Business of VO: Budgets

Think your client’s budget is a bust? That budget is money in the bank! Being able to work within a client’s budget & make them happy is SOOO BOSS! We discuss the fun & finer points of budget-work and offer up their own strategies and secrets for showing any budget who’s the boss.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. The Bosses LOVE a good deal. Who doesn’t?

  2. Talk to a client about the budget – even those with lower-end rates – you may be able to negotiate terms that make everyone happy.

  3. Sometimes a client has a budget and there really isn’t any wiggle room.

  4. When a budget can’t be affected, is there some other gain to taking the job?

  5. A client that promises more work needs to back-it-up with a commitment or information that makes that additional work tangible – otherwise they probably don’t have the work.

  6. E-learning regularly means repeat business. The client won’t want to change voices midway through a large scale training project.

  7. Have a plan for low-dollar work – relying on it to gain experience or boost your career is typically unwise and does not come with the results you may have hoped for.

  8. Stand firm on broadcast jobs from large companies that offer low rates.

  9. Be flexible with large companies that offer low rates in the non-broadcast sectors.

  10. Knowing and understanding the scope of a job can help you to see the potential future for work.

  11. A picky client with a low rate will become tiresome.

  12. An accommodating client who expects the minimum of you for a lower rate may be a good long-term client.

  13. Editing and or finished files are a good negotiation tool for those with a low budget.

  14. Retail understands how to manipulate a consumer into believing they got a deal.

  15. Discounts are never really discounts – and we don’t advertise them publicly.

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Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Say NO to Cheap VO

  2. GVAA Rate Guide

  3. Recorded on ipDTL

Full Episode Transcrip

>> Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Today’s voiceover talent has to be a BOSS.

>> BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> Join us each week for business owner strategies and success with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabrielle Nistico, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.




Anne: Hey everybody. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my budget-loving/conscious bosstie cohost.

Gabby: I’m incredibly budget savvy. I’m a maxxinista, no doubt.

Anne: Gabby Nistico.

Gabby: Hi. I love a good sale.

Anne: I love a good sale.

Gabby: I love coupons, I love clearance.

Anne: I think we all love a deal, don’t we?

Gabby: My husband knows that if we walk in to a store, and there’s a clearance, he’s just like, [beep] we’re gonna be here a minute. Love a good deal.

Anne: [laughs] We all love a good deal. Love a good deal. You know, speaking of deals, the other day I had a client that was trying to make a deal with me. You know the negotiation process that we’ve talked about so lovingly, it occurs to me that we should talk about the whole concept of client budget.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Because I think sometimes we just dismiss if perhaps our clients aren’t on the same page as we are in terms of our rates and negotiations. There is a budget typically involved in a project, and sometimes that budget is not where our rates are, and we have to weigh a lot of different things to consider maybe perhaps, even if the budget is lower than we anticipate, is it a job that we might consider doing for a lower budget?

Gabby: I never rule anything out, unless the client is upfront with like a cataclysmically low rate. I don’t rule anything out. I go, let’s talk. Let’s see if we can bridge the gap, let’s see if we can make everybody happy. We have to be firm in our worth, but that doesn’t mean that we’re in flexible with meeting the needs of our clients.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: Does that make sense?

Anne: I agree with that. I also agree with, one of our guests recently said that sometimes it really is true that a client has a budget and there really is no wiggle room for that budget.

Gabby: Hi, Philip.

Anne: [laughs] Philip Banks said that.

Gabby: Are you listening to us, Philip? We love you.

Anne: Yes. We do. Really it is something that I on occasion have had to really think about myself, what is the worth of that job that may or may not include the monetary value.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Is there a chance for more work? And well, there’s a whole other podcast right there. [laughs]

Gabby: I think we should talk a little bit about that right there because that seems to be the golden ticket that’s dangled right in front of our faces. It’s the client that always wants a better rate and then but backs that up with “I have so much more work for you.”

Anne: Yeah, usually that’s a clue when they say that.

Gabby: Yeah, honestly usually that means they’re full of it.

Anne: I think when they don’t mention it, Gabby, is when they might actually have more work for us.

Gabby: In a weird way, yeah. And I’ve seen this happen an awful lot. To me, here’s the thing, if they’re vague, vague doesn’t work. Right? If it’s maybe an advertising agency or a production company or some other middleman, and they’re telling you “oh, but I have loads of work for you,” no, they don’t. They can’t guarantee you that. They like the idea of booking you a lot, and they like the idea of maybe having you be a very active person on their roster, but they don’t actually have a client commitment for you. Now on the other hand, if you’ve got a specific client saying, “hey, we want to make you our voice, we run X number of commercials each year, we do this many sessions, this many pickups, and here’s the buy schedule, or here’s the broadcast content,” they have metrics, they have material to back up what they’re saying. Then –

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: – play ball.

Anne: In corporate, e-learning, there’s always the possibility of a job that has modules that need updating.

Gabby: Oh God, yeah.

Anne: And that’s not something they even need to dangle the carrot so much. It’s just, it’s kind of an educated guess, as you see the budget coming in from the company, if they do a lot of work, and you feel like there’s going to be modules that need to be updated, you know, or every year they’re doing new modules for the same topic, that sort of thing, that I think is something to definitely take in to account if you do have a client that comes back to you with a budget that’s lower than you anticipate.

Gabby: I don’t do nearly as much e-learning type of work and narration work as you do. However the handful of those types of clients that I’m serving right now are all repeat business, every single one of them. They come back, and typically it’s because yeah, the initial project is big.

Anne: Yeah, and they want to have the same voice, they don’t want to be breaking up – especially with the e-learning, because they don’t want to break up a course – or they might want to break up a course with different voices, but that would be a planned thing. That would be like you have multiple characters in an e-learning course. If you are a sole voice that starts the course, I think midway through the course they don’t really want to change voices if they can help it. And so therefore it behooves you to understand a little bit more about your client and the work they have and the potential for work, added work down the road. And also, Gabby, I think there’s also the added possibility of some sort of a benefit that may not be monetary that will really help you in other areas of your business. It may help you to grow other areas of your business if you get skills in voicing in a particular genre. And so therefore they can help you get more jobs down the road.

Gabby: Yeah, I think that one has to be very, very strategically planned and mapped though because the general perception of beginners seems to be if “I take this cheap job, no pay job” – I love now how Voice123 has just for fun jobs. Don’t even get me started. “If I take those, you know, I’m gaining experience.” I even have people sometimes on my YouTube channel that will become trollish and say things like “well, why should I take a job for $15 if X, Y, Z?” And I’m like “no, no.” Because there’s, that’s just a smattering of potentially free or lowball work. There’s no end game there, there’s no strategy behind “let me infiltrate this potential area, sector type of client,” whatever.

Anne: Well, alright, Gabby. So here’s a question. What about a brand who, on the outside would appear like they would have money and a high budget, but who really doesn’t? That’s happened to me more than once. Would you consider that job because of the brand association?

Gabby: I stand firm. I just, I refuse, and I’ve had it happen many times, and it’s becoming more and more common in the broadcast world. These giant, publicly-traded companies that are like, “oh, well we can only pay X.” No, no. I just don’t believe that. That’s where I draw that line. Now if it was that same company going “hey, we’re sponsoring an Alzheimer’s walk or you know, some kind of charitable endeavor, and we have this one single project that’s gonna be nonbroadcast maybe running on the Internet, and we don’t have a huge budget,” that I’ll believe. If this is their own branding and advertising, uh-uh.

Anne: It gets tricky. There are some brands you would think would pay a substantial rate, but they have lots of work. You don’t necessarily know that. They’re not making you a promise of that work, so there it becomes something that’s very tricky. What I really want our listeners to understand is that every case is so different, and it’s hard, I mean, to make that decision, the client saying they have a budget. There’s a lot of thing that you may or may not know about what’s the future of that job and how you play with that client. It can make or break a relationship, and that’s always scary to people.

Gabby: One of the distinctions I make there is that, to me, there’s a big difference between the singular end client and again a roster situation, whether it be a studio or again agency, small company. Here’s the thing. I have yet to meet a small company that has a rate card that, you know, I might look at and go “mmm ok, it’s a little low.” It’s not quite where I’d prefer things to be. But “a little low” I will always take a chance on, and I’ll say, “let’s give this a shot, let’s see what happens, and we’ll reassess in so many months.”

Anne: Absolutely. I think that’s a great piece of advice, Gabby.

Gabby: I’m on a couple of rosters that I have repeatedly heard voice actors say, “oh yeah, no, I don’t like them. Their rates are kind of low,” or “I took a look at their rate card,” and I’m like, “guys, they pay me a salary every year by themselves.” One company. That one company pays me more money than I made in radio the last year I was in it.

Anne: That’s a great point, Gabby. I’m on rosters as well where the work is pretty much standard, the work comes in, and it’s not the rate I prefer, however, gosh, I’ve been with a couple of companies over five years each.

Gabby: I think what goes along with that is ease of use. If a job is really a pain in the ass [laughs] and too picky, and too particular, and has too many intricacies to what they need and what they want, you’re gonna get increasingly frustrated with the discounted rate. But if it’s a company that goes out of their way to make the lives of their talent easier, and they push jobs along –

Anne: Such as editing. That’s a big consideration.

Gabby: Oh God, yeah. I mean, I have some of these companies, I’m like, I will work with them all day, every day because the sessions are 10 minutes, 15 minutes, done, nothing to it.

Anne: Mm-hmm.