6. Surviving as a Freelancer

Much of the work available in the television industry is offered on a freelance basis. It's hard enough for newcomers to land their first jobs in the industry, but keeping the work coming in and building a career can be gruelling. Here's some advice on how to survive.

Rates of pay

Rates of pay can vary depending on the company hiring and your level of experience. You should always agree a rate of pay in advance with your employer. Here are some pointers.

  • National Minimum Wage (NMW):
  • 21 - 24: £6.95/ hour
  • 18 to 20: £5.55/ hour
  • Under 18: £4.00/ hour
    • These are the minimum rates of pay employers are required to pay anyone within these age brackets by law. The NMW will go up in October 2017.
  • The National Living Wage (25 and over): £7.20/ hour
    • On the 1st of April 2016, the government brought in a National Living Wage for those aged 25 and over. In April 2017 it will go up to £7.50.
  • UK Living Wage: £8.45/ hour
    • This is the rate of pay the Living Wage Foundation advise that employers pay workers, but this is not a legal requirement
  • London Living Wage (LLW): £9.75/ hour
    • This is the rate of pay the Living Wage Foundation advise that employers pay London workers due to higher living costs, but this is not a legal requirement
  • Apprentice rate: £3.40/ hour.
    • Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either: aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Useful websites for pay rates:




An invoice is a printed statement that you provide to the company with details about your work for them. Every production company that hires you should ask you for an invoice. If they don’t, then you should ask who to send it to.

Some companies, particularly large broadcasters like ITN, Channel 4 and BBC will have their own invoice and timesheet templates, which should be sent when you sign up as a freelancer with them.

If you haven’t been sent a template then you can easily write your own. Make sure you include the following details:

  • Invoice number (you create this for your own tracking purposes)
  • Full name
  • Postal address
  • Phone number
  • VAT number (remember you’re freelance so should be getting paid gross and paying your own tax at the end of each tax year)
  • Bank details – bank name, account number & sort code
  • Date of issue for the invoice
  • Name of the project (e.g. Day Shift, Home News desk)
  • What your role was (e.g. Package Producer)
  • Date of the shoot
  • Hours worked and at what rate (e.g. 6 hours @ £10/ hour)
  • Total amount of payment


Unless you agree a payment date, the employer must pay you within 30 days of receiving your invoice. After this date, you have the right to charge interest for late payment, but you can choose not to.

If you don’t receive payment, you can make a money claim or issue a statutory demand to formally request payment of what you’re owed. However, you should try and make contact with the employer before such formal proceedings.



Any expenses incurred as a result of your work can also be added to your invoice. Please consult this HMRC list of allowable expenses.


RTS Videos:

Useful links:

See also