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tricon7
10-21-2011, 04:29 AM
Could someone give me some kind of idea of what kind of income a decently-successful freelancer earns? I'm looking into writing for magazines, but I'm open. I also have a novel I'm looking to get published, but I think that would be separate income - if it ever saw publication.

Thanks.

Bushrat
10-21-2011, 08:19 PM
This will vary hugely from person to person and depends completely on how much effort you want to put into it.

I don't need more than $5,000 to $6,000 a year to live on, so I don't query for more than that amount, lazy bum that I am :D My newspaper column pays $5,000 a year, one magazine I sub to once a year or so pays around $800.- for a five-page article incl pics, and then there a few other mags I sometimes write for that pay around 30 cents per word.

Scoring a regular thing like a weekly column will cut down hugely on the amount of time you need to spend on querying and provide you with a regular base income. If you can sell the pictures to go with your articles, you'll make quite a bit more money.

davem
10-24-2011, 04:23 AM
If you work at it, you can make a decent living. But it's not easy until you have a good reputation and clients that know and trust you to deliver quality work.

GradyHendrix
10-24-2011, 06:24 PM
I spent a few pre-2008 years making $38,000 or thereabouts from freelancing. But these days? Impossible. Unless you already have contacts or are an expert in one specific field, the chances of making it as a freelancer are pretty close to zero.

NewKidOldKid
10-24-2011, 06:57 PM
I freelance full-time, so it's possible.

denenewrites
10-28-2011, 04:59 PM
There are many writers supporting their families on their writing business -- so there's plenty of people out there making great money from freelance writing. Many that I follow (and myself included) also do copy writing or corporate writing to diversify our income streams (though I haven't done much of that this year).

There is some research out there with good stats on what writers make. Here's a link to a recent salary survey done by Kelly James Enger that should give you some good numbers.

http://dollarsanddeadlines.blogspot.com/2011/07/state-of-fulltime-freelancers-income.html

Hope that helps!

Ultimate Cheapskate
10-28-2011, 11:38 PM
As others have said, freelancer incomes vary greatly.

I've been earning a comfortable full-time living as a freelancer for the past six years, although it's a mix of writing books, articles, paid blogging, public speaking, some paid broadcast gigs, etc. I'm one of those nonfiction hacks who is more in the "brand business" than the "writing business," if you will, having become an "expert" of sorts in one particular niche.

While that model doesn't make sense for every freelancer (or even very many), the thing I'd stress is diversifying your income streams as much and as quickly as possible, even if it just means targeting the broadest possible range of print clients. Eggs in a basket thing, you know?

If you can anchor your portfolio of clients with a regular gig or two, that can make a huge difference in terms of the practicality of making it work full-time. The bit of advice I would offer there is to pitch clients on letting you blog for them on an ongoing basis; much easier to land than a print column anymore, and also becoming quite lucrative compared to print. It also allows you to build your platform while being paid to do it.

Good luck.

Ulee_Lhea
10-29-2011, 07:21 PM
It's not as easy as it used to be, but there are freelance writers who make upwards of $100,000 a year. And they're not these rare snow leopards. I know several on another writing forum.

Not that you'll be making that right out the gate, but it's nice to work toward.

Denenewrites, thanks for linking to Dollars and Deadlines. I also love that blog, and that survey is really fascinating.

ShamanDrum
11-08-2011, 09:50 AM
I'm more curious as to how much freelancers earn per hour on average. Certainly there are a lot of freelancers out there earning only $5000-$6000 a year, but are they just freelancing part time? Or perhaps writing just enough to earn how much they need like Bushrat?

From what I hear there are a fair few stay-at-home mums and dads doing just that to supplement their family income.

I assume even the hourly average varies wildly. I know it's difficult to get such statistics, but it would be very interesting to know. And if there has been a drop over the last few years, how much of a drop?

CyberForensicWriter
11-08-2011, 01:45 PM
I was earning $45 - $60 an hour roughly for my best client but I had become very efficient with that one specific area. Until that major client became a victim of the economy recently. I'm now using this time to do a little reinvention and put myself where I want to be because that client wasn't really it and had become just another job. Work can be sparse in a lot of areas and some types of work just don't pay as good as others. For example content mills pay a low wage but you can also finish several of them in a short amount of time. So if you find one that has enough work available you can easily make $40 an hour. If you're going for magazines you can maybe pull in a couple thousand a month provided you have some expertise and time to do the required work and get enough articles passed. There's no way to price that by hour though because each article would be a different price.

Your best bet is to google for professional freelance writing blogs and do a lot of reading on how they price their services and such.

ShamanDrum
11-09-2011, 03:58 AM
I think freelance writing is such a diverse field, trying to get any reliable figures is futile. But from the above posts and others I have read I see it's possible to earn a very decent income.

Whether one has to be in the top 20%, top 10% or top 1% to fall into these income brackets is anyone's guess.

Even with the most pessimistic outlook, at least there's hope :) Time to start climbing the slippery ladder.

ricecracker
01-03-2012, 06:53 AM
Here's a helpful blog post from a freelance writer friend of mine regarding freelance rates:

http://www.brickcommajason.com/2011/12/07/about-price/

thekingsguard
01-26-2012, 09:43 AM
I'm just learning the hopes of freelancing myself. I just hope to make $1000 or so a month to start - more than enough to pay the rent and save a little.