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Freelance Writing Career By the Numbers

One Writer Shares It All!

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The following summary of a freelance writing business' records was given to me on condition of anonymity. The writer and I determined that these numbers may be helpful to new freelance writers, or even established freelance writers, in presenting a snapshot of one writing business' year. I'm inviting you to use the numbers as you can- apply the math to your own situation. How much would you make if you worked more? How much would you make if you worked less? What does it cost to establish a freelance writing business? Does there seem to be more or less money in print or web work? In editorial or in writing? What is the average billing per hour of this particular writer? Is that an acceptable rate? What if you back out administrative hours, which obviously aren't billable?

Obviously I've already explored and questioned these numbers in and out. I invite you to do the same.

"Example" Writing Business 2009 Year-End Records

Total hours worked: 995 hours (Half time)

Total cash in: $45,300

Total cash out: $10,313

HOURS SUMMARY

Hours by type:

  • Administration-bills, marketing, jobs, pitches: (243 hours, 25% of time)
  • Ongoing Clients, (394 hours, 40% of time, further broken down below by type)
  • --Web content: 132 hours
  • --Editorial management local magazine: 108 hours
  • --Magazine, regular contributor: 63 hours
  • --Teaching and speaking Fees: 73 hours
  • --Book reviewing for book review magazine: 18 hours
  • Temporary/One Time Clients, (358 hours, 35% of time, further broken down below by type)
  • --Educational proofreading: 43 hours
  • --Content writing subcontract: 107 hours
  • --Copyediting classroom newspaper: 89 hours
  • --Book Reviewer for PR agency: 7 hours
  • --Writing test items: 12 hours
  • --Educational content: 4 hours
  • --Press release: 3 hours
  • --Edit of doctoral thesis: 7 hours
  • --Copy educational website: 6 hours
  • --Content educations co: 6 hours
  • --Editing a reference book: 57 hours
  • --Writing for online writing magazine: 12 hours

CASH IN SUMMARY

Total cash in: $45,300

Payments in: 62 payments (average of 5/month)

18 total clients

Cash by type:

  • Ongoing clients ($23,316, 51% of income, further broken down by type below)
  • --Web content: $10,629
  • --Editorial management quarterly magazine: $6,850
  • --Magazine, regular article contributor: $1,865
  • --Teaching and speaking fees: $3,811
  • --Book reviewing for book review magazine: $161
  • Temporary/Project Clients ($21,992 dollars, 49% of income, further broken down by type below)
  • --Educational proofreading: $3,184
  • --Content writing subcontract: $9,310
  • --Copyediting classroom newspaper: $4,930
  • --Book reviewing for PR agency: $80
  • --Writing test items: $150
  • --Educational content: $250
  • --Press release: $237
  • --Edit of doctoral thesis: $136
  • --Non profit copy: $400
  • --Copy educational website: $375
  • --Content educational company: $200
  • --Editing a reference book: $2,380
  • --Writing for online writing magazine: $360

CASH OUT SUMMARY

Total cash out: $10,313

Cash out by type:

  • Contest entries $15
  • Subcontracted writers $7058
  • Donations $10
  • Fax services (monthly number rental, a waste) $94
  • Banking (fees, international fees, maintenance) $295>
  • Food and drink at meetings $53
  • Marketing $103
  • Memberships $145
  • Office remodel $498
  • Office supplies (inc books) $480
  • Paypal fees $35
  • Post office (regular mailings, books out) $295
  • LLC renewal filing $25
  • Tech costs (web designer, hardware, software, backup) $686
  • Travel $522

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