Whether freelances are writing original copy for the web or for DVDs, creating websites, or licensing a publisher to re-use work digitally, it is essential that they put a realistic value on their work. For contributed "content" (sorry), rates vary very widely. For design and production work, norms from the world of computer programming are different - and very often significantly better - than those for magazine and newspaper production.
This section covers words for websites, website design and management only. See also the Photography / online and Illustrations and cartoons sections of this guide. The Society of Authors' Quick Guide to Electronic Publishing Contracts covers the electronic aspects of book publishing.
Rates for editing and production of websites and other digital media vary enormously. Simple sub-editing on a stable production system may pay little more than magazine sub-editing, even though more technical knowledge is required and mathematically rigid style constraints may be essential to the production working at all. In the middle, design work that involves the use of authoring and styling languages (HTML and CSS at a minimum, increasingly often XML and Flash scripting and so forth) can pay in the scale of computer programming work rather than sub-editing. On the far other hand, some jobs are in effect business consultancy - what the client needs to know is how a website can change the way they make their living.
There is no standard practice: neither for new material commissioned for the web and other digital media nor for re-use of work first published on paper. This is a feature of a still-new industry; and also of clients trying it on to see what they can get away with. Rates and terms also vary depending on whether the client originated in book or magazine or newspaper publishing, public relations, or as a new media start-up.
The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.
Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.