So, you’re looking to make the leap into freelance writing. The question that’s probably at the forefront of your mind is “how much can I earn?” It can be difficult to find a straight answer to the question of a freelance writer salary.
How much you can earn as a freelance writer depends on how much you charge, your chosen niche(s), your skill and experience, and your clients. You’ll find some freelance writers lamenting how underpaid they are, while others claim to earn $100,000+ within the first year of freelance writing.
The truth for you probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes. In this article, we look at some of the factors that impact a freelance writing salary and help you to realistically gauge your earning potential as a freelance writer.
Salary Range for a Freelance Writer
It’s not easy to pin down the exact salary range for a freelance writer in the UK. Talent.com puts the median annual salary for a freelance writer at £74,263, with entry-level positions starting at £39,000. Payscale.com says annual salaries range between £16,000 – £84,000.
This is likely because the rates you charge and your earning capacity as a freelance writer will depend on various factors. These include whether you’re doing it part-time or full-time, your level of experience, your location, and what type of writing you’re doing.
How Much Does a Beginner Freelance Writer Make?
A beginner freelance writer can make anywhere from pennies per word to several dollars per word. If you are an absolute beginner with no experience, you should expect to earn less than $1 per word. If you have subject expertise, you’ll be able to charge higher rates even as a beginner.
What Affects Your Earnings As A Freelance Writer
How Many Hours You Work
It might be stating the obvious, but your income as a freelance writer depends on the number of hours you put into it. For some people, their freelancing career will start as a side hustle to their main or full-time employment. This is a great way to earn some additional income or to test the waters before moving into freelancing full-time.
It lets you build up connections along with a freelance writing portfolio while maintaining a reliable income stream. However, the more hours you put towards your freelance writing, the more jobs you can do (and the more money you can earn).
Despite what you may have heard, being a full-time freelance writer doesn’t mean hanging out in your pyjamas all day, writing a few words on your typewriter while sipping your tea and gazing out over the ocean.
It requires a lot of extra work outside of just writing. You are your own business. You’re the CEO, marketing director, and accounting department all rolled into one. The more time you put into developing your business, the greater your freelance writer salary.
Level of Experience
Your freelance writing salary will also depend on your level of experience. Like any profession, those who have been in the game for longer can charge higher fees for their services. Some of the most experienced freelance writers can effectively name their price and charge thousands of pounds for a single project.
At the start of your freelance writing career, accepting a few lower-paid (or even unpaid) jobs may be necessary. The value of these jobs is not financial. Instead, they help you hone your craft, build connections with clients, and bolster your reputation as a reliable freelance writer.
Once you’ve completed a project, don’t be afraid to ask your client for an honest testimonial. You can then use it on your website, LinkedIn profile, or other social media platform to promote your services. This is assuming they give you a glowing recommendation, of course! In saying this, you can’t build a sustainable freelance writing career if you’re writing for free. It’s important to know when to draw a line under accepting this kind of low pay or voluntary work.
Over time, not only do you gain writing experience, but you also build ongoing relationships with clients. Perhaps most importantly, you gain a reputation that allows you to charge higher rates and earn more from your freelance writing.
Type of Writing
The type of writing you do affects the rates you can charge and how much you can earn as a freelance writer. Freelance writing is a broad umbrella term that includes everything from general interest blog posts and detailed academic articles, to email newsletters and product descriptions, and even ghost-written memoirs and industry white papers.
Technical writing can involve time-consuming and labour-intensive projects that usually require some knowledge of the relevant field. As a result, writers can charge much more for this type of writing. As an example, Alex Wright is a freelance journalist and writer based in the UK. His starting rate for a press release is £200, while for a white paper, it’s £500. This is much more than your average blog post will cost.
Certain niches generally attract higher freelance writing rates. For example, the finance, digital marketing, and travel niches are particularly profitable at the moment. Writing exclusively in a niche allows you to become known as an expert and charge accordingly. Terence Martin, a financial services copywriter, sets his daily rate at £400. He can do this because he has solidified his reputation as an expert in the industry.
Where Are You Finding the Work?
In addition to the type of writing you do, the source of your work can also influence your freelance writing salary. The set rates for projects on job platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, and People per Hour generally reflect the quick turnaround, high volume nature of this work.
For example, the average hourly rate for content writers on Upwork is between $30-50. Clients who come to you through your website or on a recommendation from another client may be open to discussing higher rates. So, where you get your business can be as important as the type of business you get.
How Much Should I Charge as a Freelance Writer?
How much you charge for your freelance writing is a difficult question to answer. Freelance writers may choose to charge per word, per day, or per project. Your charging method will depend on your situation and will likely change according to the project or client you’re working with.
While working out your rates isn’t an exact science, it helps to have a ballpark figure to guide you. Start by identifying how much you ideally need to make each year. Remember, you’re the entire business, so this figure should include your salary and any other costs of running the business. This includes accounting fees, domain hosting and website maintenance, and any equipment you need.
A Simple Sum
Once you have this figure, divide it by the number of workdays in the year. Don’t forget to factor in holidays and allow some leeway for other days off. Divide the annual figure by the number of workdays for your daily rate. Then just divide that by the number of hours you work per day.
So, if your annual figure is £40,000, and you calculate your number of workdays in the year is 180, your daily rate would be £222. If you work 7 hours per day, your hourly rate would be £32. From here, you can seek out work and clients that allow you to charge these rates. Working backwards in this way is a good method of finding your ideal project prices.
Your Freelance Writing Salary Is What You Make It
This article is just a starting point to understanding how much money you can earn as a freelance writer. There are plenty of online resources that go into specific niches and types of writing and give examples of industry-specific rates.
Before embarking on your own freelance writing career, it’s helpful to research other writers in your intended niche. You can also check their rates to get an idea of how much you can earn as a freelance writer.