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HOW MUCH TO CHARGE FOR VOICEOVER WORK

QUESTION FOR DAN O'DAY:

As a freelance voiceover talent, I never really know what to ask for a price from a prospective new client.

I'm always afraid I'll price myself out of the running, but I don't want to give away the store. Any thoughts?

DAN REPLIES:

You need to establish your own rate card and quote from it, not from your guess of how much the other party can pay or how much other people might charge.

There always will be people who can underbid you.

And there always will be crummy jobs that go to the lowest bidder. Is that what you're really interested in?

You're much better off identifying what you're best at, honing that skill, and marketing yourself based upon the results you offer clients -- not upon price.

Decide what fee structure truly is worth your time & effort.

And then freely quote your fees to anyone who asks.

The more uniquely defined your position in the marketplace (combined with impressive skills), the more you can charge.

But being one of a thousand guys hoping to be thrown a bone by a station that buys voice work "by the pound" isn't a very enviable position to be in, is it?

Recently someone inquired about my doing an air talent seminar for his radio station. I quoted the same fee I would quote for any equivalent seminar. (There are some factors that affect the fee: Distance, ease/difficulty in reaching the locale, exact nature of the work, etc.)

The station manager who had inquired responded that last year they had another guy come to their market and do a 1.5-day seminar for one-tenth (!) what I charge for a single day....And couldn't I match that?

Now, I like to work. But believe me, I didn't for a moment feel bad about immediately writing off that station as a potential client, and I've had no second thoughts since then.

If someone's willing to charge 94% less than I (that's what it comes to when you convert his charging 90% less for 50% more work), I have two immediate reactions:

1. If he can make a good living on that, all the more power to him.

2. You get what you pay for.

Of course, that's subjective. I've never seen this guy's work. I've heard his name, and I haven't heard anything negative about him.

It's entirely possible that he's vastly undercharging, that he's short-changing himself.

Or it's possible that he's not good enough to charge more.

Or that he hasn't built a strong enough position to charge more.

Or that he charges more when he can get it but accepts a lot less when that's what's necessary to land the gig.

Or maybe he usually charges a lot more but quoted a bargain basement rate because that's all the station could afford and he genuinely wanted to help them.

But you know what? His reason is irrelevant to me. I base my fees on how much I think I'm worth and how much people are willing to pay me -- not on what other people charge.

But getting back to the way you describe your reaction when people ask your prices:

Professionals don't hesitate to quote their fees, and their fees are consistent. (Whether you'll do any negotiating -- and if so, how much - is up to you.)

How would you react if you called a dentist's office and asked, "How much do you charge for a cleaning?" and the dentist responded, "Well, uh....How much were you planning to spend?"



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