Posts Tagged ‘rates’

Freelance Q&A: Why won’t anyone talk specifics about rates?

As a new freelancer, it can be frustrating to not get a straight answer about how much you can make annually or what a “good” price per word is. But the reality is that so much depends on the situation – the media organization’s budget, your experience, complexity of the story, your relationship with the editor, etc. – that you can’t nail down a range. It’s truly a moving target. One of my first, and favorite publications, paid me $0.07 per word. When their revenue dropped, it was reduced to $0.06/word, but I loved the work and my editor so I stuck it out. I wouldn’t write for that amount now, however, but that’s really a personal business decision.

You will also find that, on message boards and list servs, members are discouraged, sometimes even prohibited, from discussing rates. I think there is a fear that there will be price fixing or increased competition. Those fears are debatable, but freelance etiquette tells us not to discuss rates in such forums. If you are meeting fellow freelancers for lunch and want to talk shop, feel free. Most of us do it, but don’t do it in an online forum. You’re likely to get booted from the group.


Dana E. Neuts is a full-time freelance writer and editor and is the publisher of and An avid SPJ volunteer, she is the regional director for SPJ’s region 10, serves on the membership committee, and is the chair for the freelance committee. She is also a candidate for the office of national SPJ Secretary/Treasurer. Followe her on Twitter (@SPJDana, @SPJFreelance, @VirtuallyYourz).



Bruce Shutan’s Six Web Sites Worth Checking Out

I’ve often heard that if you come away from a conference with just one great idea, then the travel expense was well worth it. I can say with confidence that the old axiom applied to SPJ’s latest annual shindig in Las Vegas, where I had the privilege of co-presenting with the Freelance Writing Committee’s new chairwoman, Dana Neuts and Holly Fisher, who’s also a member of the committee. I learned some new things from some of the workshops I attended, including my own, and decided to share hypertext links and brief descriptions of half a dozen Web sites that I think should be on all of our proverbial radars:

1.    Editorial Freelancers Association – Ever wonder what to charge for writing or editing? This group has prepared a handy table with some suggested pricing. Examples include $1 to $2 a word or $50 to $100 an hour for writing, $40 to $65 an hour for substantive copyediting, $25 to $50 an hour for researching and $3 to $5 a page for transcribing interviews from audio files.
2.    WritersWeekly – This popular destination has been described as a free weekly marketing “e-mag for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings,” as well as the world’s “highest-circulation freelance writing ezine.”
3.    Freelance Success – The Web site bills itself as “an engaging community of independent professional writers and editors based in all 50 states and about 15 foreign countries,” with more than 80% of whom writing for newsstand magazines. Also featured is a forum that enables scribes to post questions and get advice from fellow freelancers.
4.    Custom Content Council – This group, a handy resource for trade publications that target a highly specific audience, promotes itself as a “leading association for the custom publishing industry in the United States,” as well as an “authoritative source of industry news, data and trends, information on the effectiveness of custom publishing, and referrals to the top custom publishers in North America.”
5.    American Society of Business Publication Editors – This group describes itself as “the professional association for full-time and freelance editors and writers employed in the business, trade and specialty press.”
6.    Association Media & Publishing – For every industry, there’s usually a trade association and publication to examine hot topics within that market space. This is the destination for finding those outlets. Formerly known as the Society of National Association Publications, the group “serves the needs of association publishers, communications professionals and the media they create,” including magazines, blogs and wikis.

Bruce Shutan is a Los Angeles freelance writer who has written for about 75 publications or corporate entities. His extensive reporting on the American workplace dates back to 1985, with a showbiz sideline developed in 2000 when he began contributing to Variety, a must-read for entertainment industry insiders for more than a century. He can be reached at


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