How much do writers earn?

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how much money writers earn….

The photo at the top of this post — juxtaposed with a headline about writers’ earnings — is meant to be a joke. The jar holds only loose change.

Many writers — particularly novelists — are poorly paid. So, if you want to play successfully in this game, you should keep yourself well informed about the going rates.

Hardworking writer Carol Tice performs an annual survey of nearly 600 writers, asking questions, about case studies, white papers, email marketing, and more. I think her findings are fascinating and I encourage you to read them.

Note that she doesn’t describe how she chooses these 600 writers so we can guess her survey doesn’t have the scientific accuracy of, say, a finding from the US Census Bureau.

Still, there is a dearth of information about how much writers actually earn, and I appreciate any addition to that knowledge base. (Did you know, for example, that just over 10% of writers she surveyed earn less than $20 for a short blog post? Yikes!)

Finally, let me wrap up with Carol Tice’s own summary of learnings from her survey:

  • Knowing what others charge is key to pricing right.
  • Asking questions to understand all job specs will help you make a case for higher rates.
  • Just because something used to pay well, doesn’t mean it does now.
  • Watch for emerging writing areas where pay is strong, as with ghost blogging for thought leaders.
  • Look for things you can write that few writers could do. You’ll be able to command more.
  • Journalism rates are a challenge, and writers who need a high income will look to diversify with business clients.
  • If you’re writing sales materials, or content that directly generates leads or sales, it should pay well.
  • Identify top-drawer clients you find yourself to earn more, instead of going through bid sites, agencies or content mills.
  • Put up a snappy writer website, build your network, and ask for referrals! Inbound marketing rocks.
  • Track your time, know what you’re earning hourly, and keep driving that figure up.

Again, read the whole post here.