Quoting for voice over work encompasses a number of factors such as the market size, distribution, the number of characters and also how much is required of you in terms of audio production.

Recently a voice artist emailed to let us know that she was struggling with quoting on a per word basis and asked for some guidance. I’d like some of that to come from you, the working voice actor!
If you quote for certain projects on a per word basis, be sure to let us know when you do it and how you determine the value of certain copy or words by commenting on today’s VOX Daily!

What To Do, What To Do!

Quoting on a per word basis can be trickier than it sounds, particularly when you are working on scripts that are technical in nature such as medical, pharmaceutical and so on.
I’m curious to learn how you determine:

  • The value of a word
  • What makes some words more valuable than others (for instance if a word is difficult to pronounce, if you need to say any foreign words, substantial multi-syllabic words, etc.)
  • Counting words within words (i.e. domain names, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Whether the value of a word varies depending on the application of the voice over

To get around this, some talent employ a per page rate and let the client know what they mean by what constitutes as a “page.”

Quoting on a Per Page Basis

Some factors that you should (or could) take into account are:

  • Word count
  • Font
  • Font size
  • Paragraph formatting (single spacing, double spacing, etc.)

What About Editing and Production?

For simplicity’s sake, I’m not going to go into detail here on this but do note that editing the audio (de-breathing, etc.) and production (music, etc.) are additional services that the client should pay for. Having the expertise required as well as proper equipment to do the job can also be factored into a quote regardless of your methods for quoting.

When and If You Quote Per Word, How Do You Do It?

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Stephan Zabel


  1. I think we have to be prepared to quote by time or by word and have a rate card on hand for both. For ‘by word’ quotes you obviously need a sliding scale that devalues the cost per word for lengthier projects. What I do appreciate is when clients fill in the word count section of the ‘job sheet’. That’s one of the first things I look at to see if their budget is realistic or not.

  2. If you are a journalist, freelance writer or a translator then quoting per word appears to be accepted practise. If you are a Voice Over it should not be acceptable.
    Fee = Session fee (you) +Studio time+ useage(residuals)

  3. I follow a worksheet that I found on the internet a long time ago. I cut and paste the project into a word document and the computer will tell me how many words are there. I do not count header words. If it comes to a number with cents I round up. That number for me includes edit time. So far it’s been working fine with my clients. 🙂
    Wendy Brown Voice Talent

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    When it comes to long form narration, I always charge per finished hour. This basically means that no matter how long it takes me to record and produce one hour of audio, (typically 2 hours) I only charge for that “finished hour of audio.” I stopped per word a long time ago. My clients appreciate it because it eliminates the headache of trying to budget for words. Usually, 10,000 words equates to about an hour of audio. I have a one hour minimum.
    Keith Michaels Voice Imagingâ„¢

  5. I’m brand new to voice over and need to price my first project.
    It involves narrating an intro and the body of a 30 minute documentary that plays weekly on cable TV – 15 episodes per year.
    Can anyone help or tell me about a resource for pricing ?
    Thanks !

  6. My rate card provides options for both per word, and per finished minute. For me, it’s easier to quote using a per word because word processing programs provide such a quick count of words.
    I do have a minimum, but rarely does that come into play. Also, as the size of the project goes up, the rate per word goes down.
    Frankly, they both work out to be nearly Identical cost wise.
    I’d be interested in the how talent charge for ongoing projects like Mr Ebner asked.
    Best to you all!

  7. Only when the client insists. But I much prefer quoting by the job, or (for long-form) per finished minute.

  8. I have quoted per word before. But add a studio fee on top of that to include the time. Much easier by the size of the job.

  9. I understand that quoting by word may be intimidating at first, but if your rate sheet accurately reflects your own personal voicing capabilities, whether you quote by word, by minute or by the hour, it should all come down to pretty much the same price. Everyone is different, therefore one rate sheet cannot apply to everyone. I suggest really sitting down and evaluating how long it takes you to record and edit your tracks to obtain a respectable finished track. Try it with different scripts on different days, and find out what your average voicing capabilities are. Then take into account your investment (equipment, setup, experience and, if applicable, audio engineer fees). Figure out what is an acceptable salary for you, and build your own rate sheet from that. You will be comfortable with your quote and able to work with it if the client wants to negotiate. It’s basically knowing your product and what it’s worth. One more thing: Quoting per word is usually a good method for longer projects that are non-broadcast or have a very limited broadcast, such as corporate or training videos and narrations, but never, ever a good idea for commercials that have to take into account usage fees and market size. Hope this helps! Cheers!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here