Freelance Writing Pay Rates – How Much Do Writers Charge?

Here’s a list of writing jobs and pay rates for freelance writers. I earned $35,000 my first year of full-time freelance writing, which surprised me. I thought I’d be relying on my husband for financial support, but I had no problems making money freelancing.

pay rates for freelancersThe Writer’s Market books are an excellent source of strategies and help for freelance writers. They list the current freelance writing pay rates – in fact, the writing jobs and pay rates below are from the current edition. Note that this article was written in 2010; to get updated freelance writing pay rates, you need to check out the 2014 edition. The 2015 Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published is available in August.

“If you’re a beginning freelance writer, or don’t know many other freelancers, you may wonder how anyone manages to earn enough to eat and pay the rent by writing,” writes Lynn Wasnak in Writer’s Market. “Yet, smart full-time freelance writers and editors annually earn $35,000 and up – sometimes into the $150,000-200,000 range.”



Part of my own success as a freelance writer is because of Writer’s Market. I read every new edition, and I know what the current freelance writing pay rates are. If you want to write, never stop reading and learning – no matter how experienced you get!

Freelance Writing Pay Rates

Here’s what the professional freelance writers say about writing jobs and rates for magazines and newspapers. Some writers charge by the hour (I charge $50/hour).

In Writer’s Market, Wasnak suggests a formula for figuring out your hourly rate:

“Begin by choosing your target annual income – whether it’s $25,000 or $100,000. Add in fixed expenses: social security, taxes, and office supplies. Don’t forget health insurance and something for your retirement. Once you’ve determined your annual gross target, divide it by 1,000 billable hours – about 21 hours per week – to determine your target hourly rate.”

Freelance writers, I encourage you to take your experience and education into account before setting your goals for earning money as a freelance writer. That is, a new freelancer can’t charge as much for writing jobs as a freelancer who’s been writing for five or fifteen years.

Writing Rates for Magazine and Trade Journals

  • Article feature writing: $40-$122 per hour, or $.20-3 per word
  • Reprint articles: $20-$1,500 per project, or $.10-1.50 per word
  • Magazine column: $75-$2,500 per project, or $.37-2.50 per word
  • Ghostwriting articles: $30-$200 per hour, or $.60-10 per word
  • Arts review: $60-$95 per hour, or $.08-1.20 per word
  • Book reviews: $25-$900 per project, or $.15-1.50 per word
  • Rewriting: $20-125 per hour, or $50 per page
  • Content editing: $25-125 per hour, or $.06-.16 per word
how much do writers charge

“Freelance Writing Pay Rates” image by Laurie

Writing Rates for Newspapers

  • Article feature writing: $40-$79 per hour, or .10-$1.60 per word
  • Local column: .38-$1 per word; $25-$600 per project
  • Self-syndicated column: $4-$35 per insertion
  • Investigative Reporting: $2,250-$10,000 per grant
  • Proofreading: $15-$45 per hour
  • Arts review: $30-$69 per hour, or $.06-.60 per word
  • Book reviews: $45-$69 per hour, or  $.25-.60 per word
  • Obituary copy: $35-$225 per project

These writing jobs and rates are compiled from voluntary surveys from members of numerous professional writers’ and editors’ associations and specialty groups. The more networking, marketing, querying, and studying of magazines and newspapers that you do, the more money you can charge as a freelance writer.

“You’ll be surprised how far you can go, and how much you can earn, if you believe in your skills and act on your belief,” writes Wasnak in Writer’s Market 2010. “Learn how to query, then query like mad. Take chances by reaching for the next level. Learn to negotiate for a fee you can live on…and then get it in writing.”

Read 15 Things You Need to Be a Freelance Writer if you’re new to the business – especially if you’re uncertain if you have what it takes to charge what you want to earn.

One of the most important things to remember about charging money as a writer is that you need courage to ask for the money you want. Guts! When I asked for an increase in my freelance writing pay rate for my favorite magazine, I was scared…but they came through and I’m happy with how much I earn per word.

For more freelance writing tips, read How Do I Earn Income by Writing Articles for Online Markets?




What do you think of these writing pay rates? How much money do you make (or wish you made) as a writer? Comments welcome below!



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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Welcome - I'm glad you're here! I'm a writer in Vancouver; I created the Blossom blogs (formerly "Quips & Tips") in 2008. My blogs have been my primary source of income since 2008 - which means I'm living proof you CAN make money as a writer! May you blossom into the writer God created you to be.

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26 Responses

  1. Richard Burbridge says:

    I have toyed with the idea of writing as an income activity for decades, but, being a compulsive full speed ahead action type, the idea always went directly to the “something to do someday when I am old” file. Well, I am old….albeit still blessed (or cursed) with excess energy and restlessness….and I realize the time is nigh to open that file and direct some of that energy to writing.
    With the benefits of modern communication making it more difficult to find excuses to putting off what I realize I must do, I find there is a bothersome and somewhat bewildering obstacle confronting me…….goes by the name of “information overload”. I find myself, hand in the cookie jar, trying to figure out which cookie to eat first, which one is more nourishing, tasty and less wastefully fattening.
    I ran across your blog yesterday and, sleeping on it, came to the conclusion you read believably and I garnered up courage to ask for some advice.
    I had a very adventurous early life; Marines, living years with Eskimos, wanderlust and settled in a small country Mexican town of 40,000 (counting cats, dogs and chickens). I was the only gringo in the entire state and my spanish vocabulary was strained by anything beyond “Dos cervezas, por favor”. That small town, optimistically called “city” is now well over a million and growing and my spanish, fortunately, has improved proportionately.
    My kids, aware of my adventures, have urged me constantly to write at least of my personal life as a heritage gift for them and future generations.
    I have been reluctant to do so, because when I did those things, to me they were nothing special, just something I was doing at that time, but, at the span of 70 plus years, I am beginning to realize much of what I did, that to me was nothing special, to the generations of today my forays into memory are intriguing to those who have never and will probably never experience those activities. Try to imagine an old Eskimo, for example, who grew up and lived his early years totally dependent on dog teams and skin tents for everyday survival, today hops on his snow mobile in front of his prefab home and takes off on a caribou or seal hunting trip, no longer necessary livelihood. I am kinda like that old Eskimo, enjoying the fruits of modern technology but still vividly remembering how it was “back then”.
    Out of those memories, apart from personal tales, mainly of benefit to my progeny, come many stories that could prove to be of appreciation to the modern reader.
    All this buildup is to try to portray my desire of wanting to translate those memories and experiences into readable (an d publishable) form before Mr. Alzheimer or the grim reaper gets me…..and maybe make some money along the way.
    So the question is: What are the sequential first 5 steps to take to travel from idea to publication? If you have read this entire thing, thank you for your kind attention and I congratulate your perseverance.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hi Val,

    Are you starting a writing business, or a rewriting business? You said “rewriting business” – which I’m sure is a viable business venture. I’ve just never heard of it!

    How much charge when you’re first starting out depends on your experience, education, and background. Freelance writing pay rates vary widely – and how much money writers make really depends on how precise and good the writer is. “Little” mistakes and typos are unacceptable for professional writers. Even making mistakes in the comments section of a little blog like Quips and Tips for Successful Writers isn’t good, because a potential client could be reading your words even as we speak!

    You also need to know your grammar, and when to use ? and ; and : . If you haven’t taken a professional writing or editing course – even online – I highly recommend it. The better you write, the more you can charge :-)

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  3. val says:

    I am considering starting a rewriting business. How much should I charge starting out? I have not gained much experience in writing for other clients? I wish to do this fulltime. I do own a personal blog that caters to fitness and health.

  4. Laurie says:

    Hello Sharon,

    How much are you getting paid for writing short articles for the monthly ad journal? Are you hoping to get paid by the hour, or by the article? How long does it take you to write a short article? How much research is required? Do you have to come up with the article ideas yourself, or will the editors supply them?

    I have no idea what the specialty magazine’s budget is, but I suspect it’s low. You might start by asking for $20 per hour, and see what they say. How much you charge per article really depends on how long it takes you to write an article.

    Good luck; I hope you get the job at a satisfactory pay rate! :-)

    Laurie

  5. Sharon Green says:

    I just applied for a position writing short articles for a new specialty magazine. My only background is that I have a BA in Speech Communications which is much like journalism, and I work in the specialty field that this magazine targets. I also have experience writing short articles for a monthly ad journal. What should I charge if they hire me?

  6. Laurie says:

    Thanks for your comments – I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to respond sooner. I’ve been in school full-time, with no time to do anything blogging-wise. But I’m back now! :-)

  7. This is something I may look into in the future. I write creative pieces, working on a novel right now, but I figure this will probably be a way to get more food (or bread…) on the table. Interesting figures there, good for you for making 35K doing what you love to do! I envy that, truly, but in a good way.

  8. Mike says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming
    having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  9. Laurie says:

    If you want to be a writer, I highly encourage you to give it a try! My most important advice is to remember that writing is a BUSINESS, and you have to be professional and entrepreneurial at all times.

    And, keep learning how to write better. That usually means edit, edit, EDIT your little behind off.

    How much writers make depends on their experience, not necessarily their education. These freelance writing pay rates aren’t set in stone; it’s different for each writer.

  10. Ashtyn says:

    Hi im still young and in highschool do you think that becoming a writer is a good choice? ive always thought it woulf be fun! I love writing and I think i would have alot of fun with it i just dont know if its the best idea.

  11. Neil Alexander says:

    I must submit a budget proposal for a highly unusual job. I am to write a user-friendly grammar for a moribund indigenous language; I am also to create an easy-to-use dictionary of the same language and edit and publish never-before-published traditional texts in the language which were collected last century. I anticipate the grammar to run in the 120-300-page range and the dictionary to be similar in length.(I plan to include the texts within one of those to works.) I have already completed some of the work necessary as part of previous projects which were not funded by this entity, though I’d estimate that 75% of what is yet to be finished will need to be cut from whole cloth. This project will be funded by the tribe for which I am already a full-time employee. I have stated that it must be funded separately because it is a significant commitment (in terms of time, effort, and creative work) and would otherwise place an unfair burden. (I am not compensated well for the work I already perform.) I have no idea what would be fair compensation for this writing project, and they have asked me to submit a budget proposal in a week. What is the rate, per-page or letter, for research-intensive, unique writing of books (whether of this type or something similar)? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Hal says:

    I need to do more querying.

  13. sean says:

    Dose anyone know where one might obtain a list of contacts for outlets which hire freelance writers?

  14. Laurie says:

    Hi Katie,

    It sounds like that freelance job offer was sent to many different freelance writers, and the first one (or two, or more) to write the two articles “won” the freelance contract.

    It also sounds like that editor or publisher isn’t interested in quality, or attracting good writers. He or she just wanted fast articles, and doesn’t even care about content.

    So, I think you’re better off not writing for a client like that. I don’t think you’d gain solid writing experience. And what about pay? Did they advertise their pay rates for articles?

    The best clients (editors, publishers) to work for are those who are clear about their expectations. And, they won’t jump at the first few articles that are handed to them!

    But remember – freelance writing is a competitive field. Luckily, there aren’t as many good writers as bad ones, which does make it easier for good writers to find work.

    Laurie

  15. Katie says:

    I got an offer for a freelance writing job recently and was very excited to begin. The employer asked for 2, 900 word articles. That’s it. Just two 900 word articles. No details, no guidelines for what to write about and no information whatsoever about what type of writing they are looking for. When I asked them for more details about the assignment, they said it had already been completed. So I still got no answer about what they wanted. What do I do in this situation? How do I find out what an employer is looking for if they don’t tell me?

  16. Hello A.U.M.,

    I’m afraid I don’t have what you’re looking for. If you want to make money writing and editing, you need to research the genres and companies that you’re qualified to write for. And, don’t forget to ask for their freelance writing pay rates before you write for them!

    Best wishes,
    Laurie

  17. As one from Bangladesh having experience in writing, reviewing and editing in English daily newspapers for over 34 years and working as a stringer of the London-based Daily Mirror, can I stand a chance of getting the following project/s[Book reviews, Rewriting and / or Content editing]? Who to apply for such work? Please give complete addresses including emails of persons of genuine companies.
    Reference:Several pages written about me in the acclaimed book “Heroes” by one of the world’s preeminent investigative journalists, John Pilger, [published by Jonathan Cape 1986, Vintage 2001]
    Thanks a lot.

  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Magenta, I’m glad this article was helpful. I remember reading that reprints should cost half of the original price. So if you charged $1,000 for the article, you should earn $500 for a reprint. Not bad! :-)

  19. magenta says:

    Great post, these tips helped me price my first reprint article properly.

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Jean ~ Thanks for pointing out the typo! If you want to proof all my blog posts, I’d love it. :-)

    Remember that writing rates vary according to the newspaper or magazine’s budget and circulation, and may also depend on how experienced the freelance writer is.

    Star ~ These writing jobs and rates are for print newspaper and magazine freelance writers, not for content mills or online e-zines.

  21. Star says:

    Where are the Demand Media, Seed, etc mills in this? The people claiming to make $35K on those are writing thousands of “stories.”

  22. Jean Calvert says:

    It is great information, I have saved it for reference.

  23. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks for sharing this info!

  24. Jean Calvert says:

    Paragraph 2, line 2, the word “how” has a typo.

    Line 3, the quote with several adjectives describing writers needs a comma or two.

    I’m available for proofing anytime.

  1. November 9, 2010

    […] 1. Figure out how you want to make money writing. There are so many ways to make a living as a writer! Copywriting, web writing, blogging, business writing, ghostwriting, memoir writing, ebook writing, press release writing, website writing, blog article writing – it’s endless. To make money writing, you need to decide what kind of writer you want to be. You also need to decide how much money you want to make, and learn how much money freelance writers get paid. […]

  2. November 12, 2010

    […] To learn how much print magazine and newspaper writers make, read How Much Do Freelance Writers Charge? Writing Jobs and Rates. […]

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