"Stop working for peanuts, you monkeys!"

Avoid the squeeze

Proper voice over rates are an endangered species. If you are not careful you could harm your bottom line for a very long time. Here is how to avoid the biggest mistakes…

Here is the story: There is this German voice over talent that has been with bodalgo for years. He's been in voice acting for decades, a very experienced voice with a "very experienced" rate card.

He once told me: "See, Armin, I don't book a lot of jobs with you, but that's fine. I'm just too expensive for many clients. I can't be bothered with a 15-minute piece unless it pays 1,000 Euro." Yes, that's right: He asks for 1,000 Euro for a 15-minute e-learning piece. He has a Don LaFontaine-like voice. And a similar rate card, too, it seems.

Still, he auditions for a lot of jobs because he does not care about the budget suggested by the client! He looks at his rate card and quotes accordingly, although he knows there won't be too many success stories ahead. "But when I book a job," he continued, "it screams."

There are a lot of similar examples. And they show impressively that one of the myths in the voice over industry is not true: "Voice seekers always go for the cheapest talent."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Budget squeeze

Sticking to your rates is the best way to avoid being squeezed

Sticking to your rates is the best way to avoid being squeezed

Shooting low in your offer can be tempting, especially when you are desperate or at the beginning of your career. The truth is: It is neither necessary nor smart to do so.

Being cheap will not get you anywhere. You will hurt not only yourself but also the entire voice over community. Why? Let's take Jimmy here, for instance. Jimmy is desperate. That's why he shoots low to nail a job eventually. After a little while, Jimmy books a job (that he would have gotten anyway because he was the right voice for it) and is happy. The client is happy, too, that's why he books Jimmy again. And again.

Jimmy and his client work together well for a few months when Jimmy decides that he is no longer happy with the tiny budgets he maneuvered himself to. So in a brave attempt, he presents his "real" prices to his client who won't book Jimmy ever again as he can (and will) not understand why he suddenly should pay more. Instead, he searches for the next voice over talent desperate enough to make the same mistake as Jimmy.

And so the story repeats itself…

The aftermath: Jimmy has lost his only client that he still could be happy with if only he stuck to his rates right from the start. But what's even worse: He also gave the client an entirely wrong idea about voice over rates in general. Unfortunately, humans handle changes badly. It will take a while until the client's picture about voice over rates will be back to normal.

Lesson learned: It is extraordinarily hard (a.k.a. impossible) for talents to raise prices once tiny budgets have been established. There is only one way to avoid this dilemma:

Stick. To. Your. Fricking. Rates.

But there is more to this. Let's take Sarah. A client, inexperienced with booking voice over talents, offers her a job for a budget much higher than she would usually ask for. It's tempting to cash the "extra" in, but what should you do?

Stick. To. Your. Fricking. Rates.

Being consistent is not a one-way street. The rules are the same no matter if the budget seems too high or too low: You always stick to your rate card. Chances are that your client will find out that they paid too much, which will be especially hurtful when you established a long term relationship. You do not need to be the brightest candle on the cake to imagine what the client will do next.

Now: Are there clients with smaller budgets than others? Sure there are. I do not blame them. There will always be companies or individuals that need a professional voice over talents but can only shop the bottom shelf. Those are not bad people! They just can't afford you.

The important takeaway is: If you spot a fixed budget below your rate card – don't lower your prices. Don't audition. Delete the job and be done with it.

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voice over rates  guide  budgets  best practices  voice over talents