30% of Freelance Writers Make Less Than $10 Per Hour Their First Year, Survey Says

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

Written content has become an integral part of an online presence, and this has created a boon for freelance writers.

As more freelance writers enter this segment, the question has to be asked, “How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?” The Pay Survey 2019 from Make a Living Writing is looking to answer this question with the help of 1,400+ participating freelance writers.

If you’re a small business with a website, blog and social media channel, the content you post on these platforms will dictate the amount and kind of traffic you will be getting.

Good quality content, whether it is an article, blog, press release or video, is a worthwhile investment for the long-term success of your enterprise. This survey provides an insight into the current freelance writer marketplace so you can budget accordingly when you are in search for a writer.

According to Carol Tice, who carried out the survey, the results presented many surprises. And when it comes to pay, Tice goes on to say, “The big takeaway is that rates continue to cover a broad range. Whatever you’re charging, often, you’ll see that a large number of writers are asking for — and getting — more.”

If you are a freelancer, she said, “Way too many of you are still earning way too little, for your hard work. No way to gloss over that.”

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make? Survey Results

The results from the survey outline the overall state of the freelance writer marketplace — along with the different scales of compensation commanded by writers based on their levels of experience.

The overall picture reveals freelancers are in most cases working part-time, with only one-quarter of the respondents indicating their writing provides their full-time income. For 8% of freelancers, it represents half of the income they generate.

Contrary to popular belief, not all freelancers write online, as only 44% said this was the case for them. And when they do write, finding clients or marketing their talent is a challenge as 46% said they don’t know how to find good clients.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

When it comes to income, the majority are earning low hourly rates. Close to one third say they made less than $10 an hour. But on the other end of the spectrum, almost 30% were making $50 to $100+ an hour.

Experience and Pay

The survey revealed one-third of first-year writers were earning $20 or less per short blog post, but the pay rate can go as high as $300 and up.

For 22% of the first-year respondents, earnings per short blog post or article were $100 and up, while 4% said they made north of $300 for short posts.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

Here is an overview of the rates for first-year writers in this year’s survey.

  • 30% earn under $10 per hour.
  • 18% earn $11-$19 per hour.
  • 13% earn $20-$25 per hour.
  • 20% earn $26-$40 per hour.
  • 10% earn $50-$75 per hour.
  • 9% earn $76-$100+ per hour.

As expected, established professionals are making more money. A little over one fifth or 21% earn $26-$40 per hour, followed by 38% who earn $50 per hour or more. But even in this group, there were 12% of freelance writers who were making $10 per hour.

Experienced writers who are tackling other assignments, such as content marketing are making at least $50 per hour. This hourly rate was the case for 54% of experienced content marketing writers and 52% of copywriters.

What Pays More?

According to experienced writers, the best-paid work comes from a sophisticated mix of projects. This generally involves taking on articles and blog posts in equal numbers.

In addition to articles and blog posts, 14% of respondents were earning higher rates by doing press releases, proposals, course writing, newsletters, resumes and more. This was followed by website copy, sales copywriting, e-books, white papers, case studies, and technical writing.

Tice says freelancers should learn how to write other assignment types to increase their earning potential because more sophisticated types of writing pay as well or better than articles and blog posts.

Who Is Paying More?

Finding high paying clients is not easy. It requires good marketing skills by freelancers and a solid network. This explains why referrals now account for 40% of the top marketing method by the respondents in the survey.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

For top-earning writers, use of content mills and sites like Upwork, Craigslist and other job boards will likely shrink to zero once all of the data in the survey is analyzed, Tice says.

Even first-year writers are using these platforms with less frequency. For this group, the numbers have gone down from 7% to 3% for content mills, 19% to 10% for Upwork, and 5% to 3% for Craigslist.

You can look at some of the other data in the infographic below.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

One Reaction
  1. Yes. It takes practice and experience. You have to start small but it gets better the more you get used to it.