Writing Salaries, Statistics, and Industry Trends 2021

Writing can be a tough job but it can also be gratifying. The data on writing statistics makes it quite clear that it may be high time to start writing today.

If you want to make a career in writing, you’ll have to be practical about the financial realities of writing jobs to make wise career decisions and be able to fill your plate with food.

Discover interesting trends, salaries, and facts about the writing industry below.

Overview

writing industry

According to the recent data and trends, there were 48,544 in-house writers and authors and about 82,656 freelance or self-employed writers in the US in 2019, as per the data shared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There has been an increasing trend of working from home and freelancing, both nationwide and worldwide. The most-cited reasons for this shift in work dynamics are flexibility, working at one’s own terms, and extra income, according to a survey conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union.

However, the Coronavirus has put a halt to daily activities and interrupted many careers, and as a result, has made about 76% of freelancers lose work. Due to the dismissals of freelance writers and journalists by news media outlets, the number of writers has been decreased from 45,860 in 2019 to 44,210 in 2020.

Median income of writers and authors

Ghostwriting entails turning an idea into a finished book –just as if you were writing it themselves– but without having to commit any of your time and effort. When outsourcing this task to someone else, you can benefit from professionals who will take on those responsibilities instead so that you can focus on investing your time in your business or looking after someone at home while also making your dream of having a book come true.

The World of Ghostwriting

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median author and writer pay last year was $67,120 per year or $32.27 per hour, and the median household income that same year was 67,521 per year, which means that the average author and writer salary was around $400 less in comparison.

However, the truth is that writer incomes do not converge as average numbers, rather they follow a long tail distribution. In statistics, this term simply means that there may be an element that differs vastly in a given set of data and appear as an outlier.

Moreover, the writer incomes follow Pareto distribution or 80/20 rule, where 80% of writers make around 20% and the remaining 20% make about 80%.

Having stated that, the writing industry is experiencing a gradual growth in the United States and the employment rates of writers are projected to increase by 9% between 2020 and 2030.

How many hours do writers work a day?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most full-time writers in the US work during the usual office hours (9 am to 5 pm), and some work part-time or set their own flexible working hours.

For instance, the part-time working hours for a freelancer maybe 4-6 hours so that the writer may set his or her availability around a noon-to-4pm schedule. And it’s not as unusual as may have thought: a recent survey shows that about 45% of freelancers worked part-time.

Writer Salaries

writer-salaries

Now that we have gone through the ins and outs of the writing trends and outlook, let’s dive into different industries and take a look at how much writers earn in each. This information will help you decide which industry suits you best.

Freelance writer salary

Let’s face it – freelancing is a tough gig. You’re dependent on a number of factors that are outside of your control – the next job, the payment for the last one, and so on. That’s why you should always protect yourself as much as possible and take steps to ensure your continued financial security.

One of those steps is to know how much freelance writers make and what salary trends are currently ruling this industry.

A freelance writer is a writer who does gigs and client work. Individuals and businesses hire freelancers to write everything from articles and social media posts to reports and books.

Freelancers are usually paid as per the type of deliverable. That is, they charge a flat rate per article. They also charge on per word or hourly basis.

Though the pay varies from one freelancer to the other, it also heavily depends on the client and industry you’re writing for. Some churn out articles at $0.01 or $0.02/word, and others may write for prestigious publications at $1/word or more.

The data we have gathered does not tell what the average rate for freelancer writers is. However, as per the observed trends, the rates for blog posts range from $0.05/word to $0.15/word, depending on the type of publication.

Moreover, according to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a freelance writer in the United States is $63,213 per year, and the average hourly rate is $30 per hour.

Author salary

In 2018, The Authors Guild surveyed its members and those of 14 other writers organizations, obtaining detailed responses from 5,067 authors. Authors who had commercially published one or more books, whether traditionally, hybrid or self-published, were eligible to participate in this survey. Both full-time and part-time authors were considered in the survey’s analysis of median incomes.

According to this largest survey of author earnings in the US, it found a median low of $6080 in 2017, which was down by 42 percent from 2009.

When it comes to incomes earned by famous and established authors, the combined income for the top five wealthiest authors globally between 2018 and 2019 was $235 million, with J.K. Rowling leading the list with an income of $92 million – Source statista.com .

Content writer and marketer salary

A content writer is someone who writes content for online or print publications, whereas a content marketer is an umbrella term for a writer who produces all types of content. This includes blog posts, articles, newsletters, and social media posts.

Content writers and marketers may work as freelancers or as in-house writers, whether full-time or part-time.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a content writer in the United States is $50,109 per year, and the average hourly rate is $24 per hour.

For a marketer, the scope of work is more than a content writer because a marketer may specialize in a particular skill such as SEO or UX writing. As per the numbers reported by ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a content marketer in the United States is $54,762 per year, and the average hourly rate is $26/hour.

If you wish to become a content marketer or transition from simply writing to learning more marketing skills, you can take some free or paid marketing courses and introduce yourself to SEO writing and learn keyword research and other exciting and sought-after skills.

Copywriter Salary

Copywriters craft copies that are aimed at persuading people and increasing online sales of a business or individual. These copies include anything from landing pages, website copies, Facebook ads, sales pages, etc.

Copywriters usually charge according to the deliverable (i.e., sales copy or landing page) or per hour instead of per word because it doesn’t matter how many words are in a copy. What matters is that the copy should convert and attract potential leads.

According to Salary.com, the annual salary for a copywriter in the United States usually ranges between $47,742 per year and $59,523 per year, with the average being $52,839 per year.

Ghostwriter salary

A ghostwriter creates content, speeches, books, and reports for someone else without receiving the credit for their work. Ghostwriters usually sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that transfers the copyrights to the author or client and doesn’t allow ghosts to share their work with other clients without seeking permission from previous ones.

Ghostwriting is quite prevalent in the publishing and business industries, where authors, entrepreneurs, political leaders, and even celebrities hire ghostwriters to write their speeches or books. This is because these people rarely have the expertise and time to create professional and valuable content for themselves.

According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a ghostwriter in the US is $38,680 per year.

But since not many ghostwriters may share their rates and works to the public because of the confidentiality surrounding them, these rates may be subject to bias and aren’t accurate.

In fact, the annual salary for ghostwriters may be even more lucrative, as suggested in the rates mentioned earlier, since ghostwriting agencies are unlikely to submit their data to publicly open websites.

Technical writer salary

Technical writers are responsible for writing content related to technologies, programming, software, and tools that require technical skills. They convert incomprehensible data into something that a knowledgeable audience can understand.

This content includes manuals, guides, case studies, reports, and blog posts that are oriented towards already acquainted readers.

As per the data gathered by Salary.com, the annual salaries for technical writers vary according to their level of expertise and are the following:

Speechwriter salary

Speechwriters craft speeches for political leaders, executives, and celebrities. They usually work as ghostwriters, which means that it’s not known to the public who writes speeches for a political candidate or a business leader.

According to Salary.com, the average annual speechwriter salary in the United States is $138,114 per year.

Moreover, the senior most speechwriter can even an average of $211,876 per year.

Medical writer salary

A medical writer specializes in healthcare, medical, and pharmaceutical topics that can range from scientific reports about new drugs, prevalent mental health conditions, and evidence-based practice to treatment protocols.

Anyone who wants to become a medical writer needs to have relevant education, credentials, and background knowledge in the field.

For instance, if you want to write about physical therapy, you may need a bachelor’s and certification in physiotherapy or exercise science, especially if you wish to write for prestigious publications related to this field.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a medical writer in the United States is $102,603 per year, and the average hourly rate is $49/hour.

Journalist salary

A journalist is a writer who usually has a background in media sciences and journalism. Journalists write for magazines, newspapers, opinions, and print media.

They cover everything in the news, from a local pop-up event to updates about weather.

Journalists earn according to their experience and the complexity of the stories and reports they cover. It also depends on the research and interviews required to produce a piece of report.

According to the data by Salary.com, an entry-level journalist earns an annual average of $37,783 per year, an intermediate reporter earns an average of $44,269 per year, and a senior-level journalist or reporter’s annual average salary is $55,618 per year.

How to become a top-earning writer?

So you’ve gone through all the trending rates for the writing niches now. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the ups and downs in the charts. All you have to do is follow a few steps and do some research about the industry you want to start working in.

Choose an industry or niche

An excellent way to become a top-earning writer is to choose a niche or industry that interests you. If you’re writing about something that you’re passionate about, your writing will be more attractive to readers, which means you’ll get more traffic and earn more money.

If you aren’t actively involved in the niche or industry you want to write about, take the time to become knowledgeable about it by reading books, attending events, and talking to experts in your field.

Remember, clients want expertise and skills in a writer and not someone who writes about everything.

Practice writing

This is probably the most important piece of advice we can give you. The more you write, the better you will become. The only way to get better at writing is to write. It is as simple as that.

In order to make a career in writing, it’s crucial to craft your writing skills. You can also look at other writers’ work to understand their writing styles.

Build your portfolio

Building your portfolio is key to getting jobs from more prominent publications and making more money from what you write. It’s also a great way to prove that you’re an expert in your field. 

The best way to build up your portfolio is by providing high-quality content through your blog posts. Your blog posts should be well researched, informative and entertaining. You can do this by adding interesting images or videos which will make people want to read the entire article.

Search for clients

The internet is full of people asking for people to write content for them, so you need to find them and convince them that you are the right person for the job.

The best place to search for clients is on freelancing websites where people looking for writers post job offers. All of these websites use bidding systems, so you can see how much other writers are charging per word and how much they’re willing to pay per project.

Once you’ve found a client who is ready to offer you work, make sure you give your best so that there are chances of long-term commitment.

Grab testimonials

Ask for testimonials for previous clients. You can start this process by requesting that each client leave you a review on your profile page. The more positive reviews, the better. This helps other potential clients trust you and see what other people have experienced with your writing services.

Create your blog and build an audience

The first thing you need is a website where you can post your content. A blog is a great way to go about this, as you can easily update it with new posts and create a community of readers that will not only read your work but also share it with their friends and followers online. 

Blogs are also very simple to create, with WordPress being the most popular option for those without any coding knowledge. They’re also a good way to earn a passive income by posting ads from other websites.

There’s no stopping to becoming a professional writer

Everything starts from an idea and ends at a successful milestone if you choose to be consistent with it.

It may take you a while but don’t stop practicing.

You’ll definitely reach a point where most top earners are currently at. 

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Author
Michaell Picco
Michaell Picco

I'm a copywriter expertise from Indonesia. Love traveling & writing

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