In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 68% of self-employed writers were freelance writers. Despite the rising number of freelance writers, many still view the role as a stand-in between full-time gigs. For many writers, however, freelance salaries are rapidly exceeding their pay rate at full-time positions.
Whether you’re a content marketer looking to hire freelance writers or you’re interested in taking on freelance writing jobs, you may have wondered: how much do freelance writers make?
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at how well freelance writing pays for writers across industries, niches, and globally. We’ll also consider what you can do to scale your freelance writing business to make a living writing.
How much do freelance writers charge?
Understanding how much freelance writers charge for each job is key to knowing their annual salary. Pricing varies widely from one freelance writer to another and can depend on a host of factors from how long the project takes to a freelancer’s cost of living.
Because writing is such a dynamic job that combines hard-to-quantify skills like research, creativity, and experience, it can be hard to find an effective pricing method. Most freelancers use one of the following:
- Charging by project
- Charging by word count (word rate)
- Charging by the hour
Let’s see how much the average freelance writer makes when they charge using either of these pricing models.
How much do freelance writers charge per project?
Per-project pricing is the most common way writers charge — at least in the US. According to a study by freelance writer Ashley Cummings, 40% of freelance writers charge by the project. This series of Twitter polls also seem to prove that writers prefer per-project pricing.
From our research, freelance writers charge anything from $50-$1500 per long-form article. For longer content like ebooks and case studies, costs typically average around $2000. Freelance writers Priscilla Tan and Ashley Cummings both report charging at least $2000 for ebooks and case studies.
Pricing also varies depending on the different types of writing.
As seen from our poll results, a majority of content writers charge less than $600 per article, and only a small percentage charge more than $1000 per article.
For copywriters, it’s a bit different. Copywriters write website copy — sometimes all of the copy (i.e. the static text on About Us pages, sales pages, etc.) on website pages. Since this is often a huge project, they tend to charge more per project.
How much do copywriters make per project? Anywhere from $1000-$7000 depending on the complexity, work scope, experience level, and industry.
British freelance copywriter Natalia’s packages start at €1100. She’s a copywriter for “creative entrepreneurs and busy bloggers.” In contrast, veteran copywriter Kayla Hollatz has a starting rate of $5000 and also works with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses. Most other copywriters fall somewhere in between.
How much do freelance writers charge per word?
Charging per word is common with freelance content writers as well. Freelance writers charge anything from $0.01/word to $2/word.
Many terribly low freelance rates are due to writing for content mills or taking any jobs available on freelance job boards like Upwork and Fiverr. Additionally, in their first year of freelancing the average freelance writer is likely to charge less since they don’t know the industry very well.
According to these polls, most writers charging per word fall on the lower end of the income spectrum.
Jessica Clark, a freelance writer and blogger for 10 years, says she currently charges $0.07 per word (about $105 per 1500 word article). Although she lives in the US, she writes for lifestyle sites, which are typically low-paying compared to other industries.
On the other hand, more experienced freelance writers like Ashley Cummings charge $1 per word, and some even more.
How much do freelance writers charge per hour?
From our research, freelance writers rarely charge by the hour. However, several individuals and organizations have done surveys to determine the average figure. Here are a couple of results worth noting:
- According to Payoneer’s 2020 global freelance income survey, freelance writers (worldwide) earn between $15-$16/hr on average
- Payscale reports that in the US, freelance writers earn $24.19/hr on average
Obviously, hourly rate ranges are hard to define for freelance writers. For copywriters, it’s not so challenging. A popular variation of hourly pay for copywriters is the “Day Rate.”
Many copywriters offer day rates — in which clients pay to hire them for an entire day. Usually, copywriters charge 8 times their hourly rates to arrive at their day rate. Day rates can range from $200 - $600 (or more). UK freelance copywriter Laura Jane Johnson charges a day rate of £395.
Some freelance copywriters offer a rush day rate of sorts in which they produce web copy within 1-2 days. Freelance copywriter Sarah Jane Burt charges $2500 to offer a VIP day to clients who want their website copy done within 48 hours or less.
Factors that affect how much freelance writers earn
As you can see, freelance rates vary massively across countries, industries, and specialties. Let’s look into three reasons for these variations and which factors can help freelance writers earn more.
This is one of the top reasons why freelance writing income varies wildly. Some industries like technology, eCommerce, software as a service (SaaS), cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency have larger content budgets. As a result, they pay higher rates than lifestyle websites focused on fashion, pets, parenting, and consumer-facing health and wellness.
Jessica Clark writes for the homeschooling, food, personal finance, and parenting industries — all of which are consumer-facing (B2C). This lifestyle writer is on track to make $24K this year.
An anonymous freelance writer for the eCommerce and B2B SaaS industry reports earning a minimum of $1500 per article. Last year, they earned $201K and they’re on track to hit $300K in 2021.
Within industries, freelance writers can niche down even further. Some writers focus on writing for consumer-facing health and wellness brands (B2C) while others only do website copy for SaaS brands.
Again, some niches pay more than others. Long-form content like case studies and ebooks pay better, although they may take longer to complete. Technical writing, business plans, grant proposals, and press release writing also pay big bucks — though some writers may find them boring.
Copywriters in higher-earning B2B industries may also earn a higher average salary than their consumer-facing counterparts.
3. Years of experience
The more experienced writers are, the more likely they are to feel confident about their rates. They’re also likely to charge more. Cummings’s study showed that writers with over 8 years of experience are likely to charge more than $100/hr.
This is the case for freelance personal finance writer, Rebecca Lake, who reports earning about $300/hr. Lake has been writing full-time since 2014. She earns between $300-$1500 per writing project but likes to keep track of her hourly rate for her records.
Lake expects to earn $250K in 2021. In 2019, her highest-grossing year, she earned $300K.
Newer freelance writers may need a bit more time to earn as much. Jul Domingo has been a freelance content writer for SaaS and eCommerce brands for close to a year. In the last year, she earned between €40K-€45K.
5 freelance writer income reports worth reading
Want more information about how much freelance writers make? Hear it in the words of five freelance writers in different niches, some more experienced than others. If you’ve wondered what a freelance writer’s salary looks like, here you go.
1. Kat Boogaard: 2020 annual income review
US freelance writer Kat Boogaard has been writing freelance for over seven years. She writes career and productivity content for SaaS brands like Trello and Quickbooks. Kat shares a peek into her annual income every year. In her 2020 report, she also shared that her average article project fee is $550. She earned a gross income of $127,000 working with 23 different clients.
2. Paul Maplesden: 2020 freelance writer income report
Paul Maplesden is another US freelance writer, who’s been in the business since 2015. He specializes in B2B content writing and marketing for the business, technology, and finance niches. His work ranges from content for supply chain/logistics, SaaS, accounting, business formation, to technology reviews/guides.
Maplesden writes everything from articles to white papers. On average, he charges $395 per 800-1,200 word article and $160 per hour. Last year, he earned $88,000, lower than previous years due to COVID. In 2021, he was on track to earn around $115K.
3. Jessica Pereira: October 2021 freelance writing income report
Jessica Pereira started freelancing in 2020 and has been working to hit a monthly goal of $10K. She writes for digital marketing and B2B SaaS brands. Pereira keeps readers in the loop by sharing monthly income reports breaking down her earnings and expenses. New freelancers enjoy learning from Pereira’s experience and seeing the ebbs and flows of a freelance income.
4. Lindy West: December 2020 income report
Lindy West is an Australian travel writer who pitches and writes content for magazines and newspapers. She writes for some corporate clients as well. West has been sharing her monthly income report for years — and inspiring other freelance writers along the way.
5. Zuli Rane: Full-time freelance income report
Zuli Rane is a freelance content creator who writes for clients and also for her Medium account. Her income reports show how she makes a living as a freelance writer with additional income streams. In her last monthly report, Zuli says she made more than $6000. Her example is great for writers looking to diversify their income streams.
Use Jasper to scale your freelance writing business
Freelance writers do a lot. They have to brainstorm blog post ideas, create SEO blog posts, write in-depth long-form content, and create web copy for clients among other things. If you’re a freelance writer overwhelmed by the burden of constantly writing content, we have good news: you can get help from an assistant who never tires.
Meet Jasper, an AI writing assistant with over 52 templates to serve all your content writing needs. Jasper’s Long-Form Assistant template helps you write blog posts and long-form articles. It also has copywriting templates such as AIDA Framework and PAS Framework to make copywriting a breeze.
Freelance writer Jessica Clark uses Jasper and she says it has been “an absolute lifesaver” for her business. It helps her outline and generate articles more quickly than she would on her own. She says, “Jasper has definitely helped me to get more done, which has allowed me to take on more clients and make more money. I love using Boss Mode and Recipes. It takes no time at all for me to generate a content brief, intro, and conclusion.”
We think you’ll agree with her. Take the grunt work out of writing and scale your freelance business with Jasper.
Sign up now to learn more about how Jasper can help scale your freelance career.