How Much Does It Cost to Start a Freelance Writing Business in 2014? Here’s What I Spend

One of the reasons freelance writing appeals to so many as a home-based business is that the start-up – and ongoing – operational costs are so minimal. As you’ll see from my expenses detailed below, you can start a thriving freelance business with very little – to no – money if you already have an internet connection and a computer / laptop (which most do).

With this being said, following is what my monthly carrying costs are for my entire online business (writing and self-publishing my ebooks, affiliate marketing, freelance writing for clients, and affiliate/internet marketing).

Freelance Writing Monthly Business Expenses

Note: A lot of these expenses you won’t have when you first start out, so your costs will be much less.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Freelance Writing BusinessNewsletter Distribution: I use AWeber to manage newsletter subscribers, which is about $30 per month.

They charge $10/month for up to 2,500 subscribers and $59/month every quarter, which works out to about $30/year.

Ebook Publishing: $27/month. I use e-Junkie.com.

In case you don’t know what this is, it’s a service that allows purchasers of your ebooks to receive them immediately when they order (an auto download service provider).

FYI, you can get started with e-Junkie for as little as $5 per month. The more ebooks you add, the more you’re charged. For example, I have over 70 products in my e-Junkie store and the cost is only $27.

Web Hosting: I pay approximately $20/month in web hosting fees. I use HostGator as my main provider. I use BlueHost as my secondar provider (although I don’t like and don’t recommend them.

Learn why I switched a lot of my website’s hosting from BlueHost to HostGator at my e-Junkie store.

Domain Name Registration: Approximately roughly $120/year (or $10 month) for domain name registration fees (I have about a dozen website names registered). I use NameCheap for this mostly. A few I have registered with HostGator and Bluehost.

Ebook Cover Creation Software: $9.95/month. I create most of my ebook covers myself and use MyEcoverMaker.com. As I get more into fiction writing though, I’ll be using cover artists as these require a lot more skill than I have.

Internet Service: $50/month.

Cell Phone: $30 per month. I use my personal cell phone for business. FYI, I rarely speak with clients by phone – most of my communication is by email.

File Backup: $60/year ($12/month). I use Carbonite for this.

Internet Fax Service: $6.95/month. I used to use SmartFax for this. I recently cancelled this service because I hadn’t used it for business purposes for well over a year.

Note: I loved the service while I used it, but when I went to cancel, they made it very difficult (eg, the cancellation link othe website didn’t work and when I emailed them and asked to cancel, I had to do so several times before they would stop charging my credit card (it’s a monthly billed service that’s charged to your credit card every month).

Miscellaneous: $20/month. Eg, storage disks, mouse and mouse pads, extra computer battery, buying stock images for ebooks, etc.

Costs Left Out

PayPal Fees: I left this out because it doesn’t cost me anything unless/until I make a sale/complete a project. FYI, PayPal fees run about 3% per transaction. Learn more about PayPal transaction fees here.

ClickBank: I have one ebook I sell via Clickbank. It costs $50 to set up the account initially, which I did back in 2009, I think. There are no ongoing monthly carry costs over and beyond what their fee is when you make a sale.

Amazon.com: There are no ongoing monthly carry costs over and beyond what their fee is when you sell an ebook.

BarnesandNoble.com: See Amazon explanation.

Payouts to Affiliates in My Ebook Affiliate Program: Again, I don’t pay out anything unless/until an affiliate makes a sale. Affiliates are paid 50% of the price for each ebook they sell. Learn more about our ebook affiliate program.

Total Cost to Operate My Freelance Writing Business

Approximately $210 per month.

One thing I want to point out is that if you removed the internet service (which I’d have anyway), I pay about $160 per month to operate a business that has consistently earned me four figures per month for years (and is one it’s way to a consistent five figures per month).

When I ran Inkwell Editorial as a staffing agency in New York years ago, I had to pay office rent, employee salary (I had an assistant), taxes for employees, office furniture, etc. Not to mention, I had to get up, get dressed and get to the office very day. It was darned expensive!

See why owning an internet business like freelance writing can be so lucrative? The start-up and monthly carrying costs are next to nothing when compared to a brick-and-mortar business. Rent alone was more than triple what I pay out now.

How Do Your Costs Compare?

Is there any other expense you’d add to this list? How much does it cost you to run your freelance writing business? Have you ever stopped and added it up? Please share in the comments section below.

coverP.S.: Want to start a career as a successful, home-based freelance writer?

Get the ebook that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

First let me say thanks for answering my question(s) in your previous blog posts. I am writing to let you know, that I had my first $200 day after following the steps you outline in your e-book. I sent . . . emails pitching myself as a niche writer . . . A few days later, an SEO company called me, explained the scope of the project and sent me the funds through paypal without hesitation. . . . they are a local company. They said if they like my work, they will have much more in store, and are willing to pay higher fees.

For some reason, I thought your advice would only work for you. I know, call me naive, but I guess it seemed too good to be true. Luckily, I discovered you and liked what you had to say. If it wasn’t for you, I think I would still be trying to break into magazine writing.

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    1. Mitch Russo says:

      I am all for building a writing career and I look forward to reading your book. The hardest part is finding sponsors or attracting traffic, does this book cover those issues?


      • Mitch:

        Do you mean finding freelance writing clients (as opposed to finding sponsors and attracting traffic)? These things are associated with building a blog, eg, for affiliate marketing or to sell ad space. This has nothing to do with starting a freelance writing career; so no, the ebook doesn’t cover this.

        It covers everything you need to know to start a freelance writing career, eg, getting a website, finding clients, etc.

        Good luck, and I hope this clarification helps.