How Much Can You Make as a Freelance Writer?
If you’ve been considering starting freelance writing, this question has probably crossed your mind or your browser’s search bar. Plus other questions like, does online writing pay in Kenya? Or whether it’s as legit as touted by blogs like this one and other successful writers out there.
Well, the answer to these last two questions is, from experience, a sure yes. But when it comes to how much a freelance writer can get paid, there’s no one-size-fits-all amount. It’s the plain truth about freelance and online writing.
Let me explain why…
First, there are various billing methods, including pay per word, per hour, and project. For example, the same project might cost more or less when billed per-hour compared to per-project. Pay-per-word is the most popular, easy to work with, and the one I would recommend.
Second, it’s unlikely for a freelance writer to earn that regular income, like in the case of a fixed monthly salary. So it’s always a range and depends on factors like the types of content they worked on, whether they had an ongoing contract or one-off projects, and so on.
So my answer to this is always, “It depends.”
In my several years of writing, I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to determine how much you can earn as a freelance writer without considering these important factors below.
Freelance Writing Experience
When starting, you’re still learning the ropes, which means that most of your time is spent learning and implementing instead of the latter alone. It also means that you don’t have samples or a portfolio to show potential high-paying clients.
As a beginner freelance writer, your rate per word will likely fall around $0.01 to $0.03 if you’re good at what you do. I say this because not everyone has to start at the lowest extreme, which sometimes can be lower than what we’ve mentioned here, especially if you’re truly committed and willing to learn.
As you gain more experience, your writing will continue to improve. If you feel that the time you’ve spent learning has paid off with better writing than when you started, it’s up to you to decide how much to bill for your projects. Most writers who have mastered the necessary skills charge anywhere from $0.05 to $0.10 per word, with some rightfully asking for a higher price than this.
Type of Employer
Your type of employer is going to have far-reaching effects on how much you get to make. It’s important that you understand why this is so.
In Kenya, I would group the different types of employers you’re likely to come across in three categories: local employers, content mills, and direct clients.
Because these mills rely on producing loads of content to profit, quality is usually not very much emphasized. This allows you to churn out thousands of words in a day, but unfortunately, these companies are known for paying writers as low as $0.01 per word.
Content mills are ideal for getting started and building experience and a portfolio, but I would recommend against working there for too long.I’ll talk in-depth about content mills in a later article, including their pros and cons.
Local employers are those Kenyan writers (or entrepreneurs) that take assignments from either a direct client or a content mill account and then assign them to a local writer. But since we’ve mentioned how the mills can have significantly low pay, writing for a local employer has even lower benefits because they also need to make their profit.
Some examples of rates I’ve seen from local employers looking for writers include KES 800 for 1,000 words, KES 650 for 1,000 words, and KES 300 for 500 words.
Having a direct employer is probably the best arrangement you can have as a freelance writer. They can either be individual blog owners, companies that need content for their website, or marketing agencies that write content on behalf of their clients.
The best thing about having such an employer is that the pay is higher, and it gives you the opportunity to develop long-lasting relationships with clients. In addition, if your work is good, a past employer can hire you again or refer your services to another person.
Type of Content You’re Writing
The type of web content writing you specialize in or is required of a project might also determine how much you earn as a writer. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) writing, copywriting, technical writing, and fictional ghostwriting can pay a higher rate than the other categories.
Similarly, some niches like medical and financial writing are likely to pay more because explaining such information almost always involves an expert.
Specific Project Requirements
Remember to review all project requirements besides the word count before deciding on the rates with an employer.
For instance, a blog article where you’re only given the title to work with would take more effort and time to write than one where the project brief comes with a title, an outline, keywords, etc. Your time is precious so ensure that you consider such factors when deciding how much to charge for your work.
Now that you have a rough idea of how much you can earn as a writer, next week’s article will be a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on starting freelance or online writing in Kenya.
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