Monday, October 26, 2009

Put Another Nickel In...

After my second blog post last week, I earned my first nickel from Google AdSense. Yes, one of you apparently clicked on an ad!

A nickel didn’t sound like much, but then I looked at the daily email alerts I get from such freelance job listing services as oDesk and Donanza. A typical oDesk writing gig seemed to offer $25 for 500 words, or exactly a nickel per word! And 5 cents actually seemed on the high side for these listings.

But this sounded incredibly low to me, so I checked Writers Weekly to find typical freelance rates. Up popped a 2007 article from the mag’s co-owner boasting that Writers Weekly itself had raised its rate for freelance feature articles – to a dime a word! However, for freelancers' "success stories," the rate was a whopping 13 cents for 300 words, or $40 an article!

Any freelancer who would accept $40 for a 300-word article couldn't really be that successful, I thought. So I pulled up this week’s success story. The author still dreams of making $1 per word from national magazines, but feels she’s been quite successful with what she terms “pin money.” “Although not rich in dollars now, I am in new experiences and friends,” writes Polly Tafrate. “When I look at it that way, I'm a successful freelance writer!”

OK, I get it. And just this weekend, Mitch Joel, in a Six Pixels of Separation post titled "The Part of Social Media that Freaks Out Freelance Writers," elaborated on the many ways that a personal blog like this one also helps freelancers. Much more eloquently than I stated it two posts back, Joel concluded,The challenge is that you have to mentally get over the hump that you're writing for free, because you're not. You're writing to free yourself.”
So I shouldn’t dwell on the mere nickels coming into this blog. After all, having earned a solitary nickel over the past three weeks, this blog’s rate per word is a tiny fraction of a cent, making even five cents per word for outside work sound enormous.
Nonetheless, I’m thankful I can command much more than a nickel a word for my other writing – and that I don’t depend on writing gigs for the bulk of my income. Because, if the going rate for freelance writing is so low, the prospects of anyone reeling in really big freelance bucks isn’t so hot.

Then again, at just a nickel a word, I can afford to hire a ghostwriter! Any volunteers?


  1. The most I've earned is .50 per word for a 500 word article, and I can tell you that I finally thought I had made it into the big leagues when I got that check!