Knowing what salary you should aim for as a writer might be an elusive thing. You may think "I'll take what I can get!" and I admit that was my initial "goal" during my first few years of freelancing, too. But, there is much more to setting your salary and income goals as a freelance writer. Here's a new perspective.
First and foremost, let's be clear that we're using these terms somewhat loosely. Of course, as a freelance writer, you're not really earning a "salary" per se. That is, no one is going to be paying you the same amount week after week until it adds up to a nice, big, round number on the other end.
The approach here comes from the Freelancer's Bible, a great book that I recently reviewed here. One of the aspects of the Freelancer's Bible that I was pleased with was the amount of new and unique information I found in it, despite the fact that I have freelanced and written about freelancing for seven (plus) years. This approach to setting your salary and income goals wraps in important aspects such as expenses and profit margin, yet, it's relatively simple and straightforward. I'll use my own goal-setting and numbers as an example.
First, the book points to the Freelance Switch Hourly Rate calculator, a tool which I've also recommended in the past. If you have absolutely no clue as to what kind of salary you want to earn, it's a good place to start. In fact, you can see from some of my articles here and here that I am quite a fan of Freelance Switch in general.
If that calculator doesn't help you to set a goal salary, consider using the last yearly amount you earned as a starting point.
For my example, though, I actually have a salary goal in mind. Before I started freelancing, my income and that of my husband were roughly equal, as we sported equal educational backgrounds and about the same number of years in our career. So, I know that I want my salary to be roughly equal with his- minus just a couple thousands to account for his slightly longer years with the same employer and some industry-specific training. So I'm going to start with a salary desire of $68,000usd. However, I know that I want to work part time. My ideal schedule is 3/4 time. My true goal salary is therefore $50,000.