Why You Should Post Your Voice Over Rates Online

The voice over industry is a competitive one. These days there’s literally hundreds of thousands of voice actors all out trying to land lucrative jobs. Some talent display their rates clearly on their personal website, others don’t. So should you list your rate or not? The consensus is mixed according to online forums and groups.

There is a variety of arguments for and against. But which one is correct, and which makes more sense from the clients perspective? After all they are the ones doing the hiring.

A friend once told me that he will never purchase anything in a store that does not clearly list the prices on products. His reasoning was that they will look you up and down and charge you according to what they think you will pay. Now we may only be talking a few dollars here and there, but those dollars add up, but more so his reasoning was on principle.

Many voice actors argue that there are many factors that go into pricing a voice over job and they need to be fully discussed before a quote is given.

But really, shouldn’t the rates be determined by how long the script is and where the audio will be used?

These days clients have so many options, and more often that not, are pressed for time. Many don’t have time for endless back and forth emails, and when there’s another website they have open in their browser with clear rates, that makes their decision a lot easier. Plus it is kind of an insult to charge one company something different than another company simply because you recognise their brand name.

Let’s use an example. Coca Cola come to you looking for a 1 minute recording that will air on radio in Tampa, Florida only. Then you have a second company looking for the exact same recording, but they are a small carpet company serving the Tampa region. The job will require you to do the exact same amount of work. For arguments sake, let’s say you include two additional pick up sessions.

Avoid issues down the track. Everything should be clear from the start.
Avoid issues down the track. Everything should be clear from the start.
It’s tempting to want to request big bucks from Coca Cola, but I don’t believe it’s in your best interest. Not especially given today’s landscape.  Plus I know how unfair it feels if someone charged me more than the person in front of me because they thought I have more money. And I know companies don’t have feelings, but those working at the agency pick up if you’re trying to rip them off, they have budgets to meet as well. And of course they are going to shop around for rates.

It’s a fact that clients don’t have the same budgets they did 10 years ago. Many multi-national companies are even dropping their accounts with big advertising agencies in favor of smaller agencies that can do the same job and save them money.

KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT CLEAR

A rate card should be clear and concise. It should also clearly list your terms such as retakes, or even the fact that pronunciations need to be provided when the script is sent. Any changes to the script will attract additional re-record fees. You’ll save yourself and the client a lot of wasted time and effort if everything is known from the start of the relationship. The client will also likely view you as more professional if they know you have set rates.

It may even end up benefiting you more. If you didn’t have all these terms clearly outlined, the client could come back and ask “please can you do me a big favor and just record this additional paragraph.” You might be inclined just to do it to get the job done and keep them happy. Yet it’s much more black and white if the client knows there will be an additional charge for this, and there will be no surprises from them when they see this on the invoice.

I know from my personal experience, if I’m looking for something online I have many options. If I visit a website and can’t find what I’m looking for within 10 seconds, I’m outta there. And if I need to email to ask how much something costs, I’m outta there. This means that visitors coming to your website could be leaving and you are missing out on jobs. These days everyone is in a hurry and rarely have time for back and forth emails for something that should be so clear.

But as they say, each to their own. What do you think? Do you show your rates on your website? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments section below.

Kurt Myers

Kurt Myers is an opinionated, social media and voice industry expert. He has been involved in agency sales, marketing, and talent development for the past 9 years.

  • Roger King

    This is an interesting column Kurt. I certainly agree that one shouldn’t charge more to one client than another for the exact same thing. But I disagree about posting the rate card. Perhaps there are some clients who would listen to a voice on a site and like it enough to want to know the price but then leave the site in a huff because there are no prices, but aren’t they few and far between? If someone likes a voice, I think they will take some minimum steps to potentially engage the talent – like dropping them a line to discuss rates.

    And I think it far more likely that a rate card might “scare” some people off. You worry about those clients leaving the site because they can’t find rate info but how will you know about all the potential clients who have “only” $500 for that radio spot and your rate card says $600. So, they look at the rates and walk away, not knowing that there is room for negotiation. Don’t you think the pool of clients potentially walking away because the price doesn’t work for them is larger than the group who would leave the site because there is no pricing.

    Or what if it’s a cool project or a charity where you might consider doing the job for a lesser rate. How are they going to know that from looking at your rate card on the site that states everything in black and white?

    And most importantly, you take yourself out of the negotiation process by already giving your price, given that there are so many variables when it comes to costing out voice jobs. This is an art form and the industry has dictated for decades that the way pricing is done is different than a standard transaction at the grocery store. You have chosen to play in that arena so play!

  • Like Gary, I also agree that there are so many factors and so many different niches, that to put up a rate card can either be a source of further aggravation (when you end up quoting higher than what your rate card said) or limiting if you feel you have to stick to something because it’s on your website. But you do bring up an interesting point, about visitors that leave your site without contact. Prospect lost. Could lack of rate sheet be a reason? I suppose so. But probably not the only one, and maybe not the main one. Would be nice if you could survey visitors upon leaving, to understand why they didn’t request a quote, or similar. (I think there are often other voice talent, checking out VO sites, with no reason to engage services, but simply to observe your marketing.) But it does give one reason to pause and consider your point.

  • @johnz: that is so true. There are SO MANY people out there that HATE negotiating and having to haggle and get penny pinched. I honestly believe talent that do not show some sort of rate guideline on their website will be missing out on potential customers. I know myself I really dislike having to email someone for a price. It’s meant to be easy for the customer. Not make them work.

  • johnz

    That is exactly what I have done with my rate sheet on my website. I put my rates on as a guideline to customers that don’t have a clear sense of what voice over work costs. However, in the top paragraph of my rates page I mention that one client’s needs will be different from the next so final cost may depend on those and other factors. I also mention the added value I bring is essentially partnering with clients and my ability to understand and properly interpret their vision in the voice over. I believe that initial guidance on price will save some time on the back-and-forth that could ensue if/when negotiating. This is why I prefer “tag sales” to “garage/yard sales” 🙂 Thanks for the article, Kurt!

  • Hi Gary, I agree with even just a skeletal price sturcture and a disclaimer explaining that rates need to be discussed. With the disclaimer that ‘it is a guide only and varies depending on additional services or usage’ etc. At least it gives the client something. I just feel that the amount of lost clients from not listing rates may not be worth it.
    Anyone with a personal voice over website with Google analytics will know that they get visitors that come and leave without making contact. Could my argument be one of those reasons? No rate card = lost website visitors = lost work.

  • Gary Terzza

    I disagree Kurt. There are so many permutations and variations in voice overs that it’s very difficult to be ‘clear and concise’. Sub-niches and international considerations make quoting an art in itself.

    By all means have a skeletal price structure, but at the end of the day judge each job on a case by case basis.