Working from home or anywhere in the world, making your own schedule, traveling whenever you want without having to wait for the holidays, getting paid to write. Sounds like paradise, right? Why wouldn’t everyone want to make a living as a freelance writer?
In this article, I’ll discuss in depth whether or not it is true that you can make a living as a freelance writer.
Table of Contents
- Can you make a living as a freelance writer?
- 5 Bitter truths
- An alternative to freelance writing
Can I Actually Make a Living as a Freelance Writer?
Yes, you can make a living as a freelance writer, and many are already doing that. But keep in mind that freelance writing is not just about writing. You have to chase clients often and deal with uncertainty. Also, you must understand that the first feedback from an editor, which can take up to 8 weeks, is no guarantee that your article will be accepted.
As I said, yes, as a freelance writer you can manage to pay all your bills normally and still save.
Some more experienced writers (and really good networkers) manage to make $5000+ a month exclusively from freelance writing.
But those freelance writers lie above the average writers.
More than half of freelance writers make less than $30,000 a year, or less than $2,500/month.
To reach this amount, though, it is necessary to constantly search for more publications to write for. And have a lot of patience, as many editors take a long time to give you feedback regarding your pitches.
Make a Living as a Freelance Writer — 5 Truths I Discovered in 5 Years of Experience
If you are seriously considering freelance writing as a career, first check out these truths about making a living as a freelance writer that I found out by experience. Then you’ll be able to reflect on whether this self-employed occupation suits you, your needs, and your personality — or not.
But don’t worry: at the end of this article, you will find an option that might be a better choice for you if you decide that freelance writing doesn’t suit you very well.
1. Networking, Networking, Networking — You Better Enjoy It to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer
First of all, let me say that I don’t think that networking is necessarily bad. In fact, this is important for building and nourishing good and relevant career opportunities. Ideally, such opportunities should be mutually beneficial.
But the thing is, I’m a writer. What I’m good at is writing. What I enjoy doing, even though it’s sometimes boring, is writing. Networking, however, is a whole different species.
When I was networking with the right people (a.k.a. the editors of well-paying publications), who could provide me with good well-paying opportunities to write articles, I, to be brutally honest here, just felt like I was… people-pleasing.
Every atom of my body said ‘no’ to those attitudes. That wasn’t me. I don’t have the habit of flattering others, especially if it’s to get something out of it.
Also, I’m probably not supposed to complain about it, but it is true – no matter how “part of the business” it is.
And the thing is, networking simply isn’t for everyone.
Maybe people with different personalities than mine don’t feel all awkward about such attitudes and situations. But for me, it’s totally against my nature. I just felt like I was being fake.
But it turns out that, by neglecting networking, I had fewer freelance job opportunities, which made it harder to make a living as a freelance writer.
Networking is also an aspect of blogging. I must address it here, to be fair. However, I’ve never, since I started my first blog years ago, felt like I was begging for a job opportunity on any of my blogs.
If you are particularly into networking, freelance writing might be perfect for you.
Now if that’s not your thing, this can be a huge problem, as it was for me. Especially if you’re an introvert like me, it may be just straight-up… awful. I mean, you might have started freelancing just to work in a more comfortable environment, without having to interact with coworkers. And, above all, to avoid small talk.
If that’s your case, networking may be the elephant in the room for you trying to make a living as a freelance writer.
2. It’s Hard to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer as You Never Know When Your Articles Will Be Published
If you are a freelance writer, you usually get paid when your article is published.
The problem is the following common situation: an editor approves your pitch this very month. Then you immediately write the article to top up your income this very month. Okay, everything’s fine, right?
I’m sorry that I must break it to you BUT – you have no idea of when the editor will publish your article.
Every website has its own publication calendar. Therefore, they probably have several articles that are queued to be posted before yours.
This is something you need to get used to. That’s why you need to get organized to control your money and time, as the working hours spent in a month might easily be remunerated only many months later.
3. Top Writers Are Better Paid For Fewer Words Than Average & Bottom Writers For More Words
The best-paying publications are usually those that also have printed magazines. Usually, such publications are dominated by writers who have been in the field the longest and have an excellent network of editors from top websites.
To illustrate, some top publications can pay from $1000 to $2000 for a 2000-word article.
On the other hand, average publications pay between $60 and $150 for the same number of words.
In general, though, you are expected to receive around $100 for an article of this extent.
That is, in the name of making a full-time salary, the beginner writer (and those who suck at networking) have to write an awful lot more articles to complete their income.
4. To Make a Living as a Freelance Writer You Must Get Used to Being Ignored and Rejected
Most pitch emails you send will not even be opened. They will most probably get lost in the ocean of many, many pitches sent by hundreds of other writers. And many of those that will be opened will not be accepted.
So you have to start sending pitch emails or follow-ups again. And again. And again.
In fact, part of the secret to being successful as a freelance writer is being persistent. And you have to be very persistent.
It’s easier when all you’ve sent are pitches. But when you write an entire article and then the editor doesn’t even notice your email or rejects it, it’s revolting.
So the only option is to try finding some other similar publication in hopes of recycling that article. Sigh!
5. Sometimes You Must Ignore Your Actual Personality to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer
A freelance writer usually needs to be quite versatile except for very specific cases, such as when the writer writes for a rather particular niche publication that requires expertise in the field as well.
But when the writer needs to be versatile, it means they have to meet the demands of the job they got, whatever they are.
The other option is to decline the opportunity but get no money.
Also, a few demands are often implicit instead of clearly stated. In other words, you must identify the core values of the publication. That is, the particular string of thought that publication follows. So, if you want to write for such a publication, you have to write with that approach in mind.
Or you can forget about your chances of getting published. That’s it.
Sometimes things are even more subtle, though.
I mean, I remember once, when an editor of a pop culture publication accepted one of my pitches. I wrote a 2000+ words long article that was turned down at the last minute apparently because of my opinion that a certain movie wasn’t the best masterpiece ever made.
Apparently, you can’t disagree with the most popular opinions about certain movies and TV shows. Everyone must think the same.
And what about other people whose opinions align with mine, who also didn’t like the movie? And who would like to read an article by a like-minded person? Well, I think such people’s opinions don’t matter either. 🤷🏻♀️
Anyway, the site wasn’t mine at the end of the day. (That’s why I have my own now.)
But the fact is, when I made a living as a freelance writer, I published my articles under a pen name because I didn’t want any personal connection to them.
That was a job. Only that. No emotional value.
After all, I had bills to pay. So I wrote what I had to write, the way it was supposed to be written. And that made me miserable.
Freelance Writing FAQ
How Much Do Freelance Writers Make Per Article?
How much a freelance writer makes per article varies from case to case. Some publications pay anywhere from $0.05-$0.20 per word, while the top publications can pay as much as $2 per word. The most common practice, however, is that each publication has a specific value for the entire article. I.e., an online publication may offer $50-$100 for an article of between 1200-2000 words.
How To Make Money Writing From Home?
For those who are talented writers, the most common way to make money from home is to become a freelance writer, ghostwriter, or blogger.
Freelance writers and ghostwriters are paid for each project or article sold. Bloggers, on the other hand, monetize their talent through affiliate marketing, displaying ads, sponsored posts, and selling products, courses, and services.
How Do Beginner Writers Make Money?
Beginner freelance writers make money writing for small publications that pay very little but help them create a portfolio so they can pick up better work later.
How Much Do Most Freelance Writers Make?
Most freelance writers make anything from $0.01 to $2 per word. On long projects, writers can charge up to $2000.
Is Freelance Writing A Good Side Job?
Freelance writing can be a good side job if the time you invest in writing brings the financial returns you need. Also, you have to consider whether the pros of freelance writing really outweigh the cons.
Is Being A Writer Stressful?
It depends on how much each individual enjoys writing, the work environment, and each project. Being a writer can be stressful if you write within tight deadlines or can’t afford to choose which projects you take on.
But if you write about subjects that interest you and you can still get paid well for it, then writing is hardly stressful.
Can You Make A Living As A Freelance Writer — Conclusion
If you’re wondering if you can make a living as a freelance writer, probably because you have good writing skills, want to have a more flexible work schedule and be self-employed – yes, you can achieve all of that by becoming a freelance writer.
You can manage to pay all your bills and still save money to visit Japan, no doubt about it.
But like any other job, freelance writing has its downsides.
How do you feel about the downsides? Can you handle them without any problems? Are you also aware, if you have never been self-employed, that you will be solely responsible for paying your taxes?
Ask yourself these questions and consider whether this is a good option for you or not. If you decide that yes – that’s a good option for you – be careful before quitting your 9-5 job! Keep in mind that your first few months as a freelance writer will be the hardest to get clients. So you won’t be able to pay your bills just by writing.
Give it a try, during your free time, while you are secured by your current job. If you feel that freelance writing suits you, you can leave your 9-5 job when you’re making enough money solely freelancing.
Here’s an Alternative to Freelancing If You Want to Make a Living as a WRITER
If you’re not new to this blog, you might already know that I quit freelance writing in 2018 to become a full-time blogger.
I knew my time and skills deserved more. Also, I didn’t feel free enough as a freelancer. I needed to be my own boss in every aspect of my life, which isn’t the case when you’re a freelance writer. After all, at the end of the day, you’re always depending on someone else’s final say.
Now, if you, just like me, conclude that freelance writing isn’t the best option for you, but you still think it’s a waste not to use your writing skills, then you might consider starting a blog as well.
But I’m not talking about creating a blog to post articles as if it were a hobby. No!
This is neither an illusion nor a get-rich-quick scheme. Blogging is an honest profession and many people are leaving their 9-5 jobs to become full-time bloggers.
Of course, blogging requires dedication and hard work — a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. But, speaking for myself, I am extremely satisfied to be a full-time blogger after working as a freelance writer for 5 years.
This may be the best option for you to achieve your financial independence as a writer too!
If you want to start a blog that makes money but have no previous experience blogging & no coding skills, check out this step-by-step guide to quickly get started today!
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