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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Freelancer Numbers - Year 6

This is my fifth full year of freelancing (I started a half year before that), but since becoming a freelancer, I've also done adjunct (freelance) teaching, and taught more than 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. Of course, this year, I stepped over into too much, teaching a double course-load (8 classes) last semester. So my freelance numbers are abysmal. I'm going to change that this year. Less teaching, more writing!

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 also took on a part-time job as a program manager for a remote newsroom. So, between that and teaching, I pull up to 80 hours a week, working.

Please keep that in mind. It's not sustainable. Don't do this. There is only so much a person can do, be kind to yourself.

This year, I made $91,756 total.

I made ~$62,500 from teaching, down from $76,000 teaching last year.
Remember, I added a job in there, which covered another $19,500
Therefore, I made only about ~$9,000 writing this year. 

Again, I hope to change these dynamics next year.

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

2020: $91,700
2019: $94,600
2018: $77,900
2017: $65,600
2016: $48,000
2015: $23,000
2014: $6,000

My lowest income month was June at $4,670.
(Last year's lowest income month was September at $4,430.)

My highest income month was January at $10,532.
(Last year it was February at $13,112. This was an all-time high)

On average I made $7,641 a month, which is $1,910.
Last year I made $7,882 a month, which is $1,970 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on ~$29,000 of this.


We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $9K, I published 23 pieces this year, which is up from the year before when I published 21.

My highest number published in a month was June with 4 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 13 different places, down from 16 last year, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

The most pieces I published for one place? 3 which is the same as last year down from 7 the year before that, and 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 $2,500--for a piece in a college alumni magazine.

On average, I made $391 a piece this year, lower per piece than any recent year. In fairness, I have not been paid for SEVERAL of my high-number pieces, each coming in at $1,000-$2,000. So, a truer number, actually, is $473 a piece for what I've been paid, or, $630 a piece, when my accounts are squared.


Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 23 pieces this year, I sent out 72 pitches this year.

I was rejected outright 29 times. 
I was accepted 16 times (I was commissioned for some of these pieces, which doesn't count in the pitching process). 
I was ignored 27 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 23% of the time (same as last year)
Rejected: 40% of the time
Ignored: 37% of the time
Total Rejected: 77% of the time.

I was accepted 23 percent of the time, and rejected 77 percent of the time. THIS HAS BEEN CONSISTENT FOR 3 YEARS NOW.

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


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