Freelance Writing Pay Rates – Newspaper and Magazine Articles


Here’s a list of writing jobs and pay rates for freelance writers, plus how I earned $35,000 my first year of full-time freelance writing. I thought I’d be relying on my husband for financial support, but I had no problems making money freelancing.

freelance writing pay ratesWriter’s Market 2017: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published is one of my essential writing tools; not only does it list the most current freelance writing pay rates, it offers information for  also has thousands of magazine, newspaper, e-zine, and blog publishers who pay freelancers to write. Writer’s Market also lists the most up-to-date, current freelance writing pay rates. This book gives you instant access to more than 7,500 listings for book publishers, magazines, contests, literary agents, and more – complete with daily updates. You’ll also find articles about how to make money as a freelance writer, including tips from six-figure freelancers, ideas on how to create a productive home office, online apps that make freelance writing easier, and other tips for writers.

“If you’re a beginning freelance writer, or don’t know many other freelancers, you may wonder how anyone manages to earn enough to eat and pay the rent by writing,” says Lynn Wasnak in Writer’s Market. “Yet, smart full-time freelance writers and editors annually earn $35,000 and up – sometimes into the $150,000-200,000 range.”





I learned how to become a freelance writer in part through reading as many old copies of Writer’s Market that I could find. I also read every new edition, and I know what the current freelance writing pay rates are. If you want to write, never stop reading and learning – no matter how experienced you get!

Freelance Writing Pay Rates – Newspapers and Magazines

Here’s what the professional freelance writers say about writing jobs and rates for magazines and newspapers. Some writers charge by the hour (I charge $50/hour).

In Writer’s Market, Wasnak suggests a formula for figuring out your hourly rate:

“Begin by choosing your target annual income – whether it’s $25,000 or $100,000. Add in fixed expenses: social security, taxes, and office supplies. Don’t forget health insurance and something for your retirement. Once you’ve determined your annual gross target, divide it by 1,000 billable hours – about 21 hours per week – to determine your target hourly rate.”

Freelance writers, I encourage you to take your experience and education into account before setting your goals for earning money as a freelance writer. That is, a new freelancer can’t charge as much for writing jobs as a freelancer who’s been writing for five or fifteen years.

Writing Rates for Magazine and Trade Journals

My pay rate for alive, which is a health magazine I write for, is fifty cents a word. I’ve been writing for them since 2009.  I don’t query them anymore. The editors send me three article assignments a year, usually in the spring.

So, remember that these freelance writing pay rates are dependent on many factors – some of which may not be in your control!





  • Article feature writing: $40-$122 per hour, or $.20-30 per word
  • Reprint articles: $20-$1,500 per project, or $.10-1.50 per word
  • Magazine column: $75-$2,500 per project, or $.37-2.50 per word
  • Ghostwriting articles: $30-$200 per hour, or $.60-10 per word
  • Arts review: $60-$95 per hour, or $.08-1.20 per word
  • Book reviews: $25-$900 per project, or $.15-1.50 per word
  • Rewriting: $20-125 per hour, or $50 per page
  • Content editing: $25-125 per hour, or $.06-.16 per word

Reading the Writer’s Market books is a good way to get an accurate feel for current pay rates for freelance writers.

Writing Rates for Newspapers

These writing jobs and rates are compiled from voluntary surveys from members of numerous professional writers’ and editors’ associations and specialty groups.

  • Article feature writing: $40-$79 per hour, or .10-$1.60 per word
  • Local column: .38-$1 per word; $25-$600 per project
  • Self-syndicated column: $4-$35 per insertion
  • Investigative Reporting: $2,250-$10,000 per grant
  • Proofreading: $15-$45 per hour
  • Arts review: $30-$69 per hour, or $.06-.60 per word
  • Book reviews: $45-$69 per hour, or  $.25-.60 per word
  • Obituary copy: $35-$225 per project

Are you new to newspaper and magazine writing? Read 8 Things You Need to Know About Succeeding as a Freelance Writer.

The more networking, marketing, querying, and studying of magazines and newspapers that you do, the more money you can charge as a freelance writer.

“You’ll be surprised how far you can go, and how much you can earn, if you believe in your skills and act on your belief,” says Wasnak in Writer’s Market. “Learn how to query, then query like mad. Take chances by reaching for the next level. Learn to negotiate for a fee you can live on…and then get it in writing.”

Read 15 Things You Need to Be a Freelance Writer if you’re new to the business – especially if you’re uncertain if you have what it takes to charge what you want to earn.

How to Increase Your Freelance Writing Pay Rate

One of the most important things to remember about making money writing is that you need courage to ask for the freelance pay rate you think you deserve as a writer. Guts! When I asked for an increase in my freelance writing pay rate for my favorite magazine, I was scared…but they came through and I’m happy with how much I earn per word.

That said, however, simply having the courage it takes to ask for a raise doesn’t guarantee you’ll make more money writing.

Learn the current writer’s market

freelance writing success“An editor whose magazine offers 10 cents a word will rarely negotiate that fee with a newcomer,” writes Nancy Hamilton in Magazine Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide for Success. “Even seasoned writers usually have a hard time negotiating it upward…check magazine specifications in Writer’s Market to determine whether a magazine pays on a per-word basis or a blanket fee for an article of a certain length.”

And, improve your writing skills. Honestly, the best way to increase your pay rate as a freelancer is to be really, really good at your job. Take Larry King’s advice and “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read.”

What do you think of these writing pay rates? How much money do you make (or wish you made) as a writer? Comments welcome below!




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34 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Pay Rates – Newspaper and Magazine Articles

  • Jack Tuberville

    Good writing and fun reading. But I must admit I’m a little skeptical about the pay
    rates. I wrote mostly in the ’80s and 10 cents per word was a common rate. Add
    research time to the writing time and the rate is even further reduced. Many
    of the writers I knew struggled to make a decent part time wage, much less
    a livable full time income. I know it can be done, but perhaps with much
    greater difficulty than implied. Glad to see you have been successful.

  • Frederic Latimer

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the way you write, even about freelance writing pay rates. The world needs more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

    “Every man serves a useful purpose A miser, for example, makes a wonderful ancestor.” – Laurence J. Peter.

  • Debbie Campbell

    Hi Laurie,

    I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, and getting published in national magazines and newspapers. But I love reading more than writing, so I’m happy to let my writing dream be a warm happy feeling. But now that I’m retired (I’m 62) I’m thinking that it might be a good time to get a job I’m actually excited to work at. I love to be around people, and I want to find a part-time job that gets me out of the house. Can you point me towards jobs that combin my love for reading and writing with my desire to get out of the house?

    Thank you,

    Debbie

  • Don Naff

    I’m really glad to see this information. I’ve signed up at Outsource.com, and am dismayed that they don’t have this kind of information. When I asked them what folks were charging, they came back with a lot of info about what to write in a quote letter, good information, but nothing answering my primary question. I went to their Facebook page hoping to find some interaction with Freelancers, but they don’t allow comments, and it appears that page is used only for them posting information. Again, good information, and it appears they get a lot of folks going there to hire Freelancers, and I’ve gotten a bunch of requests. But without this information I had no idea how to respond. For me, knowing an appropriate price to charge is the most important piece.

    I do note, however, that your excellent info doesn’t include pricing for blog writing. Several of the jobs I’ve been notified of are blogs and I think those’ll be the ones I’m most likely to get and successfully complete at first given my experience to date.

    Thank you for your wonderful resource and information.

    Keep on Smilin’! 🙂

    Don Naff

  • Aries

    Its sad to see people being paid as little as $4 for a 500 word article when they could be doing much better for themselves.

    And funny thing is that those earning so little may churn out as much as 20 articles in one given day. They are quite prolific.

    Rumor has it that they use other peoples articles and use an article spinner to spin and then rewrite and submit. They could make 10 times more per article if they just knew the right places to go.

    Thanks for your article.

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  • Richard Burbridge

    I have toyed with the idea of writing as an income activity for decades, but, being a compulsive full speed ahead action type, the idea always went directly to the “something to do someday when I am old” file. Well, I am old….albeit still blessed (or cursed) with excess energy and restlessness….and I realize the time is nigh to open that file and direct some of that energy to writing.
    With the benefits of modern communication making it more difficult to find excuses to putting off what I realize I must do, I find there is a bothersome and somewhat bewildering obstacle confronting me…….goes by the name of “information overload”. I find myself, hand in the cookie jar, trying to figure out which cookie to eat first, which one is more nourishing, tasty and less wastefully fattening.
    I ran across your blog yesterday and, sleeping on it, came to the conclusion you read believably and I garnered up courage to ask for some advice.
    I had a very adventurous early life; Marines, living years with Eskimos, wanderlust and settled in a small country Mexican town of 40,000 (counting cats, dogs and chickens). I was the only gringo in the entire state and my spanish vocabulary was strained by anything beyond “Dos cervezas, por favor”. That small town, optimistically called “city” is now well over a million and growing and my spanish, fortunately, has improved proportionately.
    My kids, aware of my adventures, have urged me constantly to write at least of my personal life as a heritage gift for them and future generations.
    I have been reluctant to do so, because when I did those things, to me they were nothing special, just something I was doing at that time, but, at the span of 70 plus years, I am beginning to realize much of what I did, that to me was nothing special, to the generations of today my forays into memory are intriguing to those who have never and will probably never experience those activities. Try to imagine an old Eskimo, for example, who grew up and lived his early years totally dependent on dog teams and skin tents for everyday survival, today hops on his snow mobile in front of his prefab home and takes off on a caribou or seal hunting trip, no longer necessary livelihood. I am kinda like that old Eskimo, enjoying the fruits of modern technology but still vividly remembering how it was “back then”.
    Out of those memories, apart from personal tales, mainly of benefit to my progeny, come many stories that could prove to be of appreciation to the modern reader.
    All this buildup is to try to portray my desire of wanting to translate those memories and experiences into readable (an d publishable) form before Mr. Alzheimer or the grim reaper gets me…..and maybe make some money along the way.
    So the question is: What are the sequential first 5 steps to take to travel from idea to publication? If you have read this entire thing, thank you for your kind attention and I congratulate your perseverance.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Hi Val,

    Are you starting a writing business, or a rewriting business? You said “rewriting business” – which I’m sure is a viable business venture. I’ve just never heard of it!

    How much charge when you’re first starting out depends on your experience, education, and background. Freelance writing pay rates vary widely – and how much money writers make really depends on how precise and good the writer is. “Little” mistakes and typos are unacceptable for professional writers. Even making mistakes in the comments section of a little blog like Quips and Tips for Successful Writers isn’t good, because a potential client could be reading your words even as we speak!

    You also need to know your grammar, and when to use ? and ; and : . If you haven’t taken a professional writing or editing course – even online – I highly recommend it. The better you write, the more you can charge 🙂

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • val

    I am considering starting a rewriting business. How much should I charge starting out? I have not gained much experience in writing for other clients? I wish to do this fulltime. I do own a personal blog that caters to fitness and health.

  • Laurie

    Hello Sharon,

    How much are you getting paid for writing short articles for the monthly ad journal? Are you hoping to get paid by the hour, or by the article? How long does it take you to write a short article? How much research is required? Do you have to come up with the article ideas yourself, or will the editors supply them?

    I have no idea what the specialty magazine’s budget is, but I suspect it’s low. You might start by asking for $20 per hour, and see what they say. How much you charge per article really depends on how long it takes you to write an article.

    Good luck; I hope you get the job at a satisfactory pay rate! 🙂

    Laurie

  • Sharon Green

    I just applied for a position writing short articles for a new specialty magazine. My only background is that I have a BA in Speech Communications which is much like journalism, and I work in the specialty field that this magazine targets. I also have experience writing short articles for a monthly ad journal. What should I charge if they hire me?

  • Laurie Post author

    Thanks for your comments – I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to respond sooner. I’ve been in school full-time, with no time to do anything blogging-wise. But I’m back now! 🙂

  • Sean Ammirati

    This is something I may look into in the future. I write creative pieces, working on a novel right now, but I figure this will probably be a way to get more food (or bread…) on the table. Interesting figures there, good for you for making 35K doing what you love to do! I envy that, truly, but in a good way.

  • Mike

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming
    having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Laurie Post author

    If you want to be a writer, I highly encourage you to give it a try! My most important advice is to remember that writing is a BUSINESS, and you have to be professional and entrepreneurial at all times.

    And, keep learning how to write better. That usually means edit, edit, EDIT your little behind off.

    How much writers make depends on their experience, not necessarily their education. These freelance writing pay rates aren’t set in stone; it’s different for each writer.

  • Ashtyn

    Hi im still young and in highschool do you think that becoming a writer is a good choice? ive always thought it woulf be fun! I love writing and I think i would have alot of fun with it i just dont know if its the best idea.

  • Neil Alexander

    I must submit a budget proposal for a highly unusual job. I am to write a user-friendly grammar for a moribund indigenous language; I am also to create an easy-to-use dictionary of the same language and edit and publish never-before-published traditional texts in the language which were collected last century. I anticipate the grammar to run in the 120-300-page range and the dictionary to be similar in length.(I plan to include the texts within one of those to works.) I have already completed some of the work necessary as part of previous projects which were not funded by this entity, though I’d estimate that 75% of what is yet to be finished will need to be cut from whole cloth. This project will be funded by the tribe for which I am already a full-time employee. I have stated that it must be funded separately because it is a significant commitment (in terms of time, effort, and creative work) and would otherwise place an unfair burden. (I am not compensated well for the work I already perform.) I have no idea what would be fair compensation for this writing project, and they have asked me to submit a budget proposal in a week. What is the rate, per-page or letter, for research-intensive, unique writing of books (whether of this type or something similar)? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Laurie

    Hi Katie,

    It sounds like that freelance job offer was sent to many different freelance writers, and the first one (or two, or more) to write the two articles “won” the freelance contract.

    It also sounds like that editor or publisher isn’t interested in quality, or attracting good writers. He or she just wanted fast articles, and doesn’t even care about content.

    So, I think you’re better off not writing for a client like that. I don’t think you’d gain solid writing experience. And what about pay? Did they advertise their pay rates for articles?

    The best clients (editors, publishers) to work for are those who are clear about their expectations. And, they won’t jump at the first few articles that are handed to them!

    But remember – freelance writing is a competitive field. Luckily, there aren’t as many good writers as bad ones, which does make it easier for good writers to find work.

    Laurie

  • Katie

    I got an offer for a freelance writing job recently and was very excited to begin. The employer asked for 2, 900 word articles. That’s it. Just two 900 word articles. No details, no guidelines for what to write about and no information whatsoever about what type of writing they are looking for. When I asked them for more details about the assignment, they said it had already been completed. So I still got no answer about what they wanted. What do I do in this situation? How do I find out what an employer is looking for if they don’t tell me?

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Hello A.U.M.,

    I’m afraid I don’t have what you’re looking for. If you want to make money writing and editing, you need to research the genres and companies that you’re qualified to write for. And, don’t forget to ask for their freelance writing pay rates before you write for them!

    Best wishes,
    Laurie

  • A.U.M. Fakhruddin

    As one from Bangladesh having experience in writing, reviewing and editing in English daily newspapers for over 34 years and working as a stringer of the London-based Daily Mirror, can I stand a chance of getting the following project/s[Book reviews, Rewriting and / or Content editing]? Who to apply for such work? Please give complete addresses including emails of persons of genuine companies.
    Reference:Several pages written about me in the acclaimed book “Heroes” by one of the world’s preeminent investigative journalists, John Pilger, [published by Jonathan Cape 1986, Vintage 2001]
    Thanks a lot.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Magenta, I’m glad this article was helpful. I remember reading that reprints should cost half of the original price. So if you charged $1,000 for the article, you should earn $500 for a reprint. Not bad! 🙂

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  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Jean ~ Thanks for pointing out the typo! If you want to proof all my blog posts, I’d love it. 🙂

    Remember that writing rates vary according to the newspaper or magazine’s budget and circulation, and may also depend on how experienced the freelance writer is.

    Star ~ These writing jobs and rates are for print newspaper and magazine freelance writers, not for content mills or online e-zines.

  • Jean Calvert

    Paragraph 2, line 2, the word “how” has a typo.

    Line 3, the quote with several adjectives describing writers needs a comma or two.

    I’m available for proofing anytime.