Journalists Should Not Work for Free – So Tell Me What They are Paying
One of the most depressing things about the present climate is the number of talented journalists who agree to allow mainstream media to publish their work for no payment.
“But I quite enjoy it,” said one such to me the other day. Well, yes you are allowed to enjoy your work. But letting employers and publishers think they can get quality work for nothing merely speeds the decline of the profession, and undercuts your colleagues.
So it was with interest that I read this post by Silicon Valley blogger and media executive Alan Mutter, whose argument I entirely agree with. Mutter goes one step further and provides a spreadsheet for working out what to charge for a 600 word freelance journalism piece .
The figures are relevant to the US, of course. Depressingly, they come out with a wordage rate of just US $0.35c a word – which even allowing for the exchange rate is low by Australian standards.
Or is it?
I think it would be useful to find out what different freelancers are getting paid by our mainstream publications. Here’s what I know:
Fairfax broadsheets start by offering .60c to.70c a word these days, but can be pushed higher if they want you badly enough. Section editors are adept at getting around the bean counters’ rules.
The Monthly still offers its $1 a word, which was princely when that magazine started, and still handsome.
I hear the RACV magazine pays well for both words and photos.
We’re happy to see the 2010 Approved minimums for freelance and casual writers, broadcasters, photographers and artists released by MEAA (Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance) recently. (These minimums are exclusive of GST and are effective 1st January 2010.)
At christopher copywriter we often don’t even bother charging these regulated specified industry pay rates for freelancers. This might put the Alliance on edge but the reality is almost everybody is trying to cut corners. But as the old wise saying goes… If you pay people peanuts… You get monkey’s. This makes a whole load of sense. There’s so many things that come together to make a successful PR campaign – more than most clients wish to hear about – and it all takes time, experience, expertise, self-awareness, contacts – amongst a few other things. Yet unfortunately, I’ve seen it far too many times before – the company fear of price consciousness before other essential considerations. Considerations which actually make these same clients profits.
Read it again – PR makes your company profit. And again – marketing communications makes your product grow. It’s not all about you and you don’t know everything – soo give us a bit of trust and understanding – that’s why we’re hired. Companies rarely understand the media and how it works and what it can achieve. This is a massive drawback. It’s short coming, I try to solve daily.
Sometimes there’s a difficult X-factor skill involved with keeping the clients impression and appreciation of the value of our work reasonably high – we could call it “the trust and understanding factor.” Sometimes a particular clients expectations and understanding of a job, determine the monetary value of what we do more than it should. Like any industry – there IS industry standard rates. Do you negotiate with the plumber’s or sparkies fee? Their job s finished in a couple of hours most of the time – ours can go on for months – a strong PR campaign is a very serious commitment to company growth and branding. It’s a little bit crazy because our work makes you money.. We’re not a cost.. We’re completely and utterly an investment which will help you grow!
Marketing communications isn’t a term which many businesses even understand, let alone know for sure the genuine real price of. Our marketing communications services performed for our clients, return far greater than cost to their company – in serious profits, brand reinforcement, moral, happiness, upkeep of sales, growth and positioning – and it should be rewarded to us accordingly – shouldn’t it? Of course it should. I assure you in reality, our work and life is better and easier when we’re actually paid well for what we contribute. And then we get to make you greater profits.. See how it works?!
We always aim to do excellent work and exceed our clients expectations!
Online internet based article writing is an invaluable second level search engine optimisation and publicity tool. It can reach in scope from a weekly article, to a monthly e-dm (electronic direct mail out) or even daily blog entries. The results are obviously commiserate to the effort given. And your profits flow on from there!!
Obviously, when client comes on board for a long-term relationship – for a PR campaign – they understand and wish to see some substantial results. We’re happy to reduce our rates accordingly for the ongoing relationship and continual work. We can also do far more to help a company in these situations. The long-term relationship helping us create and implement marketing communications strategy. If you’re not marketing or you stop marketing, you’re not selling. You know that – so don’t feat it!
Currently, we price web based article writing slightly lower than print published journalism even though it can potentially receive much more focused attention! This depends on the story itself, its positioning, timing, relevance and how well we craft it.
As standard practice, freelance business copywriting of promotional material in print and web mediums – is surprisingly (too some), slightly lower than print journalism features or publicity mentions rates – because positive pr and publicity can achieve a far greater impact! We’re expanding by completing more work at a slightly cut price – without any skimping on quality or performance.
Ghostwriting, on the other hand is best priced for us by taking a percentage of the final profits and a smaller retainer upfront – like a business partnership. This is only because of the number of starry-eyed would be authors around the world who want to publish a novel but don’t quite appreciate the hours, quality of thinking, creativity, research and raw writing skills that go into it.
As a partnership, the incentive is on us to create a wonderful work that sits within the current market climate and can sell recouping any of our clients costs for our services in any case for every job.
Obviously ghostwritten novels or novellas requires a considerable amount of work – including research – drafts and a full immersion into the subject. This somewhat depends on our clients desired out-comes and changes roughly on a job by job basis.
We can offer a set rate if the book just needs writing with little concern for its outcomes. christopher copywriter has had plenty of offers to write clients books at some extremely ridiculous and unfeasible rates – and interestingly enough – particularly from the property development sector – seemingly always existing with an eye to make a quick big buck out of someone. We couldn’t even live on some of the payment rates offered. I wonder why they waste our time – they’re never written a good chapter in their life – let alone published one.
It’s not enough to think there is a flood of writers on the market. There isn’t a flood of top quality writers on the market and definitely not with the depth of experience, attention to detail, creativity, interest and good gut hunches and care that we meet.
Too many people with only an arts degree, think they can write these days, yet the reality of the quality research, thinking, creativity and basic prose sentence structure is unfit to sell a company or let alone captivate a reader for an entire novel. Copywriting isn’t merely writing to a B.A. level or even a Masters level for that matter; there is piles of masters thesis’s archived in some closet somewhere never to be read again by anybody. Marketing and advertising communications requires knowledge way beyond – that which an average business owner holds.
How can we say we work in the media marketing communications field, for example, without knowing about David Ogilvy and Lester Wunderman and Claude Hopkins? Or Kaushik and Shirky for that matter?
We can’t! These guys invented and perfected the art of sales though years and years of solid dedication. There’s much more to know about sales too – don’t you worry about that!
Obviously ghostwritten novels or novellas require a considerable amount of work – including research – drafts, and a full immersion into the subject matter. This somewhat depends on our clients desired out-comes and changes roughly on a job by job basis. Job specifics are very important when one is going to spend perhaps as much as six months to a year interviewing and writing a book.
Have a read and please take a special note and respect the industry standard pay rates for the work you need. We’re happy to cut different rates for the different article writing, copywriting, ghostwriting and publicity jobs we perform in our clients best interests – but we would rather recognise and adhere to the 2010 Australian National Industry Minimum Freelance Rates – this would be a wonderful world for everybody!