how do freelance journalists get paid

How Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid And How Much In 2024?

Are you wondering how do freelance journalists get paid and how much they are being paid?

If you enjoy writing, you may have said to yourself “I want to be a journalist”. Maybe you want to know more about the earning potential for the job before you dive in.

I was in your shoes not too long ago and I really wanted to know how much I could earn before I started trying to be a freelance journalist.

Like me, you may have asked yourself questions like these:

“How much does a freelance journalist make?”

“How do independent journalists make money?”

“Do journalists get paid well?”

I will answer these questions and many more, so that you have all the information you need to get started as a freelance journalist.

As a bit of an introduction, my name is Aisha Preece!

I LOVE to write. I studied Law but dreamed of writing on publications- becoming a journalist was one of my dream jobs. I was always curious to know how much journalists earned. Now I write for my own 6 blogs, and travel the world while writing, I’m still curious ha! So let’s find out how much journalists make.

How Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid
Writing from Egypt!

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How Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid?

If you want to know how do freelance writers get paid, here is more information on the topic.

There are a few ways that freelance journalists get paid. Some common arrangements are for freelance journalists to get paid based on hourly, per-word, or per-page rates. 

The agreement between the client and the freelance journalist usually includes a fixed amount for each hour, word, or page as well as minimum and maximum requirements.

If you are wondering “How much do freelance journalists get paid per article?” or “How much do freelance writers get paid per word?”

Here are some average rates that freelance writers and journalists typically charge:

  • Per word: $0.10 to $1.00
  • Per page: $100 – $200
  • Per hour: $15 – $100

The amount within the range is usually based on each individual’s experience and expertise. The more experience you have, the higher you can charge and the more clients will be willing to pay.

Those numbers may not sound like a lot but $1 a word for a 1,000-word article means that you would be getting paid $1,000 for that article!! I know that I would love to earn that kind of money!

How Much Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid?

So how much do journalists make?

The average wage for a freelance journalist in the US is $52,737 a year. Using a 40-hour work week as a guide would make the hourly rate for freelance journalists a little over $25 an hour

When you are first starting, you will probably earn a lower rate but you can start to negotiate for higher rates as you gain more experience. 

Most freelance journalists earn in the range of between $40,000 and $70,000 a year. 

Some of the factors that affect how much a freelance journalist gets paid include geographical location, client size and popularity, type of articles, and hours worked.

My favorite thing about freelancing as a journalist is that I can always find a way to earn more by taking on more jobs if I have the capacity. 

If you take on a lot of clients and projects, you will be able to make a lot of money as a freelance journalist.

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How Often Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid?

How often a freelance journalist gets paid will depend on the agreement with the client. This is something that should be discussed and agreed upon before the start of the project.

I made the mistake of not discussing this with my first client and I was upset when I didn’t get paid as soon as I finished the article. It took me a while to understand that clients had different approaches and I needed to talk to them about it beforehand.

If the agreement is on a project basis, then the journalist will get paid once they have delivered the agreed-upon output and made any needed amendments.

Freelance journalists who are on contracts or retainers often get paid every month and usually get paid at the beginning of the month. 

You can often negotiate with a client to determine a frequency that works for you and the client. I find that this is more likely to work once you have already built a good working relationship with the client.

How To Negotiate A Better Rate As A Freelance Journalist?

When you first start as a freelance journalist, you may be willing to accept a lower rate so that you can gain experience. 

But once you start becoming more skilled as a freelance journalist, you may find yourself wanting to negotiate a better rate with your clients. 

I didn’t know that I could negotiate my rate and I ended up accepting a lot of jobs at a lower rate. Please learn from my mistakes and start negotiating once you gain more experience. If you don’t try, you never know what could be possible.

Clients are often willing to pay more if you can demonstrate that you can add more value to their business that others cannot or will not.

There are a few things that you can do to negotiate a better rate as a freelance journalist.

Find Out Market Rates

Having a good understanding of the current market rates for freelance journalists in different contexts can help you identify a better rate for yourself. When you present clients with facts, they are more likely to agree to a higher rate.

While rates are often negotiable, you will want to make sure that you are not presenting a rate that is too high to a client as they may feel you are too expensive for them and not participate in any negotiation with you.

Determine Your Minimum Hourly Rate

A lot of freelance journalists feel like they need to just accept whatever a client offers. However, by doing this, you may not be able to earn enough to support yourself.

Been there, done that! 

It wasn’t fun when this happened to me and I knew that I needed to figure this out or I wouldn’t be able to continue being a freelance journalist.

I had to sit down and determine what was the lowest hourly rate I could accept and still be able to make money after I paid for all my expenses. 

Have this figure ready for discussions with clients so you don’t end up accepting a rate that doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle.

Knowing your minimum hourly rate can help you make a sustainable living as a freelance journalist.

Highlight The Value Of Your Work

If you can deliver high-quality work consistently, clients will be more willing to pay you a higher rate. One of the best ways that you can demonstrate the value of your work is by creating a portfolio and using it to show clients the impact of your work.

I regularly update my portfolio with my best work and have it ready whenever I want to negotiate my rate with a client and it has always been really helpful for me. Instead of just talking about the work that I have done, I am able to actually show clients the work!

When you are starting as a freelance journalist, it may be beneficial for you to take on projects at a lower rate to get the experience and exposure that will help you get better jobs in the future.

What Does A Freelance Journalist Do?

Even if you enjoy writing, you may not think that you can be a freelance journalist. 

That’s how I felt until I started to understand what it is that a freelance journalist actually does and realized that I should give it a shot. 

A freelance journalist is a self-employed writer who chooses to write primarily for newspapers, magazines, news sites, and other companies. 

Freelance journalists may accept jobs that are ad-hoc or scheduled and write on topics or issues that are relevant to the client’s business needs.

Freelance journalists write for either online or offline audiences and some even write for both.

Being a freelance journalist is a really good choice for someone who wants more flexibility with their working hours as well as the option to choose the type of clients that they want to work with.

How do freelance journalists get paid

Different Types Of Freelance Journalists Jobs

There are different types of freelance journalists and you can choose freelance journalism jobs that you would like to do based on your interests, skillset, availability of jobs, and other factors.

Print Writing

When people think of the work that a journalist does, they usually picture the work that a print writer does. 

A freelance journalist who specializes in print writing generally conducts research and interviews to write articles for newspapers and magazines and they can be assigned any topic even though some may choose to specialize.

By accepting print writing jobs, a freelance journalist can write for magazines and get paid.

How do freelance journalists get paid

Feature Writing

As a feature writer, freelance journalists write on topics that they are subject matter experts in. They may write for more than one magazine or newspaper and are well-known in the niche that they are in. 

While they may have fewer jobs overall, they are often able to charge a higher rate due to their experience and expertise.

If you have a high degree of knowledge in a particular area, you may want to explore what it would take to becme a feature writer as it can be a very well-paying job with a lot of opportunities.


Copywriters are people who are highly skilled in using words to advertise, raise brand awareness, or engage more readers. 

Some common assignments that freelance journalists who are copywriters often work on are advertising copy, blurbs for social media, and even Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Content Writing

Content writers often help companies develop content for their websites. The content is generally used to attract more readers by educating, persuading, or entertaining readers. 

As content writers, freelance journalists may find themselves working on blog posts, press releases, and podcast scripts.

I have done a lot of content writing and it is a very interesting job and I have learned a lot. The best thing about content writing is that you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in it if you have good research skills.

Content writers often have the opportunity to mainly work and get paid from home.

How To Become A Freelance Journalist?

If you want to become a freelance journalist, the first thing that you need to make sure you have is excellent writing skills. If you have good writing skills, then you can start researching the style of writing that is needed for journalism. 

If you want to become a freelance journalist and need some guidance on how to get there, check out the Write to $1k by Elna Cain course. It is an excellent course and I learned so much from it. It provides detailed steps that you can follow to start earning as a freelance journalist.

How do freelance journalists get paid

Tips For Success As A Freelance Journalist

Find Ways To Upskill

As a freelance journalist, if you can improve your skill set, you will have more opportunities for success. 

The most important skill that you can continuously develop is your writing skills. You can do this by taking writing courses or exploring different types of writing styles. 

Often the best way to become a better writer is to write more. Look for opportunities to practice your writing so that you can continue to become a better writer.

Apart from your writing skills, it is also really helpful for you to improve your research and fact-finding skills so that you can write better articles that are more helpful for your client and audience.

Tip: Challenge yourself to write about a topic that you are not familiar in so that you can practice using and building your research skills!

Build A Portfolio

Another way that you can find more success as a freelance journalist is to build a portfolio of your best work. This will be a helpful tool when you are trying to make a name for yourself and find clients.

Compile all the articles that you have written and use them to demonstrate your skills to your clients so they can easily see if you are a good fit for them. 

When you are starting, try to get a variety of topics and types of articles so that you can pitch to more clients.

Add Value To The Client

Try to find ways to add additional value to the client in each assignment that you accept. This could mean looking for different angles that may be more impactful or suggesting ideas for future assignments.

Each time you add extra value to the client, it increases your reputation as a freelance journalist and increases the likelihood that you will get repeat jobs from the same client or get recommended to other clients.

Don’t Give Up

When you first get started as a freelance journalist, you may find it challenging to get enough jobs to support yourself. Don’t get discouraged!

A friend told me to keep going when I was ready to quit as a new freelance journalist. I’m so glad I listened to her because being a freelance journalist has been such a satisfying job for me.

Each article that you write and each client that you get will help you with the next one. 

Keep pushing through and with time and effort, you will be able to establish a successful freelance journalism career.

How do freelance journalists get paid

FAQs On How Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid

How Much Do Freelance Journalists Get Paid Per Article?

Most freelance journalists get paid around $250 per article which equals $0.25 a word for a 1,000-word article. For some freelance journalists, this amount can go up to $399 for a 1,500-word blog post. A lot of freelance writers also charge more if they are writing a ghostwritten article.

How To Make Money As A Freelance Journalist?

There are a few things that you can do to make money as a freelance journalist.

1. Get Qualifications

2. Pitch Articles To Publications That Are Local

3. Develop A Journalism Portfolio

4. Improve Your Journalism Skills

5. Join Writing Contests

6. Organize Your Tasks

7. Look For Freelance Jobs 

8. Market Yourself And Network 

How Do Freelance Journalists Market Themselves?

Since freelance journalists have to market themselves to get work, they often use social media, networking events and word of mouth to connect with industry professionals and find out about freelance opportunities.

Freelance journalists also often use a professional portfolio so that they can showcase their best work.

How Does Freelance Journalism Work?

Freelance journalists are individuals with writing skills who choose to be self-employed instead of being salaried staff. 

They are assigned to complete contract work, single pieces or regular assignments for newspapers, magazines, companies and other organizations.

Freelance journalists charge by the hour, word, or article. They have more flexibility over the work that they do.

How Do Freelancers Usually Get Paid?

Freelancers can provide the option for clients to pay via credit card. It is a lot easier for the clients and the payment can be processed through online systems like PayPal. 

Some freelancers may choose to get their credit card processing equipment as it might be more convenient for them. 

How Do Freelance Grantwriters Get Paid?

Some freelance journalists may want to make the shift to becoming grant writers. Since freelance grant writers are not salaried staff, they are usually paid hourly rates, project fees, or monthly retainers

Freelance grant writers generally are not paid based on a percentage or commission. They also usually don’t receive standard benefits or bonuses.

How do freelance journalists get paid

Deciding to become a freelance journalist can feel like a big and scary step to take especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. Remember that you can take small steps to get started and be successful in the role.

I had to take a lot of baby steps before I was able to become a freelance journalist and I’m really glad I kept going.

It’s normal to have a lot of questions about a job before you decide to pursue it and learning the answers can help you feel equipped to take a step forward.

I know that I learned a lot from others who were slightly ahead of me in the journey and I hope you will as well. 

By knowing the answer to the question “How do freelance journalists get paid?” you hopefully feel more prepared to embark on your journey to becoming a freelance journalist.

Start building that portfolio and pitch to that first client. I believe in you! You can do it!

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