Advice and Support
Need some advice or support? Call MEAA Member Central on 1300 656 513
RATES OF PAY:
At the moment there are no industry minimum rates of pay for freelancers. Members are campaigning for recognised minimum rates to make the industry fairer.
MEAA tracks what is paid throughout much of the industry and have recommended 'model rates of pay' based on industry standards.
The Rate Tracker allows freelancers to build transparency around what is being paid, so members can show each other which publications pay fair rates and which ones don't.
MEAA can help review your contract for unfair provisions and agitate for changes on your behalf - download our standard freelance commissioning terms for a model contract template for freelance journalists.
MEAA supports you when payments are late. We can assist you in contacting the company or contact them on your behalf and where necessary, pursue claims in the courts.
MEAA can also provide information about copyright and your rights to work you produce.
Super can be complex for freelancers, for specific advice about your situation please call MEAA Member Central on 1300 656 513.
The law can be difficult to interpret, but the rule of thumb is that contractors paid mainly for their labour are employees for superannuation guarantee purposes. This is the case even if the contractor quotes an Australian Business Number (ABN).
A contractor engaging a freelancer must make superannuation payments if the freelancer is paid:
- under a verbal or written contract that is wholly or principally for their labour – that is, more than half the dollar value of the contract is for their labour
- for their personal labour and skills – which may include physical labour, mental effort or artistic effort – and not to achieve a result
- to perform the contract work personally – that is, they must not delegate.
Generally, if an eligible contractor/employee is paid $450 or more before tax in a calendar month, superannuation is payable on top of your wages. The current minimum is referred to as the super guarantee (SG), which is currently 9.5% of your contracted ordinary time earnings.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if publishers and companies don’t pay?
There is a process to get your money.
In some instances, a publisher can withhold part of what you are owed if you have not supplied an ABN . If you have and the work is done, then they need to pay you. If you are in a position where you have not been paid on time, the agreed amount (or at all) Call MEAA Member Central on 1300 656 513 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Should I sign away my moral rights?
Whenever possible don’t. If you are unsure, call MEAA Member Central on 1300 656 513 or email email@example.com for assistance and advice.
- Is an email enough proof I was commissioned?
In many cases, it is. We recommend that if a publisher does not give you a contract, send them a contract yourself using our standard freelance commissioning terms model contract, or one that outlines the pay and dates you have MEAA Member Central on 1300 656 513 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance and advice.
Freelance Business Tips and Tricks
- What is the difference between a company, a partnership, and a sole trader?
A company protects you from being sued for your personal assets, it requires that you register for GST and file BAS quarterly.
A sole trader means that you are trading as yourself and opens you up to be personally liable for anything that occurs,. You can file with your personal tax return.
A partnership involves you and someone else working together and with limited liability for both of you.
- When do I sign up for GST?
When you hit $75K per year. Then you have to file quarterly BAS statements but this can help keep you organised. You can claim back the GST on all your expenses and charge your clients GST
- What does MEAA’s Freelance Pro Insurance include?
- When should I do free work?
Do not do free work if you can help it. Working for free undercuts other freelancers and yourself.
Some people do free work when they are younger to build up a portfolio, our members suggest Not-For-Profit clients could receive a discount, at your discretion. However publishers are for profit and thus should pay in full.
- Should I diversify?
It is one way to survive. You are eligible to be a MEAA member if only even part of the work you do is covered by MEAA.
- How should I market my services?
If you can, package them. You can charge a set price for several different types of work on a project.
- Do you need to network?
You can network online and offline in whatever way feels comfortable for you - but it is important – people will recommend you for work, send work your way, and help you out with questions you have. It also takes away from the isolation you may have as a freelancer.
- What about editors who don’t respond to my pitch?
First, make sure you know when their deadlines are so you are not calling them at deadline time.
The key is to be persistent. Email them with a friendly follow up after two weeks to ask if they got your initial email and if they want your work. If you're pitching for a daily or weekly publication, reply sooner and ask them. You might want to say "please let me know if it is not a right fit so I can see if another publication may want it, as it is a timely piece.”
You might get rejected, but remember editors will be more likely to remember your name if you have recently pitched to them. You could unexpectedly receive an email commissioning you for something.
- Where do I pitch to for video news/features?
Try US outlets as well as within Australia. Places like SBS and ABC can be responsive if you know the right people.
Think about how people will use these videos and pitch widely – people may not put them in their publication, but they might put them in their subscription emails or their social media pages – it will still count as content.
- Is it more who you know?
It can be, which sucks. That is why networking is so important!
- Can I get a return on a podcast?
Usually you need to build up a following for a podcast or YouTube videos before you can generate money from advertising.
Podcasts are useful for positioning yourself as an expert in your area and to build an audience.
- What is trade publishing?
Trade pubs are industry specific magazines for members and subscribers or B2B mags. Getting a foot in the door is very hard, but getting on the books can help.
Often (but not always) trade pubs will want more copywriting than traditional journalism . Look into who publishes the magazines in your beat and figure out who you need to email to get on the books and pitch ideas.