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Salary Scales for Freelance Writers

by Aurelio Locsin

Freelance writers are self-employed professionals who create novels, articles, reports and other documents. They may submit pieces to publishers for possible sales, solicit work from companies before beginning their writing or take on one-time or recurring assignments for editors. Freelancers can earn their salaries by the hour, by the project or, if they find enough assignments, by the year.

General Writing

Freelance writers require the creativity and discipline to craft original work; however, they also need persistence and marketing skills to ensure that publishers see and pay for the work. As of May 2011, they earned a mean $97,300 per year, or $46.78 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their wages put them in the upper 75 percent of all writer salaries, which included those working for companies. That range started below $28,180 yearly and exceeded $115,740 annually, with an average $68,060 per year.

Technical Writers

Also called technical communicators, technical writers explain technical products and procedures to increase understanding among target users. They write operations manuals, assembly instructions, specification sheets and help text, among other documentation.They must combine the creative skills of a writer with the technical know-how of engineers and scientists. Freelance technical writers averaged $67,460 per year, or $32.43 per hour, as of May 2011. This placed their salaries close to the average annual $67,280 earned by all technical writers, who have a range from below $37,990 to above $102,250.

Screenwriters

Screenwriters develop scripts using specific formats to build a story with characters, dialog, motive and plot. As of May 2011, writers for movies and video averaged $100,060 per year, while in television, they made a mean $67,770 annually. Screenwriters working on union productions have to be members of the Writers Guild of America, the labor union that represents screenwriters and negotiates per-script payments for screen writers. As of May 2013, minimum union compensation for original screenplays, including a summary known as a treatment, ranged from $66,151 to $124,190.

Copywriters

Copywriters write advertising that persuades customers to buy a product or service, though rates differ by the type of writing. Copywriters received an average $83 per hour, with a range of $35 to $150, as of 2011, according to Writers Market. For all projects, they averaged $2,752 per project, or $400 a day, with a range of $150 to $9,000. Direct mail paid a mean $84 per hour, with a range of $35 to $150. News releases granted a mean $78 an hour, with a range of $30 to $180. Speeches averaged $90 an hour, with a range of $35 to 167.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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