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What's a typical pay for freelance work on a single game?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by krmcguire, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. krmcguire

    krmcguire New Member

    I'm just curious what kind of pay free lance sports writers tend to receive for covering a single game. In this instance I could be talking about college football with a one-day trip. Drive out, cover the game, write something up, and drive home.

    The reason I'm asking is because I'm looking to do some free lance coverage this fall but unsure what a fair pay might be for this line of work. Any opinions? Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    What size paper?

    Typically $75-$100, but could be more.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    What year do you think it is? :D

    I had a major paper called me last year and they offered me $50 to cover a NFL game. I said, "I got more than that to cover volleyball games in 1994." I declined.

    $75 used to be pretty standard for a non-preps gamer. I used to get $200 to do a "game package" which included a gamer, sider and notes. Some of the national papers used to pay about $200 per game.
  4. ringer

    ringer Member

    Be careful of the responses you might get here.

    Pay should be commensurate with experience and market size, and the complexity of the story.
    It should also be a fair living wage.

    Remember that freelancers generally get less work than staffers during a calendar year and have no benefits. So... divide the weekly pay of one of your average staff writers by 5... and you have a baseline minimum for one day for someone with experience that you trust to do the job right.

    And Mizzou's right - $75 is the rate 20 years ago, if not longer.

    Bottom line: you get what you pay for. Freelancers are hungry (literally) and a little extra goes a long way in terms of diligence.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Anything under $75 is offensive. The only time during my career when I took less than that was when I was stringing MLS games for multiple papers and usually when my SE would say, "can you do it for is paper as well for another $50?"
  6. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    I generally won't do any game assignment for less than $100, and depending on how far away it is, I have to think about that. Most of my work pays $125-$150. Last week I got $200 for an MLS gamer and sidebar.

    And Mizzou, it was better back in the day. I once got $300 from Newsday for a 400-word sider.

    You know where the real money is now? Corporate. I get $1 a word from a major tech company for cranking out 500-word rah-rah features for its internal online newsletter.
  7. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I've done a lot of stringing and I've lived in a few large markets in California. It's been a little while, but the papers here can offer anywhere from $25-$60 for prep games.

    For MLB games, I wouldn't take anything less than $125-$150. Think about all the time you're investing. Pre-game, the game and then interviews after.
  8. Southwinds

    Southwinds Member

    Aside from principles, or "how it used to be," the honest answer is that it depends on the magnitude of the assignment and the paper that's looking for a story.

    If you're covering an Alabama road game, yeah, you should be able to pick up at least $100. But if it's an Alabama road game for the 25,000-circulation Eufaula Daily Bugle, they probably can only pay you $40.

    Use that scale as a guide. If you're covering Akron at Northern Illinois for the Akron Beacon-Journal, I'd think $75 is probably what they'd offer you.

    But as always, negotiate.
  9. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    The paper I do most of my freelancing for pays $100 for preps football/basketball/baseball gamers, $150 for preps blogs, $200 for NFL/college gamers, $150 for NFL/college sidebars, $300 for longer features.

    This is a major metro with 300K+ circulation.

    That'll give you one scale, but that does seem to be unusual. There are some smaller papers around here, and I think they typically pay $50-$75 for preps football gamers, and they don't use freelance for other preps. I've never taken less than $100 for pro/college game coverage around here.
  10. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    A lot of it is situational, depending on the event, where you are and the size of the paper.

    I have done AHL games for out-of-state papers and gotten $75 to $125.

    I know local papers here in upstate New York pay $35-$50 for local coverage.

    The best deal is to be in a place that regularly hosts state tournaments. We have three or four of them up here every year and depending on timing and how the team do, you could turn $350 or more in a weekend.

    The key is getting known.
  11. dirtybird

    dirtybird Active Member

    I recall getting $50 bucks for a five-inch note and a box for prep football. Wasn't much work all told.
  12. ringer

    ringer Member

    Here are the US poverty guidelines for 2013.
    Divide by 52 and see how close your daily rate is to putting a college-educated professional on food stamps.
    Worth remembering: freelancers probably aren't getting paid 5 days a week, so...

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