8 Ways To Make Freelance Writing Pay
How much does freelance writing pay? It depends on your skills, your experience, and where you live. Freelance writing pay varies, but PayScale.com reports the average wage for a freelance writer is $24.70 per hour. A copywriter in New York City with 10 years of experience and a great portfolio gets paid top dollar. On the other hand, big cities cost more and we all have to start somewhere. Read more about freelance writing jobs here.
To get an idea of how much freelance writing pays, check out these online resources.
- Writer’s Market: This annual guide comes out in book form each year with listings and pay rates for all kinds of book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests, and awards. That standard edition costs $28.99. The deluxe edition costs $34.82, but also includes a one-year subscription to their website, with updates and other information. You can also subscribe to the Writer’s Market website without buying the book if you prefer.
- PayScale.Com: This frequently-updated site gives a helpful overview of what freelance writing pays by years of experience or by city. You can also explore what clients look for, skills required, and career paths for a freelance writer. You can also take a free survey that asks you a series of questions and gives you a personalized salary report.
- The Editorial Freelancers Association: This non-profit publishes a list of how freelance writing pays for common tasks like writing, editing, proofreading, translating, and fact-checking. This includes pay ranges for per-hour, per-word, and per-page rates.
- Who Pays Writers?: This online resource provides the latest information they have on pay rates, plus you can search by publication titles. This site gets its data from freelance writers like you who report what they’ve been paid for various assignments. The site also gives the 411 on writing requirements and how long they take to pay you.
- Write jobs Plus: This jobs board has postings with writing and editing jobs, including ones where you can work for them online. If you click on the “with pay rates” link on the nav bar, you can display only listings that show how much the poster pays.
- Bee Wits Hourly Rate Calculator: This site offers all kind of tools for successful freelancers, starting with this awesome freebie. Just answer their questions about your projected hours and expenses, click the “Calculate my hourly rate” button, and voila!
Your 8-step guide to making freelance writing pay.
Knowing how much freelance writing gigs pay is all well and good. But you also need to know how to make freelance writing pay for you. For example, there’s no point in making $100.00 if the job required you to buy a $200.00 software program you won’t be using again. Many self-employed writers are great at the work they do but struggle with the business side of things. As with many creative people, we also tend to undervalue our work.
When it comes to making freelance writing pay, it’s best to start out on the right foot. But no matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to make positive changes.
- Pick your niche: When it comes to making freelance writing pay, it’s best to find a niche that you enjoy and know you can write about quickly and well. This way you can focus on your work and on building your business. Read more about freelance writing for beginners here.
- Create your online portfolio: Putting your resume, writing samples, author bio, and a description of the kind of work you do online is well worth the time and effort. It helps potential clients find you, looks more professional and helps with your branding. If you’re not ready to build a website, no problem.This post from Quietly goes over lots of excellent (and often free) options that look great and don’t require a degree from MIT.
- Level up your business skills: Taking time to learn some basic business skills can go along way towards making your freelance writing pay. You don’t need an accounting degree to run a sole-proprietorship (what the IRS calls self-employed people). But you do need to keep track of your paperwork, stay organized, market yourself invoice clients, do your taxes, and handle “customer relations management” issues (keeping your clients happy). Envato offers an excellent guide for freelancers just starting out. Although they’re geared towards programmers and web designers who build WordPress themes, this overview covers stuff all self-employed people should know.
- Set your short and long-term goals. Decide how much money you want or need to make now, and where you want to be six months-to-a-year from now. For example, you may say you’ll pitch 10 small local businesses this week, make $400 this month, double that every month, set aside six month’s worth of savings, and make enough to quit your day job in a year. If you come up short, that’s okay, you can always try harder, make changes, or adjust your expectations.
- Start pitching clients. Landing clients is the most important thing you can do to make freelance writing pay. Whether you’re emailing pitches to editors with article ideas or proposing projects to managers or business owners in person or by phone, you’ll need craft a quick and powerful pitch. Your pitch should briefly introduce yourself, provide your qualifications, propose your idea, and explain how it’ll benefit them (i.e. by bringing in readers or customers) The best way to get in front of people is to get a referral or introduction from someone you know. But you can also be pro-active and cold-call people or apply through the freelance job boards like Write Jobs Plus, ProBlogger, and FreelanceWriting.Com.
- Remember: Time is money. It’s easy to get excited about your writing projects and lose track of time. But every moment of unpaid time you spend is time that you no longer have available to pitch new projects, catch up on paperwork, or take a breather. Making freelance writing pay requires a strong and healthy respect for your time. Sometimes you may decide it’s worth going the extra mile to impress a client who’s a good fit and can provide you with a steady stream of well-paid work. But sometimes you need to know when to cut bait.
- Set aside money for taxes: Since you don’t have an employer to withhold your state and federal taxes, you’ll need to set aside money and make estimated quarterly payments to the IRS. While this can be complicated when you have no idea of what you’ll be making from month to month, The Balance says the simplest way is to set aside 25-30 percent of every check you bring in. Inexpensive software programs like Quicken and TurboTax can help you get set up and stay on track.
- Set up a six-month slush fund: To make freelance writing pay, it’s important to set aside six months worth of savings. That way, you’re not pressured to make bad decisions to keep money coming in. The folks at Nerd Wallet know this is hard when you don’t always know what you’ll make each month. But they say starting a separate bank account can help you keep track of your business income and expenses. They also recommend the 50/30/20 method. After setting aside your tax money, you use 50 percent of what’s left for bills and other necessities, 30 percent for splurges or things you want but don’t immediately need, and 20 percent for your slush fund and paying off credit cards.
With this advice in hand and some hard work, you can get launched and get your freelance writing to pay off. Read more about what is freelance writing here.