If you hang around the universe of professional writers for very long, you will inevitably come across both the questions and the answers to freelance writer pay. Some of these will have a specific focus, for example, what bloggers get paid, while others will be more general. Professional writers should make X.
The Pay Calculations for Writers
Most writers end up reading an article that goes something like this: If you want to make $100,000 per year as a writer, then you have to make $2,000 per week (50 working weeks per year). $2,000 per week works out to $50 per hour, assuming a 40 hour work week. Now, keep in mind this does not mean 40 hours of writing. You’ll have to find those writing gigs, and invoice, and so on, as well. So, your goal then is to make $50 per hour for your 40 hours of total work time.
Later, most writers end up reading an article about what they are worth. This second article will highlight that nobody understands how valuable writers are so the pay rates out there are too low. And, then, that this is true because writers work for too little money. The solution then, is to never accept jobs that pay below X.
The Flaws in the Group-Think Math
There are a couple of flaws in this method of calculating rates. These flaws tend to stay hidden because most everyone already believes in the paradigm, so they don’t bother thinking it through. Anyone who questions the paradigm is cast as an inexperienced and naive writer, and they are the reason that writing rates are not higher, because they “just don’t understand.”
So, let’s do this together and we’ll see where we come out.
The $100,000 Myth
Do you make $100,000 per year at the job you are working right now? Did you make $100,000 per year at your last job? At any job you have every worked? Then why would you use math that assumes you should be making $100,000 as a freelance writer?
Sure, everyone should have a goal, but it takes years to achieve that level of income in virtually every profession. Even people working in the “high paying” professions don’t necessarily star there. Sure, the top grads from the Top 10 Law Schools make six-figures right out of the gate, but the vast majority of law grads start closer to $60K to $80K, and those guys do not work 40 hour work weeks. In fact, most law grads spend their first three or four years working 80 hour weeks. Break it down, and they make the same hourly rate as someone making $40K for a 40 hour work week.
In fact, almost no profession out there pays six-figures for a 40 hour work week, so you might want to rework that math as well.
To get a more realistic number we should probably do the math with something like $60,000 and see where it comes out. How about $75,000?
By the way, if you are going to use the 50 week work year, then all you have to do is double an hourly rate and multiply by 1,000 to get the annual rate.
$50 x 2 = 100 X 1,000 = $100,000
Or in reverse, the annual salary divided by 1,000 and then half of that gets you the accompanying hourly rate.
$80,000 per year = 80,000 /1000 = 80 / 2 = $40 per hour
For those of you not super great in math (Hello? Writers, remember?) you can think of it as half and drop the zeros, or double and add the zeros (three of them).
Reality Check Salaries for Freelance Writers
$40,000 per year = $20 per hour
$60,000 per year = $30 per hour
$80,000 per year = $40 per hour
$100,000 per year = $50 per hour
So, now the trick is how to turn that into a billable rate. If you want to earn $100K like described here, you either have to bill $50 per hour and do all of your other stuff (marketing, invoicing, and so on) on extra hours, or you have to bill higher to cover those hours as well. So, if you bill $100 per hour, then you get 20 hours to do your other stuff, and so on.