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Can You Afford To Take That Editing Job?

Whether you’re considering a new editing job or just a new client project, pay rate is probably one of the first things you look at.

You also likely consider what the work entails, what the company or client is like, and how well you get along with the people you’d be working with.

But what about the less-obvious aspects of a new job or client? What other details should you consider before making a commitment?

Let’s look at a few.

For Employees

An employee position is a big commitment. It will (likely) represent all of your income and all of your work time. It’s worth thinking through some details to ensure that the whole package works.

Some items to think about:

  • Health insurance. How much will you pay for health insurance and out-of-pocket costs?
  •  Commuting costs. If you drive, include parking fees and wear-and-tear on your car as part of the cost. If you take public transportation, will you still have personal vehicle costs?
  • Wardrobe costs. Especially if you’re returning to the workforce after an absence, this could get pricey.
  • Commuting time. Is it increasing? If you’re taking public transportation, can you make good use of your time?
  • Business travel. Will you be required to travel at all? How much, and how much of it can you control?
  • Professional development. Editors need to keep learning. Will the company pay for professional development? Conference attendance? Memberships in job-related organizations (e.g., EFA, ACES)?

Look at other benefits, too. What does your paid time off look like? Can you flex your hours or work from home? Will the job connect you with people who can take you to the next level?

Sometimes, an increase in salary can get eaten up by increased ancillary costs. Consider how the job works with the rest of your life.

For Freelancers

New clients can be less of a risk for freelance editors because they represent less of your income and work time. Still, a bad fit could seriously damage your business, such as when a new client demands too much of your time and pays you less than other clients. In that case, you could actually lose money.

Here are some things to consider, in addition to pay rate and the work required:

  • Time demands. Will this client be looking for rush work frequently? If so, how does that fit into your regular work schedule?
  • Volume demands. Of course we want as much work as the client can give us! Unless it means saying no to a higher-paying client. Do you have room in your schedule for this client’s projects?
  • Technology. A new client could mean investing in new software to do the work. Will the project pay for the software, or will you be able to use it for future projects?
  • Insurance. Some clients will require liability insurance or errors-and-omissions insurance. Is that suitable for your work? Can you afford it?
  • Non-compete agreements. Will working for this client mean that you are not able to work for other clients?
  • Work location. Occasionally clients want you to work on site. How will that affect the rest of your workload? What additional costs could you incur (e.g., wardrobe upgrades, commuting, technology, loss of work time)?

That said, if the wolf is at the door, can you afford not to take the work? That’s a fair consideration, too, for both employees and freelancers. If taking the gig keeps money flowing in when otherwise there would not be any, you may have to take the job … for now. Don’t stop looking, though, so you can improve your situation as soon as possible.

It’s great to be wanted. But when a prospective employer or client interviews you, you are interviewing them as well. Know what kinds of things make a difference in your work life. Be willing to ask for time to think about it. Run your numbers and various scenarios—good and bad.

Say no if the job doesn’t work for you. And if you take it and later you realize it won’t work out, start looking for your escape route.

Next week, I’ll look at what to consider when making the switch from freelancing to an employee position. Stay tuned!

A version of this article originally published on August 24, 2018 on

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