‘Sex and the City’: Carrie Bradshaw’s Freelance Rate Was Totally Unrealistic
It’s more or less agreed upon; Carrie Bradshaw’s lifestyle was fabulous but completely unrealistic. Someone like Carrie, working as a writer, would be hardpressed to afford her shoe collection and her rent at the same time. To make the series realistic financially, Carrie would have had to seriously cut down on her shoe habit and spend a lot more nights at home. No viewer, however, wants to see the financial realities of living in New York City. To try to make the numbers make a bit more sense, writers gave Carrie a freelance gig in season 4. Crafting content for Vogue, Carrie boasted that she was getting paid $4.00 per word. That’s a pretty healthy rate, and, according to several sources, highly unlikely.
Carrie Bradshaw claimed Vogue was paying her $4.00 per word
Following her breakup with Aidan Shaw, Carrie was confronted with more than just her romantic failure. Carrie had to face her financial shortcomings, too. After decades in New York City, a successful column, and a rent-controlled apartment, she had less than $2,000 to her name. To rectify her financial woes, Carrie took on a freelance role at Vogue, the publication she spoke about purchasing instead of food when she first arrived in the city.
Carrie insisted that the publication offered her $4.00 per word. She told Charlotte York that the rate was exceptionally high and that most people were offered $2.00 per word. The implication was simple; Carrie’s famed column fetched her a high per word rate. Carrie was right about the average rate, but the writers were way off on what Carrie would have fetched as a writer.
How much does a publication like Vogue pay freelance writers?
The market for freelance writers is much different today than it was back when Carrie landed her gig at Vogue. In the years since Sex and the City went off the air, the world of online content has exploded. Writers who work strictly in the online realm experience a significant swing in wages. Digital publications may pay as little as $.10 per word up to about $1.00 per word. Technical pieces, for example, may command a higher pay rate.
Even though the world has changed significantly, print publications still tend to offer freelance writers a higher per-word rate than digital publications. Diana Kelly Levey, a digital strategist and freelance writer, surveyed a group of writers and found that publications like GQ and Wired tend to pay the highest per-word rate. They generally offer writers anywhere from $2 per word up to $2.75 per word.
Well-known writers may command a higher per-word rate, but Carrie landed her Vogue assignment way back in 2001. Funnily enough, Forge points out, that writing was more lucrative decades before Carrie Bradshaw placed a foot into a Manolo. By the time Carrie showed up, the freelance market had stagnated at a rate of about $2 per word, which could occasionally be stretched to $3 per word for well-known wordsmiths. Carrie, whose career up until that point was a column in a New York City weekly, likely wouldn’t have commanded more than $2 per word in 2001. Today, she’d likely command more, but only because of her lucrative book deal. Even still, $4 per word would be a bit of a stretch.
Sex and the City’s financials were off in other ways, too
Carrie’s pay rate at Vogue wasn’t the only financial misstep from the series. The show failed to consider just how much money Carrie spent on taxis and dining out. Simply put, she couldn’t have afforded her taxi and cosmo habits, even if she had made $4 per word at Vogue and command a top rate from her column. Carrie took taxis everywhere in Manhattan. She didn’t even know how much it would cost to ride the bus, and she was never pictured taking a subway. A single taxi ride would have set her back at least $5. Based on her cab habit, Carrie would have plunked down hundreds of dollars every month, something even high earning New Yorkers can’t swing.
Vulture also noted that the show’s writers decided to quickly drop Carrie’s financial troubles from storylines after season 4. They never bother to discuss how Carrie paid Charlotte back, or how she managed to pay a mortgage and maintenance fees without trouble. Carrie’s mortgage would have been higher than the monthly rent she often struggled to cover, but somehow, she maintains her fabulous lifestyle without much concern for finances.