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How much should i be Making$$

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Zach Dierks
How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 3, 2009 at 2:53:46 pm

I am 24 years old and have been working as a freelance editor for about 6 months for one company(in a major Midwest market). During that time I have been the main editor on projects for several professional sports teams and major corporations. In 6 months I have amassed a pretty decent body of work.

The projects i have been working on have been fairly significant. They are pieces that involve significant budget and will reach a lot of people.

The company offered me a permanent salary position. The problem is that i am having a hard time quantifying my value. At the company i assume the role of Editor, Assistant Producer, Graphic Designer, Camera Operator, and Writer.

Could anyone help me narrow down my value.
I have many skills and limited experience(as far as time in the industry is concerned) and it is difficult for me to put a value on my skills.

During our initial negotiations i said $35,000 was a good value for my services. Since then they have attempted to talk me down.

My specific skills.

-Camera operator. Panasonic HDX 900 mostly
Over 300 baseball games under my belt.

-Editor. FCP or Avid

-Producer. Many of the projects have edited required me to manage schedules, budgets, client interactions etc..

-Writer. I have written several scripts for projects that i have worked on.

-Apple Color

-Adobe CS2 (mostly Photoshop)

- I am also an experienced ENG style shooter.
Lighting equipment, audio equipment. I am comfortable in that environment.


Any tips you have would be a great help.



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Craig Seeman
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 3, 2009 at 4:20:58 pm

They're trying to talk you DOWN from $35,000? We can't judge talent from a description (actually we all value things differently anyway) but you certain have taken on a bit and have a comprehensive skill set.
We also can't judge the cost of living in your market but they should accept your request for $35,000 IMHO and you should expect increases within the year as you gain more experience or you should consider looking elsewhere while you maintain this job.



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Mike Cohen
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 3, 2009 at 4:59:27 pm

Questions to ask yourself:

Will I be better off than working freelance?

If there are benefits, such as health care, dental etc - figure that into the equation.

Are there a lot of available jobs at the moment in your area?

I have heard that people starting out in life these days will hold something like 10 jobs in their lives, so assume that if this doesn't work out off you will go to the wild blue yonder. But for the present, is it a decent job to start your career?

Depending upon how far down they want to talk you, negotiation is generally part of a job offer - however if you are just starting out, you don't have much leverage. If they are offering say 30K, see if you can get 32.5.

As has been discussed countless times on this forum, $30K in Dallas vs $30K in LA vs $30K in Urbandale, Iowa are very different things.

What are you worth? Probably a lot more than that, but it will take time to get there.

Mike Cohen


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Mark Suszko
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 3, 2009 at 6:59:32 pm

Careers. The stat is about how many complete careers, not just jobs, a recent graduate will hold in their lifetime. 10 jobs is nothing, changing between five or so different careers in a lifetime, that is scary stuff.

Back to the question. Do you already have a day rate? If not, look over the COW archives and compute yourself one. Compare for yourself and the bosses what amount of work x costs at day rate for you as a freelance, over what they are saving by paying you (the figure you want) full-time. Find stats to show what average rate of pay is in the area for the work you do.

Do not discount the added value of the benefits beyond just salary. These make a huge difference in places where the salary is capped, and if you are creative, can be worth thousands, tax-free. But be sure you get the bennies accurately agreed in writing. These can be things such as paying for you to go to NAB once a year, to pay your entry fees for video contests, to host your portfolio web site, or to buy training sessions and software regularly, to build your skills, (making you more valuable and marketable), it could be allowing you to use company gear for private projects on weekends, or a company car/company-paid bus passes or health club memberships, it could involve bonuses for overtime pay or some kind of profit sharing. Plus the insurance and retirement. Salary alone is only one factor. Use your imagination. I know of folks who have some or nearly all of these in their deals. Add them up and it may equal an additional ten grand in value a year, essentially off the books.

You are in a down economy with a lot of competition, and they know it. So there is only so far you can push. The two big rules of salary negotiation are, first guy to name an actual number, loses, and, you have to be willing to walk away if you don't like the deal, and they have to believe you will/can. Otherwise, you will take whatever they give you. Your big advantage is incumbency, and the familiarity it brings. You are a proven, known commodity, and replacing you means training someone else, an unknown quantity, up to speed on all the little things. So during the negotiations, remind as often as practical how much you are already a part of the operation, how well you work with all the clients, etc. so that replacing you with someone cheaper puts them out of their comfort zone.


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grinner hester
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 3, 2009 at 6:48:40 pm

I'd say you are about on. They'll talk ya down to 30.
take it.



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Zach Dierks
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 3, 2009 at 7:19:44 pm

Here are a few of the things that I have done in the last 5 months.

http://www.youtube.com/user/zdd353


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Nick Griffin
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 3, 2009 at 9:30:44 pm

Gee, Zach. I'm using Firefox on a Mac and all I see below
"Here are a few of the things that I have done in the last 5 months."

is blank space. I hope you've done more than this in the last 5 months.

Seriously, in your negotiation ask for things which they can expense and you don't necessarily have to pay taxes on. Things like insurances (health and life) and automobiles. I also agree with asking for the ability to use their gear, but tread lightly so you're not seen as potentially taking work away. The net cost ends up being less for them yet still beneficial to you.




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Randy Lee
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 3, 2009 at 9:57:58 pm

From the sounds of what you're doing, $35,000 should be on the low end of what you're worth. Of course, what you're worth and what you'll get are two completely different numbers, and those numbers make the difference between you trying to get everything you can out of them in terms of experience and reel so you can move on vs. you loving the job and wanting to stay there. Best of luck to you, and if you're good you should get the $35,000 with raises sooner rather than later or some of the benefits mentioned above (Which I just bookmarked a link to for very soon when I'm asking for a raise).

You did mention a number first, but if they haven't said no, chances are good they're hoping to talk you down but they'll go for it if you stick to it.


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grinner hester
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 3, 2009 at 10:15:59 pm

take any offer.



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Bill Davis
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:27:12 am


Instructive reality #1. Go to an auction. Sit around for a while and you'll discover that the value of anything is directly related to how many people want it. One person wants it - it'll go cheap. Two people want it - the price will rise. Two people want it and DON'T want the other one to get it - the price will skyrocket.


Instructive reality #2. Your worth to this particular company that wants to hire you - is relative to their PERCEPTION of the value you bring to the company. If they got the idea somehow that adding you to their staff would bring in an extra 10 million bucks a year - they'd most likely happily pay you a million bucks a year to do so. Really.

However, few and far between are the 24 year olds who can bring in ANY extra money just by showing up each day. So they will understandably see you as a DRAIN on their capital. They have to pay you out of their profits simply in order to keep their clients happy - and because of that dynamic, they're in a position to try to pay you as little as possible, since that enhances their chances of business success.

You can play this two ways. Take whatever they offer you - and find ways to increase their success - then ask them to share with you the fruits of that effort. That's the traditional way of working up the corporate value ladder.

The other play is to work OUTSIDE their operation and build a reputation as someone who's work has exceptional value. Then come back in a position where the DEMAND for your personal skills is greater than the SUPPLY of people with a similar skill set.

That's about it when it comes to getting people to pay you money for work.

Pick and path and let us know how it goes.





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denise quesnel
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 4, 2009 at 1:13:23 pm

There is one big thing missing here. The original poster mentions he has been doing all this for 6 months, and also keeps mentioning 'projects that he has worked on' and not exactly that he is good at what he does.

Fact: It takes more than 6 months to be an accomplished editor, camera op, graphic designer, whatever. 6 months, whether or not there is an education behind the experience, is a very very short period of time.

As a freelancer, you have to be able to go out and find work. One client is not good enough. You need to be a good business person as people have already mentioned. If you are not sure you can do this, then being an employee is the way to go. Heck, if someone offered me an employee position early in my career I would have taken it. Being an employee provides more stability, more predictable income and also time, believe it or not. It gives you all this while becoming experienced.

I don't think the question is what one is worth, as much as it is what is a good move in this particular economy. Experience is 'worth' more than anything else, including talent in my humble opinion.


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cowcowcowcowcow
David Roth Weiss
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:22:59 pm

[denise quesnel] "Fact: It takes more than 6 months to be an accomplished editor, camera op, graphic designer, whatever. 6 months, whether or not there is an education behind the experience, is a very very short period of time."

Denise,

Your message brings to mind a wonderful quote from former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld (who thankfully has gone MIA since being fired by his boss, the former president of the United States). Mr. Rumsfeld said: "...as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know."

The bottom line is, at six months out of the gate, everyone new to this business thinks they know everything there is to know, because they yet don't know what they don't know.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Dan Schanler
Re: How much should i be Making$$(Demo Reel Elements)
on Aug 5, 2009 at 6:09:27 pm

That's a fabulous quote.

A few years ago I thought I was "an editor" just because I had rudimentary knowledge of FCP, and about six months of editing work under my belt.

Hah.

Creative problem solving and speed take a lot longer to learn than applications. Not that I've mastered either, as a sampling of my posts may indicate. ;)

D

Dan Schanler
NYC


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Tommy D'Angelo
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:45:35 am

Zach,

It's really hard to say what one is worth. As has been said every area is different. New York is different from Omaha, LA is different from Ontario. You really need to gage you're current market along with cost of living etc. Also you got to take in effect the economy.

That being said, $35,000 sounds kind of low for your skill set especially if you're in a major market(and working with good sized clients).

It's hard to give solid advice in negotiations. To me it's ultimately a game of chicken. If you stand pat on a number, they may walk away or they might ultimately cave. It's the risk you take.

Listen you're still young and seem to have gotten a good amount of experience and skills already. Just keep getting better everyday and NETWORK. Knowing your way around "the business" sometimes is more important than knowing your way around the Avid. Good luck!



Tommy D'Angelo
Editor
Punk Rock Kid
NYC by way of Westchester


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Zach Dierks
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 4, 2009 at 1:19:57 pm

http://www.youtube.com/user/zdd353


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grinner hester
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:45:46 pm

Zach, take the gig, man. You need experience and they have a slot open. That's a match, buddy. Don't get hung up on the pay scale. You can work a second job if bills are the problem. We all did it. You need a foot in the door and that is what is being offered. Haggle for your own practice in negotiating but before ya leave, shake a hand and have a set time to report for work.



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Richard Herd
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 4, 2009 at 8:31:36 pm

[grinner hester] "Zach, take the gig, man."

Yep!

Baseball season is April to October, right? 7 months for a year? What happens between November and March?

[grinner hester] "Zach, take the gig, man."


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Zach Dierks
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:02:16 pm

We do football when we are not working on baseball. Also right now i am working on a series of webisodes for a medical tech firm.


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cowcowcowcowcow
Richard Cooper
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 5, 2009 at 2:38:01 am

Hi Zach,

There is a TON of great advice here from some really great minds in the industry. I thought I would add mine for whatever it is worth..... which is negotiable....

I can't tell you what you should do but I can tell you about my path and if there is some useful information here, I am glad to help.

When I started in this business in '99 it was a second career for me. I struggled and scraped for a few years and finally found a great position at a tourism company that wanted to bring their production "in house". They offered me a shooter/editor position for $30,000/year and I jumped on it, happy to be working in the field doing what I loved. I worked for this company for over 5 years. I built up my skills with an enormous amount of hard work and dedication, and many many 100 hr work weeks (on salary no less). I became extremely valuable and was compensated accordingly, more than doubling my yearly salary over those five years. During this time I won a few Telly's, a couple of Aurora's and even an Emmy® and dreamed of owning my own company at some point. When the day finally came to make the jump and start my own company, I negotiated a day rate with this company and now they are one of my clients. I won't kid you, at first they saw me as competition and freaked out a little.... but as they came to realize that I was not out to "steal" their clients but rather provide them with a valuable service, things really turned around. I don't do everything for them any more, just the high end shooting when they have the budgets and it is a win win for us both. Now I have time to pursue other types of projects while having regular work that pays the bills and I am really enjoying my career.

I guess my point is that it is not a bad thing to take a salaried gig and gain experience while you are young. It will pay dividends later when you are ready to make the leap. You will know when that time comes, just listen to your gut and follow your dreams. Oh, and keep a positive attitude.

Good luck to you, Zach, I wish you the best!

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska

Everyone has a story to tell.
http://www.FrostLineProductions.com


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Brendan Coots
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 5, 2009 at 8:25:27 pm

Let's define worth:

- Quality of work, in terms of the style, look and degree of professionalism of the finished product

- Quality of work, in terms of being able to match the requested specs

- Quality of work, in terms of organization and layout that allows quick changes rather than poorly planned "total overhauls" when one basic element changes

- Speed the work is completed

- Employee's attitude - do you have to ride their butt to get anything done?

In the end, "worth" is very hard to define since it would require you to self-analyze all of the above points and put a dollar figure to them. In the end, the old saying is true - Everything is worth exactly what its purchaser will pay for it. $30k may sound low, but are there higher offers out there? Could you realistically make $35k with another company? You should probably shop yourself around if you think so. If it's an option, you may want to just continue freelancing with them and hope for the best, but I'd take slightly lower GUARANTEED pay any day.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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David Dickerson
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 6, 2009 at 2:10:07 am

$30k? That's about $15 an hour. Minimum wage is about $15k now. Common laborers make anywhere from $15k to $20k. Who owns the equipment you shoot/edit with? Whose mics? Someone has to pay for repairs, new equipment, software, you name it. Whose pocket will that come out of.

$30k, in my book, is a joke - unless there's things like full health/dental insurance...

IMHO

David


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Brendan Coots
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 6, 2009 at 9:46:39 pm

"$30k? That's about $15 an hour. Minimum wage is about $15k now. Common laborers make anywhere from $15k to $20k. Who owns the equipment you shoot/edit with? Whose mics? Someone has to pay for repairs, new equipment, software, you name it. Whose pocket will that come out of.

$30k, in my book, is a joke - unless there's things like full health/dental insurance... "


When someone has six months experience in ANY industry, especially one like this that requires real skills to get by, they are lucky to be one step beyond intern. $15/hr in SF is a joke, but elsewhere it is more reasonable given the experience level.

Also, unless I misread the original post, the poster stated that his employer provides all of the equipment.

I would never suggest that someone sign up for indentured servitude, but when you lack experience and a firm demo reel, and more importantly lack competing offers, in this economy you would be wise to take what you can get and plan for the future. The alternative is to sit there with your arms firmly folded and go broke waiting for what you "deserve."

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Paula Smith
Re: How much should i be Making$$
on Aug 6, 2009 at 4:51:14 pm

One thing not mentioned is, what are they paying everyone else? If everyone else doing the same thing you are doing is being paid $35K and they've been there a lot longer, you can't expect them to pay you the same amount regardless of what you think you are worth. It's what they think you are worth.

Also, 6 months anywhere does not look that good on a resume. You should have at least two years worth of paid employment. Otherwise, it looks like a glorified internship.

I also live in the Midwest and the wages and cost of living are lower than in LA or NY. MUCH lower than in LA or NY.

I would suggest you look at the average wage for the type of work you are doing with your experience (6 months) in your city. That's really the only gauge you can use. You can't expect to make the same as someone with 2 years experience in LA.

And, continue to build your skills and your demo reel.



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