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Notes on negotiating rates for
Online/digital media / Editing and production

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for editing and production of online and digital media. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations.

  • Rates for copyright work - such as original graphics, page designs and copy created as part of the design - are for limited licences. Each extra use licensed - for example use on another website - attracts an extra fee.
  • The rates are suggested as minima from which freelances will negotiate upward according to their experience and specialist knowledge and the value of the work.
  • Both parties must be aware that what initially sounds like a sub-editing job can very easily grow into a digital media design job or an "information architecture" job, to which the market attaches higher and much higher rates respectively.
  • All-in prices can be very dangerous for the freelance, who should agree them only if there is a clear description of the work and a contingency price for further work beyond it.
  • It is vitally important when making - or amending - a contract to be clear and precise what is expected. For example:
    1. Does the client want multiple draft designs to choose among?
    2. Will there be meetings to discuss these, or to discuss progress - and will they involve travel?
    3. Is the client or the freelance responsible for chasing up copy and images and for acquiring licences to use them?
    4. Is the freelance in fact responsible for creating copy? Or graphics?
    5. What is the acceptance procedure? Is there an external tester of usability, access for people with disabilities and standards compliance? Who is responsible for engaging and paying them?
  • Clients frequently start off wanting one thing but end up wanting something else entirely once they have seen and clicked on some of the possibilities. Where a client is still exploring the possibilities, a day or hourly rate (with a non-binding estimate of the total time required) is a much fairer means of payment.
  • The rates for shifts do not include paid time off.
  • Freelances who are registered for VAT will add it to every invoice.
  • Web-hosting, domain name registration charges, and particularly charges for volume of "traffic" should be borne directly by the client. Any freelance tempted to make an all-in offer is entitled to add a mark-up for administration of these and to put a cap on "traffic" - the number of gigabytes of data that the site serves to users.
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

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.