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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Talk Money

Starting out as a new freelancer, my only source of market and pay information was Writer’s Market. My strategy for choosing magazines was simple—if they had four dollar signs listed next to their name (Writer’s Market rates publications on a one to four “$” rating, depending on well they pay), I wanted to write for them.

That’s not exactly a strategy. It’s more of a crap shoot. And I’ll tell you now that I never sold an original piece to a market, $$$$ or otherwise, that I didn’t actually look at first. There’s no substitute for examining the market so that you have a feel for the readership, coverage, and tone—and that can’t be encapsulated in a long paragraph in WM.

When it comes to money, writers don’t talk about it…or talk enough about it, in my opinion. And that does all of us a disservice. It wasn’t until I attended my first writer’s conference a year into my career that I met other fulltime freelancers—all of whom were successful and making steady incomes—that I knew that I too could do that.

A few years later, I met a freelancer who made six figures. Then I met another—and another. That sparked the desire in me to reach for that goal, and the confidence that I too could do it.

But I’ll tell you something. I’m not pulling down huge book advances (I wish!) or doing a lot of high-paying magazine work anymore. I’m just working as efficiently as possible in the limited time I have. I wish that all my articles paid in the $2,500 to $3,500 range the way most of my features did five or six years ago. But that’s not the case. I have to work smarter, work more efficiently, and repurpose or resell as much of my work as I can to make the money I want.

I promised to talk money, didn’t I? So I’ll give you the rundown on some rates for recent projects and assignments to give you an idea of what magazines and other clients are paying—because information is power in the hands of other writers. And if that information helps you negotiate a higher rate from a current market or simply tells you what you can expect, it’s worth it. Feel free to share your own rate info here…or to pass along this list to other freelancers. Because information is power.
Rights/type of work Type of Market Rate
Reprint/article Non-US magazine $150
Reprint/article Custom magazine $75
Reprint/article Regional magazine $75
Reprint/article Regional magazine $60
Reprint/article National magazine $200 (plus $100 for sidebar)
Reprint/article Non-US magazine $300
Ghostwriting/article Private client $0.40/word
Ghostwriting/book Private client $100/hour
Ghostwriting/book proposal Private client $4,500
Ghostwriting/book proposal Private client $3,500
Revision and update/book Book publisher $10,000
First NA rights/article National magazine $450/1,500 words
First NA rights/article National magazine $500/1,200 words
First NA rights/article Regional magazine $350/1,200 words
All rights/article Trade magazine $500/1,500 words
First NA rights/article National magazine $3,150/1,800 words


  1. I will definitely share this info with my writing friends. I first heard about you from my very good friend Kris Meldrum Denholm, and I'm so glad she introduced me to your book!

  2. Thanks, Marie! Hope you find the blog helpful to your freelance career. :)

  3. Hi Kelly,

    Congrats on the new blog. I'm eager to read more of your thoughts.