Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Winning Strategies for Freelance Writing Earnings

I am going to shamelessly write my own version of Carol Tice's wonderful topic on her Make a Living Writing freelance writing blog. If you don't know Carol, she's a successful freelance writer who has made it her mission to help coach other freelance writers to earn more and take on better work.

She's very active on the LinkedIn editors and writers group, and was extremely helpful (along with Randy Hecht, Ruth Thayer and Karen Berger) last fall when I was making some writing business decisions. I read what they had to say on the forums and found myself really re-evaluating some career choices.

Carol's main message is that writers do NOT have to settle for content mills, substandard wages, and abusive clients - that there are specific strategies one can follow to improve hourly rate, quality of assignment, quality of client, etc.

Subscribe to her blog - I love getting her newsletters, and they take me out of my rigid thought patterns and help me get rid of ineffective activities.

2010 Earnings from Writing

I won't go into specific detail, but I'll say that my 2010 earnings were about 4 times my 2009 earnings. Keep in mind that I didn't get serious about earning from freelance writing and content mill writing until October 2009 - until then I'd had:

  • 1 private client (3 keyword articles/week)
  • 2 academic writing clients (10-20 articles/year, not high pay but exciting work)
  • College teaching (HA! if you think THAT pays well as an adjunct LOL)
  • Associated Content performance pay (around $30-$40/month, so I wasn't getting rich)
  • Demand Studios writing (I wrote about 60 articles in 2009)

By the end of 2010, here's what my portfolio of work looks like:

  • Contributing Writer in Continuing Education (Nov. 2010)
  • Feature Writer in History Books and Philosophy Books (Feb. 2010)
  • 1 academic writing client, but in addition to 17 articles at normal pay, a last-minute rush job came up for 7 articles at 2-3x normal pay
  • 11 articles for PC World on smartphones, two of which were licensed to the Washington Post.
  • 1 print article in Bay State Parent on celiac disease and babies (Dec. 2010)
  • Copy Editor with Demand Media Studios, and I wrote about 30 articles this year
  • Still getting residual income at Associated Content and writing about 40 articles per year
  • Book proposal on history topic out with an educational publisher

You can see that I've added some fairly big permanent freelance work (, some additional print work (Bay State Parent and articles in 2 different books for the academic publisher), a major technology publication (PC World, though I'd already written one short piece for them in 2007, but still...), was a "go to" person for a last-minute rush job for an academic publisher.

Freelance Writing and Private Clients

You'll also notice I lost one academic publishing client (just no work that ties in with my specialty) and 1 private client I provided keyword articles for - I raised my rates and that work had become episodic by November, so I don't count it as regular work, but there might be episodic work again in the future.

During late 2009 and 2010, I experimented with:

Break Studios

and while I stuck with Examiner the longest, I never made more than about $100 from them, and found it's just not worth it. The others made me pennies or, in the case of Break, $8 per article for 3 articles that were all kicked back to me for rewrites. I can make $20 per article at DMS if I want rewrites from a content mill :)

My best hourly rates came from:

  • Print academic work
  • PC World
  • Private client
  • Suite101

(not in any specific order). is so new that I'm not making a good hourly rate as I work to acclimate to the new job, but that's fine - it's a long-term game and I know I'll do well.

So what have I learned? I'll talk about that in my next blog post.


Carol Tice said...

Hi Melanie!

Thanks for the plug...may your 2011 freelance earnings quadruple again!

MBZ said...

Carol -thanks! That would be - well, let's say if my 2010 earnings quadrupled, that would be LIFE ALTERING, whereas quadrupling 2009's earnings was just impressive :)

Felon Job Finder said...

I hope to be successful in this field someday.