Freelance Writing Mini-Series - Part 2

How Much Do Freelance Writers Earn?

In the first part of this Freelance Writing mini-course, we explored the question, "What is freelance writing?" Now, in part two, we'll take a look at one of the most frequent questions we hear, "How Much Do Freelance Writers Earn? 

Your earning potential as a freelance writer is unlimited. While that is true, there are a number of factors that can influence your income such as how hard your work, the type of writing that you do, and where your clients are based. 

Now, here is a quick reality check. Many freelance writers earn less income from their writing than they would earn if they worked in a regular job.

At the other end of the scale there are writers who earn six-figures and more, annually. 

So how can you earn more? Let's look at some of the different types of freelance writing.

On this page, unless stated otherwise, I am referring to the rates paid in North America.

Writing for Magazines 

Let's start with freelance writing for magazines. It's not the most lucrative type of freelance writing, but it is an area where many freelance writers get their start as professional writers.

The rates that magazines pay to freelancers varies widely. Many magazines pay in the range of $0.15 to $0.35 per word which means you earn $150 to $350 for a 1,000-word article. Of course, many pay less too.

You can generally expect rates to increase as you move up from local to regional to national publications.

At the upper end, some publications pay $1.00 per word and above. 

Here are a few examples of pay rates from our list of Regional Writing Markets.

New Mexico Magazine

Monthly magazine covering the people, culture, arts, history outdoor recreation and landscape of New Mexico. Pays $0.30 to $0.40 per word.

British Columbia Magazine

A quarterly, scenic, geographic and travel magazine that publishes well-researched articles about British Columbia. Pays $0.50 per word.

Alaska Magazine

Magazine about Alaska - from bears to moose, from biking to camping and mountain climbing. Pays $200 to $700, plus more for photos. 

Okanagan Life Magazine

Regional magazine for Okanagan Valley residents and visitors. Pay ranges from $0.20 to $0.25 per word.

Writing for Blogs 

There are more blogs than ever before and although many blogs prefer writers to 'guest post' for free, there are other blogs that pay their writers.

I will be publishing a new market list of paying blogs soon. 

Other Types of Freelance Writing

When it comes to other types of freelance writing, for example copywriting, ghostwriting and technical writing, writers tend to charge a flat project fee or bill their clients by the hour. 

A 2012 freelance industry report by Ed Gandia surveyed 1,500 freelancers, including many freelance writers. 61% of the writers reported that they earn $50 or more per hour.  

There is a limit to how high your income can climb if you only write magazine articles. You just need to do the mathematics. How many articles can you write in a month or in a year?

Many freelance writers start out writing for magazines and then go on to work as copywriters, bloggers, and even trainers. 

Also, it is now easier than ever to self-publish a book or ebook. These days, authors may be self-published, traditionally-published, or a hybrid of these. A 2014 Digital Book World survey of 9,000 authors revealed that around 20% of hybrid authors earned over $15,000 per year, and 10% earned $60,000 or more. 

Author Hugh Howey had this to say regarding the survey, "The simple fact is this: getting paid for your writing is not easy. But self-publishing is making it easier. How much easier? We don’t have sufficient data to know. But a conservative estimate would be that five to 10 times as many people are paying bills with their craft today as there was just a few years ago. And that should be celebrated.”

*Sources include Ed Gandia's 2012 freelance industry report and 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey

How Can You Grow Your Freelance Writing Income? 

There are several ways to grow your income as a professional writer:

  • Once you have your first articles published, try to work your way up, from local to regional to national publications. Our Markets Plus Database will help you to identify some of the highest-paying markets, especially in North America.
  • Work on increasing your productivity and the efficiency of your workflow. Cut out activities that are wasting time. Look for tools that will save you time. 
  • Diversify into other areas of professional writing including copywriting, ghostwriting, and writing your own books and courses.
  • Launch an online publication or niche blog. If you can attract large numbers of readers, then you should be able to 'monetize' your website through product sales, advertising, or promoting 3rd party products as an affiliate. 
  • Add consulting services such as public speaking and even coaching other authors and writers.

The Big Question: What is Most Important to You? 

One of the biggest questions you should probably be asking as you consider a career in freelance writing is this...

What is most important to you?

Is it to earn over $100,000 annually?  

Or is it to have a happy, and more fulfilling, life?

Ed Gandia's 2012 survey of 1500 freelancers, many of them writers, revealed that 90% were happier now than before they became self-employed!

Wouldn't you like to spend your days doing something that makes you happier?

How We Can Help You to Succeed

At, we've been helping freelance writers for more than 16 years. We know that you are very busy, and so we've honed in on the most useful way that we believe we can support and assist you. We cannot write your articles for you. And we don't pitch queries to editors on your behalf. 

But what we can do is save you valuable time by helping you to identify suitable markets for your writing and hopefully to uncover your next writing assignment. 

What's Next?

In the next part of this mini-series, we'll look at some different types of publications and how to get the editors' attention. We'll also look at the editorial process. Watch out for an email soon!

About this Course

This module is part of a mini-series on Freelance Writing sent by email to our subscribers. If you've landed on this page from somewhere else, and would like to sign up for the entire mini-series, please click here.

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