How Much Does Freelance Writing Pay?

When I started out as a freelance writer, one of my biggest questions was: how much does freelance writing pay?

Is it worth it to walk away from an office job to become a freelance writer?

What do you sacrifice when you start a freelance career, and does the money make up for always having to find new gigs or clients?

Well, I’m here today to talk about how much you can make as a freelance writer, and how I learned to make a regular income, through a variety of different tactics that you can use yourself.

Note: this article has affiliate links, which means I get a percentage if you purchase something or sign up through that link. You don’t have to pay any extra to do so. See my disclosure for more info.

First of All: What Is Freelance Writing?

Like other freelance jobs, freelance writing is all about being your own boss.

You set the hours you work.

You decide who your clients are.

And, you get to choose the projects you take.

At the outside, that seems pretty exciting, right? It’s also hard! Especially when you’re starting out. You’re building a portfolio, deciding what kind of writing to do, and setting your rates. Then, you have to find the clients to pay you!

That’s a lot of work already. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and I’ve already done it.

But: it’s doable.

And a lot of people I know make thousands of dollars every month just working as a freelance writer. Some people make a few thousand a week or more!

So, the real question:

How Much Does Writing Pay?

Unfortunately,  the answer is: it depends.

If you’re working in a B2B (that’s business to business) position, perhaps writing white papers or technical manuals or high level documentation, you might make $3-5 thousand dollars a week, easily. Maybe more!

Some people I know come away with $10-25k in a month, just from freelance writing.

But, a lot of their work ends up coming from an avenue you probably have heard of: 

Passive income.

What’s Passive Income?

Passive income is essentially a “set it and forget it” method, whereby you make money without doing anything.

That last bit is kind of a lie. You have to do something, but then you keep making money from that thing.

Let’s say you release a self-published ebook. The first $10-25k maybe pays for the time it took to write the book. If you wrote it fast, maybe it’s the first $1-5k to pay for the time to write, format, and release and market the book.

Then, the rest of the purchases are profit, and that profit is passive income. You no longer have to write the book, or sell it, or edit it, or format it. It’s just out there online, and those payments are coming in, while you sit back and collect. If your book costs $1.99, you might not make a lot, especially if you only sell 10 copies, and you’re only making royalties! 

But, if you sell the same amount of copies at $19.99, look at those numbers go up!

I recommend selling directly through your own website, as well as through digital spaces like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I use Draft2Digital to release digital ebooks. I’m writing my first one now! That link is an affiliate link, so I make some royalty money if you sign up and sell books through there (though you don’t have to pay a penny – it’s totally free to sign up). 

That’s all to say: 

A freelance writer can make a lot from passive income!

Then there’s a way I make a lot of my income:

Affiliate Marketing.

But Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?

I don’t think so.

Here’s why:

You might make money from it. You might not.

But a lot of that has to do with what you’re selling and how you sell it, just like selling any other product. 

Are sales inherently a scam? That’s up to you. Some probably are, some aren’t. I think if the product you’re getting works, is what you wanted, and you’re paying a price you can afford, it’s not a scam.  

And the sky’s the limit with affiliate marketing. Some people make in the 6-7 figures every year from doing that alone.

So, let’s break down the different types of freelance writing, now that we’ve talked a little about passive income, the “sky’s the limit,” and get into what each type can make. This is now an “active income” situation, where you’re doing regular work on a job for one-time payments. 

1. Content Writing

This might be blogging, web content, article writing, or any other kind of content creation.

That’s usually at the lower-paid level, though blogging can make a lot! 

But to start out with, you might only make a few hundred a week or a few hundred a month, even.

Most people I know who do content writing for a living work around 40-50 hour weeks (depending on where they are in their career).

Those who are starting out tend to land in the $1-3k a month bracket. Those who have done it for a lot longer land in the $5-10k a month bracket. 

When you’re starting out, charge fairly for your work. So, I never took less than $100 for a 500-word article.

Why?

Because I have a lot of experience writing. I know how long it takes me to write 500 words, and I keep a limit on what I’m willing to make hourly (no less than $25-30/hour). 

Figure out your standard hourly rate, and reverse-engineer your rate from that. So, if it takes me 5 hours to write a 500-word piece, and I want to make $20/hour, I would charge $100 for that article. Easy!

After that, figure out how much you can work each week, and calculate your own weekly rate from there.

However, keep in mind: 

Like all freelancing, freelance writing depends on clients, and if you don’t have enough clients, you won’t make your hourly rate.

Let’s say I make $25/hour, but I only work 10 hours a week! That’s only 250/week. If I worked a 40 hour week, I’d be making $1000 that same week. So – you see? It’s all about that time to money ratio. 

And starting out, you might end up working for content farms, where you could make only $5-10 an hour to begin with. I actually like places like UpWork and Fiverr, (not affiliate links) as I can make my regular rates there, but it depends on your specialization as to whether you’ll make your expected pay. You may have to start low and grow a portfolio and rankings to get higher.

2. Business 2 Business (B2B) Writing

This can be more in the $5-25k a month range, from what I see on average. 

So, you might make $2k for one project, but that one project might take 2-3 weeks to do. Rather than making $75-100 for an article, but only taking 1 day to write that article.

I wish I had more experience in this sector to talk about from a writing standpoint. I have done B2B work in the past, and I have a lot of clients who are businesses, but that’s primarily in the Hollywood space, so I’m not sure how it works in other arenas. When I find out more, I’ll update, but I recommend doing some research on B2B freelance writing, as there is a lot of good information out there.

3. Blogging.

I’ve separated this out from content writing, though it’s kind of the same thing! But bloggers can make in the 6 figures every year, even though it’s not easy to do.

Just keep in mind that blogging can have a broad range, from $25 a month to $25k a month or more, depending on how the blog is monetized, if there is income from guest posting and ghostwriting for other blogs, and how else the person makes their income.

The blogging itself might only take 30 hours a week, but can pay off in dividends to come. 

4. Editing & Proofreading

I consider this a major part of freelance writing. I usually make my regular $25-30 an hour proofreading. Often $30-40 an hour, if I get a good, meaty project by a good writer.

I recommend looking into proofreading, if you have a good grasp of grammar and spelling. I think it’s one of the most lucrative ways to become a freelance writer.

5. Transcribing

This is another freelance writing gig. Sometimes it pays $5-10 an hour, if you’re just doing basic work.

If you take on heavier projects for big clients, or specialized work, like legal or medical transcription, you might make $40+ an hour. 

So – this is a huge range! And it depends on your specialization.

Keep in mind:

You may need real qualifications (like a degree or certificate training) to do some levels of medical transcription and billing.

Though I’ve worked for companies where I’ve transcribed audio related to medical or legal areas, and I don’t have a degree in either field. 

One company I’ve enjoyed working for is TranscribeMe.com. I recommend it, because they are a friendly and easy company to work for, and they pay promptly, and they have a lot of work, usually. The testing can take some time to perfect, though, so brush up on your grammar and punctuation and typing speed. If you don’t type at least 60 wpm, it’s probably not worth it.

To Sum Up…

You might make $5 an hour or $50 an hour or more.

It just depends on your skill set, your hustle, your portfolio, your contacts, and your clients.

I personally think the sky is the limit with all freelance writing, and you can make $10k a month or more doing it. 

But, I may not be the average person on that front – and I know there are months where I’ve only brought in $400-800 from freelance writing. So, keep focused. Keep working at it. And keep your skill set up.

What do you make freelance writing? What would you like to make? Write in the comments and let me know about your journey!