Here’s How You Stack Up Compared to Other Freelancers

Carol Tice

Stack of pancakes

Have you been wondering how well you’re doing as a freelance writer?

If so, you’re not alone.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this lately. Writers are burning up to know how their progress compares to that of other freelance writers.

Recent questions I’ve had include:

What is the average time it takes to write an article?

What is the average pay for an article?

What is the going rate for a blog post?

How long does it take the average writer to ramp up their freelance writing business into a full-time living?

So. Here’s the question I’ve got:

Why do you want to know?

What is with this fixation of endlessly comparing your success, your pay rate, your client list, with that of other writers?

I find this a highly negative mindset, constantly worrying about whether you stack up well — whether you’re the most productive, best-paid, or most creative writer.

Here is the only person I spend much time comparing my writing work to:

Me.

That’s right. I’m my biggest — and toughest — competitor.

To be specific, I compare my writing career now with how I did last year.

If last year I earned X, this year I’d like to earn X plus something more.

If I had X level of clients last year, I’d like to have better than that this year.

That’s the whole plan.

By focusing only on self-improvement and keeping the blinders on about other writers’ progress, I’ve been able to earn more each year since 2006.

I feel pretty great about that.

Let’s take a peek at how I could be feeling about my freelance accomplishments of the past six years or so if I had focused on what other writers are accomplishing instead…

(movie-like dissolve to dream sequence)…

Hmm…some of my favorite Seattle Times investigative-team reporters won a Pulitzer. And I didn’t. If only I’d stayed in newspaper journalism, I could be getting those accolades. I know I’ve got the chops for that. I feel insignificant and that my writing isn’t making an impact.

I make good money, but I know top copywriters make at least twice what I do. Hmph. I sort of suck, don’t I? Why didn’t I master the art of writing direct mail?

I’m really happy with the modest success of my blog and my writer community…but I’m hardly a million-dollar blogger like Brian Clark, Seth Godin, Leo Babauta and all the A-Listers.

I know writers who’ve written for my dream publication — Vanity Fair. People who’ve written hit TV shows and Broadway musicals, and others who’ve published acclaimed nonfiction books. And they did it all at a much younger age than I am now.

Loser me, on the other hand, just has this one co-authored business book coming out in May.

I’m so slow. And old. And pathetic. I’ve missed so many opportunities.

Great. Now I feel like crap.

(movie dissolve back to reality)…

Does this help you see how utterly unhelpful and negative this comparison game is?

Your writing career is your writing career. It’s better than some writers, and not as great as others.

Just like mine.

The answers to your questions

Here are my honest answers to all your questions about how you stack up:

Some writers write faster than you. Some write slower.

Some earn more per article or blog post. Some earn less.

Some have better clients than you do. Some have worse.

Some will take longer to get their freelancing launched, while others will do it faster.

None of that matters.

All that matters is that you improve. Keep moving up. Write all you can, in the best places you can.

Stay focused on your accomplishments. Set your goals. And celebrate your success.

What freelance success would you like to celebrate? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

 

43 Comments

  1. Victoria

    I’d like to celebrate getting my first clip – an essay in my favorite magazine, which is distributed nationally! I’m in my 40’s, so instead of beating myself up for being “old” and taking so “long,” I’m enjoying the feeling of having something I wrote in my favorite mag. 🙂

    I’m no longer a writer with “no” clips!

    • Carol Tice

      Congrats, Victoria!

      I was a pretty late-blooming writer myself, having spent my 20s on songwriting and then switched to prose for the first time near age 30. Freelance writing makes a perfectly good second career, though 😉

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