How much you can earn as a freelance writer is likely the first thought that came into your mind when you first decided to become one. Or perhaps you’re looking to pick up a side hustle alongside your job, and you want to know what you can expect to make.
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, I’ll look at some of the key factors that impact a freelance writing salary and help you to realistically gauge your earning potential as a freelance writer.
Note: The average freelance writer salary can vary a lot, and calling it a salary at all is perhaps a misnomer. Especially in the beginning, what you earn as a freelancer in any industry is likely to fluctuate, so the examples in this article should only serve as suggestions of what is possible, as you can make a lot less and a lot more.
How Much Money Do Freelance Writers Make?
Freelance writers can make anywhere from pennies per word to thousands of dollars per piece. They can charge a few bucks an hour or they can demand hundreds of dollars per day. Salaries can range from $10,000 a year to 6 figures. There is no easy answer.
However, we can examine examples and suggested salaries from various sources to get a better idea of what you can make as a freelance writer. And that’s exactly what I’ll do below! Let’s start with the average freelance writer salary.
The Average Freelance Writer Salary
According to SalaryExpert, freelance writers in the UK make on average around £43,000 per year and about £21 per hour. According to PayScale, American freelance writers have an average base salary of about $40,000 per year. Per hour, they earn an average of just over $25.
However, let’s see what other sources say is the ‘average’ to gauge just how much this can vary:
- Indeed puts the average freelance writer salary in the UK at £20,500, and $51,000 in the US
- Glassdoor on the other hand puts the UK average at £30,000, and the US figure is $50,100 (similar to Indeed)
- Comparably is far more optimistic, putting the average at $115,000 in the US (with a massive range from $21,000 to over half a million dollars per year)
- Talent.com says the median salary for a UK freelance writer is nearer £60,000
- Payscale puts the range at £17,000 to £64,000
These figures should tell you one thing: it varies a lot. What is supposedly ‘average’ for one is not necessarily the average for another. Lots of things affect what you can make as a freelance writer, and I’ll go into more detail on these soon. But the main factor is likely to be your experience level and abilities, so what should you expect as a beginner? (Not a beginner? Skip to the next section to see what those at the top are making!)
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 – in fact much less. If you have subject expertise, you’ll be able to charge higher rates even as a beginner.
The easiest way to gauge how much you can make as a beginner freelance writer is to go to the places you’re likely to find beginner freelance writing jobs. These include places like Fiverr and Upwork, along with job boards like ProBlogger.
Starting with the latter, at any given time, you’ll find job postings on these sites offering ranges from $0.02 per word to $0.10 or more. However, it’s unlikely to go much higher than that here. Some offer rates per hour, but I’ll explain more later why that’s probably not the best way to charge your clients.
On freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork, you can earn far more and far less than this. Beginners often offer 1,000-word packages for $10 or less ($0.01 per word), which is far too low to be sustainable. Others range from a few pennies per word to $0.15 and above.
What you earn as a beginner freelance writer depends on factors like:
- The niche you’re in
- Who your clients are
- Where you find the jobs
- How you charge your clients
- The length of the content
But what about those at the top end of the spectrum?
Freelance Writer Salary Examples
Want some inspiration? Check out how much these freelance writers make per year! Clearly this is looking at the top 1% of freelance writers, and it’s the opposite end of the scale to the beginner freelance writer salaries I discussed above.
However, these examples show that the sky really is the limit for how much you can earn when you put in the hard work, choose the right niches, and build up a large audience.
Emilina is a freelance writer in the health and fitness niche. She’s also in the top 1% of earners on Fiverr. She only became a full-time freelance writer a few years ago. In 2020, she began making around $3,000 consistently every month on Fiverr, but that has since increased to a whopping $120,000 per year!
Levi is a copywriter who began freelancing as a way to earn some extra money. But after six months, he realized that he could go full-time. In his first year of freelancing on Fiverr, Levi increased his monthly earnings from $800 to $10,000 – $15,000. Levi brings in six figures annually just from freelance writing, and has now managed to bring in more than $1.2 million in total earnings.
Alex made it to the news in 2021 for increasing her earnings from $36,000 to $378,000 a year, just by writing on Fiverr. She has since had a $400,000 year. It’s worth noting that she lists on her Instagram that she’s a “Freelance AI Copywriter,” implying she isn’t doing all the writing, but instead is using a mix of generative AI and her own human touch to scale things. This is a useful consideration for the future of freelance writing.
As you can see, you can earn a range of incomes as a freelance writer and the sky is really the limit! If you’re looking to maximize your annual earnings, there are a few factors that can increase your earning capacity.
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 still maintaining a reliable income stream, minimizing some of the risk. However, the more hours you put towards your freelance writing, the more projects you can take on (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 laptop 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 higher your freelance writer salary can be.
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 dollars for a single project.
At the start of your freelance writing career, accepting a few lower-paid jobs may be necessary, and you might even offer a freebie in exchange for a portfolio piece or testimonial. 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!
You can’t build a sustainable freelance writing career if you’re writing for free or charging too low. 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. There are some niches that pay better than others.
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. 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 £500. 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 $15-40. 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 You Charge As A Freelance Writer?
How much you should 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 can be tough at the start, 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 (like laptops and monitors).
A Simple Sum
Once you have this figure, divide it by the number of days you plan to work 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 plan to work 240 days of the year, your daily rate would be $167. If you work 7 hours per day, your hourly rate would be $24. 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.
However, don’t expect to be able to plan out your career like this – it just doesn’t always end up how we expect it to. There will be projects that require extra hours, and some that you can finish in record time. There are unexpected expenses and days you need to take off. All of these things affect how much you’ll actually earn as a freelance writer.
However, it’s a good starting point. Another thing you’ll need to figure out is how you plan to charge your clients: per word, per project, or per hour?
Charging Per Word vs Per Project vs Per Hour
As a beginner freelance writer, you’ll likely come across more projects offering rates per word than anything else. As you progress, you can either continue to charge per word and just raise your rates, or you can opt for per-project payments. Per hour is usually tough to calculate and stick to, for reasons I’ll discuss below.
Freelance Writer Prices Per Word
Charging per word as a freelance writer offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides a clear and transparent pricing structure, allowing both you and the client to easily understand and calculate costs.
Charging per word allows you to get paid more the faster you write. That’s a double-edged sword, as you need to balance quality and quantity to make enough money to have a sustainable freelance writing career while also keeping clients happy.
- Best for projects where the word count is a critical factor, such as blog posts, articles, or copywriting
- Offers transparent pricing and fair payment for the exact amount of content delivered
- Some projects may not take into account the difficulty of the task or the research required
Freelance Writer Rates Per Project
Charging per project as a freelance writer can be beneficial for various reasons. Firstly, it provides a sense of certainty and predictability, as the total cost is agreed upon upfront. This eliminates any concerns about fluctuating word counts or unexpected revisions that could lead to additional charges.
Charging per project also encourages you as the writer to focus on delivering a comprehensive and well-rounded piece of work rather than fixating on word count. It does mean your hourly rate can fluctuate a lot, as spending more time on the piece will naturally decrease your hourly rate.
However, over time you’ll become better at gauging how long a given type of project will take, and you can set your rates accordingly.
- Ideal for comprehensive and multifaceted projects, such as website content, ebooks, or white papers
- Allows for flexibility and creativity in crafting tailored content to meet specific client needs
- Provides upfront clarity on project costs, eliminating concerns about fluctuating word counts or revisions
Freelance Writer Rates Hourly Rates
One benefit of charging hourly rates as a freelance writer is that it provides a straightforward and transparent method of billing. This approach can be particularly useful for tasks that involve extensive research, interviews, or revisions, as the writer is compensated for the time and effort they invest alongside the number of words they put on the page.
However, charging hourly also has its drawbacks. One major disadvantage is that it may lead to uncertainty for the client regarding the final cost of the project. Charging hourly does not directly align compensation with the value or quality of the content produced. The longer you take, the more you earn, and this can put clients off paying this way.
But it’s also not as ideal for you as the writer, because charging hourly limits your income potential. There are only so many hours in a day, and so your income will only really depend on how many hours you work, rather than the quality of the work you can produce.
- Suitable for projects involving extensive research, interviews, or tasks with variable time requirements
- Ensures fair compensation for the time and effort invested by the writer
- Not very scalable
What Freelance Writing Jobs Pay The Most?
The freelance writing jobs that pay the most include:
- Technical writing
- Financial, legal and medical writing
- Digital marketing
Generally, any content that is either designed to make money itself or requires specific expertise will pay more than average. For example, copywriting is designed to sell products or convert readers into subscribers, which directly leads to income for the client. They will therefore be willing to pay more than average in many cases, as they can expect higher returns on their investment.
On the other hand, technical writing requires specific expertise or a strong ability to explain complex topics in an easy-to-read manner. These are skills not all writers possess, which can make it a lucrative opportunity for those with the ability to do it well.
How To Make More Money As A Freelance Writer
1. Specialize In A Niche
Developing expertise in a specific niche can make you stand out and allow you to command higher rates as a freelance writer. By positioning yourself as an expert in a particular industry or subject matter, you can attract clients who value your specialized knowledge and are willing to pay a premium for it.
2. Build A Strong Portfolio
A portfolio that showcases your best work is essential for attracting high-paying clients. Create a professional website or use platforms like Medium or LinkedIn to showcase your writing samples. Ensure that your portfolio demonstrates your versatility, quality, and range of writing styles to appeal to a broader client base.
3. Cultivate Long-Term Client Relationships
Building strong, long-term relationships with clients can lead to consistent work and higher-paying opportunities. Focus on delivering excellent work, meeting deadlines, and maintaining clear communication. Happy clients are more likely to refer you to others and provide you with repeat business!
4. Expand Your Services
Offer additional services that complement your writing, such as editing, content strategy, or social media management. Providing a comprehensive package can attract clients who are looking for an all-in-one solution, and you can charge higher rates for these added services.
5. Market Yourself Effectively
Finally, don’t be shy about promoting your services and expertise. Utilize social media platforms, professional networks, and freelance marketplaces to showcase your skills and reach potential clients. Develop a strong personal brand and engage in content marketing by sharing valuable insights and tips related to your niche. This can help you establish yourself as an authority and attract clients who are willing to pay for your expertise.
Your Freelance Writing Salary Is What You Make It
How much you earn as a freelance writer depends largely on how much you want to make, and how willing you are to put in the required effort to get there. It’s a long road, but you can make a very successful career out of writing!
For more information about setting your prices as a freelance writer, check out our guide to content writing hourly rates.