Yeah, you read that right. No, this isn’t clickbait. Some articles I make more, some I make less, but in the end, I actually average around $60 an hour.
Writing is actually only my side-hustle. For now, I only dedicate about 13 hours a month to getting paid to write. Look, I’m not the world’s most amazing writer or anything stupid like that. I consider myself absolutely average in terms of writing. However, what I do write for pay, I do quickly and well.
That, my friends, makes all the difference.
Full disclosure, most months, I average around $1000 a month from my writing gigs. Not enough for me to go full-time, but it’s enough to pay for my vacations. I could make more if I so chose, but I currently like my day job and don’t feel like leaving just yet.
The important thing to remember here is that these tips are scalable. You might make more or less money, but if you have the skills down, you can do something similar to these hourly figures.
I Started Strong
When you’re starting, you need to write every single day. Every. Single. Day. That means that even when you “don’t feel like writing” (which is a b.s. excuse), you still need to write. When you think you have nothing to write about, you still need to write. When you are hungover, busy, on your honeymoon — yeah, you guessed it. You still need to write.
Even dedicating 30 minutes of your time a night to write in your journal will be a helpful endeavor. An even better option is to pick your writing niche and write something in that niche every day. Even if it is absolute drivel that no one else would ever want to read, write it down.
Writing is a muscle. A figurative muscle, but like any literal muscle, the more you work, the bigger and sexier it gets. The more you write, the better you will get at writing. The faster you’ll be able to churn out quality content. The easier it will be to think up article, blog, or copy ideas.
So. Start strong, and practice your writing.
I Read. All the Time
Read all genres. There is no such thing as a prolific writer who doesn’t also read. You don’t have to be out here reading Finnegans Wake by James Joyce or William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I’m not saying you need to go through your high school literature class’ classics and tear your hair out every night over ye olde iambic pentameter.
Yeah, screw that.
Instead, read things that interest you. Read bad romance novels. Read the newspaper. Read online articles on your favorite topics. Hell, read fanfiction if that’s your jam. Just read.
Reason being? As a writer, reading will hone your writing chops and expand your mind. Reading the prose, thoughts, and commentary of other writers (in your niche or not) will stretch that writing muscle and prime your creativity.
If you write daily but never read, it’s the equivalent of a baby learning how to speak by babbling into the vacuum of space. There is no intelligent feedback, no new ideas, and no one to learn from.
Yes, I read bad writing as well. You can learn a lot of bad writing, like what not to do. If something doesn’t resonate with you or is boring, take the time to ask yourself why.
If you’re reading this right now and going, “Dang, Brittany is a horrible writer. She’s frankly boring, and none of her tips make any sense”. Well, you’ve just learned something, haven’t you? Huzzah.
I Eliminate Distractions
Finally, some actual writing tips.
I currently have a limited amount of time to write. That means when I sit down to do the dang thing, I do the dang thing.
Put away your phone. Close the door—close of your 1000 Pinterest tabs on How to Make Bread. Open a blank word document and get to work.
If you have kids, bargain with your partner to sneak an hour alone. Completely alone.
This is so incredibly basic, yet so incredibly relevant and helpful. If you are setting yourself up for failure by making your writing area a haven for ADHD, it will take you twice as long to write half the content.
You need to learn the power of “no.” When you set aside time to write, it isn’t time to have a conversation with your wife about dinner (“because it’ll just take a second!”). Fragmenting your work is killing your work ethic. Did you know that it takes you about 25 minutes after a distraction to really get back into your groove? That means if you only have 60 minutes a week to write and you take 30 seconds to laugh at that Tweet your BFF sent you, then you’ve just lost half an hour of prime work time.
So when you set aside time to get things done, you need to make sure that task has your full attention the entire time. When you are finished, then you can move onto dinner, relieving your husband of the children, or whatever Trump is Tweeting today.
Finally, I am in a Place to Charge More
This one isn’t a cop-out, I promise you. If you do the other three items on this list diligently and with passion, you can build up your rates.
I started my freelancing career by writing at $.02 a word. Which, look, if you can churn out a quality 1000 word article in an hour, you’re still making $20 an hour. You might also need time to research, edit, and brainstorm. So let’s say you realistically churn out 1000 words in 2 hours. $10 an hour. More than minimum wage in some places. Maybe not amazing, but it’s a start.
I have clients that pay me $0.12 a word. Which is honestly high, and most of my clients don’t pay that (let’s be real). However, when I write 1000 words at $.12/word in 60 minutes and spend half an hour proof-reading, I average $80 an hour.
Average that rate out with my lower rates, and I come out somewhere around $60 an hour. It does fluctuate. Keep in mind that most of the things I write are in a niche I have expertise in. That means that I don’t have to spend time researching my topics every time I write a simple blog post. This is why niching-down can be so lucrative. If you plan on writing a big article for a major publication, you might write at 1000 words per hour, but you’ll need to bill yourself time for research, interviewing, and drafting.
However, it is possible to turn yourself into a content writing machine. If you write at a very respectable $0.08 a word, and take 2 hours to write, research, and edit an article, you’re still averaging $40 an hour. Which is definitely something worth your time, right?