Natasha Vargas-Cooper (The Atlantic, The Hairpin) talks freelance writing and wages:
There are entire months when I don’t get paid. Realistically I probably only get paid five times a year. I’ll get a large sum of money and I’ve been lucky enough live on that before it gets down to zero I’ll get paid again. The goal is to get big ticket pieces so I can spend my time on those, and don’t have to cobble together smaller pieces and listicles and slideshows, which I’m not very good at anyway. I am not a blogger, I can’t hack it as one, I’m slow. I had two weeks at Gawker that made me want to put a gun in my mouth.
I’m pitching five editors from five publications constantly. I have relationships with them. I’m not sending blind queries. There are two ways the magazines pay. One is a negotiated fee-per-word, and one is a lump sum payment per piece. And I have a good rate. Very early when I started writing I got a book deal and my first longform piece was for The Atlantic, and through those I was able to establish myself early on.