Sea shells

What happens when you compromise on price?

Quoting lower than what you feel your services are worth ultimately decreases the overall value of your services to both you and your prospective customers.

As I’ve heard it said by my friend Rodney Saulsberry, beauty is not only in the eye but also in the ear of the beholder.
There is great veracity in that statement which has stood the test of time and still rings true today.
Moments ago, I personally answered an email with regard to this subject. Normally I don’t answer questions of that nature off the blog but today I felt called to do so. The reply I sent inspired me to share the same message here today on VOX Daily with you as it is a message that is good to hear again and also one that will be new to some of you when presented in this context.

Selection = Subjectivity

Imagine combing for shells on the beach, purchasing a rare find at a garage sale, or selecting a wedding dress or tuxedo. You don’t just pick anything up, do you? No, you’re careful to turn a shell over to spot any cracks, look for that diamond in the rough, or try on an outfit to see how it complements your features. As Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins would say, It’s about selection, not rejection. Each person will have their own idea of what is the most desirable, best meets their needs and fully represents their image. By virtue of the fact that everyone is unique, the selection process is incredibly subjective with myriad possibilities, wants, and requirements to fulfill.

You Will Get The Jobs You’re Meant to Get

Considering how subjective the selection process is, it’s reasonable to say (if not calculable), that you will not get every job you audition for, nor will you be the only business person who can fulfill those needs. Wise professionals realize that there is a voice for every project and a project for every voice. They know they aren’t going to win them all but have faith and conviction that they will win the jobs they are perfect for without having to compromise.

Lowballing is a Proverbial Death Sentence

You could have the perfect voice for a client, but if you’re quoting lower than your norm just to get attention to win someone over, you’ll then become the person with the perfect voice who charges the least amount of money when you could have been the person with the perfect voice whose services were well priced and well paid for. If any of you are struggling with this issue I hope that this article may be of some help or inspiration to you.

Are there any comments?

Best wishes,
© Tolmats


  1. Stephanie,
    I REALLY appreciate you tackling this subject and the balance with which you covered the topic.
    As many already know, this is a real “soapbox” for me (i’ll be happy to define that for any youngsters that aren’t familiar). ‘-)
    Whether you’re new or a veteran, the value of the work is THE SAME, unless the client is a “low baller” and then the work has NO value… at least to them. Remember; the client doesn’t know how experienced you are, unless you tell them and or do something that makes it blaringly obvious.
    For example, Rodney Saulsberry does that fantastic gravelly, bluesy delivery for Zatarain’s. I can voicematch Rodney on that delivery. Should I be paid less because I’m not Rodney? Or, because I’m not with his agent? Or for any other reason?
    The “Low ball” client will always be around, which is why I have suggested that we do smaller increments in the budget quoting parameter on Voices. Thereby forcing all the clients to state what they’re REAL budget is, so we don’t have to play “Pin the tail on the donkey… in the dark” and cross our fingers. The clients that state specifically what they have to spend are a gift from heaven, whether it be high or low. No guessing.
    And while I’m ranting… the client that “promises” more work or making up for the low price by giving you a bulk of work… if it ain’t in a written binding contract, it will most likely never come to pass… and pass is what you should do.
    I firmly believe that the message anyone sends when they compromise on price (with some exceptions of course) is “I have no value in myself or my work and I am just so thankful that you have selected me to be your slave”
    You’ve lost the professional respect of the client (if there’s any to be had from them) and your self respect too.
    There’s an old saying that goes something like this:
    “Our competitors charge less for their service… they apparently know what they’re worth.”
    Wellness and prosperity to ya’ll!

  2. One of my favorite quotes is from blowout/oil firefighting expert Red Adair,
    “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

  3. Another topic dear to my heart. The value of what we do is in the end-use, it’s as simple as that. It would help us all if we were to consider the union rates as a bench mark (union rates are minimums, by the way). Since a client does not have to pay an agents fee or contribute to health and retirement, they would be benefiting from a discount of 10% minimum! If it’s a buyout, boy, they are scoring big time!
    Why in the world should you receive less than another voice talent just because he/she has a union card… you are doing the same work, same airing market and same value. My question would be, on what data do we base our rates? Shouldn’t it be the professional standards established by AFTRA/SAG? Are you a professional voice actor? Then check your rates compared to the AFTRA/SAG rates and consider making an adjustment to better reflect what you find there.
    So I’m being honest here, generally my rates are 10% below union rates (sometimes my rates are higher than union minimums)… this allows me to do two things:
    -Provides a professional “anchoring point” or reference which can be presented in my negotiations.
    -Keeps a respectable value in place, which serves me, my peers, and the industry as a whole.
    I believe we err when we take a survey of what folks charge and then sorta “run with the average”.
    I might add, most of the time I find companies looking for talent on this site and others will check the $100-$250 budget (I’m assuming that is the lowest one available to them) and they virtually always want the $100 or so rate. I bet if there was a budget option of just $100 they would check it.
    If we do not get our rates in the vicinity of union rates, we will all suffer needlessly.

  4. Dear All:
    Well, here it is. The one year anniversary with this site. Mostly 6 days a week, 2-4 hours per day and over 850 auditions. No Jobs. I still hold down a full time day job, read most of the blogs, listen to most of the podcasts, etc. 20 years in radio/television production, held prod manager and mostly on-air duties during my radio career. I worked over 3 years at Guitar Center to get employee pricing on home studio gear (as well as drum gear). I have no intention of giving it up. I enjoy the creative process and yes, I actually (when in the zone) dig my voice. Won’t someone tell me if they are experiencing the same deal? Has anyone else out there racked up these kind of stats without scoring a single job? I so wish I could be one of those bloggers yelling from my roof top about the jobs I landed this week. Instead…. nothing, nothing, nothing! Anyone? Help!
    Jerry James

  5. SO TRUE! You are worth what you are willing to work for.
    That said… Jerry, I can hear the frustration that you must be feeling. Have you had any training outside of radio? Radio and VO really are two different animals. I believe that you have a nice voice. But it’s not about the voice. It’s about what you do with it.
    There are a number of free training podcasts at Some are product reviews, but some are about techniques.
    I think getting some training would give you a new paradigm through which to approach your VO career. Couldn’t hurt, right? If you sign up for the VoiceOver INsider (FREE magazine for talent) at, you’ll see a list of talent coaches from all over the country in it. I believe Harlan Hogan has a list on his web site as well (
    You might also consider attending Voice 2008 in Los Angeles in August. You are worth investing in. (
    Finally, I’d love to send you a free copy of my Proven VoiceOver Techniques CD. It’s yours for the asking. Just email me at with your mailing address.
    God Bless, Jerry!

  6. Stephanie
    You have a wonderful way of putting things in perspective. This really helped me. I will use this way of thinking when marketing my sound system business as well. Thank you so much.
    Have a great weekend!

  7. Greetings, all,
    This is probably one of the biggest issues with talent — getting what you think you’re worth. I have actually auditioned for jobs that offered a ridiculous budget, but quoted my rate instead of theirs. Maybe that disqualified me right away, but voice seekers need to know they really can’t get a 15 minute narration for $200 (this was what the job was paying!). Does it make me seem like an elitist? I don’t know, but some clients have no idea what our services are worth…”well, it should only take you five minutes, so I’m only paying $30.” Heard that before? When you have 30 years behind that voice it is a real insult. Those who are just getting started need the experience and might consider taking those lower-paying jobs. I have less and less heartburn over passing them up.

  8. Stephanie – I was wondering why clients deadlines are so close to the time when I first get to see their posting? I am a new voice to, and often get notice of new jobs whose deadline often expires that same day, or the day after. In London, most production houses have at least a week before a decision is made! Yours ~ Steve

  9. Hi everyone,
    Thank you for sharing your comments 🙂
    @ Steve – Some clients will have very tight deadlines depending their particular circumstances. That’s why sometimes you’ll be notified of projects that are approved on the date that the client also needs their audio samples by. I know I’ve posted a job that I needed done or at least cast in one day so it isn’t a rare thing to see considering many people leave the voice over until the end in post-production.
    Keep the comments coming everyone. Thanks for participating 🙂

  10. Hi, Stephanie.
    Thanks for the blogs. They’re generally insightful and entertaining. I did have a comment on this one, though. I generally bid at the low end of the client’s budget because I know that there is AN ENORMOUS amount of competition on this site and frankly, most people ARE going to choose the voice that is the cheapest, SUITABLE voice for the project. If there weren’t such a large number of other people bidding for these jobs, I’d bid higher, but I know where I stand. Frankly, I often wonder if other people UNDERBID these jobs. I am tempted to do that myself, just to get the work. I wish there were a way that you could prevent people from bidding lower than the lowest stated budget. And perhaps while you’re at it, you could warn clients NOT to work with talents who try to bid less than the stated budget. That way, I could be more confident that I’m not being undercut. Theoretically, if I bid at the low end of the client’s stated budget, I should be the lowest bidder (along with whoever else bid that same amount). But, I know that that’s probably not the case.
    Just my 2 cents. Thanks!


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