How Much Freelance Writers Get Paid
Contract or freelance writer pay varies from a few hundred dollars a month to millions of dollars every year for those working in certain niches.
On the low end of the spectrum, some try their hand at freelance writing and don’t make enough to sustain themselves without a “day job.” On the other hand, writers like Dan Brown of the famed Da Vinci Code are millionaires, with a limitless earning potential.
Of course, you’ll also find that many freelance writers fall into a more average range. Copywriters and other contract workers tend to make a middle-class living, while those who supplement their contract writing income with books or queries usually make more, living at an upper-middle-class level for their area.
Payment in the freelance writing world isn’t guaranteed. Instead of a regular weekly paycheck, you’re typically paid per piece or per job, according to your contract. For longer projects, you might be paid in increments, and for more expensive projects, you might be paid partially upfront. Most freelance writers have to be extremely good at budgeting and planning, as income can vary greatly from month to month.
Advances are common for those working on novels and other kinds of books. When a publisher accepts a book, you are paid a royalty, usually ranging from 5% to 15%. For hardcover books, you’ll typically make around 10%, with that percentage being lower for translations and softcovers and higher if you sell more than 10,000 copies. Usually, the publisher will offer you an advance, which means that they’ll give you some money upfront. You won’t see any more money from them until you exceed your advance, but the plus side is that you’ll have money to live on in the meantime.
Royalties and advances typically only apply for books. Queried articles for magazines and newspapers are bought for a flat fee or price per work (usually $0.01 to $1.00 per word, depending on the publication’s budget and quality of your piece). Online content works the same way – you’re usually paid per article, per page, or per word. Rarely are you given an hourly rate.
Making money with your content on your own website is a different matter. You’re paid in three main ways. First, people can pay you to advertise on your site. The going rate is $1.50 per 1000 visitors for a 125×125 pixel space above the fold (ie, the space you can see on the page without scrolling).
The second way you can be paid is though CPC (Cost Per Click) advertising, with Google Adsense being the major player in this case. With a CPC ad, you’re paid a set amount, usually ranging from $0.01 to $3.00 for every person who clicks on the ad on your site (and yes, they do have security measure to prevent fraudulent clicking). Lastly, you can be paid via affiliate ads, with Amazon being the most popular program in this area. You’re paid a percentage on every sale generated from a product you linked to on your site.