Author Topic: Any freelance writers and editors out there?  (Read 3209 times)

justajane

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Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« on: October 10, 2014, 06:07:59 PM »
For the past four years, I have worked very part-time from home as a freelance editor and writer. Most of my clients have either been local referrals or through an agency. I am currently struggling with the seemingly low pricing of the agency and want to solicit information and advice from the more seasoned writers on this forum.

I am particularly interested in those of you who have ghostwritten in the past. What were your typical rates per page? The agency keeps on sending me projects that fall in the $10-$15 a page range. This seems extremely low to me, since I imagine that I couldn't write more than a page or two an hour, especially if I had to do considerable research in an unfamiliar field. Plus the contracts always stipulate that revisions would be included in this rate as well. I haven't said yes to a large project like that yet, mostly for fear that the client would be a nightmare and/or I would end up making closer to minimum wage.

As a SAHM, I like to work for between $25-$30 an hour, although sometimes it dips below that or I miscalculate and accept a hot mess of a project that I shouldn't.

People in the field always link to this PDF (http://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/how_much_should_i_charge.pdf) to show what rates should be, but this discourages me, in large part because I have rarely been able to get even close to these rates.

Anyway, share your wisdom and expected rates, if you please. Also, mention what type of writing/editing you typically do.

Jmoody10

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2014, 06:44:54 PM »
I would say that your rates depend on what you write about. I write a decent amount of technical guides and average around $75 an hour. See if you can specialize in a certain field.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2014, 06:23:35 AM »
I tried and eventually gave up after a few years. I didn't have the time to travel or network because of kids, and long term averaged under minimum wage. I'd much rather do physical labor on occasion for 3-4x that than sit at my desk and write about crap.

Don't be a generalist. Find a field you like to write about and own it.

Hopefully it works out for you.

justajane

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2014, 06:39:59 AM »
In general, I make more money editing than I do writing. I think the market for writers is just over saturated. The only time I do really well writing is when I can write quickly and with very little research involved. I've read that certain ghostwriters can makes lots and lots of money, but that is a difficult field to enter.

In general, freelance writing is a stratified career and most people never make it out of the lowest tier.

Thanks for the suggestion about technical writing! I wonder what the easiest niche is to enter.

The most money I make is editing and formatting dissertations. This is rather specialized work, and since I have a Ph.D. myself, I am able to do this quite quickly when it is in or close to my field. There is, however, an ethical question attached to this kind of work. There have only been a few times that I have felt somewhat uncomfortable with the project, in large part because the writing was so bad that my editing changed the author's voice. Otherwise I just fine tune the material, and fix the citations and crazy formatting that invariably develops in Word over a long project.   

samburger

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2014, 06:54:52 AM »
You're right that writers aren't exactly in short supply. If you want to write and you're flexible about what you're writing, you can make real money on corporate writing--all technical writing stuff. $30/hour should be a minimum, if you're freelancing with no experience. I can tell you more but I don't want to out myself, so PM me if you want details!



DragonSlayer

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2014, 07:06:13 AM »
As others have said, the best way is to pick a field and stick with it. Not only do you become an expert and thus able to command higher rates, your per hour earnings "go up" as it were, because your research time is cut way down. When you know a field, writing about it far less time consuming, thus more bang for your buck.

I make the bulk of my money writing in the computer industry. Online help, marketing materials, training guides, grant proposals, etc. I did this for a few years as a real job before going freelance and my first clients were some people that I'd worked with. That really shortens the path to success. I also started working for a few blogs related to my hobbies and that was low paying at first and just for fun, but as people have seen my work they've asked me to do other jobs, so it's snowballed into another decent income stream.

I'll also add (not to be harsh or snarky, but just as an honest truth) that working "very part time" isn't the way to riches in this field. I know a lot of people think it's a job that can be an easy, quick thing they can do between other commitments, but if you want the serious money and the high paying clients, it has to be more of a full-time job because you're going to have to hustle for your own clients. Any sort of "agency" is likely to be very low paying. You have to hustle for your clients and then be available to them, even for things you think are petty or pesky. They're going to want revisions and the project is going to change mid-stream. They're going to bug you for last minute, super important stuff that you'll just have to do to keep their goodwill. You can negotiate all of that as far as payment terms, but you need to do it upfront and do it yourself. Agencies keep too much of the profit for themselves.

justajane

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2014, 07:37:37 AM »
I'll also add (not to be harsh or snarky, but just as an honest truth) that working "very part time" isn't the way to riches in this field. I know a lot of people think it's a job that can be an easy, quick thing they can do between other commitments, but if you want the serious money and the high paying clients, it has to be more of a full-time job because you're going to have to hustle for your own clients. Any sort of "agency" is likely to be very low paying. You have to hustle for your clients and then be available to them, even for things you think are petty or pesky. They're going to want revisions and the project is going to change mid-stream. They're going to bug you for last minute, super important stuff that you'll just have to do to keep their goodwill. You can negotiate all of that as far as payment terms, but you need to do it upfront and do it yourself. Agencies keep too much of the profit for themselves.

No offense taken. And you're absolutely right! That's one reason why I haven't pursued more lucrative work, because I know that it is more demanding. I find true freelancing to be a full-time job and then some. When I accept a project, I have to hustle until I get it done; it's just that at the moment I don't accept that many projects. My description "very part time" is thus a little misleading. For instance, this past week I had a dissertation to edit and worked around six hours a day to get it done.

Do you think that corporate writing is something that could be done on an 8:00-3:00 schedule when all my kids are in school? Or would that not be enough time during the week to be able to handle the demands of that type of work?

Indeed, the agencies take a fair amount of the cash and ultimately this does a disservice to the clients. For instance, a client might pay $1,500 to have their dissertation edited. What they don't know is that the agency takes about half off the top and pays the freelancer $750. Do I give the person's dissertation $1,500 of effort? No, I give them $750 worth. It's really a terrible model, but I feel stuck, since at the moment, I cannot handle the administrative demands of invoicing and dealing with clients directly, not to mention the rigors of drumming up new business.

Thanks again everyone for your input. I hope this thread can help others as well who are trying to break into the field.

Tai

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Re: Any freelance writers and editors out there?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2014, 02:41:49 PM »
Are there any professional associations for copyeditors that you could join? There's one where I am and they post opportunities for their members.

I am just looking into doing some technical writing/editing for a business. I'm just starting out so I can't be picky but I would want more than $15/hour once I get going. The copyediting rates here usually start at around $20-25 per hour for a member of the professional association.

Maybe part of the issue is what you're editing. Editing for businesses might be more lucrative than dissertations.