How Much Should You Charge For Professional Voice Over Services?

Following on from a story we covered regarding the sad story of Mexican voice actors being ripped off, we wanted to reiterate how you should structure your voice over rates.

The demand for voice over talent is on an upwards spiral, thanks to the boom in more technological innovations that are in need of voiceovers. Think of Smartphone apps that require audio instructions, vehicles fitted with audio GPS navigation systems, whiteboards, marketing podcasts and short YouTube animations, and you will see where this sudden demand arises from.

Naturally, where there is demand, supply follows, and this tends to dilute the price of services. This is what is currently being experienced in the freelance voiceover industry. A client posts a job, which he/she estimates to be a below $500 and talents rush to bid on it through P2P sites, clearly unaware of what they are buying into.

It is true to say that a lot of new VO freelancers who have suddenly found their talent in demand do not know what to charge for their services. It is therefore no surprise to find one voiceover talent charging an arm and a leg for his talent while another one is literally dishing out his services for next to nothing.

That brings us to the question, what should you charge for your VO services? And should you stick to the union rates while pricing your services?

A tricky question and one that I doubt whether anyone has a quick answer to. Instead of offering a one-cut-fits-all answer to the above question, the best thing is to look at what goes into the project and the final value that the client will be deriving from the voiceover project.

When estimating the value of a project for a client, be sure to ask whether the recorded audio clip will be repurposed for other media other than the one it has been intentionally ordered. For instance, it would be unwise to charge the same rates for a clip that will be used for a video for a commercial on YouTube as that of a3 phone greeting of a small town business.

We have already mentioned the broad range of services that voiceovers might be used for. Because of this broadness, it makes sense that voiceover services should be divided into different categories. This would make it easier to establish rates for jobs in the various sets. Voiceovers that are to be used on a Smartphone should for instance be grouped separately from ones that are broadcast on national television.

Staying informed about the per-word, per-page or per-minute rates in your locality also goes a long way in helping you decide what you should charge for your services. Additionally, if you have your own home studio, you should include the price for that in your rates.

DON’T BE SCARED TOF BEING DECLINED

There is nothing worse than taking on a job and then struggling to keep your head above water and regretting agreeing to it. Think about how much time is going to go into recording, editing out mistakes, re-records, script changes. All of these should be discussed with the client prior to recording.

Many voice talent will give their base rate and then list additional fees for editing, re-recording script changes etc.

The main things you need to know are:

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What is the recording going to be used for? Radio & TV, or a non-broadcast piece that will air once at an AGM (annual general meeting)?

How long will the script be? A 1 hour script can take 3 hours or more to record and edit!

How long will the audio be used for? 1 week, 1 month, 1 year?

Does the job require editing?

Will their be character voices needed?

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Know your worth and don’t undersell yourself!

Look around at what other talent are charging, price your services accordingly, avoid selling yourself short and you’ll keep yourself and the client happy.

Do you find that voice over rates are falling dramatically? Let us know in the comments section below.

Rana King

Rana King has presented marketing, sales, and writing seminars around the globe. She is also experienced in business-to-business copywriting and technical writing. She is also an accomplished voice actor with regular clients from around the globe.

  • Nicola Redman

    Quoting is getting incresingly hard now that there are so many variants or each job – medium, channels, useage, processing etc etc… Oh for a union to help us properly regulate!