Ideally, you decide your rate. Realistically, it’s a negotiation. Most of us start as pricetakers. If we’re lucky, we end up naming our price. We should all strive to reach that point.
So what’s your rate?
One way to decide is to work backward. Pick a gross yearly income target. Say €36K, more or less the average industrial wage. Research shows freelancers work about 180 days a year. Target divided by workdays yields €200/day.
But maybe the landlord doubled the rent, or the car broke down. Maybe you expect to work fewer that 180 days. Maybe you need to charge €300. Or €500.
Don’t quote half-days. You’re unlikely to get a second gig same day, that one job is all you have to meet your target. If you do get a second gig, Bonus! There will be enough days when you are idle.
Some publishers will balk, and you’ll need to make a judgment call. Is a particular byline worth it? Is there a chance of future work?
Need an absolute floor? Minimum wage is €10.20/hour, €81.60 for an eight-hour day. But minimum wage costs more than this, because of additional costs like employer PRSI and holiday pay. You’re worth more. Ask for more. Ideally a lot more.
Very interesting working back from €36,000. I would love to find an employer/editor/client to pay me €500 a day. Also if freelances work 180 days a year on average do they sling burgers or child mind the remaining 60 or 70 days in a working year?
Keep in mind I’m not saying you should work back from that particular number. It’s more a number used to illustrate the concept, and the principle that we should at least endeavour to be price-setters, not price takers. As to what journalists do with the rest of their time, my suspicion is many of us end up earning far less than the average industrial wage, and possibly less tan we would working full time on the minimum wage. That said, people I know work in everything from teaching to market research and occasional census takers. Some of us have even been known to dabble in the dark arts of PR.
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