Here’s a quick word of advice for any freelance reporters who want to know how to tell if an editor/client is going to be a nightmare to work with. If their call for pitches or initial email features wildly unrealistic expectations for freelancers but doesn’t even include the rate they’re willing to pay, they’re already demonstrating a lack of respect for your time.
If it’s not an assignment that you need or feel passionate about, it’s OK to pass on it. The best thing about being freelance is that you can decide who you want to work with and who you absolutely have no desire to interact with. If you think it’s a good opportunity, try to negotiate the rate a bit to cover your future headache. Because, trust me, if someone can’t communicate efficiently in an initial request, the editing process probably won’t be much smoother. Run the check up, friends. And make sure your contract is fair and protects your labor.