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Freelance Writing Pay Rates for Newspaper and Magazine Articles

How did I earn $35,000 my first year as a freelance writer? Not by writing for free! These freelance writing pay rates reveal how it’s possible to earn a good living as a writer. I also list several writing jobs and pay rates for freelance writers who work for magazines, newspapers, editors, and publishing houses.

“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.”

Writer’s Market 2020: 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.


One of the ways I learned how to become a freelance writer was by reading previous editions of Writer’s Market. I also read every new edition because I wanted to know how freelance writing pay rates changed over the years. Newspapers and magazines still pay writers for articles, but writing for other outlets (big companies, small businesses, online entrepreneurs, and even nonprofit organizations) is more profitable.

How Much Do Newspaper and Magazine Writers Get Paid?

This blog post was originally published in 2010, so the pay rates may have changed – just a little! Plus, different newspapers and magazines in different cities, regions and parts of the world pay different rates. Further, an established freelance journalist will typically get paid more than a beginning writer. The best way to find out how much a newspaper or magazine writer gets paid is to contact specific writers and editors at specific periodicals. Get the inside scoop!

Freelance Writing Pay Rates
Freelance Writing Pay Rates

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.”

Fellow scribes, take your experience and education into account before setting your goals for earning money as a writer. A new freelancer can’t charge as much for an article as an established journalist.

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 started writing for them in 2009, and have stopped pitching article ideas to them. The editors send me assignments regularly. The beauty of establishing yourself as a writer is that you develop relationships with various newspaper and magazine editors. If you’re a reliable, professional freelance writer then you’ll be busy.

These freelance writing pay rates depend on many factors – including how much advertising the newspaper or magazine sells. How much you get paid to write doesn’t always depend on your skills, experience, or creativity.

  • 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 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. “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

“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.”

Don’t know what to write about? Read Most Popular Types of Magazine Articles – Print & Online.


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38 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Pay Rates for Newspaper and Magazine Articles”

  1. Hello,
    I have been offered an opportunity to write, but I have to pay to contribute. I was a little surprised.
    Does this sound right to you?

  2. I’ve read quite a few books and most of them give this fact (not to be negative, just realistic): 5 yrs. or less longevity for freelancers is 48%; full-time newspaper writers is at 34%. Most of the time they both have a 7 year longevity.
    $50-300 per column, or article, for freelancers (53%); full-time employees of newspapers/online paper get paid the most ($50K-60), but the percentage is way lower on actually acquiring a full-time position. And the median age for people making a living writing for well-known publications is 51.
    *All of the above numbers were compiled by researching newspaper publications only, not professional bloggers or magazine writers, or what have you.

    In short, follow your dreams, but I highly recommend creating your own website so that people get a chance to read what you have to offer. And maybe, just maybe, some publications will also notice your writings and offer you a position. The latter isn’t likely, though. For that, it’s best to search “[enter any publication].com/submission,” and begin searching for those looking for new material to possibly publish.
    Most importantly, just write, be simplistic yet intelligent, and don’t use too many wasteful words. And above all else, find your own writing voice so as to make you stick out from everyone else.

  3. Editors use the word count to determine how many words your article is. So, after you write your article, check the word count in your document. Voila!)

  4. I’m getting ready to pitch my services to a local statewide paper. I know that transcribers usually receive a per line basis. Something around $.12 per line containing 62 characters. So I’m presently surprised to find out that Newspapers oft pay a little more than that. But I have a question what constitutes a word? In my high school English class anything three letters and under didn’t count as a word.

  5. Bertil,

    Yes, men are definitely welcome to follow Blossom and sign up for the newsletter 🙂 I hope you stay in touch – I love to hear from fellow journalists and writers.

    I hope you get your essay published. It can be difficult to find the right writing market and get paid. I agree with Jack below, who said these freelance writing pay rates are high. But I also know from personal and professional experience that solid writers make good money writing. There are lots of writers pitching article ideas, but only a few are really good. It’s not as hard as you think to stand out from the crowd.

    It sounds like you have a great deal of interesting experience, and I’m sure your readers will be inspired and encouraged by your adventures. Let me know how your publication journey goes!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  6. Is this a website for ladies only, or am I, a man, allowed to take advantage of your information and enthusiasm? What a surprise it was for me to meet this very charming young Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen while I was searching for information on how much I should charge for my essay, 50 years in journalism. A soon 77 year old Swede with a military and intelligence service background, I live with my British wife Felicity on the northern coast of Cyprus. I became a journalist in 1967 and am now trying to remember what I have been doing since then. Like yourself I am a Christian believer. I am also trying to re-introduce chivalry.
    Your website is superbly informative and wonderfully cheerful. I wish you and your husband much further success and happiness.
    Bertil Wedin

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. What’s the best way to get freelance work. Has anyone used Outsource? I don’t want to pay their fee if I don’t get any actual work. TIA.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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?

  18. 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! 🙂

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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?

  26. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    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

  27. 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.

  28. 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! 🙂

  29. 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.

  30. Where are the Demand Media, Seed, etc mills in this? The people claiming to make $35K on those are writing thousands of “stories.”

  31. 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.