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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So Where's the Money Coming From? What Freelancers are Working On

Last post, I shared the income results from the 2012 Freelance Income Survey. Now let's take a closer look at what types of work freelancers are doing to produce their income.

Here are the results to question #5, which asked what kinds of work you performed for pay in 2011:

What types of work were you paid to perform during 2011? (Select all that apply.) 
 Consumer magazine articles.  110 
 Trade magazine articles.  79 
 Custom magazine articles.  88 
 Academic magazine articles.  18 
 Newspaper articles.  59 
 Online/Web articles.  133 
 Reprinting/reselling previously published work.  32 
 Writing your own books (for traditional publishers.)  24 
 Publishing your own books (for POD publishers or as ebooks).  8 
 Ghostwriting/coauthoring books/book proposals for clients.  30 
 Blogging.  85 
 Speaking/teaching (any kind--in person tele seminars Webinars etc.)  39 
 Editing (any kind).  79 
 Copywriting/writing for corporations/businesses.  71 
 Writing for nonprofit organizations.  33 
 Consulting.  29 
 PR/media relations work.  21 
 Other (please specify in comment field.)  24 

But are the most common types of work paying off? Yes, according to the answers to question 6, where I asked respondents to list their top five sources of income, by work type:

 Trade magazine articles.  41 
 Custom magazine articles.  30 
 Academic magazine articles.  8 
 Newspaper articles.  15 
 Online/Web articles.  64 
 Reprinting/reselling previously published work.  2 
 Writing your own books (for traditional publishers.)  5 
 Publishing your own books (for POD publishers or as ebooks).  3 
 Ghostwriting/coauthoring books/book proposals for clients.  17 
 Blogging.  38 
 Speaking/teaching (any kind--in person tele seminars Webinars etc.)  17 
 Editing (any kind).  41 
 Copywriting/writing for corporations/businesses.  39 
 Writing for nonprofit organizations.  16 
 Consulting.  11 
 PR/media relations work.  6 
 Other (please specify in comment field.)  9 

So, more respondents are making money from writing online articles (15.50 percent) than any other one specific type of writing, followed by consumer magazine articles (12.83 percent), trade magazine articles and editing (tied at 9.69 percent), copywriting/writing for corporations and businesses (9.44 percent), blogging (9.20 percent). 

I'm sharing the complete answers to these questions so you can see what type of work your fellow freelancers are doing and determine whether it's time to add it (or more of it) to your repertoire. If one in ten freelancers are making money blogging, and you're not, that may be an area to explore. But the opposite is true, too--if less than 1 percent of freelancers are making money publishing their own books (whether POD or ebooks), that may mean there's an opportunity that not many writers are currently pursuing. 

Regardless, I hope you find these results thought-provoking, and helpful. I know it will be for me as I plan future blog posts; after all, the primary purpose of this blog is to help my readers. Let me know if I'm doing my job. :)

***Are you a full-time freelancer who's constantly pestered by people who want to know how to get started in the business? :) Or are you new to freelancing, and want to make the jump from unpublished newbie to published writer? Check out my new ebooks, Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to: Selling your First Article and Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Essential Freelance Templates. Each is designed for writers who are new to freelancing, and will help you transition from unpublished to published writer. 


  1. Thanks for the breakdown. This is fascinating to see in real life numbers the areas that I'm not working.

  2. Kelly,
    This information is incredibly helpful. I've not seen this much detail anywhere else. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.
    Kim Bookless

  3. You're welcome, Kim. I want this post to be thought-provoking, and maybe open up some new areas to writers who haven't thought about them before. :)