Pay Survey 2019: What 1,400+ Freelancers Get Paid to Write

Carol Tice

Get Paid to Write: 2019 Freelance Pay Report. Makealivingwriting.comWhat do freelance writers really get paid to write for clients? This year, I decided to conduct this blog’s first-ever, major survey on writer pay. Over 1,400 writers participated (thanks to all of you!).

The results contain many interesting surprises. They reveal important changes in the marketplace — and point the way to the types of writing smart freelancers will pursue this year.

But the big takeaway is that rates continue to cover a broad range. Whatever you’re charging, often, you’ll see that a large number of writers are asking for — and getting — more.

To paraphrase The X Files, good pay is out there.

But way too many of you are still earning way too little, for your hard work. No way to gloss over that.

One clarification: I’m not trying to advocate for charging hourly rates. Charge project rates! And know what that works out to for you, as an hourly rate. Because hours are your most precious resource. But for purposes of the survey, since every writing project is different, boiling it down to hourly rates is the only way to compare apples to apples.

To get a better understanding of how writers find clients, what types of writing work are paying well, and what writers earn today, our survey data is displayed below in four groupings. Chart sets below show results for:

  • The study as a whole
  • New freelance writers in their first year
  • More established writers working for 2+ years
  • The highest-earning writers — full-timers who stated they earn above $76/hr.

Survey results went out to a handful of trusted experts in a variety of writing-related roles: a writing-craft expert, agency owner, top bloggers, writing coach, and successful freelance writers, too. Their reactions to the data are below as well.

Ready to unpack the numbers? Let’s get started:

Birds-eye view

Before I break out 1-year, experienced, and top-earning freelancers, there are a few key things to know, looking at the entire study and all respondents’ answers. This is what we see from all respondents who report any freelance income:

1. Part-time freelancing is the norm

Many respondents don’t look to freelancing as their main income source, whether they’re retired, home with kids, working a day job, or simply don’t want to write full-time. About 45% said they’re just dabbling in it (earning little or nothing).

On the other end, one-quarter report writing is their full-time income, and it’s more than half of income for another 8% or so (note — we had to start preparing this post before the survey closed, so counts on these initial charts are a hair shy of the total, but percentages are accurate):

Get paid to write - pay survey

2. Online writing dominates

Asked whether they write for print or digitally, online writing is the clear favorite. About 44% said they write primarily online, and only 15% do little online writing.

Get paid to write - online writing stats - pay survey

3.  Marketing is a mystery…

A big 46% of writers said they don’t earn more because they don’t know how to find good clients. Other popular responses included lack of confidence they could command higher rates, and lack of negotiating skills.

In other words, many freelance writers operate in mystifying terrain, where they don’t know how to succeed. It’s hard to create a winning marketing strategy when you have no idea who you’re even looking for.

4. …So it’s passive

The fact that so many writers don’t know how to find clients may underlie their reliance on ‘referrals’ as the top source of clients, rather than active marketing. You can see more than three times as many writers get clients through referrals than get inbound leads through LinkedIn or their writer website (the green bar just above ‘referrals’):

get paid to write - pay survey - marketing methods

Most earn low hourly rates

Referrals are great, if you have a killer network that sends great leads. But it appears most writers don’t have highly useful referral sources. The friends-and-family are not getting you to six figures.

Get paid to write: Megan Williams, - pay survey

Megan Williams,

Here’s the breakdown on hourly rates all writers reported:

Get paid to write -- pay survey - pay rates

No way to sugarcoat it: nearly one-third of writers report they earn under $20 an hour for their work. NOT a living wage.

But nearly as many earn quite well: 10% report they earn north of $76/hr., and another 17% earn a respectable $50-$75/hr.

One other general note — 37% of respondents said they don’t do article writing, and 47% said they don’t write blogs, so rate figures for each of those categories come from an accordingly smaller pool.

David Leonhardt, owner, THGM Writers

Now, let’s break down how first-year newbies fare as compared to more experienced freelancers, and top-rate writers.

Paid to write: the first year

Often, aspiring freelance writers ask me what their chances are of launching and quickly earning a living at freelance writing. Our 1-year numbers deliver the answers, showing how much writers earn initially, and the percentage of writers who do well rapidly.

Let’s break down the charts for brand-new freelance writers:

Some writers start high

It’s not a shock to learn that in their first year, one-third of writers earn $20 per short blog post or even less (as you can see in the chart below). Many start in very low-paid content mill environments, where that’s a standard paycheck.

(Note: Not all respondents report they do each of the writing types we asked about — so stats below reflect pay reported for those who do these work types.)

Get paid to write - Heather Lloyd Martin - writer pay survey

Heather Lloyd-Martin,

But here’s the surprise: Even in year one, many writers earn pro rates. Some 22% earn $100 and up, including 4% who earn north of $300 for short posts. In year one. Nice!

Get paid to write - first-year writer pay -

Blogging — a faster track to good pay than articles

Short articles seemed to be more challenging to earn well at off the bat — 73% of newbies got paid $100 or less there. On the upside, 10% earned north of $200 per short article.

Get paid to write - Justin Cox/The Writing Cooperative - pay survey

Justin Cox, The Writing Cooperative

When you compare longer blog posts and feature articles, it really gets interesting. Longform blogging seems to be a quick route to better pay, as you see here:

Get paid to write: longform blogging rates for 1-year writers

Longer posts pay better, faster

Rates for longform vary widely, with a near-even split between the pay categories. Here, 13% of 1-year newbies already earn pro rates from longform — $300 and up. And another 15% earn a respectable $151-$300 per longer post.

By contrast, longer articles seem to be an area where newbies really get exploited. Some 44% of writers still got paid just $100 or less for articles that can hit 2,000 words — not good. Just 4% of newbies earned in the top categories here, pulling in $500+.

Blog posts dominate with new writers

After the stats above, it’s no surprise to see that more 1st-year writers listed blogging as their best-paying writing type (36%) versus article writing (just 19%). A distant third was web-copy projects, with 10%.

Content marketing: the easier path to high rates

When you compare types of writing, sophisticated content marketing work — content strategy, white papers, case studies, client e-books — appears to be a faster track to good pay for newbies than does sales-focused copywriting such as direct-response, email marketing, and sales pages.

Here are the results for content marketing, where 17% of first-years earn $50-$75 per hour, and another 13% make $76/hr and up. That’s 30% of newbies at pro rates! Solid.

Get paid to write: content marketing for newbies

Newbies who jumped into sales-focused copywriting work had a bit more difficulty getting good pay — 19% earned $50-$75/hr, and just 10% earned top rates:

Get paid to write: copywriting rates for newbies

On the upside for copywriters, fewer started at the rock-bottom $10-and-under level here than did in content marketing.

Get paid to write: Jessica Lawlor, The Write Life - pay survey

Jessica Lawlor, managing editor, The Write Life.

Overall, poverty rates for most (but not all)

Clearly, there’s a distinct minority of new freelance writers who crush it right off the bat. But overall, first-year freelance writing rates are dismal:

Get paid to write -- hourly rates for newbie writers

To give you the full breakdown on that chart above:

  • 30% earn under $10/hr.
  • 18% at $11-$19/hr.
  • 13% at $20-$25/hr.
  • 20% at $26-$40/hr.
  • 10% at $50-$75/hr.
  • 9% at $76-$100+/hr.

To sum it up in broader strokes, 61% of new freelance writers earn less than $26 an hour. While 39% earn more like a living wage, ranging from $26-$100+/hr.

Get paid to write: C Hope Clark, Fundsforwriters - pay survey

C. Hope Clark, FundsforWriters

Next, let’s look at one possible reason why many earn so little.

Looking for clients in all the wrong places

What might be at the root of the low-rate epidemic? One reason may lie in newbie’s choices in marketing methods.

Get paid to write -- where 1st year writers find clients -

As you see above, the most popular answers are referrals (25%) or bid sites such as Upwork or fiverr (19%), with sending pitch letters the runner-up (14%). With the rates most newbies earn, we can assume those referrals largely don’t lead to good-paying clients, and that likely, they need to learn how to write stronger pitches or identify better clients to pitch.

By contrast, just 10% get found through inbound methods such as a writer website or LinkedIn profile. This marketing mix will change as writers mature (see the next section on established writer rates).

Clearly, freelance writing is not an instant road to riches for most. It’s not a surprise, looking at this, that most freelancers aren’t full-time.

But many who put the effort in will see their income grow as they gain experience. For the breakout on that, let’s look at the responses of writers working 2 years and longer.

Better rates for established pros

You’ve seen the slim percentage of first-year writers who earn decent pay. How does the picture change for more experienced writers? Let’s take a look at the data in the same order we reviewed 1st-years’ responses, beginning with short blog posts:

Get paid to write - short blog post rates - writer pay survey

Short blog posts vs articles: and the winner is…

The number of bottom-wage level writers is cut in half. Just 16% of writers are earning $20 a post or less now, compared with 33% in the first year. Nearly half of bloggers cracked $100 a post, and 12% now earn north of $300 per short post, vs just 4% the first year. Improvement!

Short article rates improved as well, but still saw less pay. Half of experienced article writers still earn under $100 per short piece — better than 73% for newbies, but that’s still a lot of poverty pay there. On the high end, better news: the number of writers earning top rates for short articles nearly tripled, to 28%.

Get paid to write - Sophie Lizard/Be a freelance blogger - pay survey

Sophie Lizard, BeaFreelanceBlogger

Longform post bonanza

The progress for writers of longer blog posts is even more heartening:

Get paid to write -- longform post rates --

Big improvement here — where just 13% of 1-year newbies earned the top rate of $300 and up, that jumps to 31% by year two. And another 21% earn $151-$300 per longer post, up from 15%.

To sum up, longform blogging looks like one of the quickest paths to decent per-post rates.

Good article pay grows

In long article writing, many writers do move up from the bottom over time — about half as many of our experienced writers earn $100 or less (just one-quarter now, from 44% for newbies).

Bright side: There are big gains on the high end, as nearly one-quarter of 2+ year writers earn $500+ for long articles (up from only 4% the first year).

Get paid to write -- long-article rates for pros -- www.

Content marketing and copywriting = even-steven

It appears that as writers mature, there’s good opportunity in both content marketing and sales-focused copywriting — you can see how similar the two charts are below. Copywriters seem to catch up to content marketers, in terms of earning top rates.

In both cases, there’s a wide spread of rates, but the number of writers earning top rates has grown substantially, compared with the rates of first-year writers:

Get paid to write - content marketing rates -

Get paid to write - copywriting rates - pay survey

To recap it, here are the percentages of experienced vs newbie writers earning the top rates ($76-$100+ per hour) in the two categories:

Content marketing –  22% (Newbies, 13%)

Copywriting — 22% (Newbies, 10%)

Final takeaway — over half (54%) of experienced content marketing writers earn at least $50/hr. And 52% of copywriters get at least $50/hr., too. That starts to feel like a ‘going rate,’ at least $50 per hour.

That’s a lotta solid rates for a lotta freelance writers!

Hourly rates overall — lookin’ good

In all, the income picture for experienced writers looks fairly strong. Some 38% earn $50/hr. or more. Another 21% earn $26-$40 per hour, which writers in rural areas or low-cost countries report works just fine for them.

Only 12% of freelance writers remain mired in super-low pay after 2 years, earning $10 per hour or less. Remember that, the next time someone offers you tiny money!

Bamidele Onibalusi - Writers in Charge - Get Paid to Write - pay survey

Bamidele Onibalusi, WritersInCharge

What pays best

One likely reason rates are so diverse is that writers are writing different types of projects. With experienced writers, only half are focused on article and blog-post writing. The rest report their best-paid work is in a more sophisticated mix of projects:

Get paid to write: what projects writers take - pay survey

As you can see above, it’s about half articles and blog posts earning writers their best pay.

The biggest category is that other half of the writing pie is ‘other’ (14%), which encompasses press releases, proposals, course writing, newsletters, resumes, and more. That’s followed in descending order by website copy, sales copywriting, e-books, white papers, case studies, and technical writing.

Takeaway: More sophisticated types of writing pay as well or better than articles and blog posts. Learn to write other assignment types.

Where the good clients are

You’re probably wondering — what makes the difference? Some experienced writers earn well, others very poorly. My hunch is, it has to do with how they’re marketing and the clients they’re targeting. As writers’ careers mature, their marketing types diversify, as you see here:

Get paid to write -- marketing data -- pay survey

Interesting note here: The number of writers relying on referrals is up substantially — likely, because writers have developed more useful networks as they go. Forty percent now count referrals as their top marketing method, up from one-quarter of newbies.

Also notable: The number of writers relying on content mills sinks from 7% for newbies to 3%. Similarly, writers make less use of Upwork and the like, which shrinks from 19% for newbies to 10%. Reliance on mass online job sites such as Craigslist was never big, but it shrinks from 5% with newbies to 3% for more experienced writers.

Takeaway: Many writers quickly realize these three places aren’t going to yield good rates — ever. And they move on.

Sending pitch letters and getting inbound leads remained virtually unchanged at 15% and 10%, respectively.

That’s it for our pay comparison of first-years with more experienced writers!

You’ll see the number of writers relying on content mills, Upwork, and job boards shrink to zero as we analyze our final data set: Top-earning, full-time freelance writers who earn $76-$100+ per hour.

Habits of top-earning freelance writers

How can you earn more, as a freelance writer? By studying the habits of writers who earn $76-$100+ per hour. This was our top rate category in the survey, and roughly 7% of respondents reported that was their average hourly rate. The charts in the infographic below are the responses of these writers only.

Top takeaway: Some well-paid writers still get what appear to be low rates — but they are likely fast writers or have some portion of very high hourly-rate work, to attain that strong average hourly rate. More details below — feel free to share, pin, download, and save for future inspiration:

Get Paid to Write: Facts About Writers Who Earn $76-100 per hour. 60% of writers take 6+ years to earn top rates. Half get $300+ for blog posts, and a similar amount for articles. Blogging paid best. 0% use Upwork or content mills. pay survey

Top takeaways: run your writing biz right

My own biggest takeaways from this survey:

It’s possible to ramp quickly to high rates…but not common. Only 10% of writers jumped into the top earning category by their second or third year freelancing. For most, it will take longer.

Blog-post rates approach article rates, especially among top payers. They’re not quite there yet…but there’s no denying there is substantial upward movement in blogging rates compared to, say, a decade back, when $50 a post was considered a good rate. Thankfully, no more!

Print is not dead. Take a look at top-earners’ feature article rates! Appears there are still a decent number of $1,000 article assignments out there.

You could earn more for the same work. If you’re doing short blog posts or articles for $20, know that many others are getting $300 for those, and more. The same is true in every writing type. Learn how to find better-caliber clients who understand the value of what you deliver!

Time to shake up your marketing. You’re relying on your network  — but for most writers, it isn’t delivering quality clients. Make new connections, if that’s you. Better yet, diversify how you market and be more proactive about targeting the clients you want, rather than living off whatever flows in the door.

Consider starting strong. While most writers flounder, a distinct minority earn well from the start. We’ll need to dig further to find out what makes that difference — if I had to bet, my money’s on writers with experience, or at least the savvy to join a writer community where they can learn best practices and get support.

Key point: It appears being a greenhorn does not mean you can only get tiny money. Consider simply charging pro rates from the start.

Move up from articles and blog posts. Even though articles and blog posts clearly aren’t the best-paying writing types out there, most writers said they planned to pursue more of same. Instead, learn new skills and move up to better writing jobs.

Earning well is not a fluke. I meet many writers who think few freelancers earn enough to live on — or that really, no one pays their bills with freelance writing. This data refutes that notion.

A substantial portion of experienced freelance writers earn top rates. So track your time, and drive your business toward earning north of $75 per hour. As I said at the top, good pay is out there.

I plan to repeat this study again next year, so we can get comparative data and see how rates are trending. Here’s to asking for higher rates in the coming year!

What’s your reaction to the survey data? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

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  1. Jim Porter, Sr

    Wow, Carol! A ton of information. Thanks for it.

  2. Sigurjón Helgi Kristjánsson

    Love the results. Very helpful indeed.

  3. Dario

    A really great insight and research that shows the truth, in my opinion.

    It’s all about marketing yourself out there, and niching down is always a better idea, even though most writers think that’s a good idea.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Chris Wheary

    Hey Carol and team – thanks so much for publishing this data – it is super useful and informative!
    I didn’t participate in the survey because my experience is limited. After reading this, I realize what I’m getting paid for my limited experience isn’t too shabby 🙂
    This is inspiring to us newbies, too, to have more confidence and charge more.
    Thanks again!

    • Carol Tice

      I think you read the data right — some newbies make $10 an hour, some $100. Why not be in the latter category?

  5. Leisa Pacifici

    I appreciate all of this information. I’ve already planned to jump into blogging this year and your report confirms that I’m on the right track.
    Thank you!
    Leisa Pacifici

  6. Dan

    There was a time when this would have depressed me to see that other writers are getting $300 a post while I’m getting $20 a post, but I’ve made peace with it. I know I’m not the kind of writer who gets triple figures for my work, and that’s OK. I might not be a great writer, but nobody is going to outwork me. My path is to find enough of those “low-paying” articles and craft a job that way.

    • Carol Tice

      Dan…I’ve heard from so many writers with your approach. But all that happens over time is…burnout. There is no way to really pay bills at $20 a post. I’m not sure why you think you can’t move up to better clients and pay — look at the survey and see how many writers do!

      • Dan

        I learned a long time ago not to worry about what other people are making. If they’re able to make that kind of money and find those clients, good for them. For me, it’s pretty simple: I’m not the kind of writer who has a specific area where I stand out. There are three things that I know well, and everyone and their brother knows them, so my knowledge would need to be doctorate-level on those topics to get higher rates, and that’s just not the case.

        Would it be nice to get $200 an assignment? Sure. But that’s just not realistic for me. I’m sure those assignments are out there, but from my point of view, it doesn’t seem worth it to spend my day chasing a white whale when I can put that time into cranking out work and getting those jobs done. I might have to work harder for it, but the end of the day, I come out with the same amount of money.

        • Carol Tice

          It’s not a white whale, Dan — look at the percent who earn well! Not far-fetched, at all.

          Are you a Freelance Writers Den member? I’d really like to hear more on this and give you some tips on how to go after clients who’d pay better, within your areas, so if you’re in there please post in a forum and let’s discuss (or get on the waitlist, and we’ll try to clear a seat for you).

          The thing is ‘just working harder’ isn’t sustainable. And… $200 is a tiny assignment. The most recent two I’ve gotten were for $500 and $700. There’s so much more money out there — all that needs to happen is for you to understand that you CAN and should get this pay level.

          • Dan

            I doubt you’re going to like this answer: I was a member for a few months and left because I couldn’t justify the expense. My earnings were going down because I was pitching clients instead of knocking out the assignments I normally did, and the “Escape from the Content Mills” bootcamp only reinforced that I don’t have any life experience at all and would likely be better off going back to the mills and banging out assignments, which I did and saw my earnings get back to where they were.

            I’m glad that you and other writers have found these high-end clients willing to pay a premium for your work. For me, that isn’t my path. I’m fine with making $50K a year, it’s more than I’ve made doing anything else.

          • Charmaine Engelsman-Robins

            Holy crap, that’s 48 hours a week of chargeable hours with no vacay! Couldn’t do it. Yikes@

          • Dan

            Actually, I’m moving up in the world. When I was a journalist, it used to be 60. 48 hours a week doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

          • Katherine Swarts

            Personally, I think most “hours worked per week” estimates are subjective at best. Three people can sit down at near-identical desks with near-identical projects, and one pounds the keyboard feverishly for two hours without looking up, one takes three bathroom breaks (or stop-to-think breaks), and the third gets distracted 20 times by incoming emails–and they all call it “working for two hours.” The question is, what are you actually getting DONE in the available time–and just how relevant is most of it to your current deadlines AND long-term goals?

          • Charmaine Engelsman-Robins

            Carol – what length posts do you write for 5 – 7 hundred? I hope to break into blogging in 2019. Thanks – C

          • Carol Tice

            Usually more the 1500-2000 word length, but sometimes shorter. Depends on the client. I’d say those aren’t starter rates. Hope that helps!

  7. Todd Jones

    I always love to see the data on this stuff. Helps to inform my target audience about the price of good writers. Thanks, Carol!

    • Carol Tice

      I’m such a data dork — thrilled to have compiled this much information on pay rates! And it’s like I said at the top — there’s really little in the way of going rates. Writers earn all over for the same types of assignments. The difference is knowing your value, and finding clients who understand it and have real budgets to pay us! It’s worth a little effort, to earn 10x as much, right?

  8. Sandra Collins

    Thank you for this information. I know this was beyond the scope of your survey, but I suspect that levels and types of expertise would have significant impact on the data. I would guess that industry-specific, niche-market, and/or highly technical writing (for example) would earn more than writing requiring less expertise, and in some cases would be a greater influencer on the earnings data than whether the writer was a newbie or a pro. That would probably be something to consider when seeking new skills.

  9. Danielle

    Thank you so much for the information! How about a survey about how clients view writers based on location? It seems more about race, rather than, location though. I always see (X nationality) only (particularly on Upwork) or Non-US (another freelancer platform), but no one wants to pay the average rate we’ve set for our community. This is based on the same level of skills as others in Western countries.

    • Carol Tice

      You know, Danielle, I did not ask where writers were located — definitely something to add next time! But I DON’T think it’s about race — I’ve never had the sense there’s racial discrimination in freelancing. Definitely a bias against non-native speakers who want clients in English, sure. Not sure what you mean by ‘no one wants to pay the average we’ve set for our community.’ or ‘based on the same level of skills?’

      • Danielle

        Maybe considering race is a bit strong? You’re right about it being biased. Actually, I’m not yet sure about it as I have no records. But it has been going on for years in my observation and it was only in the past year that I started to see changes in Upwork. (I did complain but I’m not sure if that contributed to the change.) Before, job headlines would post nationality preference. Filipinos were a common request then. You’d see dozens in a day of postings. At first, I thought it was a work culture preference until I saw what they were offering was peanuts.

        Regarding average price based on same skill level, it is the lowest price we recommend we charge based on our cost of living, overhead, and experience level in the local community. Regardless, any writer can choose to ask for more if they want to. It’s just that the newbies in our group want to know what the starting rate is when someone wants to hire them.

        The reason there is a minimum suggested rate(this changes every now and then though) is that new writers and freelancers sometimes agree to the lowest price, say USD0.005/word or less. This then gives clients the impression that we are really cheap even if we submit high-quality work. One other issue is that it affects the average rate of everyone. I’ve had clients tell me, “we hired someone who is in your location for a quarter of the price you are asking. Why should we pay you more?” This happened several times.

        While I do have fair paying clients, I can honestly say that only 10% of them did not use my location and local colleagues’ rates against me during negotiations. This is getting a bit long, I apologize. My point is that I believe that location, work culture, and societal norms are a factor when it comes to freelancing rates.

        While others know that you set your price and there will always be a client who will see the value of your work, I think those who accept rates like those need more confidence and clients who offer rates like those should not be allowed to hire anyone, ever.

        So, to cap it off, this issue of mine may not be solved by a global community yet. (Still, the majority of our clients are from the US, AU, and UK) I think I’ll start with the local community and give you what information I can get to help you with your research. Thanks so much for the info you have provided because it has a huge impact.

        • Carol Tice

          LOCATION, yes. Definitely a factor. Especially with lowball clients on Upwork — you’ve really got to get off of there to move up.

  10. pranita deshpande

    I want to write articles 25$/hr What i have to do? What exactly i have to do?

    • Carol Tice

      Pranita, there are 1,000 free posts on this blog about how to get hired as a writer, including a big downloadable new-writer Q&A just a few posts back. There’s also the ebooks, and my community. Lots of resources!

      If all you want to earn is $25 an hour, sign up with some of the sites online, if you can get on. Maybe you’ll get lucky. I’m here to help writers earn a lot more.

      Based on the grammar errors in what you posted, writing in English may not be a viable avenue for you — but there are other angles to work:

  11. Kevin Obermeyer

    Thank you for putting together this huge amount of useful data. Kudos to you! Only thing not charted is the hours you put into compiling, interpreting, and distributing, lol. You are always top notch and classy. Thank you for all the info and helps you give. Blessings to you!

    • Carol Tice

      Ha, you DON’T want to know that statistic! Not just me but my team, creating the infographic, and all. But good data is important to have, and I felt like there was no decent public, free info on rates, that isn’t years old.

  12. James Nguma

    Thanks so much, Carol for the survey. The truth is it takes time, efforts and hard work to make a decent pay from freelance work. The survey results have given me more confidence to even charge higher than what I was charging my previous clients.

  13. Keith McGuinness

    On starting strong, I think niche counts too. My first client in the financial sector agreed to £100/$130 for a 500 word blog post and within a couple of years I was charging up to £350/$450.

    • Carol Tice

      You know I’m a big believer in building niche expertise, Keith — definitely the way to move up more quickly!

  14. Shivansh

    Hi Carol!

    I read your articles to learn out new things and yes! I do it as well!
    Recently, I selected $150/ be at Upwork to a client. ( Keeping in mind your tips.)
    The client came back to me to interview me and said me that why I had put the rate. I answered him very smoothly and in a unique way and then he said me to low down my rate to $105/hr!
    I got the contract then and earned $1000+ in just two days!
    I wanted to thank you but did not get the time. Now, I wanna state a ‘Thank you’re to you.
    Have a great rest of your week.

  15. Ratika

    Thanks for sharing the results – really insightful!

    It would be great if this website had a search bar – I’d love to read more about short blog posts. Brevity seems to be my thing (maybe because I started out writing flash fiction).

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t know that I’ve written specifically about SHORT blog posts, Ratika! But I think you can find blogging topics here:

      And…don’t really need a search bar, you can use Google and put in our site URL and then the topic you want, things come right up.

  16. Olumide Samuel

    This is a helpful survey. One of the main findings of this survey is that most new writers don’t go for higher rates.
    I think sometimes, this is also due to having a lower popularity level and reputation as a writer. Most clients would happily pay a high rate for a popular and influential writer.
    But they’re reluctant to do so for a new writer. Even if the work quality is similar.
    Overall, this gives every writer an idea of a range to charge clients. And where to avoid if you want high pay!

  17. Padma

    Hey Carol,

    Well put. Although I could read most of the post is about article/blog post. How about the regulatory writing stuff? Do we have any info on the same? I am kind of a writer who writes the regulatory stuff and trying to find few clients successfully, but as you clearly mentioned getting paid less. I have read somewhere that regulatory writing is on the top notch with high rates and may be I am lagging behind with the negotiating skills. I would surely try out the suggestions you have mentioned above.

    Thanks again for the wonderful post

    • Carol Tice

      Padma, regulatory writing is pretty arcane, sorry to say I don’t really know enough writers in that niche where I could gather meaningful data on it. But I AM definitely planning to do more breakouts next time for things like white papers and case studies, and other popular types of writing.

  18. Cindy

    Thank you for this post! It’s just what I needed to stop floundering around when I need to set a rate for a client. However, I wonder what the pay gap is between blogging directly for a client and doing so through a marketing agency. I do a little of both. Pay through an agency is lower than work I get on my own, which is understandable. Do you have any data on what most bloggers make for legitimate agency work? Can we negotiate there or do we have to take what the agency offers?

    • Carol Tice

      Did NOT gather info on agency rates…but in general, just take what you were thinking you should be paid and cut it in half, and you’ve got what the agency is going to pay you. It seems like I usually hear of dismal rates there, $25 an hour not uncommon or $35.

      That said, you can always TRY to negotiate. Never hurts to ask. But agencies are often locked into the rates they’re offering clients, and the markup they take (often, 100% of even more!), so often there isn’t a lot of wiggle room.

      Pays to find your own clients and build direct relationships, and cut out the middleman.

      Love the idea of asking that question next time — thanks for suggesting!

  19. Jennifer

    I feel like I’ve been a “year one” writer for three years. I’m learning quickly that my biggets roadbloack is fear, followed closely by insecurity. I have experience (nearly 10 years as a staff writer), but I don’t believe I’m worth the big bucks. I’ve used Upwork and Fivrr because it’s easy marketing. My husband, who is the ultimate entrepreneur, has really been pushing me to sell myself. Go to trade shows, send introductory emails, attend panels where I can find potential websites, build my own website, etc. I’m just starting to work on these elements, but I’ve never felt more confident that I can make it as a freelance writer and create a schedule worth working for. This survey was so interesting and just proved the point my husband has been trying to make for years: fortune favors the bold. If you don’t believe your’re worth $75/hr or $1,000 a project, neither will your clients.

    • Carol Tice

      So YES to all that, Jennifer! Listen to your husband. 😉

      Glad this survey helped you see it’s time to get off the bid-site road to the bottom rate and get your own clients.

  20. Virginia Nicols

    What’s the value TO THE CLIENT of the new customer your work attracts? If the value of the customer is in the thousands, your work for the client should be worth hundreds.

  21. Katherine Swarts

    I’d like to have seen a little more subcategorization of “finding clients through social media.” That could cover everything from setting up a profile once and expecting it to do the rest of the work (akin to a writer website), to posting regularly and soliciting referrals for your profile (akin to word of mouth), to sending direct communications to potential prospects via LinkedIn InMail (akin to query letters and LOIs). And the top-earners infographic doesn’t seem to mention social media at all.

    • Carol Tice

      Believe social media IS a category you can see in the pie charts, Katherine — just not seeing a ton of success in it, it wasn’t a top answer of what worked best. I think that may be evolving because LinkedIn in my experience is really taking off lately!

      And…there’s nobody gets gigs in social media by just putting up a profile. Have to be active on a platform to see results.

      Social media wasn’t a top marketing method of the top earners — that’s why it’s not featured. I could dig the stat out for you though…just 2% said social media was one of their top marketing methods.

  22. Grant Whitehead

    Excellent excellent information! Ink joe which percentile I want to be in and how to achieve it!

    • Carol Tice

      Is that ‘lets me know which percentile’? I’m thinking so. And yes. You just see…rates are all over the board. Have to make your mind up which quadrant you think like. Is it “I deserve top rates?” It should be! I love seeing that a substantial portion of writers earn well YEAR ONE.

      People have to get the idea out of their heads that you must slave for years building up your reputation before you deserve a decent paycheck. You are providing value, DAY ONE.

  23. Doug

    Thanks! The color didn’t display well in Safari but it was explained after. I like you for doing this work!

  24. Ferran

    So according to this study writing blog posts is better paid than direct response copywriting… really?

    • Carol Tice

      Not dramatically more…but for some segments, at some points in their career. It appears that blogging and content marketing was a faster ramp. Remember, that content marketing graph is for more sophisticated things like case studies, NOT blog posts. It’s EXCLUDING blog posts.

  25. Philip V Ariel

    Hi Carol,
    What a joy to be here again!
    The survey brought some factors from the experiences of different freelance writers. Indeed these are valuable information to read for any freelance writer.
    As you mentioned, the interesting part of the post, “the Habits of top-earning freelance writers” is really informative to note. Nice that you brought that out in the inforgraphic.

    I will surely make mention of this post in one of my upcoming posts.
    Thanks a lot for bringing out such an elegant post.

    I am here today via BizSugar wherein this post is curated by David Leonhardt. I upvoted it and shared a comment. Thank again Dave for the wonderful and informative share.
    Keep sharing
    ~ Philip

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for sharing! I’m just getting into that BizSugar group, too, not sure how it works yet but looking forward to it!

      • Philip V Ariel

        Thanks for your response to my feedback.
        I am sure that will be a better experience there, of course now the new face is almost new but fast growing with some influencers there. I a sure you will be a best person to join there as I could locate a few like-minded people there.
        Have a great weekend Carol.
        Keep sharing.
        ~ Philip

  26. Lawrence Ozeh

    “Charge what you’re worth. Change your mindset. Build confidence. Push boundaries. Insist on a contract + deposit. Negotiate. It may sound scary. But once you’ve made some mindset tweaks and understand your value, you’ll be unstoppable.”

    Yeah, this is it!

    The epiphany.

    And it’s so true.

    And one thing that I discovered is that once you start charging less, it soon becomes a vicious cycle that might end up taking your breath away (Seriously.)


    That’s because you always be on the look out for another penny pinching client that will give you the money which you NEED urgently for your NEXT meal.

    Just keep calm and go big.

    • Carol Tice

      Right on! That was my big takeaway too. Some first-year writers are getting $300 per blog post. Why not you?

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly…so many writers seem to live at the poverty line, and then one client flakes and it’s panic. Gotta get higher rates so you have a cushion, and can make choices about who to take, not just take clients out of desperation. That does NOT build a thriving writing career!

  27. Charmaine Engelsman-Robins

    Still kind of foggy… just referring to assignments as “long” or “short” doesn’t define it enough for me. Is this an assignment that requires that I go to a location to gather info or can I do it from my office? Am I trying to interview a hard-to-connect-with subject or just doing a phone interview with an eager/receptive party? Am I being given names and contact info or am I expected to unearth these myself? I’m afraid defining only by word count still leaves us comparing apples and oranges. Also would like to point out that quoting by project once backfired when I got what I thought was a juicy assignment from a national mag at $1.50 per word. The editor turned out to be a complete disaster, constantly demanding rewrites (six … count ’em… SIX total!) driving me and the by-redo-#3-fed- up-subject of the story totally bat shit… she was NUTS! If we quote by project, we better very carefully define what the limits are for that quote!

    • Carol Tice

      Well, we’ve all been there, Charmaine. I definitely plan to do more detailed questions in the next survey!

  28. Loretta

    It’s a lot of information to take in, but I love that you’re showing how varied the results with freelance writing can truly be and reminding folks that it can take time to build up to those big paying projects (and also reassuring that, yes, those big paying projects are still out there, they do exist)

    • Carol Tice

      What I loved in this study was seeing that the POTENTIAL to earn real money quickly is THERE. Just too few writers insisting on fair pay. People have to stop thinking about charging tiny ‘newbie rates’ and realize that they still bring value — probably write better than the business owner you’re helping, and it builds their business. It’s worth a lot, even if you’re new, and will later be a better writer.


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