Earlier this week, the editor of a well known regional (but not to my region) magazine emailed me, asking if I’d be interested in writing a hotel guide for their magazine’s website.
I didn’t have high hopes. Through my writer network and the American Society of Journalists and Authors marketplace database (where members anonymously submit info about what it’s like to work for specific publications), I knew that the magazine didn’t have a history of paying their writers well.
But I answered his email like I would any other: I asked for deadline, scope and fee up front.
The fee wasn’t clear in his first response, so I asked for a clarification. It ended up being far below what I would normally accept (less than $.10/word and payment net 90), so I declined.
I know freelancers who are scared to ask about the fee – even after they’ve accepted the assignment. That’s silly. First, you need to know what an assignment would pay before you can accept. How can you make a decision otherwise? Second, by asking about the fee and scope up front, you can save yourself and the editor time and frustration of going through all the nitty gritty details only for you to realize that they pay less than you feel the work is worth.
This about it this way: would a painter agree to do your living room before you discussed a fee? No. Be the painter. Ask for the fee up front.
By the way, less than $.10/word paid net 90 – which means I’d make peanuts and not see said peanuts for until THANKSGIVING – is deplorable. That’s below what I think ANY freelancer should take, regardless of experience.
The sad thing is? Someone’s going to accept this assignment. Don’t let that be you. You’re better of spending time finding clients who will pay you a fair wage for your work.