As freelance journalists, we have to know our worth, set our fees, and demand fair payment every single time we accept a new assignment or get a pitch picked up by a publication. I almost always negotiate rates. Editors aren’t directed to offer the highest sum from the get-go. It’s up to writers to push for additional payment.
I rarely provide my fee upfront. Always ask publications what their budget is so you don’t low-ball yourself by revealing a fee lower than they had anticipated. Use the publication’s proposed fee as a launching point to negotiate.
We have to know our worth, set our fees, and demand fair payment every single time.
Know your minimum acceptable rate and ask for more in case the editor doesn’t accept your counteroffer, so that you’ll be satisfied with a medium sum between the initial fee offered and your proposed fee. It’s best to ask for 10 percent more than what you’d like to earn. This way you’ll be comfortable if the editor responds to your negotiation proposal with an amount that's less than what you’ve requested.
Even seasoned journalists get intimated negotiating rates. When I’m overwhelmed about rate negotiating, I remind myself that the Latina pay gap means I earn 55 cents for every dollar earned by white non-Latinx men. All women are affected by the gender pay gap. When you’re calculating your ideal rate for an article take into consideration the amount of research, writing, interviews, etc that the piece will require.
Craving more business?
Easily build proposals with the content you need, add your branding, and get approval with the click of a button. Start for free.
You don’t need to offer a lengthy explanation about why you should receive a higher rate. You set your fee and if a publication wants to work with you; they have to meet your rate. Your fee isn't pay-as-you-wish.
Take into consideration the amount of research, writing, interviews, etc that the piece will require.
Figuring out the language to use when negotiating a rate can be intimidating. Most correspondence with editors is quite casual and concise while being professional and polite. Match the tone and use assertive yet effective phrases in your counteroffer. Though this is probably something you've spent hours or days worrying and thinking about, at the end of the day all it takes is a fairly simple email. I've created a template you can use to make it even easier.
Thank you so much for your interest in this pitch. I’d love to work with you on this article.
I was wondering if you have any wiggle room in your budget as [amount offered] is below my fee. My rate for this type of project is [TK cents per word].
Let me know if that suits your budget.
See? It's simple and painless. It doesn't require lots of explanation or reasonings. Know your worth and demand fair payment every time!