Valuing Voiceover

Valuing Voiceover

I write a great deal about techniques for voiceover, but I’d like to share my take on how we value our contribution as messengers, especially in the ever expanding non-broadcast area.

Recently I read a blog about the power of website Explainer Videos to convert browsers to customers.

One of the comments in response, was from a website owner saying how well an Explainer Video had worked for them and saying that “he got a voiceover artist to do the job for $40 and this guy was happy to do changes for free”.

Quell horror!

This is a tragic example of what is happening out there, especially in the non-broadcast area. That is, voiceover talent undervaluing their worth to a client.

A lot of clients will think, ‘It’s only 30 seconds long. It won’t take more than an hour. $40 is a good hourly rate.’

Ummmm! Noooooo! $40 is a shit rate for anything skilled.

And voiceover is a skill.

Sure, it may only take an hour to do the job, but recording the job is just the beginning.

The value really starts when the client launches the video, which works for them hour after hour, day after day, week after week bringing in the customers, bringing the ‘value’ to their business.  

As it is, even when you’re paid the standard rate, of some hundreds of dollars for a spot, even though at the time it might seem that you’re being well paid, if you divided the amount of times a radio ad you voiced was aired, into the amount of money you were paid, you’re not really getting very much per play.  

If you accepted a $40 fee, it comes down to fractions of cents.  Hardly worth calculating.

Do you really value yourself that little?

As a voice artist, you must know this.

It’s not the work you do in the studio, it’s what you continue to do that has value.

You are the messenger!  Without your voice, there is no message.

And, you are valuable. Do not continue to undervalue yourself.

Let’s Talk Fees 

The professional fee for Explainer Videos and website material in Australia is between $450 and $620.

I don’t know what the fees are in other places, but if you’re working in non-broadcast areas for a low rate, like $40, then you need to seriously re-think how you value yourself and your skill.

So much about the work we do, the way we work and the way we’re cast, has changed in the past few years.

I agree that there is a case for creating a rates structure that differentiates between big national or international brands, say Mazda, or an online store or a website with a merchant facility, and a small concern, which has a local web-based business that provides one-on-one services within a small radius.

Not having a fair and reasonable rates structure to apply, is one of the reasons why fees in certain areas have eroded.

However, if you’re working as a voiceover artist, you need to find out as much about the correct way to invoice your clients.

Please don’t become one of the people who add to fees erosion.

When you are quoting in areas where there isn’t standard fee structure, the single most important element to consider is this.

Rates always need to consider ‘reach’.  

That is:

  • How many markets is this going to be heard/seen in?
  • How many different carriers will deliver the material.
  • Is it local or national radio, TV or internet, cinema, in-store.
  • Is it for internal use only within one single company, or
  • Is it being delivered by that company for public consumption.

Importantly, is it generic in its nature?

That is, will it still be relevant in a year or so?  Or, is it something with a short shelf life, like a sale or a new product launch?

There are, on occasions, a case for negotiating the fee with a client with a small budget.  We’ve always done this.  But the negotiation always takes into account the elements I’ve mentioned above.  At the end of the negotiation, the fee arrived at, will simply be the one that both parties can work with.

I don’t know what the fees are in places other than Australia, but if you’re working in non-broadcast areas for a low rate, then you need to re-think how you value yourself and your skill.

Also, If you’re working in voiceover and you’re neither represented by an agent or a member of one of the unions that negotiate with the advertising and broader industries on our behalf to set fair rates structures commensurate with that value, such as Equity in Australia and the UK, ACTRA in Canada, or SAG/AFTRA in the US, you may not be aware of the standard rates that have been won for us by them.

You can find more information about agreements with different sectors and, sometimes rates on their websites.  These negotiated rates can also be found on some voiceover agent’s websites.

There is another amazing organisation called WoVo,

Get to know what professionals charge, if you want to ever consider yourself one!

You also need to be aware that these organisation are your ‘Professional Associations’.  

Most great industries have them.  They allow us to connect with like minded professionals and build knowledge of our industry.  They empower us to make choices that honour our skills.  They support us, lobby on our behalf and provide valuable resources.  And, for an industry such as voiceover, where we often work alone and for very short periods, they provide a place where we can feel a part of all that happens and a member of a community.

I’ve been an active and extremely proud member of my professional association since 1979.   In Australia it’s called Equity and exists under the umbrella of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

If you’re working in voiceover and want to build a career, then join your professional association.

Here’s a link to Equity here in Australia.

I ask you to consider the value of the work you do that gets played and played and played, and charge accordingly.

Happy (and correctly invoiced) Voicovering!