By Stephanie Ciccarelli
April 1, 2009
The online marketplace for voice overs can be a wild place, however, if all voice talent band together and commit to sticking to some standard practices, it can be a friendlier, more prosperous environment.
Quoting for voice over jobs is one of these areas where mutual respect and business acumen comes in handy. It also doesn't hurt to stick to the guidelines.
How do you get paid more for your work?
Hear about an experience voice talent Karen DeBoer had here at Voices.com.
Karen DeBoer wrote to me a week ago sharing a couple of concerns regarding what some voice talent members are quoting clients when auditioning for Public Jobs. Interestingly enough, I was working on an article in the same vein and Karen's email inspired me to tackle this topic from a different perspective.
Karen was contacted by a client at Voices.com regarding a quote she provided. The name of the client has been removed but what you are reading is real.
Client: We really like your voice... Would $40 be acceptable to you? It would not let me ask for less than $100.¨¨ All you would have to do is email us that MP3... Your audition is perfect as is. ¨¨Thanks
Thanks for your nice comments about my audition--glad you liked it! Unfortunately, my minimum fee needs to stay at the stated $100 budget, as that is the minimum that Voices.com will allow us as talent to charge. If you still want to use me, I ¨will be happy to release the clean file right away. Just let me know.
Client: That's odd because other persons are offering $25 for this job. You cannot?¨¨ I can send you a check in the mail too.¨¨ It's your call.¨¨ I'm ready to send you $40 today. ¨¨Just tell me no.
Unfortunately, others are apparently willing to go around the stated guidelines for being a member at Voices.com. Voices.com has no way to monitor every bid that individual talents are submitting, but in order to keep everyone on a level playing field, and not compromise the professionalism of those of us that do this for our only means of income, they request that we abide by those guidelines.
I wouldn't feel comfortable circumventing those guidelines, so for the sake of integrity, I need to stick with the rules that Voices has put in place.
I would certainly love to provide this for you at the stated bid, but will understand if you choose to select a less-expensive talent. (Actually, my normal minimum is $150, but I was willing to submit a lower bid because it was such a small job, and because I knew you were a small business.)
Let me know if you'd like to hire me--otherwise, best of luck in your business.
What I have gleaned from this experience, and from other similar cases in the past, is that clients aren't necessarily the root instigators of low budgets that fall well below the minimum. Sometimes, it may be voice talent who are trying to get work by quoting lower than the minimum thereby making it harder for their peers and other professional voice over talent to charge what many would call respectable rates for their work.
We're faced with an age old problem:
There has always been a temptation for service providers to undercut competitors to get business just as there has been and will always be customers looking for a bargain or the lowest possible price.
This is the nature of any business.
The state of the economy may appear to be a convenient excuse to devalue the worth of voice over work, however, lowering rates drastically to get business from new clients is a dangerous game to play that may do more harm than good for business in the long term.
Will those same clients pay more when this crisis is over if they got the work done for less before? Indeed, that's something to consider when a career voice over talent and in the business for the long haul.
Bidding under the minimum of $100 does a great disservice to people who abide by the Voices.com guidelines who make their living doing voice over by charging rates more in the neighborhood of what the union suggests if not higher.
Our team has found that sometimes our voice talent members are not aware that the client is prepared to pay at least $100, and happily, even more so if they have selected a higher budget range.
Once a member discovers this, they usually start bidding within the budget ranges provided and feel better about submitting their auditions quoting a higher fee placing more value on their work.
To come full circle, if a client posts a Public Job at Voices.com and tells us in some way or another that they are not prepared to meet the minimum (but still want to gather responses from talent), their job is not approved and they are invited to contact talent directly out of respect for your time and our job posting guidelines.
This article isn't meant to point fingers. The purpose is to educate and affirm that voice talent can charge higher rates for their voice over services and still get hired.
Not everyone hires solely based upon a quoted fee. Others in a position to hire place talent, value and relationships ahead of price. It's important to realize and make the distinction that it isn't always the person who charges the least amount of money that gets the job, oftentimes it is the person who best meets all of the requirements, and pricing is only one part of the whole.
How do I know?
We have indisputable proof of this from data collected tracking transactions that have been paid out through our SurePay escrow service, and have witnessed some voice talent receiving thousands of dollars at a time for their work who stuck by their rate cards and were paid accordingly. I'm speaking for both union and non-union voice talent, many of whom are union talent.
I'm interested to hear if any of you have had similar experiences to Karen's and how we might improve upon this.