What can I charge for?

Updated:September 2013

Your fee should cover the number of days needed to complete a job or assignment, so think carefully about what's involved and how long you'll need to deliver what's expected.

Make sure you're clear about  what you're expected to deliver - and by when - and be realistic about the time that it will take.  If you've been asked to prepare a budget, include all the days that you think you will need.

The reality is, as budgets shrink, many freelancers are expected to deliver a great deal on few resources, so you're unlikely to get all of the time that you ask for.  But if you negotiate from an informed and knowledgeable position you will be more likely to achieve a better deal, get known for being a professional operator - and also have a greater understanding of whether this is an assignment that you want to take.

Try and think carefully before agreeing to a deal which you know to be unrealistic. You may suffer financially and reputationally if you fail to deliver on a contract.  It's up to you to raise these issues.

Things to consider:

Research and Preparation
Payment for this varies according to sector. For instance, it's rare for photographers to get paid for research and prep days, but for broadcast and video assignments, it's usual.  The reality is, research and preparation can be time consuming, especially if you're preparing for an overseas trip and/or hostile environment. If you're expected to do a lot of preparation as part of your assignment, include it in your negotiations.

Travel days
In most sectors, these are usually charged at 30-50% of a full working day rate and should be included if you need to spend time travelling to and from the location of your assignment, or between locations. Don't just consider flights and trains, but also the amount of travel time by road, which could be considerable. 

Length of days 

Many freelancers report unrealistic expectations of what's involved in a standard working day - especially in the field -  so it's essential that you discuss what's expected of you.  Is it reasonable?  Is it dangerous?  Expectations will vary according to assignment and sector in which you work, but they should still be realistic. Jobs such as digitising, backing up files, logging, translating, scripting and filing stories can add hours onto the end of a working day. 

Delivery, post production and "wrap-up" days 

In broadcast / video editing and post production can form a considerable part of an assignment. And for photographers editing and captioning can be time consuming too.  Even short, seemingly simple, assignments usually need one or two 'clearing up' days so try and factor these into negotiations.

Photo for this page by epSos .de

Next:Costs - who pays for what?

Created: August 2013

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