From zero to hero - negotiating wins
THESE DAYS there's an onslaught of
"clients" wanting us to toil for nowt.
But now some union members are
finding we've entered a new phase.
The first offer for a given piece of
work may be zero, but clients nowadays
are just trying it on in hopes
that freelances who've grown used
to exploitation won't even challenge
Here's practical encouragement,
not statistical science, just enlivening
examples of negotiation...
- the 1000-word magazine article -
initial offer nothing, final agreed fee
- the novice freelance bridging from
studenthood into pro journalism has
done a regular online column for
zilch over several months, then says:
"I can't carry on like this 'cos I need
to eat, more or less like you do."
Then they say to him "How about
- the BBC radio pundit spots for
which one NUJ member gets offered
nada by Radio 6 Music and says no,
so they say: "Oh, all right, £50?" - and
another on Radio 4 where the starting
point was goose egg and the outcome
...and three examples from the
world of conferences and seminars,
where potentially a journalist's expertise
may yield a good chunk of
change, though most of us probably
undervalue ourselves and don't
know to ask for it:
- a two-day conference, our member's
asked to chair, she says "How
much?", they say "We don't pay,", she
says "Then no," they say "Oh... 500
Euros per day?"
- a London arts seminar at a venue
so prestigious the organisers feel
able to offer our member absolutely
rien (bar £60 travel exes) to work as
a panel member for an hour and a
half. He says "Nothing for nothing".
£300 sterling persuaded him.
- Finally (with a couple of anonymising
changes of detail) from the woman
in question: "I was approached to
moderate a session at a digi-media
conference... they wanted me to
interview a German company boss,
then run a Q&A session.
"So I said, 'What are you paying?'
and they said 'There's no budget
for moderators.' I said, 'You're paying
for the venue and the catering,
I assume you're being paid... and
you're charging participants... why
do you think it's OK not to pay for
a really key professional person for
their preparation and their work on
"My day rate for this kind of thing
is £1000." She didn't expect a reply,
but "two days later got an email
apologising and saying please would I
do it - for £1000."
This is all anecdotal but still shows
it's worth dusting off those negotiatory
skills. Remember: DON'T ASK
DON'T GET and then ALWAYS ASK