Is the content writing salary enough to run a household? Or is it just a part-time activity for some extra income? Find out in this article.
With the dramatic rise in career opportunities in content writing and the boom in the gig economy, how much content writers earn annually or content writing salary, have turned into frequently searched terms.
Many students are aspiring to become full-time content writers. But a large number of people who are already working in their respective professions have also shown interest in part-time content writing in their domain and earning extra income.
The people who have been writing in their respective fields for some years now have become industry thought leaders, hosting events, and seminars, which shows that content writing is not a confined field in itself, but opens lots of other opportunities.
But coming back to the question at hand, what are content writing salary packages, well…it depends.
Generally speaking, a content writer in India can earn anywhere from 1-2 lacs per annum( for a fresher) to more than 10 lacs per annum(with experience). But there is huge variation in the type of work, and only a select few lie towards the high-end of the salary spectrum.
We first need to understand that there are different types of content writers. All of them have their own set of skills, portfolio, industry, and experience. A fresher content writer with no specific niche, for example, will not earn as much as an experienced technical writer working for 10 years in the software industry.
In that sense, if a fresher writer compares his/her salary to an experienced writer, it is unfair and is bound to lead to disappointment.
There are also disparities across industries. Writers in technical, law, and medical fields earn more than writers in a more general niche like travel or food unless someone happens to be a well-known professional. Learn about different types of content writers here.
Even one content writer may earn different rates depending upon the type of work, the amount of research it entails, and deadlines to follow.
To make matters clear, the content writing salary will depend on the given factors:
- Field or industry
- Experience in the field
- Results from your previous assignments, or portfolio
- Educational and employment background
- Type of company or client
- Location of work
- Nature of work, ie freelance, agency, or corporate.
Content writing salary based on the industry/niche
Inarguably, the highest-earning content writers tend to be professionals in highly skilled industries like engineering, law, accounts, and medical fields. In fact, medical writers earn the highest of all.
Medical content writers, on average, can earn anywhere between 5-10 lacs per year if they a few years of content writing experience. Even if they are new to the writing field, they may earn up to 2 lacs in a year easily.
Again, technical writers in the field of engineering, software, accounts, and law also get highly paid. Their salaries can be in the range of 8-10 lakhs in a year provided they have at least about 5 years of experience working in the field.
This is due to the fact that technical professionals who also boast commendable writing skills are not easy to find. There is also a barrier to entry for technical/law/medical fields in the form of a college degree, that many media professionals simply lack.
On the other hand, a content writer in the general field of travel, food, photography, does not earn as much as the former. A writer in these fields with experience of 5 years may earn about 3-4 lacs in a year. A fresher writer may earn anywhere between 1 lac-2lac depending upon the amount of work and the company.
This is because there is a low barrier to work in the latter fields. Travel, food, and other similar activities tend to be hobbies for many people. So even if you argue that there is a big market, the market also tends to be packed with such writers. They are not too difficult to find.
This salary varies greatly depending upon whether a writer is full-time, part-time, or a freelancer.
Content writing salary based upon nature of employment
By nature of employment, we mean whether the writer works full-time in a corporate, full-time in an agency, part-time, as a freelancer.
In general, corporate content writing salary is the highest of all, provided all have a similar level of experience. This is because corporate content writers also have a few other responsibilities being a full-time employees. This may include writing circulars, instruction manuals, internal publications, seasonal magazines, and press releases in the case of the public relations department.
Corporate writers also tend to be always prepared. They are also responsible for the background research on the content and often are subject matter experts. Corporate writers are usually technical writers. This is another reason they are paid the highest.
Content writers working in an agency, on the other hand, have the sole work of churning out content, as per the provided instructions by the client. Their daily word count is much higher than any other type of writer running up to 3000-4000 words per day. This work often comes under the category of bulk writing.
Agency content writers can earn up to 3 lacs annually as freshers. After a certain level of experience, say, 3 years, their salary usually increases substantially to about 5 lacs a year.
But in the case of content writers who work part-time, a fresher content writer, who writes not more than 3-4 hours a day, earns less than 1 lac per year. The only difference between this category and the earlier category is the number of hours invested.
However, part-time writers who are also experts in technical fields can earn much more than normal content writers. Their salary growth curve is also much steeper than normal content writers. This may lead to them earning more than 5 lacs with just 2 years of experience in content writing.
Part-time content writing is a viable option for work for college students, housewives, and working professionals. This is also true for freelancers.
In the case of freelance content writers, the biggest advantage is that they can negotiate their own rates with the client. They usually charge based on word count. A freelance content writer who has a knowledge of SEO and a few months of experience can charge around 30 paise per word. This rate essentially comes to about Rs.300 for a 1000 word article.
Whereas a professional content writer in India with experience of more than 3-4 years can ask for a word rate for more than Re.1 per word. This way they can earn more than Rs.1000 per 1000-word article. The writer can negotiate an even higher rate depending upon the type of content, the amount of research, and the industry.
This rate may look good to an amateur writer but it is much lower for India-based (also Pakistan and Bangladesh) content writers who write in the English language. This is because of the fact that English is not our mother tongue. And most content writers in these countries simply cannot match the quality of a native English-speaking content writer, who can earn more than $1/word after just a few years in the industry.
The reason behind this word rate structure for freelancers is that freelancers work on a contract basis. This means they have to accept the reality that their cash flow is highly variable. They might find a lot of work in the good season while also be left out without any work for some time.
Another challenge with being a freelance content writer is that they need to constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities for work. This can get extremely tiring, especially for new writers who lack a resourceful and dependable business network for recurring work opportunities.
How much is the content writing salary based on experience?
Content writers with experience of 3-4 years who are not working under any specific niche may earn about 3-4 lacs per year. In the same boat, with no specific niche, an amateur writer who has about 6 months of experience earns about 1-2 lacs per year.
This is applicable when both writers are working full-time in some content writing agency. Writers who have 2-3 or more years of work behind them usually prefer to limit their work to specific niches, for example, automobile, tech, wildlife, travel, etc.
It is a given, that content writers with considerable experience will always be paid significantly higher rates than amateur writers. The reasons for this are multifold.
Firstly, experienced content writers have much detailed knowledge of Search Engine Optimization. They have seen search algorithms develop and improve over time. They instinctively know the kind of content that ranks.
They can also identify the kind of content that readers love and share. The ultimate purpose of all content is to help users. No matter how much the content material is optimized, if it is on a subject that does not see much traffic most of the time, it will not rank.
The other advantage that experienced content writers have over newbie writers is the ability to pick out keywords that have a high potential for search traffic. They can also sniff out which content would be most helpful for satisfying the end-goals of the business for which the content is made.
Experienced content writers have one major edge over amateurs or freshers- pro tools. Pro tools are software that helps marketers or writers develop the right kind of content strategy by identifying the business objectives. It is not just about finding keywords that are popular.
Pro tools help in identifying the right keywords, that target the appropriate user intent, to drive the right kind of conversions. This eventually helps the business on multiple fronts. Some examples of these tools are Ahrefs, Moz, Buzzsumo, and Ubersuggest. The experienced writers even know how to use free tools like Google keyword planner, and answerthepublic.com, to their fullest potential.
An amateur content would just increase the site visits. But a content written by an experienced writer will even help drive sales and conversions and skyrocket revenue with just organic methods, which is the ultimate goal of any business.
Experienced writers have proven their mettle in the content writing industry by staying strong for years. They have high credibility and trust. Most content writers who have been working for more than 10 or so years have made a distinct name in their niche. This helps them get much more work that is quality-oriented and highly rewarding.
A major change that writers with a few years of experience make in their career to earn more, is to pick a niche and only work in related subjects. Since subject matter experts are paid much more than a writer who writes about everything. There’s a saying- Jack of all trades, king of none’ that aptly fits in this particular scenario.
On the other hand, amateur writers who are just starting out, have ill-conceived knowledge of SEO tools. They have not yet learned the proper use of these tools.
They also have not ventured into specialized niches and are just hovering over the surface of professional content writing by writing about everything they can get their hands on. This is why they earn much less.
Amateur writers also suffer from linguistic blunders. It is taboo for a content writer to accidentally use the wrong grammar. Yet this an extremely common mistake among amateur writers.
Another reason why amateur writers do not make much is that they lack a complete understanding of the subtle nuances of writing styles. Different types of content are read by different audiences, who value different qualities in the content. It is key to understand these peculiarities.
How much is content writing salary based on location?
There is a distinct feature of Indian content writers. Our mother tongue is any language other than English. It could be Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, and so on. But English is the official language of the internet, most of us exclusively write in English.
Writing in English pays more. The market is much bigger than any Indian language. Besides, with English content, Indian content creators can possibly reach a western audience. This is a huge advantage because the western market is a stronger economy. This translates into higher CPC and CPA.
Writers working for the western market are paid much more than ones working for the Indian subcontinent market.
This is true for all English content writers in other countries in South Asia including Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.
For example, an accomplished content writer producing content for the US market can easily be paid $1 per word. This is many times higher than the Re.1 per word that writers get for writing for the Indian market. This is chiefly due to the difference in the PPP or purchasing power parity between the two nations.
This difference is what makes English content writing a sweet deal for Indian writers.
But there is a catch. It is a fact that for the same work, an Indian content writer would be paid less than native writing the content. This is because no matter how much experience a Hindi-speaking content writer has in writing in English, he can never reach up to the level of a content writer who also happens to be a native English speaker.
Even inside India, the content writing salary varies greatly. The media hub of Mumbai pays the highest salary to content writers, in general.
For an amateur willing to learn the nuances of content writing, learning from an agency in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, or Bangalore is the best way to start their career. In the beginning, the content writing salary can be about 1 to 1.5 lacs per year. This salary could rise up to 3-4 lacs per year in 2-3 years.
Medium and small cities like Indore, Nagpur, Jaipur, also have opportunities for content writing. But these smaller agencies pay less than agencies in big cities.
For freelance writers, this does not apply since they can work from anywhere. What matters is the location of their client or the hiring company. Getting work from overseas always pays more, as a rule of thumb.
Content writing salary based on educational background
It always helps to have an academic qualification in the segment you write about. In fields like engineering, law, and medical content, it is an absolute must.
Google’s ranking algorithm updates have proven that health and medical blogs written by unqualified professionals will not be ranked along with content written by actual healthcare professionals. Other segments also follow suit.
Today, the author and their qualifications are also a parameter seen by search engines. This is to weed out unprofessional medical advice that could jeopardize medical conditions by mentioning wrong or misleading content.
Similarly, engineering and law-related content require authors to be qualified professionals with educational degrees to show for it.
Educational qualifications are proof that the writer is qualified to create content associated with a specific subject. As far as technical content is concerned, a relevant degree is a fundamental necessity.
Technical content writing salary, owing to their expertise, is much more than general content writers for the same amount of hours put in. They are also employed by major corporations like TCS, Accenture, Deloitte, etc., to produce material for their employees, or for their market.
Technical writers are mainly employed to publish specialized subject matter, internal publications for corporates technical blogs, technical magazines, instruction manuals, how-to guides for electronic appliances, instructional videos, etc. They can also be employed to prepare textbooks for teaching purposes.
Another booming medium for specialized writers is podcasts. Podcasts are a new rage everywhere. They have become extremely popular as a way of consuming important information without distracting advertising and excess commercialization. And writers who work in a niche area are in high demand.
Software and IT content writers preferably must have a relevant degree like engineering, or a degree in computer applications. Similarly, writers producing health-related content must have a medical degree. Law-related content must be written by an actual legal professional. In fact, in any specialized profession, writers who have the relevant industry experience are paid much more.
Content writing salary in different professions
There are various professions that come under content writing that are very different from each other, and as a result, have different criteria for their content writing salary.
Some types of works require creative skills in addition to the usual. This includes scriptwriting for film and television shows. These writers need great storytelling skills that resonate with the viewers.
Scriptwriters earn about 2-5 lacs in the beginning stages of their career and can reach up to more than 10 lacs once they build a good reputation, which takes some years.
Another form of writing is copywriting is a high-paying job once the copywriter has made his/her mark in the industry. The starting salary of a copywriter is about 3-4 lacs per annum and senior copywriters can earn up to 7-8 lacs a year or even more.
But copywriting is different from content writing. The pay is not based on per word or per article basis when you are working in an ad agency. Besides, copywriters work with brands as opposed to the content writer working for websites that may or may not be owned by a brand.
Another breed of writers that earn a good income is translators. Indians fare better in this domain because many of us are bilingual. Translators can earn between Re.1 to Rs.4 per word based on their expertise. They are in high demand in India as the Hindi market has grown tremendously in recent years.
Translators are in demand for translating literature, non-fiction, screenplays, dubbing movies, TV shows, subtitles for movies and TV shows, and so on.
As we can see, content writing salary is highly subjective questions and the answers depend upon a lot of factors.
Content writing has turned into a vast profession, especially after the popularity of web 2.0. First, it was the blogs, but now all brands want to have their own content over the web. Blogs have become central to the organic growth strategy for most companies.
With so much content being created at all times, there is a huge demand for all types of content writers. This makes content writing a sustainable career for a long time.