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Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Not be the One in Four? What Freelancers are Making Today

I'm a big believer in sharing information, especially about money, among freelancers. That's one reason I conducted a freelance income survey earlier this year and one in 2010. Since then, I've collected more responses; so far 210 freelancers have participated in the survey. (And a big thank you to all who have!)

According to the latest responses:
  • 30 percent of freelancers make less than $20,000/year;
  • 22 percent of freelancers make between $20,000 and $39,999/year;
  • 20 percent of freelancers make between $40,000 and $59,999/year;
  • 12 percent of freelancers make between $60,000 and $79,999/year;
  • 8 percent of freelancers make between $80,000 and $99,999/year; and
  • 8 percent of freelancers make more than $100,000/year.
Sure, I find it a little depressing that nearly one in three freelancers is making less than $20,000/year. I don't know anyone who can live on that kind of money, but it's impossible to tell from the survey how many hours these freelancers are working--or how seriously they're taking their careers. I prefer to focus on the fact that one in four freelancers is making $60,000 or more a year--and that six in ten say they're on target to make more in 2011 than they did in 2012. That's awesome news.

My point? If you're new to freelancing, don't think that you have to settle for making a few bucks here and there writing for content mills or other per-click sites. Plenty of freelancers make good money--real money--as writers. The purpose of this blog is to help you do so.

With just over two months before 2012, I hope you're thinking about next year already. The end of the year is the perfect time to retool your career, whether that means changing the way you work, pursuing new markets, or exploring other types of writing like ghostwriting (responsible for the majority of my income and work these days) or writing for corporations. In future posts, I'll talk about how to retool in 2012.

***And if you're new to freelancing, don't forget to check out my Writer's Digest webinar (Make Money NOW Selling Articles) this Thursday, October 27. If you're serious about freelancing for print and online markets, it will be the best $79 you ever spend.


  1. Hi Kelly --

    Nice post.

    I'm one of those in the 22% areas. And I will go here. IF (perhaps) I out in the extra hours and, yes, was more serious, my income would be higher.

    I'm not saying I DON'T work hard or that I'm NOT taking my career seriously, but sometimes you sit back and say, "Hey, you know what, I should be doing this differently..."

    And just an year I will be in the "high" 22 - 20% area.


  2. I'm sort of surprised at that 30%-below-$20K number. Though, perhaps those writers are only working a few hours a week?

    I *just* started freelancing at the beginning of September. So far, I've got one client, and my work has all been editing, no writing. However, I have billed about $6K total for September and October. I am charging rates that are in line with the Editorial Freelancers Association's common rates (posted here:

    I have done almost no marketing, but, if it were January, I'd still be on track to be in the $20-$39K category. I'm also not billing anything close to 40 hours a week.

    I'm not posting this comment to make anyone feel bad; I just think that it's important to remember that it's absolutely possible to make more than $20K!