Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Performing Monkeys: Say No to Peanuts

In the past week alone, I have turned down several clients. This is not always an easy thing to do, (and especially not as we approach Christmas) but sometimes it is most definitely the right one. I am a firm believer in knowing your worth, and in researching the prospective clients. If you are sure they could pay a reasonable rate, based on the size of their company and the usage of the audio content they are expecting you to produce for them, then why accept peanuts?

For those starting out in Voice over work, it can be hard to have a concept about 'knowing your worth'. After all, it is pretty exciting that somebody wants you! Somebody has chosen your dulcet tones to represent their brand or product or company. The prospect of building your list of clients is an exciting one. However, what happens to the industry over time if many VO's continue to accept a low-to-miniscule rate of pay for the bigger jobs like the TV commercial spots? What happens is that there is an expectation that we will all accept those rates and they become the norm. And eventually the upshot of that is that many of us will not be able to afford to be in business as full time professional VO's, we won't be able to support our voice careers, and most importantly we won't have the funds to provide for our families.

I know my worth. I have invested time working out how much I must earn to reach my targets. I have evaluated the cost of all my equipment, my expertise, my knowledge and my skill. And I have worked out for how that translates into my fees, for corporates, television, radio, elearning, IVR and phone lines. I have my rates to hand per project, per minute, per word,  per hour and per session. I have a solid understanding of what I charge extra for and what I don't. For example- is there a fee for live direction via Skype, ipDTL, ISDN? Is there a localisation fee if I am expected to make the poorly translated script flow in 'proper' English? Am I expected to export to many separate files? What are the circumstances under which I provide free re-records? And when are they chargeable? Am I being asked to fit speech to visuals?  I keep my list on view prominently in my studio, and I keep a list in my handbag, so that where ever I am I can access this vital info in a jiffy, without missing a beat if a client requests an approximate quote. I can do this with confidence now because I know my worth.

We, the Voiceover Artists, are not performing monkeys. To do what we do takes, skill, ability, timing and talent. And that deserves to be rewarded in a reasonable rate of pay. There is wiggle room, ofcourse, when I negotiate with a prospective client, I am running a business after all, but there are bottom lines.  I refuse any longer to jump for peanuts. I urge you to spend some hours investigating your own financial worth and translate this into a rate card. It'll be some of the most useful time you ever spend on your career.