I’ve become increasingly frustrated lately with the issue of what writers should charge for their services. It can be disheartening to peruse web designer or marketing websites to find that $100 per hour is average and hardly worth comment, while writers who charge the same amount often find themselves on the receiving end of an outraged chortle or a proverbial door in the face.
We all know the education and experience levels – not to mention the skills involved – are often the same for all these fields. Yet, time and time again, writers find a professional double standard, where they can expect to pay good money for services but do not always receive the same considerations.
Savvy writers can sidestep this issue, however, by knowing how and where to look for big money. I’ve come up with the following list of six fields where I think money can really start to pour.
In school, they tell you that the only way you’ll make money with an English degree is if you go into technical writing. Tech guys and gals are known for their lack of communication abilities (ever called tech support?), and this insufficiency extends to the written word, as well. Therefore, the ability to speak technology as well as average human being is an incredible skill for a writer to have. Tech firms know it and will pay you for it.
Press releases, on their own, don’t pay great. Good writers can earn $50 to $100 for each one, which, if you are only writing a few a week, isn’t phenomenal pay. The beauty about press releases is that they are incredibly quick and easy to write if you’ve been doing them long enough. They almost all follow the same basic format, and anything longer than two pages is typically discarded anyway. If you are able to keep a steady flow of press releases going, you’d be amazed at how much money you can make.
The world of finance is a lot like technology — the people who are good at it aren’t always good at writing about it. Knowing the ins and outs of insurance, Wall Street, stocks and bonds, and how companies are structured can be incredibly valuable in the writing world. Like all things, however, you typically to have a solid reputation in the field before larger (read: high-paying) firms will consider you.
Writing for print publications is the dream of many freelancers. Writing an article for the web is great, but just about anyone can do it. Getting your words and your byline in print is one of those things that even your parents will notice and share with others. Print writing is great because you also get to build a physical portfolio, full of clippings that didn’t come from your own printer. Of course, the fact that the higher-end magazines often pay above and beyond $2 or $3 per word doesn’t hurt.
SEO articles are a lot like press releases in that they can be easy to churn out. Typical pay can range anywhere from $5 to $50 for about 500 words; again, not incredible pay all by itself. However, because they often come in large packages, meaning a client typically wants ten or twenty articles on almost the same subject, an efficient writer can streamline the research and writing process to write several good articles perhour. When done effectively, SEO articles can yield some pretty good money.
Very Specialized Specializations
This is probably the category most open to all aspiring money makers out there. When you become known for one particular subject – whether it be medical supply marketing materials, nonprofit newsletters, or baby-related product descriptions – you will start to find that you can command higher prices. Most financially sound businesses are willing to pay for quality when you’ve got the portfolio and resume to prove your experience. Although it may seem counterintuitive to narrow yourself down to one tiny little field, it has been proven time and time again that specialization = money, no matter what business you’re in.