How Much do Freelance Writers Make? (More Than You Think)
“How much do freelance writers make?!?!?!”. I get this question daily.
Let me just say this flat out: Pretty much all the information out there is WRONG.
Don’t listen to bad, lazy writers on Reddit complain about how low the salary is. That’s BS.
You can make a real solid living as a freelance writer. You can easily make a few thousand dollars a month as a beginner, and from there you can only go up.
The entry rate is pretty low, but I think that’s a GOOD THING. YES, it’s an ADVANTAGE. There’s ZERO barriers to entry. Once you’re in, you can raise depending on your skills.
I couldn’t find any legit sources on this information so I’m just going to use my own career to show you what you’re in store for. I’ll walk you step-by-step through the stages and show you:
- What the market is willing to pay (DESPITE WHAT CLIENTS WANT YOU TO THINK)
- What YOU should charge for each piece of content (AND HOW TO STAND YOUR GROUND)
- How to progress to the next level and start making REAL MONEY
A freelance writing salary won’t make you rich, but it has its perks. As soon as these girls knew an eCommerce content writer was at the party, they dropped everything and ran over….just kidding they hosted this party and were obligated to take this photo with me.
Ⅰ: How Much do Freelance Writers Make?: The Official Numbers
Before I get into the nitty gritty details of what freelance writers get paid these days, let’s take a look at the official stats.
- The Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Uncle Sam says writers make on average about $73k a year with hourly wage ranging anywhere from $15 – $60 on the high end. Nice! Too bad this includes people like authors, PR specialists, and technical writers. That’s gonna skew everything. Moving along…
- Clearvoice (How Much Should I Pay Freelance Writers?) Survey: This survey looked at how much writers charged based on experience, gender, content type, etc. The results were rosy. Intermediate writers usually charge between 10 cents/word and $1/word. Roughly $81-$100ish/hour. Pretty reliable info if you ask me, but again it doesn’t really tell you how much YOU should charge.
- Glassdoor: The folks over at Glassdoor say you can make about $50k/year. Not too bad I guess.
I even stumbled upon this chart from the Editorial Freelancers Association with hourly rates for everything from copyediting to indexing.
OK Cool, Kevin. But How Does This Affect Me? HOW MUCH WILL I GET PAID AS A FREELANCE WRITER?
Chill out, I’m getting there.
It totally depends.
What are you writing about?
How much experience do you have?
Do you have references?
Are you good at negotiating?
The only way to truly know the typical freelance writing salary is to get boots on the ground and start seeing what clients are willing to pay.
Ⅱ: Freelance Writing Rates: How I Went From $20 to $200+ for Articles
When I first started freelancing, I could only afford 1.5L plastic bottles of beer. Now, I still drink them, I just don’t have an excuse. Uneticky pivovar, Ty Vole!
I’ve been a freelance writer for about 5 years now.
I got into freelancing to escape the grind, and I knew there was big demand for writers because I kept seeing jobs ads online (Freelancing platforms, job boards, social media) for content writers, copywriters, SEO writers, etc.
I started writing 500-word blogs for $20. $20 was actually a lot for me at the time.
BOOM! $40 a week! That’s big-time living, baby! Thanks Allan!
Check to see if you’ve got the skills you need to become a content writer. If you do, why not give it a shot?
I was living in Czech Republic teaching english for a salary that was less than $1,000/mo, and $20 was about 500 Czech Koruna (CZK). That’s a full night out AND some greasy Klobasa on the walk home.
Now I regularly crush that mark, making $100+ for 500 words. If the content order is larger, I bring the rate down. I’d much rather write 1 2,000-word post on a single topic than 4 500-word posts on different topics.
That means I can bring in about $400 for 1 article. Not bad for a day’s work:
So what’s changed? A few things:
- Confidence: I’m not naturally confident. In fact, I FELT BAD about charging money for my services. That’s changed. Once you start partying with clients in their fancy apartments and seeing how they live, you realize they’ve got money. I want my share!
- Experience: I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, including what the market is like and how to compare my services to others. Those low-ball rates you see in job ads are just for intimidation.
- Skill: My writing has obviously improved. I look back and cringe at stuff I wrote in 2014. That’s normal. Remember this:
OK, so I still haven’t gotten to how much freelance writers make.
Let’s get to it. Here are realistic expectations based on my knowledge of the market and my actual experience as a freelance writer.
Ⅲ: Freelance Writer Salary: Realistic Expectations
Do any of these job ads look familiar:
- $.50 for 8,000 words. MUST BE PERFECT ENGLISH.
- $2 for an ebook on the Ming Dynasty. MASTERS DEGREES ONLY.
- – $5 for 1,000 words. Yes, you read that right. YOU PAY ME TO WRITE MY CONTENT. AT LEAST YOU’ll GET EXPERIENCE!
If you’re tired of seeing job posts like this, check out 21 easy ways to find freelance writing jobs WITHOUT freelancing platforms. These are the easy ways to make money freelancing most writers don’t know about.
When I first got started, I wrote for dirt cheap. I felt like I had to since all of the job ads were for pennies, and there was infinite competition. I even offered free samples.
My goal was just to get to $1,000/month and quit my job. I crushed that mark fast.
Within a few weeks I was pumping out tons of content. Then I got offered a full-time position paying ~$40k/year (Not that much honestly).
I worked remotely for this SEO company based out of Montreal pumping out tons of content and making solid money, but I was miserable. I quit and went to Thailand (and back to the drawing board, so to speak) to try and build a career as a freelancer instead. I just needed freedom.
Since then I’ve clawed my way up the freelance writing payscale. Here’s what I’ve made at each stage.
Stage 1) Beginner Writers
I got started writing part-time in Prague, but even later when I moved to Thailand I still wasn’t earning very much after I quit the agency job. I stayed for a while at HimNimman residence, Chiang Mai. My friends and I called it La Favela because we felt so ghetto. $200 a month!
I highly recommend writing for cheap to break into the industry and even offering a FREE sample. Anything to get a job, connection, recommendation, or sample to build your portfolio.
500-Word Generic Blogs – $20-$25
I had a lot of success getting entry-level writing jobs at this price. You remember Allan from before:
That’s about 5 cents per word.
It’s not much, but you can slowly claw your way up.
When I started to get busier, I brought my rate up to 8 cents/word but still offered discounts for bulk work. Like to this Aussie guy:
Once I was busy enough, I started charging the following prices:
500-word blogs (Outside my specialty): $27.50
Product reviews: .08/word
Amazon listings: $40-$50
If you’re good, clients are happy to pay these prices:
I would also look into writing newsletters and press releases. There are tons of companies looking for these, especially since press releases supposedly help with SEO…
This company said YES!
Stage 2) Intermediate Writers
Once I started using the Freelanceaholic Method with my specialty niche (s), my rates increased steadily. I eventually had so much work I started to outsource to other writers just to make things lighter on me.
That was a HUGE BREATHE OF FRESH AIR.
I started charging 10 cents/word for web content:
The topics would give away the company. Not sure if that’s kosher. $250 for only about a day’s work ain’t bad!
I kept this rate consistent across all of my clients whether it was for blogs/web content or whatever else they needed (Product reviews, descriptions, etc.).
A 500-word blog at 10 cents a word is $50. And since I was writing mostly about eCom, everything was super easy for me. 500 words on PDF software took me less than an hour, upping my rate to $50+/hr at the time.
.10r? Typo? Very professional, Kevin.
And since I was so busy, and had built a good reputation in the eCom niche, I just started taking swings. That’s what it’s all about, man. Confidence.
The confidence to ask for what you deserve.
So any time I got a new client, I’d just ask for slightly more, knowing that if they said no I could at least settle on the base rate of 10 cents a word.
That helped me get to 12 cents a word pretty quickly, and my hourly rate started approaching $100 since I was writing on familiar topics.
This guy was my favorite client. The perfect working relationship. I gave him awesome content that ranked and converted, he paid me well, paid 50% up front, and paid almost immediately every time I finished a project. This is when I really started to make a few hundred dollars a day and approach $5,000/mo. Good times!
What I’m trying to say here is don’t be intimidated by clients asking for 1 or 2 cents per word. There are tons of clients willing to pay 10x that or more. If you’re good they’ll start sending you more work.
I recommend rates like this if you’re around this stage:
- 500-word blogs: $40-$50
- Web content: 8-10 cents a word
- Amazon listings: $100 +
- Product reviews: 8-10 cents a word
- Sales emails: $50-$80
How I Reached the Intermediate Writing Stage
A few things helped me get to this stage:
- Confidence: I explained before.
- Specialty topics: I wrote a TON for eCommerce and legal industry companies. This specialized knowledge helped me write better content faster. More money in less time = $$$.
- Connections: I started with 0 connections in my tiny ass bedroom, but slowly built a great reputation. Once I had good references, raising rates was easy.
3) Advanced Writers
It’s taken me a long time to command the rate that I do. But I’m 100% confident you can reach it with hard work and persistence.
You can probably do it much faster than I did since I went the totally roundabout way (Part-time to full-time to quitting to starting again to changing niches UGHGHGHGHG).
And I’m not even saying I make a ton of money. There are super specialized writers making double, triple, or even 5x what I charge.
That keeps me motivated to keep pushing higher and higher.
I’m not going to give away exactly what I charge these days, since that varies on topic, client, and a few other factors.
But here are a few screenshots:
eCommerce Content – My Specialty 20 cents + per word (Bulk Discounts for Friends!)
Amazon Listings – ~$200
I have written a ton of Amazon listings, and if you can develop this skill, it’s a great way to make money. It’s actually pretty formulaic, and once you get the copywriting nuts and bolts tightened, they don’t take that long.
I know for a fact clients will pay this because some of mine do.
Notice I also provide some supplementary web content here because this guy is a good friend of mine. You can easily do 2 of these in a day. $420 in a day ain’t too shabby!
I also know other companies are paying good money for their Amazon listings because a friend of mine asked me to do his and I didn’t have the time. He confirmed 200 is a normal price.
Of course that’s for a GOOD ONE. If you have no fucking clue what you’re doing and ask for $200 you’ll get blocked.
What Types of Content/Niche Pay the Best
If I were you, I’d focus on either high-paying or low-effort types of content. You could try difficult niches like:
But that’s a lot of work. If you like a challenge, be my guest.
Instead, I’d start trying things like:
- Amazon listings
- Press releases (These are wicked easy and I fetch $100 each for them or more)
- Affiliate product reviews
To answer the question “how much do freelance writers make?”: It depends on you! My advice is to:
- Niche down
- Build a portfolio and do favors for people within your industry (EX: free content/discounted rates)
- Build a solid base of paying work and start “taking shots” by throwing out larger numbers to clients
- Justify the rate by explaining why you charge more: You’re swamped, you don’t have much time, you’ve written on this topic a lot, your turn-around times are fast, etc.
- Display your achievements on your portfolio, social media, or writers sites as proof of what you’ve done
Use my progression as a guide:
- Complete Beginners: 3-5 cents per word
- Beginners: 5-8 cents
- Intermediate: 8-15 cents
- Advanced 18-20 +
And last, focus on either high-paying or low-effort types of content:
- Amazon listings (High skill and high pay)
- Newsletters (Decent pay)
- Press releases
Ⅳ: Closing Content Writer Salary Thoughts (Started From the Bottom Now We Here)
When I started writing content/copy, work was sporadic and didn’t pay much. I quickly crushed my $1,000/mo goal, but that’s not enough to “live”, if you know what I mean.
And the only way I made good money was as a full-time blog serf for a digital marketing company, and even that wasn’t TOO MUCH.
Even though I was “full-time”, I wasn’t satisfied. When I quit working remotely for the SEO company in Canada, I was back at square 1: Low rate freelancing.
Freelance writers don’t make much money to start, but the room for growth is exponential. And there are so few good writers that clients will jump on you if you’re any good. You could easily go from making $40-$50/day to $150-$200 or more in a fairly short time, especially if you know what you’re doing.
Remember the Favela from before?
NOT ANYMORE, BITCHES.
Think you have what it takes to write online and make money from ANYWHERE? Check out my article on how to become a content writer. It’s the easiest, fastest way to start a location-independent career and there’s almost 0 barrier to entry.
Ⅴ: Content Writer Salary FAQ
Q: How Much Do Freelance Writers Make Per Word?
A: Beginner writers typically make between 3 – 8 cents per word. Depends on topic, experience, and type of content (Blog, product review, guide, Amazon listing, etc.). Higher level writers earn 20 cents a word or more while the top 5-10% earn up to $1 for every word they write!
Q: How Much Should I Charge for a 500-Word Article?
A: You should charge between $20-$50 for a 500-word article as a beginner, depending on your level of experience. If you’re just breaking into the industry, start on the low end. As you build a portfolio and reputation, scale up from there.
Q: Do Freelance Writers Make Good Money?
A: Yes. Don’t let the low entry-level rates discourage you. I I can easily make $200-$300+ per day or even more depending on blog load. Depends on skill, topic, and how fast you type/how much your brain can handle.
Q: What’s the Average Hourly Rate for Freelance Writers?
A: The average hourly rate for freelance writers is extremely difficult to pin down. Based on my experience, it’s somewhere around $80/hr. If you take an average 10 cents a word and say it takes a bit more than an hour to write 1,000 words, $80/hr sounds about right to me.