Money Matters on Voiceover Rates: Do your Homework!

by | Business, Voice Over

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s , many used to advise writing “negotiable”  on job payment expectations.

Is this approach still valid?

Obviously, “job seekers” (voice talents) are a bit stressed walkng the tightrope , trying to avoid losing out on a gig and avoiding the position of selling him/herself short.

And the clients, just emerging from “the great recession”  want to hire the most qualified individuals at the lowest cost  possible. This has not changed.

What has changed is the availability of pricing information via social networks and voiceover pay to play sites. With helpful places like the vo-bb, and the higher-profile play to plays, like  provide going prices  there for the taking  with a voiceover rate sheet .  You can also look up the types of jobs and corresponding price ranges  the company has previously posted there . What makes me cringe are some of the virtual “dollar a holler” sites or solicitations for free VOs on the other extreme. Won’t go there!

It makes sense that voice talents should never take up precious time to audition and craft a proposal without doing their homework. One can also get information the old-fashioned way by talking to friends in the business, and those who’ve already worked with the company that wants to hire you.

Of course if you’re working a union job, none of this applies unless you’re working over scale.

In most cases, the VO who does the research will determine if a job  is in the right price range for him/her.
Be aware of the  word count of the job. A narration project that pays $250 may look tempting at first blush. But simple research and math may indicate that the job has 9000 words. If the  normal pace of speech runs 136-165 words per minute, a 9000 word script will finish at about one plus hour total running time after /record time, most of the time you’ll be requested to edit out mistakes and render finished audio. Most editors take anywhere from 2-4+ times the additional time to finish the project. 

Then, calculate your time in motion. Your time in motion or work per hour may amaze and illuminate.  Do you know what your cost per hour is just to hang your shingle  as a voice talent? Don’t forget to add  how much you’ll need to make per hour to pay for your other total costs, aside from “talent fee”. Add advertising & marketing, utilities, cost of space, insurance, utilities, training, etc. Equipment depreciation (computers, mics, hardware, software, office machines, ISDN, are also  amortized expenses, adding to the cost of doing business.

A Suggestion: Sometimes there’s a price range listed for a job on the VO marketplaces, like $250-500. If after your research, you feel the range for the scope of the project is something you can live with, try proposing the midpoint.

Only you can determine if it’s a job you really want to do , or make the choice that  your time may be better spent something else that will move your business forward.

Never sell yourself short. You may find yourself going out of business and not even know it.


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