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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The State of Fulltime Freelancers' Income

Over the last few weeks, I’ve asked fulltime freelance writers to come forward and share something rather personal—the amount of money they’re making. (Don't worry--it was anonymous.) Specifically, I asked 100 self-employed writers what they made in 2009, how long they’ve been freelancing, what kind of work they do, and—very telling—whether they expect to make more money in 2010 than 2009.

The 100 respondents (yes, this is an admittedly small sample) were relatively new to the fulltime freelancing business. Five percent had been freelancing fulltime for less than a year; another 29 percent, for one to three years; and 24 percent for four to six years. Fourteen percent have self-employed scribes for 7 to 10 years; 15 percent, for 11 to 15 years; and 13 percent have been doing it for 16 years or more. That means that more than half of respondents (58 percent) have been freelancing for six years or fewer, and in my opinion, are still building their businesses.

And you know what? There is some bad news. Out of 100 respondents, 27 percent made less than $20,000 last year. Another 22 percent made between $20,000 and $40,000 in 2009, and 24 percent made between $40,001 and $60,000. If you’re keeping track, that accounts for 73 percent of respondents.

But there's some good news, too. Another 9 percent of respondents made $60,001 to $80,000; 7 percent, $80,001 to $100,000; and 11 percent made more than $100,001 in 2009, a very challenging year for just about everyone. That's one in ten respondents--not bad at all.

I find that inspiring and encouraging—especially as I didn’t hit those kind of numbers last year. (Of course I work part-time by choice, and a number of respondents pointed out that they too work fewer than “full-time” hours, which means these figures may skew a bit lower than they could be.)

Perhaps the best news is what we’re expecting for the future. More than half of respondents (55 percent) say they’re on track to make more in 2010, and another 30 percent expect to make about the same amount of money. Just 15 percent say they’ll make less.

What does this mean for you? That no matter what you’re making, you’re in good company—and if you aspire to make more, there are plenty of other freelancers already doing it. So why not set a more challenging income goal--and go for it?