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Freelance Writing: how to make a living as a freelance writer

Freelance Writing: how to make a living as a freelance writer

Автором Janice Hally

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Freelance Writing: how to make a living as a freelance writer

Автором Janice Hally

261 pages
1 hour
Aug 25, 2011


"You need more than talent to make a living as a freelance writer. You need to harness your talent and use it in ways you've never considered before. The more versatile you are, and the more informed you are, the more opportunities you can create," says author Janice Hally, a top television scriptwriter and the author of fiction and non-fiction books who has made her living as a freelance writer since her early twenties.

Topic Editor for online magazine Suite101's Freelance Writing section, she has taken the material from 67 articles - many of them award-winning - written during her time as the Freelance Writing Feature Writer and packed them into this book, creating a reference library full of information accumulated over 30 years' experience, covering all aspects of freelance writing and with all the advice required to survive and be a success in the business.

What is technical writing? How do you write a newsletter for a company? What is meant by the words, "lede", "hook", "nut graph", or "slant"? Knowing the answers to these questions could open the doors to writing opportunities that you'd never considered.

Know the markets, know the jargon, know your own potential, and create the opportunities for yourself - these are the secrets to being a successful freelance writer. With 67 chapters packed with information and advice - this book is a reference library with everything you need to build your career.

Aug 25, 2011

Об авторе

Janice Hally is a Scottish screenwriter with more than 300 hours of prime-time television drama to her credit. She has also written fiction and non-fiction books. Her latest book, published June 2010 by French publisher Hachette, is "Distant Echo", a psychological thriller. A follow-up was commissioned and will be published in 2011. Current commissions include the big screen adaptation of Peter May's "The Killing Room" for a French film production company.

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Freelance Writing - Janice Hally


How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer

Janice Hally

Smashwords Edition

ISBN: 978-1-4657-6668-7

Copyright 2011 Janice Hally

All rights reserved

This ebook is licensed for the personal use of the purchaser. It must not be re-sold, rented, passed to other users, reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information or storage retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Please respect the work and rights of authors.


No-one can become a writer if they don't have a talent for it. However, if you want to make a living as a writer you need more than talent. Making a living means becoming professional, and that means harnessing your talent and using it in ways you've never considered before. The more versatile you are as a writer, the more chances you will create for finding work.

What is technical writing? How do you write a newsletter for a business? Knowing the answers to these questions might open the doors to writing opportunities that you'd never considered.

I've made my living as a freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction for 30 years. Sometimes I've followed my heart and written exactly what I wanted, sometimes I've taken contracts to write what other people wanted and sometimes I've found myself branching out into new fields like teaching and mentoring, or ghost-writing.

I was Feature Writer for Suite101's Freelance Writing section before taking over as Suite101's Topic Editor of Freelance Writing and Writing for Stage and Screen.  This book is a collection of 67 articles I wrote for Suite101 adding up to over 46,000 words of advice and information to anyone contemplating becoming a freelance writer.

Use the book as a reference library to dip in and out of when you're looking for information or inspiration. Read the chapters in any order as required. In particular, if you're hoping to make a living as a freelance writer, have a look at the section on all the different types of paid writing work you can find, like business writing and sales writing, you might discover something you have a talent for, that you had never considered. Check out the glossary section so that you'll feel more confident when you come across words and terms in the freelance workplace that you're unfamiliar with.

Browse through the titles and you'll find a wide variety of tips on all aspects of working as a freelance writer with lots of useful information and practical advice.

Table of Contents

Getting Paid as a Freelance Writer

How Much Do Freelance Writers Get Paid? 

How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

Freelance Writing - Knowing the Market

How to Make Money Writing Articles

How to Make Money Blogging

Making a Living as a Freelance Writer

Types of Freelance Writing

What Types of Freelance Writing Jobs Are There?

How to Become a Writer for Hire

What is Copywriting?

What is a Freelance Technical Writer?

What is Creative Non-Fiction Writing?

What is Academic Writing?

What is Business Writing?

Techniques for Writing Web Content

How to Become a Successful Ghost Writer

What every Ghost Writer Should Know

What is the Difference between Editing, Copy Editing & Proofreading

What is Sales Writing?

Layout and Glossary of Terms for Writing a Press Release

Creative Writing - Is There Money In It?

How to Produce a Newsletter

What is a Newsletter? Who commissions them, and what are they looking for?

Glossary of Terms Used in Freelance Writing - Words & Phrases Every Freelance Should Know

Types of Article: Filler, Feature, Service, Seasonal or Evergreen

Writing an Article - Byline, Lede, Hook, Nut Graph, Slant, and Credit

Submitting an Article for Publication - Masthead, Guidelines, Query, and Submission

Agreeing a Contract for Publication Rights -  Kill Fee, Acceptance, and Publication

Working with an Editor - Crib Sheet, Tear Sheet, Galley, and Clip

What is a Blurb?

Practical Advice on Freelance Writing

Starting Out as a Freelance Writer

How to Win Bids on Freelance Writing Sites

How to Conduct and Write an Interview

How to Get and Prepare for a Celebrity Interview

How to Structure and Format an E-Book

How to Write an E-book and Make a Profit

Layout for E-zine and Online Article

Keywords for E-zine and Online Articles

Make Research Pay as a Freelance Writer

Research - for Inspiration and Confidence

Pitching a Non-Fiction Book Idea 

How to Write the Perfect Newsletter

Top Five Mistakes Freelance Writers Make

Self Promotion - Marketing Tips for Authors

Questions Freelance Writers Should always Ask

POD - What Is It and Can Anyone Do It?

How to Write a Professional CV

How to Write a Professional Profile or Bio

What Every Writer Needs To Know About Copyright

What Ever Writer Needs To Know About Plagiarism

Life as a Freelance Writer

Why Every Writer Needs to Create a Website

Adapting to Life as a Freelance Writer

How to Make the Home a Workplace 

How to Deal with Rejection as a Freelance Writer

Time Management, the Priority for Every Writer

Are You an Expert but Don't Know It? 

Working with an Editor - What is a Rewrite?

Scams Aimed at Writers - Be Warned!

Writing Scams - Publishers to Avoid 

Writing Scams - Agents and Editors to Avoid

How to Spot Writing Scams - Writing Competitions

Choosing a Creative Writing Course Can Be a Risky Business

Grammar Tips for Writers

How to Avoid Grammatical Errors - Misused Words

How to Avoid Grammatical Errors - Using Cases

How to Avoid Grammatical Errors - Agreement

How to Punctuate Sentences Simple and Clearly

How Technology Influences Spelling

Active Voice and Passive Voice in Web Content

The Singular They - History of the Indefinite Singular Pronoun 

The Generic or Singular They - A Guide to Usage 

Getting Paid as a Freelance Writer

How Much Do Freelance Writers Usually Get Paid?

What are the Going Rates for Articles or Freelance Writing Jobs?

Making a living from writing can be a risky business, one of the first questions most budding freelance writers will ask is: How much will I be paid?

There was an era when journalism and freelance writing was regarded as a profession, with a going rate for a professional job. Things are rapidly changing. Newspapers are closing their print operations and switching to the Internet.

The burgeoning of the Internet has led to:

a demand for words and articles to fill webspace

an army of budding writers – sometimes based in third world countries – who are happy and willing to work for nothing or next to nothing

Decreasing Rates

The National Writers' Union recommends that journalists look for a minimum of one dollar per word. They mention, however, that rates are effectively reducing all the time, citing examples such as Good Housekeeping who: reported offering $1 a word in 1966 and the same $1 a word in 1998.

In fact, what a writer will get paid for a freelance writing job, depends on what they decide that they are worth, as it is normally up to the writer to accept the rate that is offered or to hold out for more, knowing that they might end up with nothing.

What is a Writer Worth?

It's impossible to put an estimate of what a writer might be paid per word or per article. It's incumbent upon freelance writers to decide what their writing is worth and refuse to sell their articles for less.

To work out the value of an article, the writer must take account of several factors:

The writer's yearly budget of living costs and professional expenses.

The number of articles the writer is likely to sell on average each month across a year.

The length of time required for research.

The length of time required to write.

The value of the article (unique qualities increase value e.g. an exclusive interview plus photographs of a reclusive celebrity would be worth thousands of dollars more than a how-to article about making healthy salads)

The value of the job to the writer (a writer might accept a job in a high profile magazine for little or no money because of the exposure - and possible rewards - it will provide).

Ways for Writers to Increase their Value

Writers can ensure that they get the highest possible rates for their writing by

Learning their craft and presenting themselves as professionals

Learning about the marketplace and being fully apprised of jargon, professional practices, and possibilities.

Targeting specific publications with specialist articles (it is important to study back issues of magazines and only offer articles which would appeal to them).

Building a strong portfolio of clips to back up their credibility and demonstrate their talent

Concentrating on a subject, and becoming an expert in a field

Finding new and unique stories or angles.

Things to Remember

It's important, when putting a price on their work, for writers to remember that everything is variable. A considerable amount of thought and judgment is required. There is no mathematical formula.

A high profile article in a high profile magazine could bring a writer a flood of work as a result of the exposure it bring. Writers who are at the beginning of their careers might considering writing articles for less than they are in theory worth, in order to get the exposure and prestige attached to writing for a particular publication.

Knowledge and research are the fundamental tools for every writer.

Know the jargon of the profession

Know how to win bid on sites such as Elance

Recognize scams designed to take advantage of writers

Back to Table of Contents

How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

Do Print Publications Pay the Writer per Hour, Word, or Article?

Online magazines will normally take limited rights from the author of an article, allowing them to sell the article on, in print or in other digital forms; however, print publications will normally demand more rights to the work, making it difficult or impossible to sell the article elsewhere. In return for these rights, print publications normally pay much better rates for freelance writing jobs than online magazines or websites, but how they pay a writer, can vary enormously from case to case.

Freelance Writing Work

The first thing to take account of is that freelance writing work is different from other types of work. Anyone starting a freelance writing career from an environment where they were paid by the hour at the office (regardless of how much time they spent in that office drinking coffee) will now find themselves in an environment where editors want to give them as little as possible in payment for their work (regardless of how much time the writer spent researching or writing it).

Most print publications will make an agreement to commission an article in advance based on a proposal. This means there will be a negotiating process which will take into account the value of the particular article to the magazine. Although a magazine may have a publicly stated rate per word, this rate could be negotiated up or down substantially depending upon the experience of the writer and the unique qualities of the article.

Payment per Word

The truth is that no-one should take this too literally. The more words, the less money per word a writer will probably get. For example a 200-word filler piece for a magazine will have a fee attached to it, but an editor may ask for a piece 800 – 1000 words long and offer the same money whether a writer delivers 800 or 1000.

In other words, no-one will literally be counting the words and paying the freelance writer for each one. Generally figures will be given in a range e.g. between x and y per word. What that range is, can vary enormously.

Payment per Article

The payment for an article will depend of several factors. There is no average rate. In fact within one magazine, rates will vary. Several factors can affect the value of a story to a magazine.

Is the story exclusive and controversial?

Does the writer have an impressive portfolio?

Is the writer the only person who can deliver this story?

If the answer is yes to the questions above, then the writer is in a good position to negotiate the highest possible payment for the article.

Payment per Series of Articles

A lucrative tactic is to sell a series of articles to a magazine. The magazine may offer a slightly reduced rate per word or per article, but the writer must balance this against other factors:

the security of knowing that they are building a long term commitment

the time saved each month by not having to sell a new idea to a different editor

Payment per Hour

Very few employers will pay writers per hour of their time. Writers are normally paid for the fruits of their labors, not the labors themselves. Whether fees are paid per word or per article, it's imperative for writers to decide what their time and their writing is worth and set their own limits on what they will accept.

Writers must learn the basics of the freelance writing business. Understanding the profession and being regarded as a professional by others will always increase writers' earning potential, and their chances of winning freelance writing jobs, whether rates are paid per word, or per article.

Back to Table of Contents

Freelance Writing – Knowing the Market

Selling Articles is All About Knowing in Advance Who Will Buy Them

Finding an editor or publication in advance of writing articles is the best way of finding a publisher for them.

Many people believe that the way to make a living as a writer is to start writing. In fact the business of being a writer is the same as the business

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