Sowing wheat in a gardenHave you ever made an exception to the rules you created for your voice over business?

What about where fees are concerned?
Voice talent Herb Merriweather shares a story about one such project and how taking the work for less money initially resulted in his reaping a return on investment worth far more than anticipated.

The Exception To The Rule

By Herb Merriweather
Throughout life, nature, business, etc., there are rules–standards by which a thing operates. Just as there are rules or laws, there is also the occasional exception to a rule or law.

For example: the rules of physics demand that an object be constructed in a certain way so as to be considered aerodynamic or flight-worthy. The exception to those rules is a magnificent creature called the bumblebee–body too bulky, wings too small and weak, aerodynamically he shouldn’t be able to fly but there he is hovering effortlessly from bloom to blossom to flower. To paraphrase Bugs Bunny, I guess he never studied physics. (Actually, the bumblebee’s flight mechanics are more like a helicopter than a fixed wing aircraft).

The idea is that there are special occasions or circumstances that sometimes call for operating outside of (or in spite of) the rules.
When scouring the internet for jobs and leads you see many ads for people “looking for professional voice over talent with their own equipment must be experienced to read 4 pages of copy for $25.00” Most assuredly below the standard of pricing that I’ve established for myself.

Then there was the ad from the start-up production company that honestly said upfront that resources were small–but the vision was big. Well…I’m a fledgling company with small resources and huge vision, too. Maybe it was because I could see myself and my efforts in them, or maybe it was because I know that people have allowed ME to be an exception at times but I answered that ad with all of the excitement of applying for a network gig or major animation project. The pricing didn’t meet my minimum work demands but sometimes it’s not about the money. Really.

I know that sounds weird in a world of financial turmoil but as I understand it, one of the things that endeared the late Don LaFontaine to everyone around him was his habit of lending his magnificent voice to answering machines and pro bono projects–just to help out! Anyway, when these folks contacted me I was honored to help spearhead something brand new. Our first meeting and the recording session itself was a tremendous adventure as we got acquainted with each others talents and discussed their current and future projects.

There is even a 30 second YouTube video of me ‘hard at work’ voicing lines from the production–further proof that I have a perfect face for voice over work!
The point, of course is to be flexible and available to give a boost to a student project or startup business. The exception to the rule should be in favor of planting the seeds of success in somebody else’s garden. Now my global empire has increased with the addition of some very talented new friends and an opportunity to be a part of something fresh and different.
Wow…it looks like I made quite a profit after all!
Herb Merriweather
© Zhang


  1. Dear Herb,
    What a thoughtful, gracious and spot-on article. When you help others, you are allowing yourself to be open to new opportunities, without the exchange of money. A Good Samaritan in the business world is always remembered fondly by those in need. Who knows where it may lead or not, but during this holiday season, I think it’s an excellent time to remember about how a little sacrifice on our part can mean a great deal to others. I not only concur with your thinking, but I truly enjoyed the important message behind your article!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. I love the spirit in which you operate Herb. A great reminder of abundant thinking, being flexible, and the (much) bigger picture behind what we do as voice professionals… The more I am reminded that it’s not about the money, the more money seems to flow my way, effortlessly.
    Thanks for sharing and the jolt of morning inspiration!

  3. Agreed, Herb. I too have my pet projects that I’m happy to voice pro bono. Rewards are not always in the form of paychecks. There are many rewards in helping others to complete a worthwhile effort.
    And we know a professional voice talent can lift a production out of ‘amateur ‘ ranking and add credibility to something we believe in.
    Thanks for the article!

  4. Blessings to everyone of you who read and also commented. You folks will never know how much it encourages me to have the opportunity to communicate and dialogue with the VO community. I myself have been the exception to the rule on many occasions (Thanks Stephanie, Penny, Nancy, Ralph, Andy and countless others) and I relish the chance to pass it along.
    Happy Voicing–and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here