Sipping coffee at a café, I am currently fulfilling the freelance writing dream as a write this article. For many freelancers struggling to make ends meet, the future may seem bleak. There are articles and opportunities out there for freelancers who make the leap into full-time work. Online writing offers a flexible schedule that writers’ desire. For the more motivated writer, there are jobs that exist writing magazine articles, trade reports and books.The Pay
As much as a writer wants to live their dream and write, everything still comes down to the pay. A writer must make a livable wage for the career to be possible. Many of the articles written are done as “piecework”. Writers are paid for the article or book written and not by hour. Since many writers in the United States earn their wage in this manner, it is difficult to calculate average salaries and hours worked.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, freelancers account for 70 percent of all writers. The average salary of creative writers was listed at $65,960. The top 10 percent earned an average of $109,440 a year and the bottom 10 percent of all writers earned just $28,610. O-Net Online listed the median income for every freelance writer at $55,420 a year. In this statistic, O-Net Online included fiction writers, poets, novelists and freelance journalists. For the beginning writer, these numbers may be unattainable at first. Still, the lowest paid individuals still made $28,610 a year so freelance writing can provide a livable wage at even the lowest end of work.
The best part of being a freelance writer is the extreme flexibility. Since everything is done as piece work, the writer can choose when to write and how much they want to work. The more hours they put into it, the more money they will receive. Depending on what type of writing they do, the freelance writer may have to put in countless hours to achieve their desired salary.
The biggest difficult with freelance hours is actually doing them. It is all too easy to get distracted and spend hours surfing the web. At the other end of the spectrum, writers can get caught up in their assignments and forget to actually live their life. To alleviate these problems, writers should set a consistent work schedule. During these hours, they should be occupied entirely with writing. After work is done for the day, they need to stop focusing on work and just relax. Developing the ability to focus is the key to doing well as a freelance writer. In my own experience, I have found that I make at least $30 an hour when I am focused. If I succumb to the lure of the Internet or get distracted, my pay per hour drops to just minimum wage. Ideally, a freelancer should make the most of the hours they work so the free time can be spent however they want.
Availability of Projects
For anyone getting their start in freelance writing, finding projects is the most difficult aspect. The higher paid assignments for magazines or contracts for novels are few and far between. To get these assignments, a freelancer has to have years of accumulated experience, examples of work and previously published work. This catch-22 means that new freelancers cannot get the high dollar job without already having received one.
To get around this, many freelancers get their start writing for blogs or for content sites. Content websites link clients with writers. Depending on the writer’s skill level, these websites will typically pay anywhere from one to five cents a word. For a writer who can churn out a couple thousand of words an hour, this results in a $20 to $50 hourly wage.
Unfortunately, content sites generally do not allow for bylines. The writer gains experience and an income, but does not have a body of work to show potential clients. Instead, the new writer should balance out writing that develops their article base with paid writing. Writers can begin a blog or send out query letters to new clients. Often, a client is more than willing to provide a reference and byline to a new writer if the article is paid for at a lower rate. After doing this for several months or years, the writer will have enough work built-up to go after the high dollar assignments.
Writing can be a tough career to break into. The low pay for beginning writers forces them to work long hours. Freelancers should always try to spend some of their time writing to develop their online presence, body of work and sending out query letters. At the end of the day, writers need to keep one thing in mind: no new articles equal no money. If a writer wants to succeed, they have to get articles written that actually pay. Sit down, pull up a keyboard and write!