April 4, 2017 Last Updated 8:45 am

Condé Nast draws howls for discounting freelancer fees in exchange for prompt payment

The publisher will still pay contributors within 30 days, but if you want your money earlier it will cost you

Being a freelancer is a tough gig. Some only do it when they are between jobs, some do it all the time, and others end up doing it all the time as full-time positions become harder to find.  [Others end up just launching their own website 🙂 ]

So, I have great sympathy for freelancers. This site, for instance, does not pay for any content not written by yours truly. Any guest column is written by someone who has something to say, as well as something to promote. It’s the deal TNM strikes: give readers the goods and you get to say what you want, along with that opportunity to shine a light on your company.

It’s a good arrangement, but it would be nice if TNM could also pay for freelancers to contribute, as well. As a publisher I love to pay writers, it gives me great pleasure. Unfortunately, the companies that sell into the digital publishing industry don’t believe in marketing themselves and so this site gets very few direct ads. (Take a look at any of the remaining print magazines covering publishing, you’ll find they are paper thin these days.)

But when you do generate revenue from your publishing efforts, have page upon page of fashion advertising, you should pay your authors – well, and on time.

That is why Condé Nast is getting some blowback for a change in its freelance pay rules that some see as unfair.

The magazine publisher is now offering to pay their freelancers a bit faster, but they want a discount.

It’s not quite as awful as some are making it out to be, but is does stink a bit. After all, if you don’t agree to the discount you can wait the same amount of time to get paid as you have in the past. In other words, if you never hear about the new offering, or read the contract carefully, nothing really has changed. But if you hear a freelancer muttering something about Condé Nast, now you’ll know what they are upset about.


The Coverage:

Fashionista:

Condé Nast Will Now Charge Its Freelancers Money If They Want to Get Paid in a Timely Manner

Condé Nast has clearly heard freelancers’ complaints, as a new vendor contract (that Fashionista has obtained) from the publisher highlights this issue. But there’s a catch, and a really shitty one: If you want to get paid more quickly, the company is going to charge you for it. “At the top of our project list is an accelerated payment option, which will allow you to get paid more quickly when a small discount taken off the invoice is accepted,” the statement reads. “There will be more news coming out on this enhancement over the next few months.”

David Rudin (on Medium):

How bad is Condé Nast’s new deal for freelancers?
It probably looks a lot like a pay-day loan

I imagine the meeting went something like a Jack Benny sketch. Some executive heard a freelancer mutter about being willing to earn slightly less in return for timelier payment. He turned away from the freelancer and smiled at an invisible audience. His eyebrows shot up to emphasize the point. In freelance writing, as in any of Jack Benny’s shows, one never vocalizes a willing to take anything less than what is on offer.

That goes a long way towards explaining why almost every journalist I know is angry at Condé Nast tonight…

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