How Much Should I Charge For Voice Over Work?

***Pre Blog Disclaimer- All monetary values in this piece have been renamed to protect their identity. I shall be using the universal and fictional currency of ‘nics’ to represent the rates at which VO artist may or may not sell their services. Enjoy ***

I imagine quoting as a voice over artist and voice actor in days gone by was a lot easier. Movie trailer? Sure. 100 nics. Ooh, cartoon VO? No problem. 200 nics. Aah, nice bit on the one radio station the world has. 50 nics.

Cut to 2014. A TV commercial? Great, what channel, for how long, during what hours of programming? Continuity? Fine. Live or pre-recorded, what channels, digital? Sky? Radio spot? OK, which station, DAB, analogue or online (or all three) and in what regions? With Spotify too? Oh a corporate video narration, sure thing. Broadcast or non broadcast? With buy out for use on You Tube? How many views? Audiobook. Right. For what producer? And how many pages? E-learning, lovely. Internet usage or internal?  An app you say… with or without buyout? And what’s your favourite cheese? Can I get your inside leg measurement? ARRRRRGH.

There are so many TV stations, and radio stations, and e-learning outlets, and app developers, and gaming consoles, and corporate producers. As well as Spotify and You Tube and Vimeo etcetera ETCETERA! Quoting is so difficult. You could go too high by accident and not secure the gig. Even worse, you could go too low and get the gig but set a damaging precedent for both yourself and the clients view of the voice industry. Plus, I have in the past sent out a rate card, carefully curated with what I feel are industry respected rates, garnered through research, experience and advice from colleagues (and on the odd occasion, Equity) to clients who have then come back and said, ‘oh you’re price for x is a bit higher than we usually pay’. So do you stick to your guns and not match their pricing? But what if the client you had who paid 100 nics for the same words before was a generous one off and actually industry standard for this work is usually only 50 nics. It’s a veritable minefield. With nics being thrown about all over the bally place and no one to regulate it anymore.

The way I see it is thus (***wisdom alert, take at your peril****) At a basic level, there seem to be two major factors to consider when quoting;

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1)     Worth. How do you value your time? Some people don’t mind IVR work at 20 nics a prompt, when others wouldn’t get out of bed for less that 1000 nics a prompt. There is also your own personal worth to consider. Is it low paying but a good credit or experience? Maybe you’ve wanted to work with that client for a long time and are happy to compromise as you’re ‘earning’ in a different way, creatively?

2)     Treat each client individually. Two companies within the same industry may have completely different budgets for their projects. Maybe they are a charity? Or a start up. Some people may not have used a voice over before, so need a bit of guidance. Their ridiculously low offer may be due to ignorance of the skill involved, so educate them on what the process will entail, what they will get for their money.

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We need some kind of industry standard rate card to adhere to. Theoretically, it could be the one supplied by Equity but, for whatever reason, that’s not getting updated sufficiently. Which is a topic for another blog. At the end of the day, I know we have to band together and keep rates where they should be for the industry, but that is getting tough. Who am I to turn down an ad for 500 nics when 5 years ago I would have got 5000, or judge someone for selling their services online for a can of pop and a hug? Perhaps you have to knuckle down as an artist and make up the deficit with smaller jobs? It is just that after all. A job. We aren’t owed anything from anyone. Ach but what do I know? I’m just a girl. Sat in front of a screen. Asking you to pay me right…

(there’s always time for a Julia Roberts quote, isn’t there?)

I know people have strong opinions on this stuff. Let me know your thoughts. Let’s thrash it out guys! (*Braces self…)

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See some of Nic’s work and find out how many “Nics’ she’ll cost you at: www.nicolaredman.com

Nicola Redman

Nicola is a Northern Irish voice over artist and voice actor based in the UK. She works from both her home studio and studios across London on commercial, corporate and character voicing. When not talking to herself like a mad eejit, she performs solo and sketch comedy across the UK and enjoys writing, cookery and all things voice.

  • Yes a fun slant on the thorniest of problems. Thank you, I much enjoyed that.

    I think the challenge with treating it like a picture ‘worth whatever someone will give you for it’ is that each job becomes a minefield of what-can-I-get-away with, which is demeaning on both parties. My only guides, and I attempt to stick to these, is not a rate card (though I applaud those who set them) are (a) what does seem to be worth to the client and (b) what is the minimum I’m prepared to set and still value my time. I don’t necessarily go with that same minimum, in fact most often not, but at least I get a feel for where both floor and ceiling are.

    On balance, though clearly not all the time, I’m pleasantly surprised by my assessment of (a) above. That’s really only proven, of course when clients order repeat or follow up projects, but happily that list continues to grow steadily. Could always be quicker ..

  • This is one of the more fun posts I’ve read about rates. My quotes are based on my rate card and I’m open to work within a client’s reasonable budget limits. I’ve tried to keep it simple, even worked with a base + price per word system. When I’m offered work in (a new to me) genre, I do a bit of research to see what the “standard” rate might be. It seems there really is no industry standard and rates are more in line with whatever a client paid for a particular gig. Maybe it’s like selling an item of value, it’s worth is whatever somebody will pay.