One thing I have found to be true is that freelance writers will negotiate with certain groups of people, but shy away from this when it comes to others. For example, you may have no problem hashing out a better deal with a webmaster in need of online content. But when it comes time to deal with an editor at a magazine, you work for what they suggest and hope for the best in the future.
Over the years, I have found that many editors are more than willing to negotiate – as long as you are being reasonable. If the magazine’s standard rate is $.10/word and you ask for $1.00/word, it goes without saying that you are not going to get very far.
Once I receive an offer from an editor, including the rate per word, I determine whether or not it meets my current criteria. If it does, I avoid negotiating for the time being and get started. On the other hand, if the rate is low I almost always call the editor.
Don’t be demanding. There is a right and wrong way of asking for a better pay rate. Explain that you are excited about the project, but that you are currently charging a higher rate. The real key to success is to also explain why you are worth more money. Maybe you have a lot of experience in the industry. Maybe you are able to get an interview with an industry leader. By backing up your negotiations with these types of details, you have a much better chance of getting what you want.
The next time you are offered a gig by an editor and feel that you should be getting paid more, open up the lines of communication. Not every editor will negotiate with you, but most are at least willing to hear you out.