Media News South Africa

Safrea launches annual Rates Survey

The Southern African Freelancers' Association (Safrea) has just launched its 2020/2021 Rates Survey, aimed at self-employed and part-time freelancers in the media and communications industry.

The survey seeks to provide an insight into the rates of payment currently being charged, and paid, by those in the industry.

Calling on all freelancers to participate

To ensure that the information gleaned in the survey is as comprehensive as possible, Safrea is calling on all freelancers to participate by taking a few minutes to fill in the questionnaire.

Safrea chair Lynne Smit says that as the survey measures the rates that are charged by freelancers, the more people who take part in the survey, the more accurate a picture these rates will provide.

"Although the final results are not officially recommended rates, many clients use the annual Media Industry and Rates report to benchmark their rates," explained Smit.

Rates and trends since 2016

Lead researcher Jude Mathurine said, “The survey, which has been running since 2016, helps identify trends in the freelance sector, as well as benchmark rates most often charged by freelance professionals.”

Mathurine, who lectures in the Media and Communication Department at Nelson Mandela University, says that the data also helps Safrea and its partners to support freelancers in the media and communication sector through professional development and advocacy.

"In addition to the annual review of freelance rates, this year's Survey will try to understand how freelancers have tried to stay afloat in a context where self-employed professionals have little protection and support from government," he said.

Record participation last year

A record of 466 freelancers participated in the 2019/2020 study. That report found that:

  • South African freelancers are highly educated but generally poorly paid relative to the amount the average South African earns monthly.
  • About one in three freelancers earned less than R10,000 per month.
  • Women freelancers earn less than men.
  • Black freelancers recorded the lowest levels of remuneration.

2020 was a tough year for freelancers:

  • The economy shrank by over 7% from 2019, and shed over 1.5m jobs.
  • One in every three South Africans were jobless, and freelancers were not spared from this downturn.
  • In a Covid-related survey last year, Safrea found that one in four respondents had lost 100% of their income, while about a fifth of respondents said they needed help with cash to buy food.

Why the research is valuable

Freelancers can use the results in this annual survey to benchmark their rates, lobby for better pay and working conditions, and better understand the state of their industry. As it looks at hard facts – rates that respondents have accepted in the past year – employers, media businesses and researchers also use the results extensively.

Since 2016, the survey has provided a service to the entire freelance profession – including journalists, script writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, translators, editors and others.

The survey is open to freelance writers, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, PR professionals, journalists, voice-over artists, podcasters, translators and interpreters, copywriters and editors, among other media professionals.

Incentive for participation

As an incentive to take part, Safrea is offering respondents an opportunity to win one of two Safrea memberships. The survey closes on Friday 15 October 2021. To participate, go here.

The voluntary survey takes approximately 15 - 20 minutes to complete. For more information about the survey contact

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