I just had a reader of Six-Figure Freelancing contact me last week, asking if I still thought that freelancers could make a six-figure living writing articles. Five or six years ago, I would have said "of course."
Today, I still think it's possible to make a six-figure living (or close) writing articles for print and online publications. But it's definitely harder to do than before, for a variety of reasons. Print magazines are assigning shorter articles than they did before, yet per-word rates are pretty close to what they were in the 1960s. And as ad revenue has dropped, magazines are smaller, which means they're assigning fewer articles overall. Add in the fact that competition for high-paying features is fierce. Unless you've already established yourself with a number of magazines as one of their "go-to" writers, I think it's tough to make six figures from articles alone.
However, let's remember that there are countless other ways to make money from your words. There are more online publications and blogs that pay for content than ever before, so if you're not writing for online markets, you should be. There's copywriting. There's writing for corporate clients. There's ghostwriting. There's editing. There's writing books for traditional publishers. And what about publishing your own ebooks on a particular subject and making money from that? Or investing in a POD book to produce another source of income?
My point is this--what worked for me (and many other freelancers) ten years, five years, even two years ago doesn't work as well anymore. I've found that diversifying my business has helped me survive in a tough economy. Yes, I still write articles, but I also write books and ghostwrite books and other projects for clients. I do some public speaking, edit occasionally, and do some consulting work with freelancers and budding authors. And I'm in the middle of a big new project I'll announce soon.
But other successful freelancers have taken a different approach. Instead of diversifying, they choose to focus on specific lucrative areas like corporate writing, copywriting, or medical writing. Right now, I'm not interested in doing that--I like a variety of work. But in the future, who knows?
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