My friends, rates are a common and sometimes contentious battle in our industry. I’ve seen a very common thread of thought that when you begin in voiceover (and particularly in the audiobook part of the industry) you have to accept lower rates as you ‘build your portfolio.’ It’s probably wise not to charge top tier dollars, but no matter what you should always make sure you’re making enough to cover your expenses and turn a profit. Not doing so is not smart business. Voiceover is an expensive industry to start out in, that’s for sure, but it’s important to build habits and reputation that will keep you going there for the long term. Cheap is not a word that you want to have associated with you, in my opinion. It’s doesn’t denote craftsmanship and hard work, which is what good voiceover is made of!
Most voiceover talent I know have worked their butts off over the course of years to improve themselves and their craft. They’ve spent thousands on equipment, training, courses and more, and their rates should reflect that! Even if you’re so new that the shiny hasn’t worn off your mic, you’re worth more than bottom dollar.
There’s a segment of talent that I have seen around social media who seek out the lower paying jobs, and are quite content to work a great many low paying gigs, rather than seek out the higher paying jobs. They can (I have read some quite lengthy arguments!) get quite angry when you question this strategy, not only for their own work, but for the health of the industry in general. I know it’s pretty impossible to change anyone’s mind on the internet, but the ‘oh ignore them they’re just haters’ mindset doesn’t really help this. I think it’s important, no matter what you’re doing with your life, or what industry you’re a part of to not dismiss expertise in your field. Don’t get so stuck in your own perspective that you leave behind advice that could save you a headache and fill your wallet better!
But as I said, my friends, don’t be afraid to seek advice on rates, to look for guides–I have heard good things about the GVAA rate guide–and to believe in your own worth as a voice talent. You are part of a creative, growing, evolving industry, and you should be proud of that fact. Plus, your rates are about more than you, you are affecting the course of the industry as a whole. In general, rates are trending downwards, and it seems more common for companies to ask for exclusive rights buyouts when they’re paying you.
One last side note–I know that we all have struggles, and I would never advocate someone pricing themselves out of a job they need to survive. My goal with this post is to encourage those that are able to think of their own worth and the bigger picture when it comes to what they are charging.
Believe in your craft and remember you’re worth a good rate!