Here are some highlights from Peter Kent's January 1998 issue for The Internet Writing Journal:
"[Y]ou really can make $100,000 a year as a freelance technical writer. Some writers make a lot more, $120,000, even $150,000. So, struggling writer, consider what that sort of money could do for you. You really want to write poetry? Then do a few freelance technical-writing contracts for half the year, and spend the rest of the time on your poetry. Want to work on that screenplay idea you've been thinking of for years? Use technical writing to fund it; let three days of technical writing each week pay the bills, and take off two days for the screenplay. The Great American Novel you're working on? Wouldn't it be easier if you had some cash to buy you the time you need to write it? All this may sound too good to be true, but plenty of writers are making great money in technical writing...There are really three main ways to sell your services as a freelance technical writer. I generally advise newcomers to begin selling their services through the technical-service agencies. Not because this is the way to make the most money, but because the agencies provide a good way to break into the market. There are thousands of these agencies throughout the United States, companies large and small that sell 'bodies' to companies...The second way to work is to cut out the agency. Once you've built up a good network of fellow writers, you can often get to the clients before the agencies do. Not all companies will employ freelancers directly -- some prefer to work with the agencies -- but enough will, especially smaller companies. Instead of making $30 or $35 an hour, for instance, you may be able to make $40 or $45...The third form of work is a step up from here, more of a 'consulting' arrangement. In such an arrangement you agree to complete a particular project for a client. For instance, you may agree to write a user manual for a new software program, or instructions for a toy or electronic device. It's up to you when and how you get the work done; you may be able to do most of the work at home, for instance. Now, most writers still bill clients by the hour when working in this kind of relationship...It's possible to make more money if you bill by the project, as long as you can make a fairly close estimate of the time it will take to do the work, and if you work quickly. Rates can reach $100, $130, or $150 an hour or higher. This is when your income breaks the $100,000 barrier, of course...You can't bill by the project in some cases, but I believe it is possible in many, perhaps most cases. It's just a matter of keeping track of your hours for a while...Why does billing by the project pay more? It pays more for writers who are above average. If you can write quickly, and do a better job than most writers, why charge the same as other writers?...[M]any clients really like to be given a per-project bid. Rather than being told, 'I'll charge you $40 an hour,' they like to know what the project will actually cost. After all, what does $40 an hour mean? What's an hour? 'I don't know,' I tell clients, 'and I bet you don't.' One person's hour is, after all, different from another's. Some writers bill more hours than they work, other writers simply don't get much done in an hour. Will the $40-an-hour project cost the client $10,000? $20,000? $30,000? Who knows?...Freelance tech-writing rates are hidden from employee writers, and even many freelancers don't know what they could really earn...Freelance writers have to talk to other freelance writers, about the rates they're earning, about the rates being offered by various companies and agencies, about the rates being made by other writers. It's a game, and the prize is a higher hourly rate...[I]t is possible for many people to increase their incomes significantly immediately...and even double their incomes quite rapidly (I doubled mine in about a year). To get to the higher rates takes more effort, but the potential is there if you want to reach for it. There's one danger. As one freelance writer, who had scriptwriting aspirations, told me: 'The money is seductive. Technical writing pays so well that you get used to the money, and it's difficult to break away.'"
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