What Are Current Assignment Rates?

Posted on 1/11/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

One of the big questions for a freelance photographer approaching a new client is: “What should I charge.” What do others get for doing the same type of work? What has this client paid in the past?

Often the client will say “This is the job and this is what I prepared to pay.” In such cases it is a take it or leave it deal. But, even then it is helpful to understand what others are being paid by other companies to do the same type of work and whether it is advisable to take the deal. Many jobs can require so much of your time and energy that they become counter productive from a profit point of view.

Recently, I was made aware of a web site called “Who Pays Photographers?” Photographers can go to this site, enter the name of a publication or organization they would like to work for and get some idea of what the organization has paid for previous jobs. For example: if you enter “Wall Street Journal” in the search box you will find information about what was paid in six different instances.

Anyone can go to this site and anonymously post information about what they were paid for a particular job. The more people who post the more valuable this resource will be. Posts concerning jobs for magazines, newspapers, websites, NGO’s and corporations for editorial, commercial, advertising or entertainment projects are welcome.

The site is intended as an exercise in sharing, rather than shaming, but participants should feel free to warn your fellow photographers about deadbeats. The more data points, the fuller the picture will be for everyone. In addition to the rate it is important to supply a brief explanation of the work required for the fee as requirements vary widely.

Some publications also use the site to publicly report what their rates are.

The archive goes back to 2013 and there are some months where there are no posts. Consequently, there may be no information on some of the organizations that offer you and assignment. Even then, information about similar organizations or publications may be helpful in establishing a rate.

For many, a fee like $400 for one-days work might seem lavish, but if photography work is intended to be your soul source of income be sure to have a clear understanding of your costs of doing business. Most photographers find they are lucky to net, after all general business expenses are paid, 50% of the gross fee collected. If the photographer has staff and administrative support, or is just starting out and needs equipment, the net is likely to be much less.

It is also important to recognize that since most photography jobs are completed in one day or less, it is very hard to string together paying jobs, every day, five days a week. Most freelance photographers find that if they can get 100 paying jobs a year they are “fully employed.” The rest of their weeks are taken up with administrative and marketing tasks that can not be avoided. Many photographers find it difficult to get more than 50 good paying assignments a year.

Copyright © 2016 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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