is considered that the lowest freelance rates a writer could start with is at $0.05/word. However, there are factors that can bump up the rates higher.
For, say, freelance content writers, how much we can earn from content writing highly depends on how extensively we can write content in certain niches. It is important to understand the current trends to avoid saturated niches, as being a highly competitive niche means the rates could get lower (supply is more than the demand).
Bonus: for 2023, it is predicted that cryptocurrency, finance, travel, digital marketing, and medical will be among the top high-paying niches.
To break it down and understand why these are the targeted niches, we see that everyone is still fresh from the previous COVID-19 lockdown and wants to get fresh air, travel has been getting the boost and global-wide incentives, including working nomads and family vacations. With the expected recession, the rise of cryptocurrency and finance articles needed will rise as people want to know more ways to save money and create income. The previous lockdown had emphasised the need for digital marketing to help businesses grow to a wider audience, hence reducing dependency on the local market to ensure business sustainability. Lastly, health has been gaining notice from the common citizens, not just medical peers, since the pandemic affected at a global scale.
Writers with more years in the business tend to command higher rates than those who are just starting out. An entry-level freelance writer can start with $0.05/word and within a year, increase their rates up to $1-$2/word.
Do your clients praise and recommend you to their peers who are looking for freelance writers? Are you highly rated on freelance platforms? These became guarantees or a source of trustworthiness, and freelancers with this sort of credibility do not come cheap and usually demand a higher pay.
Being able to write is a skill, but in the world of freelance writing, that is the most basic skill. If you have specialised knowledge or skills in a certain area, such as technical writing or copywriting, then you can often charge more for your services. Do you know SEO writing? Technical writing such as whitepapers, PoCs, SOPs, and reports? How about direct-response copywriting? Those are also branches of writing skills that can be honed before, during, and after becoming freelance writers that can help raise the rates and earning potential.
A local or native of the desired language tends to rate higher than a non-native, as certain slang, a play of words, idioms, and cultural appropriateness play a part in making the write-up more relatable for the intended audience.
Type of deliverables
The type of project also affects how much you can charge. Longer-term projects typically pay better than one-off assignments and are usually paid by milestone, ensuring a continuous source of work. Depending on the possible return-of-investment (ROI) of the write-up or copy, many writers can make more than the average when their copies generate higher traffic and more leads. Whitepapers, executive summaries, newsletters, and case studies are also highly paid deliverables, as their target audience tends to be those at the C-level (e.g. CEO, CFO, and COO).
Freelance writers should take into consideration the byline and ownership rights for the rates. If it is ghostwritten, the rates should be higher compared to if a byline is given, as you may not be able to claim that you wrote it.
Comparison with AI
With the development of AI, freelance workers and writers need to step up their game or be replaced with a machine. Beginner and entry-level writers not only need to compete in a saturated market of freelance general writers, but they also need to upskill themselves to outperform AI writers.
Either that or they would end up getting the low-tier or sweatshop rates from clients who cannot afford an AI writer or a good human writer.
All things considered, how much freelance writers make truly depends on the writers themselves. With a constant effort to upskill and refine your writing, you can obtain an income higher than the average, with boundless opportunities to grow. Check out this article if you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer!
Before you go
Now that you know how much freelance writers can make, it’s time to learn how to set the rates from How to Price Yourself as a Freelancer and How to Negotiate Your Prices as a Freelancer to bargain your way into better rates.
If you’re looking for where to start without worrying about hidden charges or small prints, Revolancer provides a freelance platform, commission-free for freelancers. This will help you calculate your rates without worrying about any hefty fees incurred.
Freelance marketplace: Revolancer