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Voice Coaches Radio #418 – How much should you charge?

Voice Coaches Radio. Everything voiceover. And welcome into this week's edition of Voice Coaches Radio. I'm Josh Heller, he is Sam Booty. We are delighted to have you joining us here this week. Sam, how are we doing? Doing great, Josh. I'm feeling really good today. Glad to hear it. Glad to hear it. You know what we're talking about today?

Straight cash, homie. Straight cash, homie. Do you know the straight cash, homie, story? Randy Moss, who was a, uh, a wide receiver in the NFL networks, uh, for one of the networks, um, he, uh, a great, uh, wide receiver, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, um, he used to get fined quite a bit, um, and somebody found out that, uh, well, he was fined, but he didn't have a, uh, a checking account.

Uh, he never had a bank account. Oh, wow. And somebody approached him and asked him, well, how do you pay your fines? And his response was Straight cash, homie. Straight cash, homie. But that's what we're talking about today. We're talking about money. The almighty greenback. It is king. It is what makes the world go round.

You're not wrong. You're not wrong. And that is what we are talking about today. Because there have been a lot of questions about it. In fact, uh, we had, uh, uh, we had someone write in and ask, uh, if we could, um, You know, wax, uh, philosophical about that, I suppose. Uh, but it's certainly a question that, uh, that I know I've gotten, and Sam, I know that you have gotten as well from, from clients in the past.

How much do you charge? How much does a voice actor get paid? Like, what should I ask for? What should I expect? And that is a great question, and the answer is Huh? It depends. It depends. It really depends on a lot of factors is the answer and a ton. We, we can't, like we, the truth of the matter is we can't absolutely say because there is a not, there isn't a set standard of like, yes, you are always paid.

This, this is a, this is a market. The, the voice acting is a market and the market is broad and there's a lot of factors. So that is not, I know that's not the answer that most people want to hear. But let's start with Sam's trying to say is he doesn't know. I don't know. No idea. I don't know how much I get paid.

I don't know. But it like I have some general ideas of how much you should be paid per category. So it really depends on a couple of factors. What type of voiceover work you're doing comes into play where you're doing that work and how you're doing that work. So let's talk. And I think also who you're doing that work for.

Absolutely. And your clients very much. That's a great addition. So those four things, four things. Let's start with the first one. Type of work you're doing. So commercial work, uh, industrial work or like corporate spots, uh, that might be a little bit longer than commercials. Those tend to pay a little more specifically and generally, although again, there are no absolutes and it really goes to that fourth thing.

Josh added the client again, how much they can for exactly. And you may have a client that says, this is how much we're paying you for this. Yeah, totally. It's up to you to say, okay, that's, that's good. Or. No, that's not worth my time totally up to you at that point, whether or not it's going to depend on your situation also, but there are some who like, yeah, this is we've done this before.

We do this all the time. This is what we pay. Yeah, take it or leave it. And again, that actually is almost easier when that's the case, because you're like, all right, here we go. Um, It doesn't always happen that way. I'd say it doesn't often happen that way, but it certainly can. Totally. And my thinking on that is, you have your own standards as well, so that way you can come to the table and negotiate with them.

Be like, well, that's great, I understand that's your budget, totally understand and respect all of that, but I'm used to being paid this, this is what I think is a fair price for my service, for an hour of my time. How can we find a middle ground? And I, so, let's talk commercial work, and I think this will answer the question a little bit.

Commercial work, B markets, outside of major cities like New York and Los Angeles. What you're looking at is anything between 100 an hour to like 400. It could like, it's the thing is it ranges, but I would say 100, 150, that's a pretty good standard hourly rate for a commercial that you're only going to be spending 20 minutes doing, and they'll pay you for that full hour.

Sure. Yeah, no, it's, it's a, it's kind of a good starting off points. It's kind of a good idea. You can tell, you know, based upon that, whether you're getting low balled and whether you have some room to negotiate up. Or, whether, you know, they're coming in with an offer that's super high, and you're like, you know, take that and run.

Absolutely. Totally. And in that, and in commercial work, you'll likely be paid a buyout fee. Or a fee for not just the hour, a fee for usage. Commercial work is a little bit different because it is, you know, it's commercially facing. It's going out to a broader audience, which is why it pays more. Internal work, industrial work, corporate work, things of that nature tend to pay about the same per hour.

You might not have that buyout as well, but you're looking at 100, 150, I think is a good base starting fair wage for an hour of your time. And again, oftentimes it's more than an hour of work when you're doing things like that. So although you're like, well, I'm not getting that buyout, I'm also basically signing.

Yeah, you're signing a longer term contract is kind of what it is because, okay, this industrial piece is going to be a few hours versus a commercial, which, you know, is going to be less that you'll get paid for the hour, but it's not good. If you're getting that one hour of pay and that's it. Totally. And sometimes they'll even scale it back.

Like the first hour is one 50 every hour after that is 75 or something of the like, that's not too uncommon. So these are things. And why I like this number is if you're going to the table, if you're going to meet with a potential client, a casting professional or relationship that you were building, I like to start at that one 50 mark because it is always harder to raise prices than the lower prices.

And it's a good rubric of where to start. Be like, you know, as a voice. I am used to making 150 an hour for my service. However, I understand that your project, you're a newer company. You're a smart, you only have so much for this, the budget for this gig. I'm willing to work with you so long as you keep me in mind next time.

And I'll drop my rates, but asking for the price first. And, and not also turning it, you know, into a. Yep, I'll, I'll, I'll take this hit for you. However, I do most of my work off referrals. Yes. Who do you know? Yeah, exactly. I'm scratching your back. Go ahead, give my back a little scratch, scratch. And if you just say that you work for 15 an hour, it's really hard to then turn to them the next project to be 150 place.

Really difficult. It's a jump. It's a huge jump. Even from 15 to 50 people don't like it is so much easier to drop prices than raise prices. I myself have learned this the hard way with one of my first long term clients. I did try to raise my prices on them and it was a struggle. They like they really, they did not like it.

It was a challenge for me, even though I felt and I had underpriced myself too. And that's what I'm trying to protect you from doing. I think I did something like 75 for this gig that I started out with a long time ago. And I tried to raise my price to 125 and they're like, no, no, no, that's what it was 75 before and they didn't like that.

It's a challenge, but really what you're doing is you are, another thing to remember with pricing, what you're doing as a voice actor is you're raising somebody's profile. You are bringing words to life, you are telling their story, and often you are doing it in perpetuity, meaning they can use your voice indefinitely.

They can use your voice forever and you're helping raise their profile, even though you're only spending an hour of time, they are using your voice. Hypothetically for years, they can use it indefinitely. And that's the thing, it's not like you're getting paid residuals. Exactly. Uh, you know, every, every time that commercial plays, as nice as that might be.

Right. You're not paid every time that corporate video is being played, or that corporate training is being aired by a new onboarding client, or a new onboarding, uh, worker in their organization. I, I do want to bring up one that, that, that I find interesting, and that is, is audiobooks. Yep. We have a lot of people who are interested in audiobooks, and I think audiobooks are great.

Um, bang for the buck? Not really. Not really. Yeah. Um, you get paid in audiobooks for the most part by PFH or per finished hour. Yep. So if you're reading a 10 hour audiobook, congratulations, you're getting paid for 10 hours. Pretty good. It's taking you heck of a lot longer than 10 hours Totally. To read a 10 hour audiobook unless you nail it the first time, which is, uh, impossible.

Right. It's not gonna happen. Um, so, you know, while it, it, it's good and it's a nice, you know, long-term, uh, you know, type of pay. It is, it's very difficult and it. It doesn't like I said, bang for your buck commercials. Boom. Yeah, absolutely easy. You're getting paid for an hour. You're working like 20 minutes.

Yeah. Um, but you know, audio books, you're getting paid for 10 hours. You're working 20. Yeah, right. At least 15. Exactly. I mean, you know, and and so you start to do the math a little bit and I'm not discouraging anyone from doing that by any means, but it's something that you need to know that, you know, you're getting paid for and I understand why, you know, why publishers want to do that.

They don't want you to it. Right. You know, mess around and take, you know, 25 hours for your 10 hour project and that they have to pay you extra for that. But at the same time, it, it, it does put the onus on you to, you know, do it as quick as you can and still, and still have a quality product because the time that's wasting is money.

That's, uh, that's basically lowering how much you're getting paid per hour. Yeah. And it would be unsustainable for that company to, to be like, Hey, here's 150 per hour of you recording a hundred, like 20 hours. It doesn't, it doesn't work. So, and what's important about what Josh is saying in the audio book realm too, if you're going to the table to negotiate an audio book price, it doesn't work to be like, well, I'm used to getting paid 150 an hour.

Cause that doesn't quite work that way. Like even the per finished hour, it might be a little bit lower than that too. It's a. Different ballpark. It's not quite the same and the usage is different and the Expectation and that's true because you're not like it's not like okay 150 bucks an hour. Here's 150 bucks It's like 150 bucks an hour.

Here's 1, 500 exactly and that can be a lot to swallow especially if it's a smaller, uh, you know production company or yeah, or independent or it's a writer themselves. They probably can't necessarily swallow that. And so, you know, it's, it, it, it, there's a lot more that goes into it. You really got to think long and hard if it's worth the time and worth the money that goes into it and worth the effort because it is a lot of work.

Sam, you can, uh, you can attest to this. Audio books are not easy. They're, they're difficult. I will say that is the hardest thing I've ever done voiceover wise. It's not just reading a book into a microphone. I was like, well, I read all the time. It's, it's, it's far more involved than that. Yeah, and we should probably, you know, maybe take an episode and talk a little bit more in depth about that.

Yeah, that's a good idea. Kind of pick your brain on that, but, uh, perhaps for another time. But, uh, but so those are some things to kind of, you know, look at different situations and how they pay differently, you know, because the fact of the matter is, it's a case by case basis. It really is. It is. And also, the last thing that I would add channel wise is if you're working online versus working with real relationships, it becomes very different as well.

There's online platforms. We've talked a little bit about them. I know our adult ed teachers talk about them as well. Uh, some of those organizations that you have to pay to audition for, or to pay to participate where you're with other voice actors, and then you're auditioning. If you get those gigs, some of those gigs are priced really low because what happens is they own the market.

Place and they are using you and they're essentially selling you and they're driving your price down. Not a bad thing per se. I mean, it's a win win for the client who is, who is a purchasing you, but it's harder for you. And so those gigs on those online platforms, while some of them might be really high, most of them are lower than that one 50 rate, lower than a hundred dollar rate, even for a commercial or even for an industrial.

So it changes or there are other platforms online to where at least there's something called Fiverr, which I find very interesting. And I actually have met some voice actors who are very successful using it. F I V E R R, I believe, dot com, the two R's, and literally it's for freelancers, so you don't have to pay to play.

It's not a pay to play site, but you build a profile and literally it's 5 for your service. Or less. Or less. Or less. And I know somebody who does it 5 per paid minute. So that adds up a little bit better and she still makes a pretty decent living doing that or a decent income because she's doing a lot of minutes.

But so again, there is no absolute pricing. It really depends on the channel, where, how, and the what. All of these factors really, and their budget too. And again, going back to, and you mentioned budget, that's, that's important. You know, going back to who the client is, is very important. You're talking, you know, you have a Big corporation, a massive, you know, conglomeration, their budgets are going to be higher and you may decide to shoot a little higher than 150 bucks because you know that A, it's not going to scare them away and B, you can probably get higher than that.

Are you going to have to negotiate down if you're, you know, shooting 400 bucks, you might not get that, but you start to figure out, all right, well, what kind of budget do you guys have? Well, we only have like. 250 for this. Okay, cool. Well, great. You just made 250 an hour instead of 150 an hour. As opposed to, you know, you go to a chamber event, you find a small mom and pop organization, and uh, you know, they're, they're delving into this for the first time.

You come at them with 400 and you just scare them away. And, and they You know, and even 150 may be too much. You may have to, you know, be able to go down to the, you know, 50 buck range, 75 range, knowing full well that that's less than you normally get, knowing full well that you're telling them that you're giving them a deal.

And also knowing full well that you're asking them a for more business and B for referrals. Get something out of it for yourself also, but again, if it's a smaller company, you don't think they have the budget. Don't scare them away with huge numbers as opposed to if it's a massive company and you know they have money, whether or not they have it in their budget, you're not going to scare him away.

I mean, unless you come out of like I want 1000 an hour, which I do. But, I mean, you're not going to scare them away, you're just going to have to negotiate down, but you already know that you have the potential to make more because you know that their budgets are going to be higher, so keep that in mind as well, you know, keep an eye on who your clientele is and who you're working with.

Yeah, and it's a fine balance, too, because I agree with part of that and I disagree with part of it, and like, I love what you're saying about the 250, the 250 an hour, like, yeah, people, you'll be surprised, like, this is why I tell people, like, don't, I've met some young, uh, by young, I mean just newer to the 50s.

field voice actors who want to start at like 15, 20 an hour. I'm like, no, it's you're under, you're shooting yourself in the foot by doing that because you'll be surprised. People want to pay you. People want value and you don't devalue yourself by undercutting your prices too much. It's a, it's a balance.

It's a fine line. And I'd like saying two 50 because then you can always be like, you know what? I feel like I'm worth two 50. However, I really like what you're doing. I like your organization. I understand where you are as a business. I would like to do it for less. I would like to do you a favor. And then you were helping somebody to, and also promoting your own value.

And I think that is an invaluable strategy, but Josh is right. It is a fine line. You can't go too high. I can't go to a mom and pop me like 500 please. Uh, and that's it, this or nothing. And that won't work, but you could say something like, well, three 50 is what I usually get paid for my work. And I'm not suggesting lying.

If that, like, if you've made 350 from another client before, now you can say that, you know, now you can say these things, but also I do feel like 150 is a good starting point, which is why I'm like 150 is not too scary, even for a small company, and you can still scale it down to 50 and not, not ruin it for the future.

You're also setting yourself up for success. Yeah, but again, let them know that you're helping them out, that you're doing them a favor that you are, yeah, that, that, okay, I usually get 150. I will do it for you for less in this instance. Okay. But just know this is what I'm helping you out. Yeah, I'm doing you a favor.

Yeah, absolutely will feel good about that too because all the end like you're and you'll feel good about it too. It's great. And you're not devaluing yourself. You're actually you are doing them a favor because you're giving away your voice to help them raise their profile. What are they going to do with your voice?

Even if it's internal facing, they are making money off of your voice. They are profiting. You are raising their profile. You are Helping them as a voice actor, that's always what you're doing. You are telling their story. That's what you're doing. And that you're bringing their story to other people, which they cannot do as well as you.

That's a really valuable service. So don't, my, I'm very adamant about don't devaluing yourself in the process. It's a fine line. Money is a tricky thing, but money really is a story. A story to yourself and a story to the person you're talking to. And remember what that story is and try not to be too attached to it.

And save the day. It's all the problem. Ah, money, money, money, money, money. So, uh, we could keep this podcast going because we actually get paid 5 a minute for this. That's not true. That's not true at all. If it was true, man, we'd be robling. We would be. And also voice coaches would be bankrupt. Broke. Broke.

Yep. But, uh. Just like I am for saying baby bear. Fair enough. Fair enough. Uh, I actually did have someone in who was like, are you baby bear? And I was like, uh. You know what happens to me more often than not? I actually get it too. People say it to me being like, I'm supposed to call you baby bear. I'm like, no, no, no, no.

I'm clearly messing this up. No, you should call Sammy or whatever you want to call both of us. Baby bear. We'll take it. It's fine. Um, but we do not get paid by the minute. So we're going to wrap this up because honestly, it's not worth it. Right? Um, but again, you know, we, uh, we appreciate the questions. We appreciate the topics and, and hopefully, uh, not only do they it.

They answer the question that was asked, but hopefully the, you know, they, they help others who, uh, who have had these questions, but maybe we're a little bit more reticent to reach out to us. Don't be though. Yeah. Anytime. Yeah. Sam coaches. com. That's the easiest way to get in touch. You can always give us a call here as well.

If you have something you want us to discuss, you want us to talk to because it's not just our show. Sam, whose is it? It's. Uh, so again, thank you so much for listening and, uh, hopefully those dollar dollar bills y'all, uh, work out. God, that was awkward. I really don't like that, but that's okay. No, no, I loved it.

I'm good. Dollar dollar bills with Josh and his pills and, um, trying to wrap and that's, you know, I'm just gonna let this happen. I'm just letting this happen, guys. Letting this happen. Yeah, this is, uh, the new wrapping podcast with baby bear and other baby bear. And, uh, let's do it. Let's, let's, let's end this.

Before I say anything else, I don't anything that's happen right now. Yeah, let's end this. Will, I don't like anything that's happened. I'm, no one's listening to me off. They've already turned cut me off. They've already turned, uh, they've already turned us off. If you are still listening, thank you for that.

And, uh, and uh, and again, thanks so much for tuning in. Uh, so for Sam, I'm Josh. And until next week, so long, everyone. Visit voice for more voiceover news and information.

To view upcoming sessions of our live, web-based introductory sessions, visit

Voice Coaches producers Josh and Sam discuss that ever-important voice over question: how much should you charge?