If you’re reading this, you’re either a beginning freelance writer or you want to become a freelance writer. But like most people entering a new field, you want to know about whether you can support yourself with a freelance writer salary.
The answer is yes. You absolutely can. But it’s not going to happen overnight. Here’s a rough guide to everything you need to know about what a freelance writer earns.
The Average Freelance Writer Salary
In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average hourly pay of writers was $28.97 per hour. That’s just over a $60,000 annual salary. But you’ll have to note that the statistics are for “writers and authors,” which covers everyone. Authors who have published books, content writers for websites, script writers and bloggers all fit into this category.
But don’t let that fool you. When you begin freelance writing, you probably won’t be ready to publish a book or start your own blog. You’ll be working primarily for other clients who will be paying you to write for their own projects. Those clients need to make money, too, so unless you get really lucky and land a very lucrative contract, you won’t be making much to start.
We at FWU have stressed it time and again – you’ve got to set realistic expectations. Is it possible to make six figures as a freelance writer? Yep! But is it going to happen tomorrow? Nope. Be prepared to start small and you’ll gradually build your business to earn the equivalent of a full time salary.
How Much Can You Expect to Earn as a Freelancer?
To begin, you’ve got to ask yourself a few questions.
- How much time are you willing to dedicate to freelance writing?
- Is your plan to replace your current salary?
If you want to be successful as a freelance writer, you’ve got to commit to it. Don’t expect to pay rent with the income you earn from a few hours of writing each week. That just won’t happen. Freelance writing is a great way for you to earn a little extra money if you don’t have the time to commit to it. But if you’re serious about a career change, you’ll need to treat freelance writing as a full time job. Put the kids in daycare, choose a start time and work all day.
Many freelance writers start writing and building a client base prior to leaving their full time jobs – that’s smart. But still others quit their jobs, are fired or are laid off, and they need a source of income right away. Our suggestion to you is to make sure that you’ve got either some savings or a good support network if you choose to quit your desk job cold turkey.
In short, if you’re planning to replace your full time salary with a full time freelance writer salary, you’ll have to adopt freelance writing as a career goal, not just a hobby. Don’t fall prey to the advertisements that promise you $100 per hour as an editor within your first week. This rarely happens, and chances are you won’t be one of the lucky ones.
Building a Paying Client Base
If we didn’t scare you away yet, you’re probably interested in knowing how you can increase your freelance writer salary in the shortest time possible. It doesn’t have to take years for you to be able to support your family or yourself as a writer. You’ve got to think smart, though, and not be afraid to put yourself out there.
Let’s face it. Nobody’s going to walk up to you on the street and offer you money as a writer. Nobody. If you do get offered an opportunity, it’s going to be a friend or family member, or maybe your church or social club. They’re not going to pay much, if anything, and you’ll probably feel guilty if you charge them anyway.
So you’re going to have to market your business. We recommend starting to build your portfolio via an online platform like Upwork or Fiverr. As you earn positive reviews and long term clients, you’ll also earn a bigger salary. If you do prefer to work with local organizations, remember that you own a business. Market yourself as a professional. Print business cards, build a small business website and register with the Chamber of Commerce. The more professionally you portray yourself, the more likely clients will be to use your service.
Marketing your Freelancing Business
Oh yeah, the marketing part. Remember how we said that you should sit down and work all day, every day? How do you do that if you’ve got nothing to write?
You’re going to spend a lot of time marketing, especially in the beginning. Marketing your business can be in the form of sending queries to prospective journals, sending proposals via Upwork, or working on your portfolio. And marketing doesn’t end once you’re earning a six figure freelance writer salary. Every single freelance writer, regardless of their success, should do at the very least one marketing task every single day.
Freelance With Us has great resources that you can use to learn how to market yourself as a writer. We’ve got tips on how to write winning proposals, how to increase your social media presence, and how to write an effective press release. We’ve even got tips about how to make the best of your Upwork profile so that clients will notice you. Please take advantage of these resources; we’ve written them in order to help you!
Your Freelance Writer Salary
Alright, so we’ve established that you won’t be earning a huge amount of money when you first start your business. But the cool thing about freelance writing is that it requires very little overhead to get started. You’ll need a laptop or computer and in internet connection, that’s about it. So, with the exception of what you owe to Uncle Sam, you’ll keep pretty much everything you earn.
And while your beginning salary might be a bit small, a couple hundred bucks a week, you can quickly increase that by taking jobs with quality clients, dedicating your time to your career, and ensuring that you continually increase your visibility. Furthermore, as you write for the lower paying clients in the beginning, you’ll be practicing your craft. Feedback from those clients will allow you to improve your writing, and successful land higher paying clients later. You can earn a full time income as a freelance writer if you treat it as a full time job.