Some sound advice circulating in this discussion, and it would be good to bring it all together in some way for a Scope piece or an ASC website article to give guidance to members.
In my experience, charges have to vary enormously - from well paid to freebies - but those employing are often very reluctant to raise the subject (even when it turns out they want you to do something for nothing). I have found that this is often because people hiring haven't a clue about what sort of rates they should oiffer, and don't want to be so far over or under that they look ridiculous.
It can help if you send them the official rates (copy of the AMEA or similar) and tell them what sort of level you work at, whether it is Consultant, writer, photographer etc or, sometimes a mix. That lets them know what the "correct" sort of price should be, and the discussion can then go more smoothly.
For example, I do some work for a Uni in reading through and commenting on (in writing) various research applications - not exactly specialist editing, but similar.
I discuss whether they want billing by the hour or a flat rate for each application (based on an assessment of how long on average each will take).
Because these things arrive sporadically, I also offer to bundle half-day rates into full-day rates (I do them when it suits me sitting in my office) and that seems to go down well. It means that they have a pretty good idea of what the upper limit will be, which helps if they have to worry about a budget.
Many of our jobs in science communication are pretty varied, and don't exactly match "official" positions and rates, but I have found that, if the employer has a sense of what those are and what rates of pay apply to them, then they feel much more confident that any fees cited by me are not exploitative of either party, and they are then more relaxed about negotiations.
Dr Rob Morrison
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

From: [] On Behalf Of Jenni Metcalfe []
Sent: Wednesday, 2 February 2011 9:30 PM
To: Bobby Cerini;
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Freelance rates continued

Just one important thing to add  to these discussions re ‘freelancers’ and rates...

If they run a business out of an office or office/s, like our business at Econnect, there are significant overheads that need to be covered by any hourly rates, which includes 1000s of dollars on various insurances that clients require you to have.


My Office Manager estimates we spend $400/day to just open the door, and that does not include salaries of our consultants.


And a note of caution re MEAA rates...

I still occasionally write freelance stories for various outlets and I get paid at the MEAA rate... but this is really just to keep my hand in, and my byline in print; it would not sustain me for very long, even if I worked from home!



Jenni Metcalfe

Director Econnect Communication

PO Box 734

South Brisbane Q 4101


phone: + 61 7 3846 7111, +0408 551 866

skype:  jenni.metcalfe


From: [] On Behalf Of Bobby Cerini
Sent: Wednesday, 2 February 2011 3:07 PM
Subject: [ASC-list] Freelance rates continued


I realise my last lot of input was confined to advice for individuals looking to offer freelance services.
Now, for employers, here is my 2 cents worth (which, adjusted for CPI and factoring in on-costs, is now worth 20 cents)

If you are an employer looking for freelancers to do work for you, then there are several things you can do.
Firstly, have a look at the awards and be prepared to pay them. You may be able to estimate a suitable hourly or project rate for the work you need doing.
Secondly, if there is no award that covers exactly what you need, then create a job description and estimate what a person working full-time in that role would cost you.
To do this, you need to know an approximate salary range appropriate for the work; sites such as are a good source of information about jobs with equivalent duties and responsibilities. You also need to factor in the additional costs of overheads such as superannuation, sick leave, holiday pay and office costs. All freelance rates should factor this in, since the individual has to pay for them too.

You can then pro-rata this total amount down to arrive at a weekly/ daily/ hourly rate. If you know how much time you have to complete the project, you can offer the work as a contract with a lump sum, with or without incentives for early completion.

Also consider whether you require the freelancer to have their own insurance, equipment etc.  


Bobby Cerini
PhD Candidate & Consultant in Science Communication

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
Building 38A – Physics Link
Canberra, ACT 0200
CRICOS provider 00120C


Telephone: 0415 032 701