“So how much money are you making as a freelancer?” This is probably the first, most common question that I get when I tell people I’m a full-time content creator and have been working for myself for 10 years now. And this question is okay to ask. I’d ask the same thing if I were from outside the freelancing bubble, and met a full-time self-employed individual. The truth?
The truth is, freelancers, good and great freelancers, make A LOT of money. Myself included. I’m not a millionaire, no, but I make good, even great money. In fact, this year I’m on a trajectory to double my 2019 income. I’ll say that again: this year, 2021, I will DOUBLE my income from 2019, so from just two years ago. To me, that blows my mind just thinking about it.
In this guide:
How much does an NYC lawyer make?
Don’t take my example though. I’m not ready just yet to tell you how much money I’m making in terms of exact numbers. I will, one day, but until then, I did some research into what other amazing, successful freelancers are making all over the world. And their stories are simply amazing. Some of them are so great, they make more money than a New York City lawyer.
According to Career Explorer, the average salary of a lawyer in NYC is around $167.000 a year. Now that’s a great figure, and one that would have you living comfortably in the heart of the city, by yourself or with your family, with everything included. Lawyers with some experience surely make some more, some even close to half a million USD a year, including new ones.
How much are they working for their bucks?
Sure, the way a lawyer works is different from the way a freelancer does. While lawyers have a certain schedule that’s set for them by the needs of court appearances and documenting their cases, most freelancers are free to make their own schedule. While this doesn’t mean freelancers work less than lawyers, their work is more enjoyable, and less stressful.
On average, an NYC lawyer works between 50 to even 80 hours a week, which means that a Monday to Friday job will result in close to 13 hours of actual work a day. For freelancers, as we’ll see in the examples below, the work quota is not nearly as high as one of the attorneys. This again means that being an NYC lawyer is turning you less profitable than freelancing.
Five freelancers who make more than lawyers
Right, let’s dive right into the matter now. The next five freelancers are 100% making more money than your typical NYC lawyer. They started with very little and then scaled their talent to meet the needs of the markets. Their stories are inspiring and filled with valuable knowledge. I’ll keep them short and to the point, letting you in just the most important aspects of their journeys.
According to her website, Kat is “a compulsive organizer with a penchant for dogs and tacos…in that order”, which speaks to me on the level of organizational skills and tacos, obviously. Kat made her $100.000/year income by not just being a great marketing person, but also teaching other freelancers how to start on their path towards bossless life. She’s a mentor, a good one.
I read her “miracle” article about making the 100k, which is of course not miraculous at all, and requires a lot of work, trial and error, and patience to get to that figure. Expanding her niche was the first step, after which Kat dumped some clients that were simply not for her. Then she became more consistent, as well as turning her rates up because her value went up naturally.
Finally, Kat ends with the truth about how you and I could make 100.000 USD a year, or more, by doing freelance work: working your ass off! “Here’s the cold, hard truth: I may have finally achieved that six-figure benchmark that people go on and on about. But, there was no quick tip or hidden secret that helped me do that. Ultimately, it just took a lot of hard work and patience.
2017 was the first year I cracked the six-figure milestone in my freelance business. That was my third full year as a freelance writer. That means that—at the end of 2017—I had been at this for three and a half years. It took me that amount of time to get what I earn now (and not 30 days like so many gurus and experts would have you believe).” Well put Kat, very well put!
David Feldman had dreams of climbing the corporate ladder, just like you and me, and then being the best in the office. But once he saw what that would imply, he realised there’s a better way towards financial freedom, not just by doing a job for others. Feldman gave up on his office job and started to write for money on Fiverr. It was the best decision he’s ever made.
“I was a financial analyst for 12 or 13 years, and then just decided I wanted to be a copywriter, so I did it,” Feldman told CNBC Make It. “Nobody was there to stop me, so I just did it.” According to the article, in 2016 Feldman brought in $24,000, and in 2017 that number spiked to $75,000. For 2018, as of early December, Feldman has made $125,000 on Fiverr.
“I think freelancing definitely is the future, especially with the access everyone has now to the internet, social media, everything has just exploded,” Feldman says. “And everyone can hang up their sign — like there’s nobody telling you that you can’t do anything.” Well, if this man has done it so well, and is not a lot of time, there’s nothing stopping anyone else from doing it!
Can you really make a six-figure income out of freelancing starting from scratch? Carol Tice started from nothing, and she makes more than just a six-figure salary, so the answer is “yes”! But while she is entitled to give you advice on how money makes her life easier, as they should, Carol states from the very first paragraphs of one of her articles that money isn’t happiness.
Purpose is happiness, as she clearly states. Having a job you love doing, and a private life to enjoy afterwards, these two elements are the ones that bring along happiness and pleasure. You’ll be met with long hours, very low glamour, hustling on an endless basis, as well as deadline pressure, the “joy” of any freelancer at work. But in the end, the reward is worth it!
Carol made $100.000+ a year, and still makes it to that figure, and above, by writing for other people, and then teaching new freelancers how to write for themselves in order to become financially free, as you can see on her blog. It took her years to master the two, but eventually, she has found financial freedom and is happy with it. And yes, she started from nothing.
Rob is not like any other freelancer out there simply because he’s reached a six-figure status in just one year of freelancing. I’m in my sixth and can barely state I’m close to it, but this guy? He’s maybe a tad lucky, a little talented, and very hard working. If you’re a freelancer and are making the money Rob Palmer is making, you’re surely worth every penny of your income.
“After a few twists in my early career, I studied Journalism at what is now the London University of the Arts, then started working my way up the journalism ladder. But I soon learned that most journalists don’t make much money, whereas writers in the corporate world do very well as writers”, Rob says about his beginnings in the writing gig industry, and the money-making one.
“So I jumped at the chance to become the editor of an enterprise magazine and doubled my income overnight. I considered that to be a big improvement – until I met the agency copywriters working on the company’s ad account. They showed me that the real money for writers was in advertising and marketing.” Rob then started writing copy that sold tons of goods at the office.
Rob continues to talk about the pre-Internet era in this article, and about how having a website and dressing apart even then was setting him apart from the still-massive urn of freelancers even back then. Client selection and efficient management of projects are also talked about in the post. Finally, the article talks about value, delivery on time, and referrals, among others.
Elise is the female personification of me, but with a better income and a lot more prettiness. She started her first blog at around age 12, just like I did, and then went on to improve her writing as time went by. She never felt like others in her class were understanding her, so a blog was a safe space for her to lay out her ideas. She grew into writing and, well, the rest is history!
“Somehow, (the blog) it grew. I taught myself the basics of SEO, and how to write a blog post that people (other than my family and friends) wanted to read. I was soon earning money through that blog with sponsorships, advertising placements, and free items sent to my house in return for a review. I can’t remember the exact figures, but it was around £60 per month.”
In her article about the whole ordeal, Elise talks about her very first 9-to-5 job, after leaving school at age 16 (I got my first job in journalism at age 17, so again, I really love the similarities here) getting an apprenticeship at a marketing agency in the city where she lived. Her boss suggested some freelancing on the side. “It was the best advice anyone has ever given to me.”
After going from 200 to 2000 bucks a month over a few months of freelancing and renouncing university studies, Elise started to look into more clients and improved her offer. “I learnt that people were willing to pay me in return for my skill. I trusted in the fact I was good at my job, and I wasn’t afraid to charge what I thought I was worth.” This is SO IMPORTANT to understand!
Elise is now making more than 100.000 USD a year, and the advice that she gives in the article that I linked above is precious even for me, after so many years of doing this. Go check it out, and learn from her success and failures, because yes, there’s a lot of trial and error happening until a freelancer, any freelancer, reaches such sums from their income. But it’s worth it!
Hei, just a quick thing before you leave:
First, nice of you to read thus far, it means that you’ve enjoyed my writing!
I’m not here to ask you for any likes, shares, or comments, although that would be cool of you! Instead, I’m offering you a chance to have an even better piece, sort of like this one, but better, written for you by a content creator. That would be me! Check out my Services, Portfolio and Testimonials pages for details. And then shoot me an email at the address you’ll find on the Contact page.
If you’re a freelancer like me and are confused about learning how to make money online, especially through writing but also programming, design, or social media management, you can buy my book. It’s called “From 0 To $2543 A Month With A Crappy Laptop – The Freelancing Course From A Self-Made Content Creator Boss” and you can find it on Amazon at 50% off!