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


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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!

xo






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

  • Gunar

    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.

  • Kevin Q

    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.

    • Laurie Post author

      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!)

  • Laurie Post author

    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

  • Bertil Wedin

    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

  • 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