I have a confession to make. I struggle with knowing my worth and charging appropriately for my services. You may have heard me on my podcast The VO Meter, (www.vometer.com) discussing how it is SO important to set a rate for your voice over work that is commensurate with the amount of work involved, or the usage of the finished product; ideally both.
Well, with respect to Spike Lee, I haven’t always Done the Right Thing.
Like many of my readers or listeners, I’m sure…once upon a time I didn’t know what I was worth. Client asked me for 500 words at $50? “Sure, that sounds great”, I said. Do a 50,000 word audiobook for $100 per finished hour? “No problem, I can still pay an editor and make a profit”, I would mutter.
That’s a profit right? More than I would have made otherwise? The problem is, those rates are nowhere near industry standard. How do I know? Well, after being in this business for several years I found there ARE resources out there to turn to in order to find out what IS a fair rate. A great example is the Global Voice Acting Academy, or GVAA rate guide. You can find it here: https://www.globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide/
David Toback and the fine folks at GVAA have taken the guess work out of the process. The best part, it’s completely free to use! They just want to stop the race to the bottom that has plagued the industry, and help people know what they are worth.
Speaking of…Even after all the research I have done, and preaching to the choir about doing things the right way, I still struggle with this, and I demonstrated it again a few weeks ago. A client came to me with a project. A series of power point presentations they wanted narrated. They offered me $100 per finished hour. The carrot they put in front of me was the promise of 2000 hours. Some quick math in my head and I said “That’s a lot of money!”. So I accepted it. Then, I sat down and did a few hours of videos. I thought “This is a ton of work!” I should have known better, but I caved. Sad, I know.
So, I decided to get some help. I reached out to my agents at The Atherton Group, TAG and requested them to step in on my behalf to re-negotiate my deal. After all, this is a lot of work and if we can get a fair rate, it would be beneficial for both of us. The agent made the offer of a fair rate, straight from the GVAA guide. You know what? The client didn’t say no!
Now, they didn’t exactly say yes either. The discussions are ongoing, but things look promising. I don’t expect them to jump at the GVAA rate after what I had originally agreed to, but I do expect we’ll get closer, and that will be a huge step in the right direction for me.
I know it’s hard. If you are doing this, or running any full time business, it can be hard to turn down a paycheck. We all have bills coming in, and sometimes it seems something is better than nothing. It is not, however, if you damage your own career, or even the career of your colleagues, by setting the expectation of lower rates being okay.
So, say it with me, break those old habits, or don’t start bad ones in the first place and KNOW YOUR WORTH!