Sunday, 18 October 2015

Can I earn a decent wage freelancing, compared to a full time job?

"Can I earn a decent wage freelancing, compared to a full time job?" someone asked me recently.

Well, it depends! The Author's Licensing and Collecting Society did a survey in 2013, and the results, made available in 2014, said that professional writers only earned an average of £11,000 per annum. However, I think many of those were part time, and many were authors.

So the answer has to depend on your earning power in employment, and also whether you can get work with decent paying publications as a freelancer. Some businesses pay better for freelance work than magazines, but it varies enormously. Some publications pay a lot more than others.

Author's pay varies widely too, with debut authors often earning very modest sums, while famous authors might make millions.

Working for magazines is erratic and pay can be a long time coming, if you're paid on publication, as most magazine freelancers are.

For someone who has an aptitude for writing and a commercial mindset (you have to write what people want to read/buy) it's certainly possible to earn decent money. However, most writers work long hours, have to stay focused and motivated, and obviously you don't get perks like holiday pay or sickness. Also, in my first year, my income was low, but building up any new business takes time. If you work hard and stay focused, you'll hopefully be rewarded with growing profits year on year.

The Writers' Bureau published a blog on How Lucrative is Freelance Journalism? It's worth a look here

There are lots of books that might be helpful. I've got a book that sheds more on my own experiences here 

What do other people think about this topic? The ALCS is of the view that it's getting increasingly difficult to make a full-time living as a writer. Do leave a comment below.


  1. My simple answer is that you need a full time job to pay your bills comfortably. Freelance writing is more enjoyable as a hobby that a full time job. You will hardly be disappointed by delays in payment of your work if you are doing it as a hobby. What's more, you will keep writing regardless of whether or not money is coming in.

    1. Thanks for your comment Helmet. That's a very sensible perspective.

  2. I think you can take the pressure off yourself to some extent by being open to making money through other means that still requires skills with words - be it translation, tutoring, copy editing or whatever. If you develop a writing specialism, you can then develop marketability in that particular area, not necessarily related to writing (eg consultancy). Putting pressure on yourself to write, only write, and live off writing only may not be advisable ....