By Dr Rhonda Daniels AE, member, Pay and Conditions Standing Committee
For self-employed editors, completing your tax return each year is an opportunity to review income and business expenses. IPEd’s survey of members in 2021, released in October 2021, provides information on the income, expenses and hours of work of self-employed editors in 2019–20. Editors whose main work status was self-employed editor in 2019–20 answered questions on their paid editing hours, gross income, hourly pay rates, business-related hours and business expenses in 2019–20. In the survey report, results are reported by Professional or Associate membership category or Accredited Editor status where appropriate, and by country for income.
Editing hours and income
Self-employed editors were diverse in their paid editing hours and therefore their gross income from editing work. One in five reported they worked fewer than 250 paid hours in the year 2019–20 (an average of approximately five hours a week) and one in five worked more than 1000 paid hours in the year (an average of approximately 20 hours a week). Of self-employed editors in Australia, 11% had gross income from editing over the GST threshold of A$75,000. Of self-employed editors in Aotearoa New Zealand, 15% (4 of 26 editors) had gross income from editing over the GST threshold of NZ$60,000.
Table 1 summarises gross income by paid hours for self-employed editors, with four categories for each. As expected, higher income and higher hours are associated. Two-thirds of self-employed editors earning over $75,000 gross income worked more than 1000 paid editing hours. Survey comments indicated diverse work circumstances such as combinations of jobs and employment arrangements.
Table 1 Paid editing hours by gross income for main work status as self-employed editor in 2019–20
|Paid editing hours in 2019–20|
|Gross income before tax
and expenses in 2019–20
|Less than $19,999||74||38||13||8||133||44%|
|Total self-employed editors||76||63||88||75||302||100%|
Note: The table includes editors from both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand due to the broad ranges of the income categories. Excludes zero hours, not sure and not answered about paid editing hours. Unexpected responses in table cells with high hours but low income (or vice versa) may be due to most paid editing hours being done as an employee but editors identifying their main work status as self-employed, or other business arrangements.
There was a clear difference in gross income by membership category. Table 2 shows a higher proportion of Professional members reported income in higher categories than Associate members. Over half (56%) of Associate members and 20% of Professional members had gross income from editing of less than A$9999 as self-employed editors.
Table 2 Gross income (before tax and expenses) from editing work in 2019–20 for self-employed editors in Australia by membership category
|Income from work as self-employed editor in 2019–20||Associate
|Total self-employed editors in Australia|
|less than $9999||47||56%||49||20%||96||29%|
|Total self-employed editors||84||100%||248||100%||332||100%|
Note: Associate category includes 3 Student members and Professional category includes 2 Honorary Life members. The question asked members to exclude any JobKeeper or wage support payments (which would have been available for the April–June 2020 quarter of 2019–20). Members used their own judgement on what was considered income from ‘editing work’, which may cover a wide or narrow range of tasks.
Editing as a source of total work income
The survey asked about editing as a source of total work income. Over half of self-employed editors (56%) earned over 75% of their work income from editing or related work in 2019–20. Over one-third of self-employed editors (36%) earned less than 50% of their work income from editing or related work.
Impact of COVID-19
The survey was about the financial year 2019–20, which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 onwards. About half of self-employed editors (46%) in Australia said COVID-19 did not affect their editing income in 2019–20, while one-third of self-employed editors (33%) said their editing income declined due to COVID-19.
Income must be considered relative to business expenses. Business expenses can include professional development, qualifications and insurance. About a third of Professional members and over half of Associate members had business expenses less than $2000 in 2019–20, but 10% of Professional members had expenses over $10,000. Higher income was associated with higher business expenses.
Read the full report on the 2021 survey of IPEd members.
Read previous articles on employment issues from the Pay and Conditions Standing Committee (formerly the Pay Rates Working Group) here:
- Superannuation – who is entitled to it (Gatherings June 2022)
- IPEd calls for better recognition of editors in the classification of occupation standards in Australia and New Zealand (Gatherings April 2022)
- Editors are highly skilled and well educated (Gatherings March 2022)
- Employee editors – know your employment award (Gatherings February 2022).