What freelance writers get paid

Editors shared pay rates and target audiences.
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Few publications advertise freelance rates. They are usually over-supplied with writers and how much they pay frequently varies depending on the writer and the article.

But here are some guidelines.

The Saturday Age

Pay: ‘It is generally 80 cents per word. That does vary from section to section, but in general news and in features it works out to be about 80 cents per word,’ said Editor Margaret Easterbrook.

Print audience: Over 40, professional, male and female.

Leader Community Newspapers.

Pay: ‘Rather than pay for a single piece, because we are working with contributors that might be subject matter experts or they might be able to work on a particular project that we might have and we want extra expertise. We don’t have a lot to spend, it’s somewhere between $220-250 for the day and we negotiate what’s involved in that days work.’

Audience: ‘People who are emotionally invested in the neighbourhood. They care about the neighbourhood and want to know about what’s happening there. We have this mythical person in mind when we are writing for Leader. We call them the “CEO at home,”’ said John Trevorrow, Editor of Leader Community Newspapers.

‘It is the person who is making decisions like, what are we going to do on the weekend? What sort of things are happening in the area that we are interested in? What are the local news stories that might affect us? What is the council doing? In 95% of cases that person is a woman.’


Pay: ‘We pay around $250 to start with for a buzz post, which is often just a list with some gifs and not much more, but it’s the humour we are looking for.

We pay upwards of $1000 sometimes for a feature, depending on the feature,’ said Crerar.

‘We haven’t done too many of those [$1000+ features]. It is usually very exceptional.’

Audience: ‘Our audience skews heavily under 30. Quite a high percentage are female over male, about 65-70%. A lot come to us from Facebook. We have one of the biggest Facebook pages for publishing in Australia – more than 2 million people. We have more people in Melbourne than we do in Sydney.’


Pay: ‘We do pay for everything we publish. But sometimes that can be as little as $50 a piece and sometimes it can be 80 cents per word, we have paid that and we will pay that if we really believe in a piece and really believe that it will make a difference to what broadsheet is,’ said Broadsheet Editorial Director Tim Fisher.

‘We generally pay $100 for a story and we are very upfront with our contributors right from the get go. And if you do contribute, then we will honour your work. We will try to be as supportive as we can. We have a sub, we have editors, and we do go back and forth on every single piece we publish because we want to make sure your work is as good as it possibly can be.’

Audience: ‘For Broadsheet we have the ideal audience and then the audience we know we actually have. That person who is really curious and invested in their city – people who care about the place they live in is the person we want to reach. But our audience surveys tell us our average reader is a woman generally, in her thirties, is a professional generally in a long term relationship who has lived in her city for a number of years who is looking for something to do.’


Pay: ‘We pay about $150-200 for a freelance piece. $250-300 if it is a really exception piece and I really want it. But if you pitch and say I’ll only take $300 for this piece, I might really want it so I will pay it but I won’t ask you to do another one. So just keep in mind, wherever you price yourself, if I have an option of asking someone to do something for $300 or someone for $150, I’m going to ask the person who will do it for $150. So those $300+ stories have to be really exception stories that only you can deliver and the onus is now on you to continue to pitch stories of that calibre,’ said Cass Knowlton, Editor of Crikey!

Audience: ‘Older and professional. We have a lot of media professionals and a lot of political professionals.’

…and at ArtsHub

ArtsHub rarely takes non-commissioned freelance contributions but when we do we usually pay $200 for a feature. We do not pay for opinion articles or reviews.

Our audience: People who work in the arts sector,  predominantly woman aged 30 – 55.

Brooke Boland
About the Author
Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.