Great questions. I have a base rate I don’t go under and my editors know this so they don’t offer me less, and if it’s more legwork or word count or whatever, I ask for more, every time… depending on the publication. I don’t know, I don’t really negotiate? Like…either they take my pitch, at my rate, or they don’t, I can find another place to publish it. I love saying no to people to be honest. I consistently write high traffic stories for whatever publication I write for and I have a very specific lane, so it’s like…whatever. So if they can’t meet my rate and I don’t think it’s worth the “exposure” I just don’t bother. I write less for the internet more and have other projects that pay better, so I can work on my own terms. I think the most important thing is to have a network of people who can watch out for you - disclose your rates at publications and between editors to the people you trust, because there have CONSISTENTLY been times when my trans friends, my friends of color, have been offered like, 20% of the rates the white women or I get at a publication. When that happens I stop writing for those places, or I tell them to ask for more. It’s really important to look out for one another. In general, every place is varying levels of garbage so you gotta know which is less flaming trash and more liveable.
I would check in on rates every six months or so, once you’ve consistently “proven” your traffic, skills, whatever. Budgets change, things get moved around for ‘the right’ people.