Getting Paid

It would seem obvious to state that you need to AT LEAST cover your costs.

Who pays how much?

But take heed. You cannot accept minimal wages for stories from a conflict zone. This does not allow you to invest in much needed training and equipment. Freelancers are a professional work force and yet they often receive unprofessional wages. In your case, pay is not only a nice to have, or compensation for the risks taken. It’s primarily about your safety.

The total direct cost to a company of employing someone (ignoring office costs) is actually 1.5 times their gross salary. (Think National Insurance and pension contributions, among others). And employing someone fulltime is exactly that: fulltime. A freelancer is massively convenient. They are engaged only when needed. So don’t be shy to demand more!

But you need to think about your costs. Both fixed and variable. Your fixed costs: your reporting gear, your protective gear, your HETT training, your phone, your phone calls, your internet access, your laptop. Your variable costs: your flights, accommodation, your fixers, your insurance, your daily bread.

We realise, it’s not always easy to work out how much the variable costs can amount to, so below find four examples to help give you a rough estimation:


Example 1: Gaza – 2-week trip

Insurance: (based on 3-weeks):

£150 on Plan B for medical via Battleface

£300 for kit and equipment with William Carson underwritten by Chubb

Travel (flights): £500

GPO Pass: £40

Accommodation: £50 per night  (total: £700)

Fixers: up to £300 per day. Used fixers on 7 days (total: £2100)

Misc costs: £20 per day (total: £280)

Total (14 days):  £4,070


Example 2: Ukraine – 1-week trip (USD)


$190 (currently April Int’l will insure for two weeks)

Travel (flights and other) – $400

Fixer: $170 per day (total $1,190)

Driver: depends on the distance; but total $600

Accommodation: cheap hotel $12 per night ($84 total)

Total (7 days) – $2,400 


Example 3: Iraqi Kurdistan – 1-week trip (USD)

Fixer/driver: $350 per day (total $2,450)

Accommodation: $50 per day (total $420)


$190 (medical only)

Travel: $800

Total (7 days): $3,900


Example 4: Baghdad, Iraq – 10-day trip (USD)

Travel: $700

Accommodation: $100 per day (total: $1,000)

Fixer/ driver costs: $250 per day (total: $2,500)

Insurance: $300



Additional annual costs you should be considering:

Reporters Without Borders annual membership (needed for April Int’l insurance): $34

First-aid training (advisable to repeat annually): $50

Gear: varies enormously but for a video-journalist can reach into thousands with upgrades or replacements, hundreds for maintenance

HEFAT Course which includes BTEC Level 3 First Aid Emergency Response – £1,380

UK Insurance cover – £389, which includes public liability and property cover for up to £15,000 of kit.


How to encourage timely payment

Getting paid on time is never easy, and, let’s face it, budget management is certainly not made easier if you don’t know when the money is next coming in!

Make sure you invoice properly (there is a template here: That might come in handy.

Remember also to define your terms (i.e. state on your invoice that payment must occur within 30 days from invoice, dated xxx). In theory late payment can be fined, but this is tricky to impose for obvious reasons. But you did your work to your deadline within difficult conditions; it’s totally acceptable to expect the same treatment back!

Some more top tips here:



Who would say no to some additional monetary resources? We didn’t think you would. Here are some links, which provide further links to potential grants etc you can apply to. Every little can help!