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Freelance copy editors/ writers: help me to negotiate the right rate

northernlights0710 · 02/06/2018 15:19

Hello, please help!

I'm a freelance editor (usually working on a day rate that's low but usual for our industry) and recently started doing healthcare copy editing for some friends of a good friend of mine.

They run their own marketing company - I've met them twice before through my friend, and became Facebook friends, but haven't seen them socially for a few years as my friend moved overseas.

They were looking for a copy editor to edit blogs and I volunteered.

The blog posts are written by private healthcare providers and require some medical knowledge. I have none but am used to dealing with complex material at work. I'm also required to write a short introductory blurb on the posts.

I've done about 11 hours of work for the couple, which I've really enjoyed, but wasn't entirely happy with their fee structure - £25 for editing blog posts of between 450 and 1,000 words and £40 for 1,000 words plus - because a fair few articles of 900 words or so paid only £25 because they fell below the threshold, but took just as long to do as the £40 posts.

I raised this with the guy and he suggested paying me 4p a word, which for 1,000 words would equate roughly to £40 an hour, depending on how much editing is required.

It turns out they're delighted with my work and suggested that once I'm more familiar with the medical terminology, I can liaise directly with the healthcare providers to make amendments to copy etc, thus freeing him up to do other stuff. At the moment it all goes through him.

I asked him how much extra time this would require and he said "hardly any if the posts are edited by you or I. One client may want minor changes only."

He also has plans to expand and wants me to start writing original content although a rate has not been agreed for this yet. They like me and see a future for me with their company, it seems, as they've been talking in terms of "when you've been with us six months...etc"

So back to that 4p a word for editing. It's a bit better than the original agreement, though not dramatically. And better pro rata than my regular job's day rate.

My friend, who's a copywriter, advised: "Forget the friendship aspect and ask for more than you think they're willing to pay. All businesses try to get people as cheaply as possible. If you want to go up to 5p a word you have to ask for 6p. If not, you've lost nothing by asking. They want you so don't undersell yourself. They will be earning loads from you, so make sure you get your slice."

Another friend said: "I wouldn't risk asking for more. They've already agreed to a better rate by offering you 4p a word. This is an area you're new to and it's specialised, so you're still learning. This is a great opportunity to make inroads into a new and better paid industry which will make your life easier (because I can work from home) and the educational opportunity it offers is huge."

He adds: "Once you're more experienced and they need you, that's the time to renegotiate rates. You can also then look for other clients and work in this field, which puts you in a better position to negotiate with the couple. There is also the friendship aspect to take into account - you're at an early stage of building an important business relationship and you want them to trust you. Now is not the time to play hardball over money. You can always renegotiate with them later."

So two completely different sets of advice. Can anyone help me to decide what's reasonable? I don't want to be ripped off but at the same time I don't want to overshoot and jeopardise my relationship with the couple.

Thanks very kindly in advance, or even just for reading this far!!

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