Friday, January 22, 2010

Don't Sell Yourself Short!

In order to compete in the voice-over job market in 2010, you may be considering lowering your fees to attract more business. Although we are not out of the economic recession just yet, selling yourself short only hurts you and the industry in the long run. Instead, try to out-shine the competition by offering more services and attention.

If you audition on a popular site such as or, the client will disclose their budgets. Either they have the money to pay for a vetted industry professional, or they are working on a tighter budget to cover a talented novice. Even if you are being hired for one of your first voice-over jobs, it is unusual to be offered less than $100 for the gig. The normal range is between $100 - 250. Instead of haggling for a few more bucks (and as long as you are being offered a decent wage for your voice-over work), congratulate yourself on landing a gig, and look forward to increasing your rates in the future. Another way to leverage an offer is to offer proofreading, production work, or a follow-up recording -- as long as you can provide these services at a professional level. If the client was happy with your final product, it is also acceptable to ask for a referral in a few days.

If you have been a professional voice-over artist for a while, you have more room to negotiate. According to, the average job has increased recently to about $263 per job. Of course, this rate still depends on the project and the client's budget. For an audio book, some gigs will pay $500 for a recorded hour, but others are as low as $175 per recorded hour. Again, there is a beginner's rate for audio books and a separate rate after you have done a certain number of audio book recordings. When weighing a job offer, be sensitive to the client's needs and budget while taking into account the services you are offering, the timeline, potential referrals and repeat business.

Selling yourself short sends the message to the client that you are not confident in your skills. On the other hand, demanding too much may create the impression that you are insensitive and might be demanding in other ways. Translation = You're a pain in the neck to work with. Offering to do work at a reduced rate also tells clients that the average industry rate is or should be dropping -- which none of us want either!

The truth is, you are a talented voice-over artist who deserves pay commensurate with your voice-over training and work experience. Take into account the other benefits of working with a particular client, such as connections, your resume, the practice, and repeat business potential. If you are willing to do work at a reduced rate, consider offering your services for no money to a non-profit organization or community benefit. There are plenty of ways to network and gain on-the-job experience to beef up your resume for future voice-over gigs without hurting the industry standards on the whole.

-By Catherine Marshall


  1. Everything is negotiable but.... Here's a benchmark - How much is your "day" worth? Then break it down from there. Doing a simple VO is worth one thing. Being asked to do major editing and cut things up into files is something else and has value, too.

    What is the final usage of the material - that sometimes drives the budget for the VO.

    Don't be afraid to refer the client to a trusted studio for fine editing and file making - or even the actual recording, etc. Then you'll feel like you got some value for your voiceover efforts.

    Tim Keenan

  2. That's a great point, Tim, thanks! It is important to review these things on a case by case basis, and it will just take some time to get the hang of it, and to realize what works best for you.

    Great tips -- thanks for posting!