How Much Money Do Freelancers Make (And Why It Shouldn’t Matter)

How much money do freelancers make?

That is the question. 

And, depending on your mindset, the answer can be quite depressing. 

Let me tell you why. 

Unveiling a freelance writer’s salary

There are many reasons why people freelance. 

Personally, I chose freelancing because it’s my only choice. 

I don’t have a degree – nor do I have any experience whatsoever in any other field. 

Without freelancing, I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been.

Of course, there are freelancers who were enticed by the idea of working from home and being one’s own boss. You have complete control over your time, workload, and energy – at least for the most part.

Boss GIF
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But I think we can all agree that most freelancers are driven by one thing: the potential income

So, how much do freelance writers make?

You should know full well that there’s no simple answer to that question. 

If you ask me, it can only be two things: 

You’re either making a lot, or not making enough. 

It all depends on your mindset. 

I know – that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for. And I promise you’ll get my point by the end of this post.  

That said, let’s take a look at numbers. 

According to Glassdoor, the average rate of a freelance writer on Upwork is $16 per hour.   

Average Pay on Upwork
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Remember, that’s just the average. 

If you use Upwork yourself, you can easily find freelancers who make over $100 per hour. 

I repeat, per hour

US Writers Hourly Rates
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“But – not all freelance writers use Upwork!”

Calm down. 

I’m not some guy who gets data from one website and calls it “research.” 

Believe it or not, I’m not that lazy. 

Let’s take a look at even more numbers. 

Data from Indeed reveals that the average base salary of freelance writers in the United States is $19.33. This is based on the salaries submitted by freelancers, employers, and recruiters on the website. 

Average Salaries on Indeed
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Looking at this figure, we can say that Upwork’s average rate of $16 per hour checks out. It’s only a three-dollar difference, after all.  

By the way, Indeed is also nice enough to identify the highest-paying cities for freelance writers:

Highest Paying Cities in the US
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The discrepancies in freelance writer salaries between states are to be expected. 

You have to think about factors like the cost of living, minimum wage, and the job market in each state. These are the same reasons why freelancers from developing countries are paid lower, but we’ll get to that later. 

For now, here are even more numbers.

In 2020, the Editorial Freelancers Association ran a survey to determine the median rate of their members. 

Have a look at the results:

EFA Average Salaries
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The average per-word rates are actually quite reasonable. 

I, myself, have experienced hiring freelance writers for some side hustles and paying them up to $0.05 per word. 

To those freelancers (you know who you are), I apologize if I can’t pay any higher. Hopefully, I can offer the rates you deserve in the future. 

How high can a freelance writer’s per-word rate go?

Well, there are freelance writers who work for publications that pay $1 per word

If you’re one of them, you can blaze through 1,000 words within a few hours – earning $1,000 in the process. 

Granted, those freelancers probably don’t get assignments every day. But if you also get paid on a per-word basis, $1 per word is like a dream come true.  

Now, this takes us to the sad part. 

The ugly truth about the salary of a freelance writer

In case you didn’t notice, the data we’ve covered thus far all pertain to freelance writers in the United States. 

If you live in a developing country, chances are your rates aren’t even close to the numbers above. 

Fine, you could be making more than your locally employed peers. But unless you already feel like you’re making a lot, you still haven’t reached your full income potential.

To put things in perspective, let’s look at the salaries of Filipino freelance writers. 

Just remember that we’re talking averages here. 

I’m not saying every Philippines-based freelancer makes the same amount. In fact, I can name a dozen Filipino freelance writers who are paid quite handsomely.  

With that out of the way, take a look at the following data from Indeed: 

Indeed Filipino Average Salary
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For your information, ₱20,494 converts to $421.64 as of writing this post.

Okay, sure – that’s just the average of 14 reported salaries on Indeed. 

Let’s check out job postings, then. 

Indeed Job Postings
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Big yikes.

The situation on Upwork isn’t much better. 

If you search for freelancers with hourly rates of $10 and below, well, let’s just say you’ll notice a pattern. 

Low Paid Freelancers
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Think that’s bad? 

Trust me – a lot of freelancers deal with worse. 

If you’re a member of Freelance Writers Philippines, you’ll often come across posts like this: 

Krysten's Post
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Yes – to a lot of Filipino freelancers, ₱1 per word is the standard. And it’s not because they’re inexperienced, either. 

As you can see, Krysten is a travel blogger with plenty of great content on her own website. With a portfolio like hers, she should be getting at least three times more money for her writing services. 

Krysten Kaladkarin
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I actually talked to Krysten about that. 

According to her, that’s just the way the Philippines’ freelance market works. It’s so bad that she’s seriously thinking of leaving her current job. 

You can learn more about Krysten from her blog or her Instagram account

Moving on.

To be honest, I wanted to write something simple when I came up with this topic. My goal was to give aspiring freelancers a clear idea of how much they should ask for their services. 

But the more I researched, the more I realized that beginners needed to learn…something else. 

How much does a writer make? Who cares?

For underpaid writers, looking at all the data above can be really discouraging. 

That’s why it says “The Truth Can Be Depressing” in the title. 

But the real truth is, it all depends on your mindset.

If you feel demotivated, you’re looking at things the wrong way. 

What you need to say is, “screw it.”

Use the data above to set your own goals – not to remind you how freelancing is unfair.

By accepting rates based on the averages by country, you’re letting employers use statistics to justify underpaying you.  Click To Tweet

They want to keep the outsourcing economy profitable for them – to keep you in line. That’s why I hate posts like this:

Post I Hate 1
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…and this:

Post I Hate 2
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Sure, I can understand why some companies prefer native English freelance writers. They generally communicate well, understand the nuances of the language better, and are more reliable in terms of content quality. 

However, none of those are true 100 percent of the time. 

Being a native English speaker doesn’t make anyone a better writer by default. 

For instance, I experienced working with U.S.-based freelance writers in the past. That was way back – when we were trying to make our SEO startup work. 

And, despite being native English speakers, the articles they submitted flat-out sucked.

The bottom line here is this:

Don’t let statistics define you.  

Numbers schumbers. 

Let your performance do the talking and show them that you deserve more. 

Most importantly, don’t stop until you feel like you’re making a lot

Work on your writing skills and build up your portfolio. As long as you keep a positive mindset, both will help you gradually raise your rates.

Here are some resources that can help you with that: 

Finally, don’t worry about the pay if you’re just starting out. Build your reputation first – the money will follow. 

Conclusion

I hope you found this post enlightening. 

Remember, as freelancers, we need to learn how to help ourselves. 

Thousands of companies out there already undervalue our services. So, do yourself a favor, and know your own worth. 

If you have questions or opinions about what you just read, feel free to leave a comment below. 

I would also greatly appreciate it if you share this post. 

There are still thousands of freelancers who need to hear this message. Help me help them. 

Thanks in advance. 

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About Romeo

Howdy. I’m Romeo, a Philippines-based fur-parent, music lover, foodie, and freelance writer. 

I created this blog to help freelancers make more money

I’m glad you’re here!

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