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The pay

Where web writers and editors come from

Who knows? We fell into this line of work.

For several years, we had written a 3,000-word "At Home" section for Family PC magazine. Budget cutbacks, exiting editors, and a new owner brought our work there to an end.

Looking for another gig, we decided to check out the Web. We sold some articles to a new site, named Thunderbeam (because no one else had chosen that as a domain name, the boss told us).

A few months later, the editor quit and we were hired as her replacement for the grand sum of $700 a month. OK, the work was easy (a few articles, a little editing). We learned how to code a little HTML, how to edit images, and how to cut.

We went from writing 3,000-word articles to compressing a lot into 500 words. We discovered bullets, chunks, and links.

The site morphed into new designs, new names, new identities several times, and eventually became KBkids.com, then took on the mantle of eToys.

In a few years, just by doing it, we became Web writing and editing experts. We left the site, took on a bunch of Web clients, wrote a book about online shopping and another about digital imaging, and started appearing on TV, radio, and online chats as Web mavens.

Sound like something you'd like to do?

Resources

Advice on web writing and editing

Finding a job as a web writer or editor

Become a pro (PDF, 998K, or about 18 minutes at 56K)

 

The pay

The pay range for Web writing or editing is as wide as the world itself. The physical location of the job matters: Silicon Valley still pays the most, with the Boston and New York areas coming in second. In Europe and Japan, the pay is like that of technical writers.

And pay depends on skills. You may be able to be a content editor for a site if you have a BA, the "strong attention to detail" that most sites ask for, and a rudimentary knowledge of HTML. That combination of skills will get you about $35,000 a year outside of the prime areas.

On the other hand, at another site, a content editor may have show up knowing DreamWeaver, Java, Excel, and XML with at least 5 years experience in the field. If you have qualifications like that, you can expect to find a job in the $65,000 to $100,000 range, depending on the location and size of the company.

Content providers, aka "writers," get a little less. If you are looking for your first job out of school, you can expect to make about $25,000 in an average locale.

As your experience and knowledge grows, you can make up to $75,000, for a top-notch company.

You'll get even more if you are a subject matter expert (called an SME). For example, if you were once a nurse, a medical site would be thrilled to get you and pay you extra because you have both kinds of expertise--medicine and writing.

 

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The Communication Circle
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