How Much Does Writing Pay?

By Carlos Portocarrero

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After running through last month’s stats, it got me thinking about how much money is in writing. As most people know, there isn’t much unless you hit the big time. And it’s especially little when you’re starting out. According to the Department of Labor, the median writer/author makes around $48,000, but that includes copywriters and authors in the same group — two totally different types of writing. If you were to devote yourself full time to writing fiction (and magazine articles, say), it could be feast or famine, and most likely famine for a while.

But those numbers are ethereal, so I’m going to share my own numbers with you. I’m going to talk about the money I’ve made by writing fiction, the money I’ve made by writing on this blog and the indirect money I’ve made thanks to my writing.

Writing Fiction

I’ve written TONS of fiction in the last few years, but none of it has been published. I can’t say that right now I’m trying my hardest at it because a lot of my time is going into this site (a source of great conflict right now), and that’s something I need to work on. But I have gotten paid for my fiction. It happened once: one day after work I decided to just go to the library, sit down and write for two hours. That’s all I told myself was going to happen, and I did it. I started writing, threw the first page away, and wrote for the two hours I had allotted myself. I edited the story a couple of times and then submitted it to a writing competition — not thinking much more of it.

Months later I got a letter — I had won a prize: $300. I can’t tell you how good this feeling was. I was being recognized for my writing, there was going to be a ceremony to celebrate it (along with other writers) and I was getting paid for it! I can’t stress enough the importance of the money part — when I told people that a story I wrote earned me $300, they took it seriously— like I must really be good then. Not that I equate one with the other, but money is a language everyone can understand, and getting paid around $100/hour ain’t bad in any profession. The catch, of course, is that I’ve put hundreds of hours into other stories and nothing has come of it.

It wasn’t going to get published, which was the only downer, but I was so pumped and so motivated when I got that letter that I knew I was going places.

Grand total: $300

Blogging and Freelancing

I put up my numbers every month for what I make as “Alternative Income.” That gives an idea of how much money the site as a whole pulls in, but the only direct way to correlate writing for this and “earnings” is by looking at the money I make with my ads. ING referrals are good and all, but they really have nothing to do with my writing. Freelancing is also writing, but not the kind of creative writing I like to do. Both the ad money and freelancing are directly tied to my writing, so that’s why I’m grouping them together.

In October it’ll be a year since I started blogging on The Writer’s Coin, but I didn’t put ads up until around January and I’ve made a total of $32.86 (per hour I make less than small children picking coffee beans in third world countries). Since I started Freelancing, I’ve made a total of $360.

Grand total: $392.86.

Indirect Blogging Money

This site got me my current job — no doubt about it. It’s taught me a lot about social networking, SEO and I’ve learned a lot about finances along the way. But can I put a price on all of that? Sure I can — I can look at how much of a salary bump the new job was over the old one. I can also look at all the money that I’ve made in ING referrals and any other blog-related ventures, which totals to $184.40.

The salary bump I got from my last job to this one was huge, but I don’t want to get into specifics. I will say that it went up 25%, which was an incredible bump.

Grand Total: $184.40 and a 25% salary bump

Final Thoughts

There’s definitely money to be made out there from writing. The question is, what kind of writing do you like best and how much money do you want to make? The answer for me is a tough one — filled with contradictions and conflicts.

I like blogging — I get a platform to instantly publish whatever I want on two topics I find very interesting: writing and money. But lately I’ve become addicted to the stats: pageviews, AdSense clicks, traffic, PageRank, etc. I spend most of my free time on this site, and I don’t like thinking that I’m doing it specifically for the money (which is so little). It’s starting to feel like a job where I just show up and get paid, only my salary is a joke and I hate my boss.

Writing fiction rewards me like nothing else when it comes out right. It’s tough, no doubt, but there’s something magical about it too. Something about freedom and art and creativity that’s hard to nail down. It can make some decent money if you put the work in, but I haven’t been doing that, and I want to change that.

“Writing” is too broad a term to describe all the different kinds of writing you can do to make some money and make a living. Hopefully, ideally, I’ll be able to find a nice middle ground where my fiction is front and center and I can still have a platform (like this one) to say whatever I want and publish it right away.

[this post has been included in the Just Write Carnival over at The Incurable Disease of Writing. Make sure to stop over and check out some of the other articles posted over there]

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