Carry on, up your rate!
USE THE NUJ's online resources to negotiate a better rate with your clients. That was the subject of Freelance editor Mike Holderness' demonstration at November's London Freelance Branch meeting.
Mike explained the important difference between LFB's Rate for the Job pages (RftJ) and the NUJ's Freelance Fees Guide (FFG). The latter is a guide to suggested rates that the Union feels clients should be paying. This is backed by the evidence of RftJ - the "historical survey" of what members are actually getting paid.
Mike took us through the online Submit-A-Rate form, which allows freelances to send in their rates for the job electronically. We'd prefer you to submit rates in this way, rather than filing them in on the paper-based list circulated at LFB meetings. As people write less and less by hand, everybody's handwriting gets more appalling. This means we have to discard about half the rates submitted via the form circulated at meetings, as we simply can't read what people have written.
The Freelance Fees Guide has recently updated many of its sections, including magazines, broadcasting, magazine photography, videography and getting your money.
Both RftJ and FFG are meant to serve as tools to help you negotiate with clients. FFG has a section on "what freelances need to charge and why". The Freelance's own assistant editor once managed to double a commissioning editor's initial offer by emailing him a link to the RftJ pages to show him how comparatively rubbish his proposed rate was.
With the FFG and RftJ listings as his guide, Phil Sutcliffe, tutor on NUJ Training's Pitch and Deal course, led a practical interactive session on how to use all this stuff. Was anybody in the audience thinking of working for a new client, he asked? One member was considering a first time pitch to the UK edition of Wired. We couldn't find any reported rates for UK Wired on RftJ (please send one in if you've worked for them), but there are rates for the US version of Wired, and for other titles from the same publishers, which suggest that £400 per thousand words is a rate to have in mind when you're negotiating with them.
To help you find out who owns which publication, LFB's website also has The media owners database. For tips on how to navigate the 4000+ pages of information and advice for freelances on the LFB website, there's a Frequently Asked Questions section.