A blue button on a keyboard has the word 'Quote' on it with an icon that looks like a sheet of paper

For a lot of people, money is an uncomfortable topic.

Anyone who has ever been asked for their salary expectations, knows the awkward tension between wanting to make as much money as possible, but also wanting to be realistic and hireable.

It’s the same when you’re quoting for voice over work: you want to be fair and get what you’re worth.

So where do you begin?

You should always quote what you want to be paid for any job.

However, because creating a quote can be a confusing experience, the following are some common industry considerations to keep in mind, so that you can arrive at a number that feels right for you.

Key Considerations When Quoting for Voice Over Work

1. Calculate How Long the Voice Over Job Will Take You

Don’t overlook all of the little things (and not-so-little things) that you do to ensure that a job goes smoothly. Each step takes time, and you want to make sure that you’re scoping out the work in a way that allows you to quote fairly, as well as manage your workflow.

Some considerations include:

    • The length of the script: You can use this handy Words to Time Conversion Tool to help calculate how long it will take to read.
    • The type of job: As an example, character work can involve different considerations than straightforward narration. You know yourself best and how long certain voice over work will take.
    • Editing: Once you’ve recorded, there may be other tasks – such as editing and preparing the files, which takes time.

2. Be Realistic About Where Your Voice Over Rates Fall on the Industry Scale

The highest paid voice actors on the planet tend to lend their talents to television shows or animated movies, and they can easily make hundreds of thousands of dollars per episode or per film. The ceiling of what you can make in the voice over industry is very high, but like all success – it takes a combination of hard work and, more often than not, a few lucky breaks along the way too.

Generally speaking, voice actors find that they’re able to charge higher rates as they become more experienced and add recognizable brands into their portfolio.

To sort out your level of experience, you may consider:

  • Where you are in your career, including how long you’ve been voice acting.
  • The kind of training you’ve received.
  • The profile of the clients in your portfolio.

However, there are a number of things that professional voice actors do to grow their businesses and ability to command more per job.

Tip: Voice Actors Share Their Success Strategies in this post.

3. Know Your Business Goals and Crunch the Numbers

One of the most helpful steps you can take to become profitable, is to first understand the cost of business. Once you know how much you’re spending, you’ll know how much you need to earn to become profitable.

Tip: To help you tabulate the cost of running a voice over business, you can check out Is Your Voice Over Business Profitable.

As an example, if you calculate that your business costs roughly around $2500 each year to run, then you know you’re not profitable until you’re making more than $2500.

Afterwards, how you create your plan to earn money as a voice over artist is up to you.

The key isn’t the amount you earn per job or the number of jobs, but to at least have gone through the exercise of crunching the numbers and getting a picture of what feels realistic and achievable. For example, do you think it’s more realistic for you to complete over 10 jobs at $250 each (10 x $250 = $2500), or 5 jobs at $500 each (5 x $500 = $2500)?

It’s worth noting too, that not every business has a goal of being profitable in year one. How you build your business is in your hands!

4. Sort How You Like to Charge for Your Time and Where the Project will be Distributed (and for How Long)

Consider Hourly Rates and Project Rates

There are a number of ways that voice over actors consider their quotes. Some may use an hourly rate, some may use a project rate, and others may use a different system or any combination therein, at any given time.

Hourly Rate Example:

As context, with an hourly rate, you might find yourself calculating the number of hours a job will take and then multiplying that with what you’re comfortable charging per hour.Example 1: Animated Explainer Video

25-hour job at $55/hour = $1375

Example 2: Phone System

6-hour job at $55/hour = $330

Project Rate Example:

With project rates, the individual quoting may think of their time in blocks – like half days, or full days. Example: A job that is estimated to take a day ($800) and a half ($400) would be around $1200.

Don’t Forget to Consider Distribution Channel and Air Time

Hourly rates and project rates are a great way to put yourself into a mental space where you’re weighing the value of your time against the amount of work required for each job. As a voice actor, you should always weigh your quote against the end-use for the voice over.

Important: Voices.com has minimums in place for broadcast rates.

For example, regardless of the amount of time each takes, when you layer on ‘end use’ and run time, a voice over for a national television commercial that runs for 13 weeks may be priced very differently from an internet ad that runs for 2 weeks.

Put into context, pricing will vary for voice over work, in a similar way to how pricing varies for advertisers who are purchasing time and/or placement for their media. For example, a 30-second spot airing on a major network during the Super Bowl can go at a much higher premium than a 30-second spot that runs on your local cable access channel.

As a note, today’s digital economy is making it so that advertisers are creating more and more content with national or international audiences in mind. One of the reasons for this is because the internet offers so many affordable options for wide distribution. However, as a voice actor, it’s always worth it to consider distribution and run time when quoting.

5. Work Your Niche Market Skills and Charge Accordingly

Another consideration that can be looked over, is whether or not what you’re able to offer as a voice over actor is rare or commonplace.

It’s always a good idea to know your personal brand and work on differentiating your offer. The reason why the top voice over actors in television and film get paid so much is because they’ve carved out their own place in the market – their clients feel that no one else can do what they do, the way they do it.

So if you have a niche skill – like fluency in a rare language, or the ability to create characters at the drop of a hat – you should be sure to explicitly state these skills.

Tip: Here are some other great tips for Creating a Winning Voices.com Profile.

It’s a basic rule of business that prices tend to increase when demand surpasses supply – people will pay a premium for products and services that are rare and valuable.

What’s the Best Advice You’ve Received for Creating Voice Over Quotes?

Do you have some quote building advice to share with other voice actors in the community?

Maybe someone has given you great advice as you’ve built your career, and you’d like to pay it forward.

Please share your best tips, tricks and considerations to help other voice over actors build their businesses, in the comments below!

1 COMMENT

  1. Tanya,

    Nicely written – thanks for sharing!

    In addition to the rate sheets that Voices lists, the Global Voice Acting Academy (gvaa) has put a ton of work into creating a detailed table of rates for the various genres (http://www.globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide/).

    It’s a great help to not only newbies who are trying to figure out what they should be quoting, but also experienced VO that are working in a genre they’re unfamiliar with.

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