[ASC-list] Freelance rates continued

Natalie Pestana npestana at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Feb 3 03:06:45 UTC 2011

Turns out I just sne this to Jenni and not the whole list.

I can't answer about freelance science communication rates, but I can answer as a freelance photographer whose just graduated. We were taught something along the lines of what Jenni has touched upon aka "the cost of doing nothing".

I have the same issues myself with what to charge clients. I shoot live music where there is no money in it, so my rates are adjusted accordingly (aka free beer, name on the door, my personal almost pro bono work depending onhow big a band is) versus my rates for corporates, which is a true reflection on my real costs.

You need to calculate your cost of doing nothing to run your business before you open your doors.

eg Insurance, equipment depreciation, internet and electricity charges etc. (check out those small business plans via state government business bureaus)

Jenny is right about MEAA rates. Newspapers and magazines usually give you their set fees for a story (or in my case a photograph) which in all honesty wouldn't even cover your "cost of doing nothing". I guess i'd use them as a rough guide against who my client/s are.

Bobby is also right - if you're trying to get experience (like I am), you will sometimes have to bend your costs depending on client and how much that project could do for you and your business in the future (eg I continue my band work as that is my personal work and will allow me more experience and the chance to work my creativity for my corporate clients. As a creative, having personal work is what sustains me).

Hopefully someone will have emailed you privately with a rough idea of how much they charge, you'll need to look at the costs of doing your business, plus where you are in the market in terms of experience and how you are against what someone else charges for a similar service.

Don't ever undercut someone though, that's bad for everyone and just drives prices down! (we have that issue in the photography industry with hobbyists who are good with a dslr charging nothing for stuff or giving it away free)

EDit to add based om Rob's email below. From what I understand its considered price fixing (eg illegal) to have set rates, this was according to advice from an ACMP (Australian Commercial & Media Photographers association) event I went to. However it is a great idea to perhaps get together a bunch of different working freelance science communicators to discuss how they charge and perhaps have some sort of chart of a few specific types of jobs with the approximate rates there.  My industry magazine "Capture" did this a few months back talking about how much for commercial work, domestic work (eg weddings, portraits) etc and I found it useful for me.

The good bit of advice I have used is it's also about educating your client. Before you start a job you need to put in a quotation or estimation and list exactly what the job is and what you will be doing for them and how much with your terms and conditions for extra work/fees. As said before, clients dont' know as well, so you need to gently educate them about your rates and what they will get out of it.

To give you an idea, i don't give an hourly rate in my jobs as it depends on the complexity and equipment my clients want (eg do they want studio portraits vs environmental portraits in a lab and how many people/groups they want shot). I also have to charge for my time to process all the digital files and do a basic level of photoshop work. In my estimations i give them a breakdown of whether it's a half day or full day shoot, exactly who and what i'm shooting, as well as equipment charges (if they want them to be stock shots and i have to hire a model/s and make up artists then those costs get added on).


recalcitrant productions
po box 2167, richmond south 3121

-----Original Message-----
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au on behalf of Rob Morrison
Sent: Thu 03/02/2011 12:30 PM
To: Jenni Metcalfe; Bobby Cerini; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Freelance rates continued
Some sound advice circulating in this discussion, and it would be good to bring it all together in some way for a Scope piece or an ASC website article to give guidance to members.

In my experience, charges have to vary enormously - from well paid to freebies - but those employing are often very reluctant to raise the subject (even when it turns out they want you to do something for nothing). I have found that this is often because people hiring haven't a clue about what sort of rates they should oiffer, and don't want to be so far over or under that they look ridiculous.

It can help if you send them the official rates (copy of the AMEA or similar) and tell them what sort of level you work at, whether it is Consultant, writer, photographer etc or, sometimes a mix. That lets them know what the "correct" sort of price should be, and the discussion can then go more smoothly.

For example, I do some work for a Uni in reading through and commenting on (in writing) various research applications - not exactly specialist editing, but similar.

I discuss whether they want billing by the hour or a flat rate for each application (based on an assessment of how long on average each will take).

Because these things arrive sporadically, I also offer to bundle half-day rates into full-day rates (I do them when it suits me sitting in my office) and that seems to go down well. It means that they have a pretty good idea of what the upper limit will be, which helps if they have to worry about a budget.

Many of our jobs in science communication are pretty varied, and don't exactly match "official" positions and rates, but I have found that, if the employer has a sense of what those are and what rates of pay apply to them, then they feel much more confident that any fees cited by me are not exploitative of either party, and they are then more relaxed about negotiations.


Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Jenni Metcalfe [jenni at econnect.com.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 February 2011 9:30 PM
To: Bobby Cerini; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Freelance rates continued

Just one important thing to add  to these discussions re 'freelancers' and rates...
If they run a business out of an office or office/s, like our business at Econnect, there are significant overheads that need to be covered by any hourly rates, which includes 1000s of dollars on various insurances that clients require you to have.

My Office Manager estimates we spend $400/day to just open the door, and that does not include salaries of our consultants.

And a note of caution re MEAA rates...
I still occasionally write freelance stories for various outlets and I get paid at the MEAA rate... but this is really just to keep my hand in, and my byline in print; it would not sustain me for very long, even if I worked from home!

Jenni Metcalfe
Director Econnect Communication
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101
jenni at econnect.com.au
phone: + 61 7 3846 7111, +0408 551 866
skype:  jenni.metcalfe

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Bobby Cerini
Sent: Wednesday, 2 February 2011 3:07 PM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: [ASC-list] Freelance rates continued

I realise my last lot of input was confined to advice for individuals looking to offer freelance services.
Now, for employers, here is my 2 cents worth (which, adjusted for CPI and factoring in on-costs, is now worth 20 cents)

If you are an employer looking for freelancers to do work for you, then there are several things you can do.
Firstly, have a look at the awards and be prepared to pay them. You may be able to estimate a suitable hourly or project rate for the work you need doing.
Secondly, if there is no award that covers exactly what you need, then create a job description and estimate what a person working full-time in that role would cost you.
To do this, you need to know an approximate salary range appropriate for the work; sites such as Seek.com.au are a good source of information about jobs with equivalent duties and responsibilities. You also need to factor in the additional costs of overheads such as superannuation, sick leave, holiday pay and office costs. All freelance rates should factor this in, since the individual has to pay for them too.

You can then pro-rata this total amount down to arrive at a weekly/ daily/ hourly rate. If you know how much time you have to complete the project, you can offer the work as a contract with a lump sum, with or without incentives for early completion.

Also consider whether you require the freelancer to have their own insurance, equipment etc.


Bobby Cerini
PhD Candidate & Consultant in Science Communication

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
Building 38A - Physics Link
Canberra, ACT 0200
CRICOS provider 00120C

Email: bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au<https://red003.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx>
Web: http://cpas.anu.edu.au

Telephone: 0415 032 701

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