Jodee Remond featured a thought-provoking discussion the other day in her post “Do You Want to Hear About What Other Freelance Writers Are Making.” In this post, Jodee discussed whether or not freelancers should disclose their income to other freelancers. Many freelance writers are very interested in what others earn, so much so that some writing forums have regular threads where many of the writers list their income for the month. While I agree that it can be very motivating to learn some freelancers are earning $4,000 to $6,000 per month, I also feel that this information is useless without knowing how the freelancer earned that money and how much time was spent working.
Before you ooh and aaah over a freelance writer’s paycheck, keep these factors in mind:
1. There are different types of writing
I can tell you I earned $6,000 last month but what does that really tell you? For example, I have a variety of clients, plus I earn income from my blog, ebook and coaching service. For some freelancers $5,000 equals full time work for one company, while others might bring that in for a single grant writing project. Still others handle a variety of tasks for a variety of clients. If there’s going to be a discussion of rates and earnings, there should also be a breakdown of earnings.
2. The requirements going in to each bit of writing is different
A blog post might take 30 minutes to write off the top of one’s head, while a client’s brochure project will take some planning and a few in house meetings. A magazine article requires heavy research and interviews and a newspaper report features in depth investigation. So it stands to reason if a blogger earned $150 for three hours of work and a journalist earned $150 for a week’s worth of research and writing for one article, the blogger earned a higher hourly rate. Knowing the type of writing and what goes into each bit of writing makes all the difference in the world in a discussion of rates.
3. Everyone has different situations
I don’t care how much other writers earn, because my situation is different. I don’t need to earn as much or as little as the next guy. One person might be a hobbyist while another needs to do this full time. When entering into a rates discussion with other freelancers, keep in mind that Freelancer A might have only earned $150 last month because she’s just doing this to earn a little shopping money. Freelancer B, on the other hand, works full time and her $5,000 is reflective of her situation. Freelancer A doesn’t have to work, Freelancer B has no choice. Drive and attitude mean everything.
4. How much time is spent on administrative tasks?
Looking through the job boards, cold calling, even sifting through the titles at the various article writing sites takes time. Whether you realize it or not, this is all part of the job. So is making collection calls, handling the finances, and responding to email. When you factor in the time spent on administrative tasks, what does it do to your hourly rate? When you compare your expenses to someone else’s factor in every single thing that goes into each task and divide it up pay by hours worked. You may be surprised at what you find.
5. The experience factor
A published author or seasoned journalist will no doubt command a higher rate than someone who has never done this before. Experience plays a big factor in how much a single writer earns. That doesn’t mean a newer writer can’t, and shouldn’t, do well. It only means you shouldn’t be disheartened to learn of another writer who is earning so much more. It only means that person has the experience and knows how to hustle, play the game and command the higher rates. Hopefully you’ll soon realize you can do better and reach for the stars.
Do you enter into rates discussions with other freelance writers? If so, do you consider the whole big picture – and does it make a difference?