Have you been considering freelance writing? If so, you need to figure out how much your time is worth. While you won’t have much control when it comes to be paid by editors of magazines and newspapers–essentially, they generally tell you what they’ll pay you–you still need to know if what they’re paying is enough for the time you put in on a project.
Many writers make the mistake of putting in the same amount of work on each article or short story they write and then get paid a different amount for each piece. When I first started writing, another writer told me that he put in the same amount of work for whatever he wrote. But unlike products produced by other businesses, no one piece of writing brings in the same amount from different publications. You may get paid $300 from one publication and $50 from another for exactly the same piece.
To judge whether you’re getting enough for the time you need to add up all of your monthly expenses–mortgage or rent, car payment, credit cards, etc.–and don’t forget to add in groceries, gasoline, heating fuel. Figure out how many hours you work a week on your writing, then divide the total by the number of hours. The result will be the hourly amount you’ll need to get for your writing.
While you probably won’t ever get that amount, at least you’ll be able to judge if what you’re getting paid is enough for the time you put into your work.