how much freelancers really make

How Much Do Freelancers Really Make? (Hint: It’s More Than You Think)

It’s a question they always ask whenever I tell someone what I do for a living. Usually followed by the next question: How did I make $5000 a month?

Well, you see, the thing is, $5000 USD may not sound like much in the US, but in a country like Sri Lanka, it’s considered a lot. Actually, it’s about 10 times the salary of an executive who works at a high-paying government job.

What they say about freelancers earning more than average workers is absolutely true.

So, you can understand why people won’t believe me when I tell them how much I make working from home. Eventually, they all get curious and then want to know how much money they could make working from home.

There’s no definite answer to how freelancers get paid or how much you can make as a freelancer. Because it depends on your field of work, the amount of experience you have, and the skills you’ve developed.

So, instead of giving you a specific number. I will share a few success stories and some stats to give you an idea about how much freelancers make and to show you that making $5000+ a month is not impossible.

The Stats and Surveys

In May 2015, Contently did an interesting survey among 643 freelancers asking them 25 questions. The results were pretty exciting. According to the survey, 80% of the freelancers claimed to be writers with 8% being consultants and content strategists. Only 10% accounted for freelance designers and videographers.

Among all 643 freelancers, only 62.5% were working full time. Yet they were making quite a lot of money.

“The median income for all respondents is $10,001–$20,000. A little over 19 percent of respondents made more than $50,000 last year, including about five percent who earned six figures.”

What’s more amazing was the amount of work they had to do to earn it. 41% of freelancers only took on 2 jobs per week to make a living while working just about 10 hours a week.


Making $20,000 a year may not seem like much, but take into consideration that some of these freelancers were still new in the field. And they were making more than their day jobs. A survey done by UpWork gave us enough proof of that.

“The majority (60%) of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more — Almost one in four (23%) said they quit a job with an employer in order to freelance. Of those who earn more, 78% indicated they earned more freelancing within a year or less.”

The Success Stories

success stories

A quick Google search will show you enough results for freelancing success stories.

One of the stories that caught my attention comes from Medium where Jyssica Schwartz writes about how she made over $10,000 in just one month.

She’s a book editor that has found a way to grow her business over several months. And of course, the $10K month earning didn’t happen overnight either.

What’s her secret? Well as she explains it, she now has a few different types of clients including retainer clients. But she says most of her income comes from referrals.

That’s what happens when you deliver great work. Clients will refer their friends and fellow authors to the person that delivers an over-the-top result.

Linda Formichelli is one of the many freelance copywriters who earn over $250 per hour. Her extensive article on CopyBlogger went viral back in 2014. In this article, she explained how she makes $250 per hour for her freelance writing work.

Imagine, if she works 10 hours a week at $250 an hour she makes $2500. Which totals up to a whopping $10,000 a month.

Her best advice was to never quote an hourly rate, which makes sense because each person works differently. An excelled writer will write a 1000-word article in 2 hours when another take 2 days. In that case, charging $10 per hour would mean a huge loss. Charging per project is the ideal way to price your services.

Jonathan Wold is another freelancer, like me, who makes $5000+ a month building websites. In fact, he didn’t even do any hard-core coding work. He just built websites for companies using WordPress and making simple enhancements to pre-designed WP themes with web design knowledge. His advice was not to undervalue your services.

“If you’re going to make $5000+ a month, you can’t be building websites for only a few hundred dollars. You’re doing yourself and your clients a disservice. You need to charge a fair price.”

The Skills In Demand

indemand skills

As I mentioned earlier, the amount of money you can make freelancing depends on your field and skills. For example, while some freelance writers make $10,000 a month, there are freelance programmers who make over $100,000.

According to UpWork, one of the biggest freelance marketplaces on the web, these are the top in-demand skills.

  1. .NET Core
  2. TypeScript
  3. Landing pages
  4. eBooks
  5. Android
  6. Electronic design
  7. Presentation
  8. Sketch
  9. Research
  10. Technical recruiter

If you’re a programmer, there’s no doubt about a secured income in your freelance career. Writing and design aren’t too bad either. Then again, it all comes down to your experience, how you find leads, and your approach to jobs. But there are many other freelance skills you can learn online.

By now, making $5000 a month may sound like a walk in the park, but it took me a lot of effort and hard-earned experience to get here. In my first year, I made a little over $200 a month. But, I kept on learning and trying to better myself. And here I am today.


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