Hi, writers! My name is Nicole and I’m a full-time blogger and copywriter. This year, we’re going to take a monthly look at how much money I earn as a freelancer.
I first began full-time freelancing in May 2012, as an independent musician and singer-songwriter. In July 2012, I started posting my weekly freelance earnings to my Tumblr. I started publicly sharing my income because I wanted to start a conversation about how much musicians actually make. That first week I posted my income, for example, I played two shows but only earned $141. Not great, right?
By the end of 2012, I was pretty certain I couldn’t make a livable wage just as a singer-songwriter. I decided to see if I could pick up a few writing jobs to earn extra cash between gigs. Like the great Carol Tice, who was also a songwriter in Los Angeles before she transitioned into writing, I quickly learned that I loved the freelance writing life — and that I could earn a lot more money as a writer than I ever could as a musician.
Tracking my freelance writing income
So I kept tracking my income, week by week, and watching the numbers get bigger and bigger. I wrote for content mills, then entry-level copy agencies, and then I started to build my own portfolio of writing clients.
Now I have regular bylines on sites like The Penny Hoarder, The Billfold, Boing Boing and The Freelancer, and make most of my income as a professional blogger with the occasional copywriting job. (I still play about one gig a month as a musician, too — can’t give it up!)
Every month, I’m going to check in with all of you at The Write Life with a report of my previous month’s freelance earnings. I’ll write about how much work I was able to bill for the month, how many pieces I wrote, and share a little bit about how the month went for me, finance-wise. Let me know what you’re interested in discussing, and I can write specific columns about sending and tracking invoices, making budgets on a variable income, and other financial aspects of the freelance life.
I love writing about money, and I promise I will share all the important details with you — down to the penny.
2014 Earnings and 2015 Goals
Here’s what you need to know to start out: I just finished totaling up my 2014 numbers, as I recorded on The Billfold. In 2014, I earned $40,966.48 as a freelance writer and $2,492.54 as a musician, for a grand total of $43,059.02.
At the beginning of 2014, I was making most of my money through 3-cents-a-word content sites. I really wanted to expand my portfolio (and my income), so I set myself the goal of pitching one new blog, publication or copywriting client every week. A lot of my pitches were successful, and I began building my portfolio and adding new clients to my roster.
I also learned that this type of success starts to snowball: once you get a byline in a high-profile publication, other editors start contacting you to ask if you’re interested in working for them, too.
By the end of 2014, I was earning most of my income writing articles for various publications and blogs. Instead of 3 cents a word, I often get between $150 and $300 a piece. I still do some copywriting work, too — as I wrote in one of my recent Ask A Freelancer columns, it’s important to diversify your income with different types of writing. I don’t know what the blog landscape will look like in 10 years, but I do know businesses will probably still need copywriters, so I want to make sure I stay active in both fields.
This year, I want to see how far I can take my monthly earnings. I’m earning around $4,500 a month now, and I’d like to push it to at least $5,000 a month by summer 2015. If I average $5,000 per month over 2015, I’ll earn $60,000 for the year, which would be incredible.
To get that extra $500 every month, I’ll need at least one more really solid client. Or, I could increase my income by re-negotiating rates with my current clients. I’ll also need to figure out how to re-allocate my time, since I already have a pretty heavy writing load: each week, I turn in around 20 individual articles to various publications.
Will I earn that $60,000? Will I get that new client? Stick with this column, and we’ll find out what happens together. See you back here in early February!
What subjects would you like to see Nicole cover in her monthly freelance earnings column? What are your biggest questions about freelancing and finance? Let us know!