Why Creative Freelancers Earn More In New York & Austin

Creative Freelancers Income

If you’re a creative freelancer, there are good odds that you might make more money than your full-time employed counterparts. And not only that, but you might make a lot more money if you live in New York, San Francisco, Austin, or Seattle.

A new study by FreshBooks, which makes accounting software for freelancers, says those cities offer the highest average income for self-employed creative professionals. Freelancers in Chicago and Los Angeles make substantially less. The study also takes cost of living into account.

Who Are Creative Freelancers?

Freshbooks’ study defines creative freelancers as people working in fields like graphic design, illustration, interior design, decoration, marketing, photography, videography, web design, writing, and industry.

The company crunched data from their customers to determine the results.

Where Do Creative Freelancers Make The Most?

On average, annual income for self-employed creative professionals is the lowest in Chicago of the seven cities they analyzed, at $37,200 a year. By contract, self-employed creative professionals make the most in New York City–$75,600 yearly on average.

FreshBooks’ study focused on the six American cities where their data indicates most creative professionals are based–Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Austin offers the best bang-for-buck in terms of income vs. cost of living expense for creative freelancers (Cost of living is $29,000 a year and average income is $54,000), and New York offers the most take-home money (Cost of living is $43,500 a year and average income is $75,600).

As might be expected due to the sky-high cost of living, creative freelancers in San Francisco take home the least amount of money. In San Francisco, the cost of living is almost the same as New York–$43,600 yearly–but average income is only $60,400.

How Much Money Do Creative Freelancers Make Compared To Other Kinds Of Freelancers?

Creative freelancers make relatively less than many other kinds of freelancers and self-employed workers. They make more than self-employed workers in construction and the trades, who make an average of $45/hour, according to FreshBooks data, but they make less than self-employed accountants, consultants/managers, IT professionals, and lawyers/legal professionals.

According to FreshBooks’ data, the lowest-earning 5% of creative professionals make $20 an hour or less, while the top-earning 5% make $145 an hour or more.

But Those Pesky Business Costs…

Although FreshBooks’ data shows that self-employed creative freelancers make more money than their full-time employed counterparts, there’s something important to keep in mind.

Freelancers have to pay for most of their business expenses out of pocket. Full-time employees usually don’t have to whip out a credit card to pay for health insurance, an office space each month, or for buying paper for the printer, a phone to make phone calls with, or even having a computer to do their work on. But freelancers have to pay out of pocket for all of those.

These business costs can dig into your income, and reduce the amount of money you take home as a creative professional. Check out Almost Millions’ tips on reducing unnecessary costs, reducing streaming television costs, and more.