The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, based on thorough research, that the median yearly salary for all writers and authors was $67,120 in 2020. Web content writers make a slightly lower average salary. According to PayScale, US-based content writers earn an average base salary of $42,729, while ZipRecruiter places this number at $49,043. However, as the demand for web content writing increases while opportunities in print media are becoming rarer, this could be set to change in the future.
Your own earning potential depends, however, on your skills, your experience, and your qualifications. Are you exploring the possibility of becoming a full-time web content writer, or are you already engaged in web content writing and you want to learn how your earnings compare to the average? In this guide, we will explore what a web content writer does, what skills and qualifications these writers need, and how to get started in the industry. We will then take an in-depth look at the annual salary a web content writer can reasonably expect to earn.
- 1 Average Salary for Web Content Writers
- 2 Top Paying States
- 3 Qualifications to Be a Web Content Writer
- 4 Skills Needed to Be a Web Content Writer
- 5 Can You Be a Web Content Writer Without a Degree?
- 6 What Exactly Does a Web Content Writer Do?
- 7 How to Become a Web Content Writer?
- 8 Job Outlook for Web Content Writers
Average Salary for Web Content Writers
Available data suggests that the average annual salary for qualified web content writers in the United States falls somewhere around $40,000:
- Glassdoor reports that web content writers make an average of $48,858 per year.
- PayScale estimate that the average annual earnings of a web content writer are $42,729 annually.
- Salary.com instead offers a range — $35,782 to $43,732.
What salary range can you expect, then? That depends on your experience and qualifications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those writers and authors who fall into the 10 percent of lowest-earning workers make less than $35,880, while the top 10 percent could earn over $133,460 per annum. Data from Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com suggest a similar trend for web content writers, with Indeed estimating that the average hourly earnings are $18.31. That is over double the federal minimum wage in 2021.
Salary based on Years of Experience
Entry-level web content writers with less than one year of experience make an average of $38,544 a year, PayScale reports. After examining the true earnings of web content writers, they expect that to rise to $45,111 once a writer has gained one to four years of experience. After being in the field for five to nine years, most web content writers can earn annual salaries — or earnings, if they are freelance — of around $55,457.
Salary based on Education
Web content writing jobs that require no special experience, technical skills, or expertise, will fall into the lower percentile of earnings. Even those with only a high school diploma may be able to find content writing work. However, a Bachelor’s degree will greatly broaden your opportunities. At the PhD level, web content writers may be able to find technical and academic writing opportunities. They will, however, be overqualified for most web content writing jobs. Despite that, they are more likely to find themselves among the top 10 percent.
Top Paying States
Indeed reports, based on data they received from voluntary participants, that the highest-paying web content writing jobs can be found in:
- New York
ZipRecruiter offers significant overlap, saying that California, Oklahoma, and Washington State have some of the highest-paying web content writing opportunities.
The beauty of web content writing, on the other hands, lies in the fact that a significant number of these jobs are both remote — allowing you to work from home, no matter where you live — and freelance.
Qualifications to Be a Web Content Writer
The qualifications you need to be a web content writer largely depend on the type of content writing you aspire to engage in, as well as the requirements of clients or prospective employers. A broad range of professional degrees can help aspiring web content writers find the work they would like to do.
A Bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism, English literature, or marketing will certainly broaden your job prospects as a web content writer. However, providing that you have solid writing skills, unrelated degrees — in, for example, veterinary medicine, psychology, or architecture — can set you up to be a skilled web content writer in your niche.
Skills Needed to Be a Web Content Writer
Web content writers need to be versatile. Excellent writing and research skills are clearly a must, and in addition, web content writers should excel at editing, fact-checking, and proofreading their own work — as they will often find themselves unable to rely on the same strong team of editors, sub-editors, and proofreaders they would in print publishing.
In addition, however, web content writers — and particularly freelance web content writers — deeply benefit from:
- Exceptional interpersonal skills
- Knowledge of the latest desktop and web-based publishing platforms
- Outstanding business and marketing skills
- Proficiency in common citation styles, such as APA and MLA
- A deep understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Excellent time management skills, as web content writers frequently work remotely
Depending on the niche in which you work, you will also require a strong industry background.
Can You Be a Web Content Writer Without a Degree?
It is certainly possible to become a successful content writer without a degree. This is particularly true for those who possess excellent writing skills alongside other marketable skills. Certified personal trainers may, for instance, be able to find long-term jobs as fitness writers, while real estate agents contribute valuable industry knowledge to websites covering the property market.
What Exactly Does a Web Content Writer Do?
Should you head for your favorite search engine and try to look up definitions of “web content writer”, you will inevitably get a different answer from each URL you decide to click on. The reason behind this fact is simple; while all web content writers produce texts destined for the online market, typically to client or employer specifications, the occupation is, beyond this single commonality, extremely varied.
An entry level content writer may be tasked with rewriting the same core marketing message many times, to be published on different websites — a task that requires the writer to have a passion for words, excellent code switching skills that allow them to convey the company’s voice, and a high tolerance for repetition. Little to no research is required for this type of writing.
A content writer may also be a credible authority in a particular field, which may range from information technology to SEO (search engine optimization), and from engineering to law, and be hired for content writing jobs that draw on this skill set. Journalists, English and literature teachers, and aspiring authors may find themselves at home in the field of web content writing, whether as a path toward additional income or to gain experience that will help them realize their long-term ambitions.
More advanced types of content writing can require writers to conduct in-depth research and interviews, as well as to create long-form writing. Many web content writers are freelancers. Others are employed in businesses or by non-profit organizations.
Those aspiring web content writers who wonder where they should focus their skill-building efforts should keep in mind that web content writing can be divided into at least 7 distinct categories:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) content writing, which focuses on improving the ranking particular websites have with search engines — Google clearly being the leader. This type of web content writing requires workers to follow the latest technical trends and perform keyword research to optimize their writing.
- Technical writing, which requires the content writer to be an expert in the niche they write in, whether that be engineering, hardware, or any other area of expertise.
- Marketing. Copywriters must be skilled at market research, social engineering, and possess strong interpersonal skills that allow them to connect with any given audience.
- Article writing and blogging, allowing web content writers to tackle a wide variety of topics.
- Review writing, which can include book, movie, and product reviews.
- Academic writing, which requires at least a Bachelor’s degree.
- Journalistic writing could also fall under web content writing, with the difference that the writing is exclusively aimed at online audiences.
How to Become a Web Content Writer?
After completing a relevant degree, aspiring content writers can begin looking for opportunities and building their portfolios. The path a content writer should take depends on their ambitions, as well as whether they would prefer to be freelancers or employees. You could apply for one of the many content writing jobs offered through sites like Indeed, research opportunities at the companies you want to work at, or get started with the help of platforms such as UpWork or ProBlogger.
Job Outlook for Web Content Writers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for writers and authors across the United States is projected to grow by nine percent between 2020 and 2030. This amounts to approximately the same average growth seen in the total job market in general. The BLS expects that 15,400 new jobs will open up for writers and authors annually.
At the same time, the BLS makes it clear that, while jobs in the print media industry are fast disappearing, more growth is expected in the online publishing industry. This means more opportunities for aspiring web content writers.