Woman screaming holding an empty purseThe online marketplace for voice overs can be a wild place, however, if all voice talent band together and commit to sticking to some standard practices, it can be a friendlier, more prosperous environment.

Quoting for voice over jobs is one of these areas where mutual respect and business acumen comes in handy. It also doesn’t hurt to stick to the guidelines.
How do you get paid more for your work?
Hear about an experience voice talent Karen DeBoer had here at Voices.com.

Taking Action

Karen DeBoer wrote to me a week ago sharing a couple of concerns regarding what some voice talent members are quoting clients when auditioning for Public Jobs. Interestingly enough, I was working on an article in the same vein and Karen’s email inspired me to tackle this topic from a different perspective.

Karen DeBoer’s Experience

Karen was contacted by a client at Voices.com regarding a quote she provided. The name of the client has been removed but what you are reading is real.
Client: We really like your voice… Would $40 be acceptable to you? It would not let me ask for less than $100.¨¨ All you would have to do is email us that MP3… Your audition is perfect as is. ¨¨Thanks

Karen: Hi,
Thanks for your nice comments about my audition–glad you liked it! Unfortunately, my minimum fee needs to stay at the stated $100 budget, as that is the minimum that Voices.com will allow us as talent to charge. If you still want to use me, I ¨will be happy to release the clean file right away. Just let me know.

Client: That’s odd because other persons are offering $25 for this job. You cannot?¨¨ I can send you a check in the mail too.¨¨ It’s your call.¨¨ I’m ready to send you $40 today. ¨¨Just tell me no.

Karen: Hi,
Unfortunately, others are apparently willing to go around the stated guidelines for being a member at Voices.com. Voices.com has no way to monitor every bid that individual talents are submitting, but in order to keep everyone on a level playing field, and not compromise the professionalism of those of us that do this for our only means of income, they request that we abide by those guidelines.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable circumventing those guidelines, so for the sake of integrity, I need to stick with the rules that Voices has put in place. I would certainly love to provide this for you at the stated bid, but will understand if you choose to select a less-expensive talent. (Actually, my normal minimum is $150, but I was willing to submit a lower bid because it was such a small job, and because I knew you were a small business.)
Let me know if you’d like to hire me–otherwise, best of luck in your business.
Best regards,

How Do We Solve This Issue?

What I have gleaned from this experience, and from other similar cases in the past, is that clients aren’t necessarily the root instigators of low budgets that fall well below the minimum. Sometimes, it may be voice talent who are trying to get work by quoting lower than the minimum thereby making it harder for their peers and other professional voice over talent to charge what many would call respectable rates for their work.

We’re faced with an age old problem:
There has always been a temptation for service providers to undercut competitors to get business just as there has been and will always be customers looking for a bargain or the lowest possible price.

This is the nature of any business.
The state of the economy may appear to be a convenient excuse to devalue the worth of voice over work, however, lowering rates drastically to get business from new clients is a dangerous game to play that may do more harm than good for business in the long term.
Will those same clients pay more when this crisis is over if they got the work done for less before? Indeed, that’s something to consider when a career voice over talent and in the business for the long haul.

Bidding under the minimum of $100 does a great disservice to people who abide by the Voices.com guidelines who make their living doing voice over by charging rates more in the neighborhood of what the union suggests if not higher. Our team has found that sometimes our voice talent members are not aware that the client is prepared to pay at least $100, and happily, even more so if they have selected a higher budget range.

Once a member discovers this, they usually start bidding within the budget ranges provided and feel better about submitting their auditions quoting a higher fee placing more value on their work. To come full circle, if a client posts a Public Job at Voices.com and tells us in some way or another that they are not prepared to meet the minimum (but still want to gather responses from talent), their job is not approved and they are invited to contact talent directly out of respect for your time and our job posting guidelines.

This article isn’t meant to point fingers. The purpose is to educate and affirm that voice talent can charge higher rates for their voice over services and still get hired.
Not everyone hires solely based upon a quoted fee. Others in a position to hire place talent, value and relationships ahead of price. It’s important to realize and make the distinction that it isn’t always the person who charges the least amount of money that gets the job, oftentimes it is the person who best meets all of the requirements, and pricing is only one part of the whole.

How do I know?
We have indisputable proof of this from data collected tracking transactions that have been paid out through our SurePay escrow service, and have witnessed some voice talent receiving thousands of dollars at a time for their work who stuck by their rate cards and were paid accordingly. I’m speaking for both union and non-union voice talent, many of whom are union talent.

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to add?

I’m interested to hear if any of you have had similar experiences to Karen’s and how we might improve upon this.
Best wishes,


  1. Steph, this is so right…I have been turning down work when people say…”this is all I’ve got” My response…go get someone else. I have a minimum regardless of how many lines. And that’s the way it is. Voice overs must realize that they have a talent that others need. A talent that is worth more than – oh, this is all I’ve got.

  2. It has never stopped surprising me how under-valued VO work is. The fact is they need us. Our pay should be part of their budget. Period. If they are not happy to pay these rates they shuld either consider another line of work or they can try to record the VO themselves and then suffer the results. I’ve actually gotten a few jobs off of that perspective….

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    Excellent Vox entry! I’ll try to be pithy here.
    Karen’s experience and your input hit the nail on the head so I won’t rehash it.
    I will say that I was “guilty” of doing this when I first started on Voices. I re-quoted a job lower than $100.00 out of angst (I’m sure others can relate).
    I have since radically improved my craft and have been having the majority of my success in my local area.
    To my peers, yes it is a very competitive environment here and we all believe we can contribute. But let’s not hinder; albeit unknowingly at times, other talent by circumventing the pricing structure.
    Remember it is for our benefit as well as the voice seekers.
    (Looks like pithy morphed into lengthy…laf)
    Matt Clark

  4. As a talent, you either value your work and/or time, or you don’t.
    It seems fair that if you want to play on the Voices.com field, then your should honor the minimum $100 rate.
    If however, you want to work for a lower rate, then you should be able to do that….on your own time, from your own site or perhaps through another lead service site that doesn’t require a minimum.
    At the risk of sounding like we are price fixing….I believe it’s good to have standards.
    I would like to think that the talent “playing” on the Voices.com field all agree that there are standard rates that are fair for the client and the talent and we should all make every effort to adhere to those rates.
    Kudos to Karen for addressing this issue.
    Linda O’Brian
    Dallas, Texas

  5. This problem has two sides: The low-bidding talents and the clients who hire them.
    Low-bidding voice talents obviously do not value their own work. If they did, they would charge accordingly. Yes, times are hard now, but for that same reason, don’t you want to earn what you deserve for your work?!
    Of course, it is quite possible that they are charging exactly what their work is worth… Someone who charges a very low fee perhaps can afford to do so, because they provide very low quality and do not need to invest much time in the work.
    In this case, the client gets exactly what they pay for… and will learn the hard way that they should have gone with a different talent, despite the higher price.
    Now for the other side of the equation. Over the past few months, I have been hearing a lot of clients say, “I have a limited budget, and it’s only a two-minute video that needs voicing. Couldn’t you do it for less?”
    However, it’s not only the economic situation that prompts such requests, it is a lack of understanding as to the amount of work that a good voice over entails. I’ve tried to explain the reasons behind the pricing on my website, and of course you had an absolutely excellent podcast about this issue a while back. However, clients don’t necessarily read the articles and listen to the podcasts. Many of them think a two minute recording takes 2-5 minutes tops.
    Personally, I can understand them. I recently undertook the design and SEO of my website, thinking it would be simple and that I would save some money. Well, it wasn’t and isn’t, and I now have new-found respect for and understanding of website designers and SEO specialists. It can be difficult for a person to understand and value someone else’s work, unless they know what it entails.
    The solution: There is nothing we can do about low-bidding voice talents, but we can try to educate the public as to why the minimum fee is $100. Perhaps if we succeed at this task, potential clients who receive a price quote of $25 will realize that the price may very well reflect the quality – and be deterred from hiring the low bidders.

  6. We have a flat rate we pay for VO for the first hour, whether you do a word or a page. We then pay by the 1/2 hour thereafter. If significant car travel is involved we may even add more. There is NO reason for a voice talent to sell herself or himself short. Too often people treat voice artists, singers and actors like their talent and time is worth little.

  7. I would strongly urge voice talent to closely examine how their work is being used, and whether or not it’s going to generate any revenue for your client, then price your work accordingly.
    If you work non-union for national advertisers or name brand nationally known companies you know are going to benefit financially from your work, check the SAG or AFTRA rates and try to negotiate something close to those. Charging $100 for a professional quality voice talent is a joke. If you allow yourself to exploited like that, you’ll forever be known as the sucker who gives away his talent and no one will ever pay you what you’re worth.

  8. I recently had a job that I bid on at a price I felt was extremely competitive. The client was shocked at how much I was asking for. The job was approximately 150,000 words and the client was only willing to pay $100. If you value your talent and time, sometimes you just have to walk away from some jobs.

  9. Once, someone actually told me they pay $1 per paragraph. I tried hard not to laugh as we ended the conversation.

  10. I’ve actually talked to clients who tell me that they delete proposals that they deem “outrageous” – without even listening to the demos! I reply to them, “So when your client tells you that your prices are ‘outrageous,’ what do you tell them?” I’ve never received an answer.

  11. Dare I say, It. Stephanie. This is the value of being a union actor. Collective bargaining sets the minimums and you can always bargain for more than that. Also, that collective bargaining agreement protects you and and your fellow performers as well as helping you achieve pension and health.

  12. Glad to see all the feedback. This has obviously struck a chord with many of you, and I’m really glad I stuck with my guns and didn’t “cave” in a moment of weakness. I’ve certainly been tempted to do so, but ultimately, as Stephanie and others so aptly communicated, doing so only hurts all of us in the long run.

  13. Try being a Full-Time VO artist with no day job and no other income what-so-ever. How many sessions would you have to produce each day? You’re attitude toward low-ballers would not be a positive one.

  14. Great article. I agree wholeheartedly. Professional VOs need to stick together, not devalue the worth of our product and ride it out. Otherwise there’s no future in this business.
    We’re not selling “widgets” here. We’re selling our time. When all you’ve got to sell is your time, you need to put a realistic value on it. Lawyers, doctors and other consultants wouldn’t do the job for $25, so why should voice talents?
    Pride, one and all!

  15. Well…. very interesting. I have to say I laughed out loud at the “other persons are offering 25 dollars”. Seriously, you have some swamp land in Florida for sale too? I would most certainly take those kinds of comments with a grain of salt, especially without any sort of established relationship. This is business after all and everyone is trying to gain leverage and hold the higher ground. You know what you’re worth and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

  16. My approach with the price focused client is “Well, I could do that – however, to do that what I… Read More’d need from you first is…” Then I request something like a very large volume of work. Typically this type of client usually responds with promises to deliver said amount of work. I then say, “Great, we’ve got a deal. I’ll do the work for my originally quoted price now and when you deliver your promise then I’ll issue you a credit”. It usually works out fine – they go away, give me the rate I wanted for the single job or I get a whole bunch of work and issue a credit later.

  17. I always try to over-deliver right out of the gate. I’m so used to clients snickering at my rates, that I usually try to put as much added value in as I possibly can. For example, background music, free revisions (within reason), etc. Sometimes I will even offer to do their voicemail for free. Make it sound like your delivering the moon for the price. 🙂

  18. Thank you, Stephanie!
    This is a valuable reminder that we not only do we need to stick together and keep our fees within an acceptable range, but also that we should not so easily devalue ourselves. We all have images of the types of people who “undercut” or bid low. Some of us think of times we were bamboozled, or recollect that “fast talking salesman” type. (No offense to salesmen!) Do we really want to rank ourselves in those categories all for the love of a dollar (or to hear ourselves broadcast)? I hope not!

  19. Thanks for sharing this article Steph..
    It’s a situation that I’ve faced many times, and like Karen, I’m glad that I have not caved into working for lesser than $100-150 for small jobs.
    I guess I can proudly say that even when I started out (7-8 years ago), I did maintain a minimum fee and didnt work for the ‘this is all I’ve got’ producer.

  20. I can’t tell you how many times potential client have told me that they liked my demo, but they “can’t afford my rates”, or they like my voice a lot but they “decided to go with someone else”… or even still, my personal favorite: “We’re going with someone else, but we would like to use you in the future”.
    Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. I do find though that clients often don’t consider the voices.com rate sheet before posting a project.
    I often think, well… maybe I am charging to much. Then I think back to all the great blogs and podcast’s the preach NOT to do that – and I don’t. It is rather frustrating though.
    On a related note… I have to say I have been sending out a lot of auditions lately, and one frustration that I have is that when you look at the Job “Overview” – 9 times out of 10 no one is ever selected. Am I wrong here??? Maybe they are posting to various services and going with someone other than voices.com. Or… maybe they are taking advantage of folks that send demos without watermarks or some kind of insurance that their work won’t get used without them getting paid.
    Thoughts anyone?

  21. This is an important ethical topic, and I’m glad has generated so much comment. Ben Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or else we will hang separately.” There is strength in numbers, so an united front on Voices.com empowers us all when sending in our price quotes with our demos. We are worth it!

  22. Hi, Stephanie,
    Well, I guess you’ve hit another “hot button” issue with this one! It grieves me to be passing up so many jobs lately when we can all use more work, but so many of the budgets offered are just terrible and yes, I do feel as though clients are often taking advantage of the bad economy because obviously, people will work for any amount! When I see someone wants an audio book of 150 pages for $250 maximum or a 20-minute narration for $200 I may audition for it, but with MY rates if I feel it is something I would be a good match for. It could be that the client isn’t familiar with pricing for voiceovers, or it could be they are just taking advantage. I don’t want the job for the amount stated, so maybe if they like my voice they might be willing to pay a fair rate. Or they can just hit the “delete” button. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Safe to say, steer clear of those clients who say “this will only take you five minutes” or “this is an easy job.” Watch for these red flags to weed out the predators from the potential clients with whom you can begin a long and lasting relationship!

  23. The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.
    The underlying problem, Steph, is that most voice actors are not business-people. They don’t know their costs – some don’t even know that they have costs! In a nutshell: at least half of your time is unbillable time (answering emails, auditioning, doing the books, sweeping the floor, designing your website, etc.). It takes me around 45 minutes to complete even the “quickest” job once I factor-in uploading time, documentation, archiving and the other unbillables related to that specific project. So there are only a handful of projects I can complete per day.
    Since I know my costs, and have divided them by the maximum number of jobs I can do in a day, I know that my “breakeven” point is about $80/job (or it was the last time I made the calculation). If I can’t make at least $80 on each and every job, I can’t stay in business.
    Voice artists working for $25/pop are not breaking even, but they’re either too desperate or too ignorant to know it – or perhaps they are just into v/o as a hobby, and have a “real job” that sustains them financially.
    People, buy a business book. Learn what your costs are. It is very easy for me to say “no” when I know that I would actually lose money doing a gig – even when the client refuses to understand.
    This article I wrote on “revisions” deals with some of these same issues, especially the “value vs. time” issue… http://www.colorsaudio.com/site.cfm/info/Re-Vision-Statement.cfm
    God bless.

  24. Stephanie,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece.
    And Karen…thank YOU too…for sharing, AND sticking to your guns. And for all the voice talent out there doing those $25 and $40 VO’s, is that $40 really going to make THAT much of a difference in your life? Think TWICE before going that route, because it cheapens YOU, and your industry.

  25. We have a saying in England, “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!” I do believe that is the case. However, as a keen amateur, I find that I am doing a lot of free voiceovers (Radiodaddy, etc.), but am not receiving payment.
    I cannot compete or compare myself with a Voice pro with 20 years experience and, I suppose, we all have to start somewhere. Saying that though, I do believe that a company should value the person providing the voice.

  26. Good reading here, and a very timely topic, given the interesting economic times, which should have little bearing. My v/o business is up 10% over last year at this time. Typically the line item in a production budget for talent fees compose a very small percentage of the total costs. Why settle for less? I guess there will always be undercutters, (talent and clients) and they will always crowd the bottom. Just stick to your guns, and don’t be afraid to walk away. There will be better projects. And I believe the cream rises to the top!
    All The Best,
    Bobbin Beam- Voice Actress

  27. @ Tom Conklin,
    Nice to hear all the conversation on this subject.
    For clarification, 9/10 jobs are indeed cast at Voices.com. The last survey we completed showed a 94% fulfillment rate indicating that nearly all projects posted at Voices.com are completed by members of the website.
    May I ask, how did you conclude otherwise? Perhaps it’s a miscommunication on our part, or the text on the website needs to be more clearly laid out? Your feedback is appreciated.

  28. Love this thread!
    One more point about the current economy as it relates to our field: recession does not lower the legal minimum wage in any state.
    Imagine the crisis if it did.

  29. Stephanie, thank you for your post. As a member of the staff who has been responsible for both voice over project reviews and approvals as well as managing SurePay Escrow deposits I’d just like to confirm that Karen’s experience is not the only one to have occurred through our site. It is also frustrating to know that talent continually undermine the standards that we have tried to put in place for their benefit. In the past I have personally followed up with talent about deposits made for them that were below our minimum requirement of $100. In some instances the talent was unaware of our minimum requirement, in other circumstances the talent was offended that I would attempt to tell them what they should be quoting.
    Until our members understand what it is that we are attempting to do for them I’m afraid that this sort of problem will continue and the value of voiceover work will continue to decline due to the talent offering the work.
    As someone who deals with many of the clients using our site I also want to state that it is not the client who is often to blame for lower rates, but rather the talent underbidding their services. In many instances clients often do not know what they should be offering for their recording and it is up to talent to quote accordingly – quote what you’re worth.
    As you can tell my my long winded response this is something that causes me great frustration. Voices.com has taken action, it is now up to the talent using our service to do so also.

  30. Greetings to all…
    WOW! Talk about a timely and much needed discussion. One of the things I was counseled on when I decided to go “whole hawg” was to never , EVER sell my talent cheap. It’s tough when you look at this bill or that financial need, but it’s very important (and NOT egotistical) to properly value the work/service/performance that you provide. Quick comment about Tom’s (Conklin) statement…I was hired to do a medical documentary for Voices.com clients who respected the quote and paid (well) for the project…but NOT via Surepay. When I tried to related to the client about feedback, etc. and a desire to stay within the Voices system he asked me “Why…are they your exclusive agents?” Just didn’t want to do the 10%, I guess. There are many different paths on this journey, folks, with many different people on the trail. I’ve often wondered about that statistic (none chosen yet) as well until my own recent experience.
    Hang together, family. It only gets better!

  31. Mornin’ folks,
    The “lets hang together” theme seems to encourage supporting unions, which we happen to have two available to us if we choose. When I first returned to the US, I was appalled at the conflict within SAG and the continued distance between it and AFTRA. I considered leaving SAG, or maybe going fi-core. Being undecided I did nothing, wisely it now seems.
    One of the continuous concerns referenced on VO sites and blogs is the inevitable driving down of rates by the behavior where discussing here. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s inevitable at all. And too I’ve decided that being in the union is better than not being in the union. My decision really. And for those not in or aspiring to join a union, I think it’s important to decide where “YOU” draw your line, and then have the commitment to hold that line. And as I’ve stated several times before, No one gets all the work.
    Congrats to Karen!

  32. Forgive me if someone already suggested the simplest solution of all but I didn’t see it addressed above. How about Voices.com puts in some programming code that prevents a talent from quoting less than the budget? It’s quite easy to implement and would resolve this issue. Or how about adding it to the rules of membership – undercut the budget and lose your membership. Simple …

  33. I have to strongly disagree with the suggested strategy of citing voices.com’s $100 minimum when holding firm on your rate. That only suggests the client should seek out sites without the minimum, and there are some. In fact, at least one prides itself on driving VO industry rates lower. If the client specified “non-union” in the lead, the concept of price-fixing, whether through a union scale or a site-wide minimum rate, is not going to be an effective argument.
    You hold firm on your rate because that’s what your work is worth. If some prospective client says he has a competing bid for $25, or tells me I’ve been selected as one of three finalists to see who will be the low bidder, (which also happens,) I decline, and remind him that if his project fails to meet its goals, having saved an inconsequential sum on talent won’t mean much.
    The union paradigm is a very odd one here. We’re not employees, banding together like coal mine workers to avoid exploitation. We’re a bunch of one-man companies competing with each other to provide services to other companies. In that environment, the way you justify rates above the bottom-feeders is through customer service skills, work which exceeds expectations, branding, and doing everything you can to demonstrate your return-on-investment.
    Kia and Lexus will both get you from point A to B, yet people still pay Lexus rates. If you’re a Lexus salesman, do you tell a comparison shopper that the Lexus is more expensive than Kia because the companies have different arbitrary minimum prices? Exactly. You, with the help of good marketing, reinforce why the Lexus is worth more. That’s what we need more of in our world.
    This will be a huge issue in 2009. In the US alone, hundreds of radio announcers have been dumped on the street in the last couple months. Many will lack the acting skills required for VO work outside radio, but they all have USB mics and mortgage payments coming due. Downward pressure on rates will be extreme. You can’t stop it, so figure out why you’re worth more, and how to communicate that.

  34. Do we want to whine about this or do we want to solve it? I have a simple solution – two, in fact.
    1. Voices.com can easily add a small piece of code that will check that the member’s bid is not below the budget range. If the range is $250-$500 and the member inputs $150, the system will reject the bid.
    2. Add it to the terms and conditions of membership. if a member is found to underbid the requested budget, they will forfeit their membership.
    David/Stephanie, over to you ….

  35. The SAG minimum is $545.00 for studio work. Your stated minimum even undercuts this professional standard and for the same reasons as you state in the message below; therefore, what is the value of professional and experienced talent?
    Best thoughts, Stan.

  36. Hi Stephanie
    This is precisely why we have unions…not to mention the rip-off problem. and I mean actually getting paid once the work is done . The internet has in a way returned us to a Wild West/ Deadwood boomtown mentality. I concluded a while ago to stick with AFTRA and my agent(dbTalent-512 292 1030) where trust has long since been established. Any one not willing to work through my agent is someone to instantly beware of. I appreciate this newsletter. It provides a splendid overview of what’s going on in this brave new world. I wish you continued success.
    Timothy Patrick Miller

  37. I am so glad to hear Karen stuck to her guns. I’m also pleased to hear that Karen’s normal fee structure starts at $150. A person might well spend an hour or less in the studio on a $150 project which makes it seem like we’re making outrageous sums of money. But every voiceover artist I know is not getting rich. What the client is paying for our expertise to deliver the product they want.

  38. Hi Stan,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    I would be curious to learn what falls under that $545.00 minimum and what it entails.
    Most businesses are not prepared to pay $545.00 for a voice over on their voicemail or a local radio commercial.
    Could you please expand upon this and explain how the SAG rate affects freelance voice over talent? While SAG does cover some elements of voice over, the bulk of union voice over work falls under AFTRA’s jurisdiction.
    If not Stan, perhaps someone else from SAG could speak to this point and its validity in this context?
    Best wishes,

  39. Hi David et al,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas. No one had brought that up before in this particular discussion.
    While I cannot promise that we will incorporate every suggestion, I can guarantee that every suggestion is considered. I appreciate your comment 🙂
    Take care,

  40. To David and Tim – I think we get the feeling we are auditioning for naught, because such a large percentage of projects seem to never have selected anyone. Might there be a way to at least see if our audition was even listened to? The page we see after auditioning indicates how many people auditioned, and so often “Not Yet” under the “Selected” column. And it stays that way.
    I’ve enjoyed the posts in this thread. There are so many opinions from so many directions, and I think the Wild West analogy is good. And the Wild West was rough, with every man/woman for themselves, but without it we wouldn’t have so much now. If the analogy holds, we can only expect things to improve over time with the hard work and ethics of the folks in white hats!

  41. Voice talent sites shouldn’t allow voice seekers to post jobs offering fees that are really insulting. It’s matter of PRIDE. I keep receiving job announcements from VOICE123 offering just $20 or $25. The funniest thing is that one hour later they have already received 4 or 5 replies. I am also a voice broker reselling colleague’s talent in countries such as Colombia, Peru and Venezuela and take pride in keeping rates as high as possible.

  42. About fees: I was self-employed for many years making neon signs, and I suffered because I could not earn enough to make a decent living. When I raised my prices, I improved both my income and my clientele immensely. It was scary at first, ‘though.

  43. Stephanie…this is my one pet peeve, thanks for sharing!
    I wonder if the people who bid below the minimum even realize what they could/should be making. Do they bid ridiculously low because they have to in order to get hired, or do they do it because they don’t know any better? Either way, it’s a self inflicted sabotage of your talent and your future business if you want to make a living in Voiceover..
    I often have clients contact me with the “We love your voice, but there are others who have bid a lot lower than you, will you do it for less?” To which I reply, Thanks for the compliment, but If your main concern is rate, then you should probably hire one of them. If you want me as your voice, this is what my clients pay.”
    I’ve said it before, and it’s still front and center in my business. You have to maintain rate integrity if you want to be successful and work with successful clients. Like attracts like. If you bid like a bottom feeder, guess what…you get hired by the bottom feeders, and you’ll work harder for less for every job you do for them. Weed them out now and you’ll be a lot happier working for the “good” clients who gladly pay you well, instead of dreading a call from the ones who locked in at the low-ball rate you accepted just to get a job .
    Knowing that Voices.com has gone out of their way to ensure we don’t do any job for less than $100, why in the world would anyone give away their talent & time for less?
    I had a client last month contact me directly saying that he knew that the minimum for his particular job was $100, but because it was only :10-:15 seconds, he thought it should be worth less. I told him my standard minimum rate for any non-broadcast session less than a minute was $100, and that he was welcome to provide more for me to say if he wanted to feel like he “got his money’s worth”, but that I would not lower my rate. I didn’t hear back for a couple of weeks, and then he quietly came back and paid my rate for the read. He gave me a 5 star feedback, and also sent a separate e-mail telling me how happy he, and everyone in his company was with my work. He’s happy, I’m happy, and most importantly, I maintained my rate integrity.
    I had a similar situation a few months back, another guy with the same song: “You’re definitely the voice we want, but so many others have bid this job for less.” I told him, “Thanks, but these are my rates”, and that he should probably hire one of them if he thought my rates were too high. He reluctantly hired me. After I completed the job he sent me an e-mail and then called me on the phone to say,”You charged twice as much as all the other people who bid, and because of that, we almost didn’t hire you. But now, after hearing what you did for us, we know you are absolutely the right voice for our company. We’re so glad we went with our gut and hired you even though you cost twice as much.”
    That’s the ultimate compliment, and exactly why you should never compromise your rate. If we stick together and educate clients by not charging below the minimum, they’ll quickly become aware of what to budget for future jobs, and this shouldn’t be such a problem now, and in the future.

  44. Excellent discussion and I’m relieved to hear that most talents are sticking to their standards. Karen, good for you for sticking to your guns!
    This whole rate issue has been a sore spot for me for years with the proliferation of low budget jobs on various internet casting sites. To be perfectly honest, even $100 is low for a minimum rate for ANY voice over job but I applaud Voices.com for taking the initiative to implement this as a standard guideline. Personally, I would like to see that number increase to at least $150 if not $250.
    A voice talent is no less valuable than your local dentist or plumber. I don’t see them lowering their rates because of the economy. Why should we? I’m a full-time voice talent and I have a rate card that I go by for quoting all of my jobs and will often quote higher than the client’s selected budget range if that’s my rate given the criteria for a given job. I will sometimes make exceptions but I will never go below my minimum. You get what you pay for.
    While everybody needs to start somewhere, bidding low on jobs serves to devalue not only the industry but yourself in the long run because by the time you’ve acquired some experience and are ready to bid higher, your past actions will come back and haunt you. You’ll have to now work 10 times harder to convince that client why your time and talent are worth $500 for the job instead of $100. By bidding low, you are also setting yourself up to be “used” by clients because if you don’t value yourself enough to charge a respectable minimum fee, then why should you expect the client to respect you, your time or your talent?
    If every single talent, regardless of their level of expertise, were to stick to their guns and charge what the suggested guidelines are then sooner or later the clients would have to adapt and start paying more. It’s simple economics. You might book less jobs at the beginning but eventually it will pay off big time. Have the courage to put your foot down. Success breeds success. Desperation however is a lonely spiral down the rabbit hole.
    Thanks for this post Stephanie and Karen, thanks for sharing your story! I’m all for raising awareness and creating positive change.

  45. Such an important discussion – and so good to hear that so many of us are on the same page! Whenever I have “done a client a favor” by lowering my minimum rate, it ALWAYS ends in hassles. Inevitably, clients that haggle and make a fuss over money, are the ones that make script changes and want retakes. I’ve learned to trust my gut feeling. If a quote feels too low, it is. When it feels right, everyone ends up happy.

  46. The next time you hear writers talking about how amateurs in the business make it impossible for professionals to make a living because of their willingness to give their “work” away for nothing?
    Well, this right here is what they’re talking about.
    Everybody has a computer now, all with word processors, and most with audio software as well. Everybody thinks they can write; everybody thinks they can do voice-overs.
    Amateurs will always be willing to work for practically nothing, just for the bfun or the thrill of being noticed.
    And clients are always quite willing to take advantage of that when negotiating rates with us professionals.
    Fact of life.
    All you can do is refuse to play the game. Get a day job. Only do your writing/voice-over work for clients who respect you.
    Respect yourself. It’s far higher compensation than a quick $50.


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