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!
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.
Do you want write for a living? Join the Writers Work Community and get professional career training, writing tools, an online portfolio, and more. Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!