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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Freelance Numbers - Year 5

This is my fourth full year of freelancing, but since becoming a freelancer, I've also done adjunct (freelance) teaching, and taught full-time so I'm going to show salary with that included and without it. Just like the past few years, teaching took up a bunch of my pitching and writing time, but also gave me a steady paycheck that I could (mostly) earn from home. And I get to teach students about journalism and how to do it! For me, this step was worth it.

I want to add that when I started this money tracking, I was not making very much, and I liked being transparent to show other people the journey.

I'm five years in now, and I work 60 to 70 hours a week on writing and teaching. I don't feel comfortable sharing my income numbers anymore, and it's really strange because you'd assume it would be the opposite...that those making little wouldn't want to share, but those making a lot would want to show everyone.

I made a lot. And I feel gross sharing it. But it's not to brag. Remember, the first full year of this, I worked just as hard and made $23,000 (well, almost just as hard. My kids were 5, and they required a lot more care than they do now. Keep in mind where you are in life when you assess yourself and make your goals. Remember many other people have it much easier, due to timing, circumstance, situation, health, support, etc.)

That said, perhaps this will be the last year I do this. Especially if I make most of my money from teaching, because even though it's technically contract work, I can no longer consider it freelance.

This year, I made $94,591 total.

I made ~$76,000 of that from teaching.
Therefore, I made ~$19,000 writing this year. 

This is more money from teaching and less from writing than last year.

I want to give you a rundown of the totals for the last five years, just so you can see the trajectory.

2019: $94,600
2018: $77,900
2017: $65,600
2016: $48,000
2015: $23,000
2014: $6,000

My lowest income month was September at $4,430.
(Last year's lowest income month was February at $3,860)

My highest income month was February at $13,112
(Last year it was June at $10,660.)

On average I made $7,882 a month, which is $1,970 a week.
Last year I made $6,489 a month, which is $1,622 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on ~$20,000 of this.


We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $19K, I published 21 pieces this year, which is down by half from the year before when I published 45. For scope, the year I freelanced only, I published 80. For important comparison, that year I made just under $24K, which means I'm being paid on average three times as much per piece now.

My highest number published in a month was October with 6 pieces published.
I had several months where I didn't publish anything, which is not great for a freelancer.

In terms of publications, I published in 16 different places, up from 12 last year, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

The most pieces I published for one place? 3 down from 7 last year, down from 15 the year before.

The lowest I wrote for was $50. 

The highest check for one piece I received this year was for $2,000--for a piece in a print women's magazine.

On average, I made $900 a piece this year, same as last year, up from $600 a piece last year, and $440 a piece the year before and $300 the year before that.


Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 21 pieces this year, I sent out 162 pitches this year. My acceptance rate this year was incredibly low. Why? Probably because I'm shooting for higher paid publications, and they are harder to crack. Usually I'm accepted a third of the time. This year, not even close.

I was rejected outright 59 times. 
I was accepted 37 times (some are still in edits, some were commissioned, and some were killed). 
I was ignored 66 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 23% of the time (same as last year)
Rejected: 36% of the time
Ignored: 41% of the time
Total Rejected: 77% of the time.

I was accepted 23 percent of the time, and rejected 77 percent of the time.

Keep trying! Keep going! We can do this, freelancers. It is possible.

Last year's complete numbers are here

2017 complete numbers are here.

2016 complete numbers are here.

2015 complete numbers are here.


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