Freelance Writing Pay Rates – How Much Do Writers Get Paid?
Here’s a list of writing jobs and pay rates for freelance writers, plus how I earned $35,000 my first year of full-time freelance writing. I thought I’d be relying on my husband for financial support, but I had no problems making money freelancing.
Most freelancers have a copy of Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. Not only does it list the most current freelance writing pay rates, it also has thousands of magazine, newspaper, e-zine, and blog publishers who pay freelancers to write. The 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.
“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.”
I learned how to become a freelance writer in part through reading as many old copies of Writer’s Market that I could find. I also 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
My pay rate for alive, which is a health magazine I write for, is fifty cents a word. I’ve been writing for them since 2009. I don’t query them anymore. The editors send me three article assignments a year, usually in the spring.
So, remember that these freelance writing pay rates are dependent on many factors – some of which may not be in your control!
- Article feature writing: $40-$122 per hour, or $.20-30 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
Reading the Writer’s Market books is a good way to get an accurate feel for current pay rates for freelance writers.
Writing Rates for Newspapers
These writing jobs and rates are compiled from voluntary surveys from members of numerous professional writers’ and editors’ associations and specialty groups.
- 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
Are you new to newspaper and magazine writing? Read How to Start Freelance Writing at 40 – and Make Money.
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.
The best way to increase your pay is to “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read.” Because Larry King knows of no shortcuts.
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!