The industry is not what it used to be.
If one peruses the forums and facebook groups relating to voiceover the one theme that keeps coming up is “How much do I charge for…”. Voiceover pricing. It seems many in this industry have no idea what to charge and those giving the “answers” seem to gravitate to “use the rate card” or do it my way. Often the question is asked by newbies who have found the low cost of entry to the industry very attractive and can see the potential for a living. The voiceover industry is like any other. It has been affected by the digital revolution in the same way as all other service industries and many folk involved are living in a world of denial. Digital Disruption has created a very competitive landscape and has increased the amount of work by 100 fold. There are more places to use a voiceover than ever before thanks to the internet and all of these thing affect voiceover pricing.
The first thing you need to do is get an accountant. If you don’t have one you are in a hobby business and not in it for real.
20 to 30 years ago, before the internet, the rules were different. Costs were higher. You recorded in expensive studios in sessions with a couple of days notice and couriers took your product around. There were lots of people involved and everything took more time. You drove to the big smoke where the studios were and paid city parking while you voiced in a very expensive studio. The average job took longer and you might fit four maybe five jobs in a day. Now days its different because of the humble computer. Costs have plumeted and you as a VO artist often do the work of 5. (In reality the computer does the heavy lifting). With a home studio I can service more clients in a day and handle stuff much quicker.
Know what you are selling and develop business skills.
Costing your product is easy if you first of all understand that it is just that. A product. When the ego gets involved and you start thinking its all about your skill you will next be telling people that it’s your voice that is creating the success of the company you voice for. Nope. its not. Keel over dead tomorrow and in a week they will have someone else and you will be but a memory. Your voice is just product in a sea of alike products. I don’t care how good or bad it is because it has no relation on whether you will be a success or not. But business skills do. As a matter of fact I’ll back the bad voice with business skills over the good voice with none.
If you doubt your business skills start reading. its the best way to learn. Find a mentor too.
What is the magic formulae then?
There is a great article called “Pricing a Product” (CLICK HERE) at Entrepreneur Asia Pacific that goes thru the nitty gritty and you should really have a look as it makes good common sense. I want to keep this simple so here goes.
Here are the voiceover pricing rules I stick to.
- Get an accountant and understand they work for you. Their job is to help you do the things you need to do to be successful
- Work out how you want to live and how much money you want to make.
- Work out how many VO’s you can do in the amount of time you can dedicate to the job.
- Calculate your overheads. (Pays to speak to your newly appointed accountant here as there are always more than you think)
- Here is the hard part….. Add the over heads (4) to the amount you want to earn (2) and divide by the number of VO’s in (3).
- THEN add 10%. That will give you capital to grow the business.
This will remove the two biggest fears. Fear one – Am I charging too little? And Fear two – Am I charging too much? Those questions become irrelevant as you are running a legitimate business with a carefully priced product built around your desires and demands.
This is why I have so much trouble with “union” rate cards. No one has been able to tell me how these figures are calculated. They just don’t make sense to me. (That line is bound to make me some enemies.)
Other Stuff that will affect voiceover pricing
Other factors will come in to it like demand (make hay while the sun shines) and competition (when the idiot without any business skills starts doing it for $10 a pop) Don’t worry he won’t be around long.
Stick to your guns though. Don’t “drop your pants” to get a job. Stick to your voiceover pricing or you will be voicing yourself out of business.
Build your business by giving value. it’s not just your voice. It’s the value you offer. I might not have the best voice but my service level is awesome. My average response time in 34 minutes. I’m always there for a client and I solve their problems. I treasure their feedback.
When someone says to me I should follow the rate card I just tell them “Hell NO. I could not handle the pay cut.
Ashleigh Mac owns voices.com.au a place where VO artists can run their own race and charge what they like. His background includes 30 years in radio, numerous businesses from desktop publishing to recording studios and keeps his hand in with a part interest in a coffee shop. (He’s in charge of the profits and margins) His main income for the last 10 years has been professional voiceovers.