How Much Can You Make as a Freelance Writer?

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 MAKE, 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 wordper hour, and per 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 for beginners.

Second, it’s unlikely for a freelance writer to earn an income that’s regular like in the case of a fixed monthly salary. It’s always a range, depending 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 today’s article title 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 past work or an extensive 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, and when you’re finding clients from freelancer job boards. I say this because not everyone has to start at the lowest extreme, which sometimes can be lower than what we’ve mentioned here. 

Some writers start lower than this depending mostly on the type of employer as we’ll see below.

As you gain more experience, your writing will 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 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.

Content Mills

These are websites that typically sell large amounts of content to both companies and individual site owners. Examples include Textbroker, iwriter, and ContentFly. 

Because these mills rely on producing loads of content for profit, quality is not a priority. This allows you to churn out thousands of words in a day. Unfortunately, these companies are known for paying writers as low as $0.01 per word.

Content mills can be ideal for getting started, 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

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 a mill can have 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 range from the lows of 0.5 ksh to a high of 2 ksh per word.

Direct Employers

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 other businesses. 

 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. 

You can find this by applying to the employer directly on websites like Problogger and Content Writing Jobs instead of signing up and creating a writer’s profile on job boards. 

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 plain content writing. 

Some niches like medical and financial writing are also likely to pay more because explaining such concepts almost always involves an expert.

Specific Project Requirements

Remember to review all project requirements besides the word count before deciding on your rates with an employer.  

A blog article where you only have 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.

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