Results of the 2000 Freelance Rate Survey

Results of the 2000 Freelance Rate Survey

June 21, 2001
Notes By Rachel Markowitz

The June meeting focused on the findings of the Bay Area Editors' Forum 2000 Rate Survey. The results were presented by a panel consisting of Rate Survey committee co-chairs Bonnie Britt and David Featherstone, along with committee members Hilary Powers, Kristi Hein, Genevieve Duboscq, Heidi Garfield, and Sandra Gary. Committee members not in attendance were Mary Heldman, Aubrey McClellan, and Zawadi Olatunji.

In her opening remarks, Britt thanked her fellow volunteers on the committee for their time and dedication on the project, which spanned about nine months. Special thanks went to Olatunji for design and Duboscq for production and distribution. Jeannine Cook, Betsy Dilernia, Denise Fletcher, Pat Harris, and Pam Nurse assisted with the mailings.

Britt also expressed her gratitude for the experience. "All sorts of information about the business is traded among friends when you get involved in project like this," she said.

Duboscq concurred. As a volunteer with the forum, "you can help shape what the group does," she said.

Not that there wasn't any conflict on the committee, Britt joked. There were the AP proponents and those who favored Chicago. AP won out, despite evidence of a serial comma in the introduction.

Of the 280 members who received questionnaires, 104 responded, 50 percent more than for the first survey in 1998.

Here's a quick rundown of the highlights:

Overwhelmingly, the best way to find new work is through former employers, clients, and colleagues—a reminder that networking not only works, it's as essential as a typo-free résumé.

Most members are billing either hourly or by project—a sign that most of us set our own rates. "We are controlling how long it takes to do a job," commented Featherstone. "This shows that our clients trust us, which is encouraging."

We are earning good and poor rates in all categories, corporate through book publishing. While it appears that we are more likely to make a higher income outside of book publishing, we shouldn't interpret the results as "that's what I ought to be getting," cautioned Powers.

Just over half of the respondents raised their rates in 2000, a fact Hein found disappointing. "Expenses here in the Bay Area are increasing," she said. "When too many of us accept the same rates as the years go by, it impacts all of us. We have to start being honest about rates."

The majority of BAEF members do not work on-site, which led Britt to unofficially conclude that most of us do serious cutting and pasting in our pajamas.

The number of people editing on computer has doubled since the first survey was published in 1998, and here's perhaps why: editing on a computer reportedly pays more than editing on paper.

The number of people making $31-$50 per hour has doubled since 1998.

Nearly half of respondents earn 100 percent of their income from freelance work. Of those, a good number work part-time and earn good money.



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