Business of VO: What Should I Charge?

We get irate when people ask about rates! If you want your coin-purse to overflow with voiceover riches, then you’ve gotta grow a pair and learn how to quote a job! Other voiceover actors and industry rate guides can’t do it for you. In this episode of VOBoss, we want you to stop searching for the ‘magic’ number to charge and instead learn the skills necessary to quote your own damn rate! You can do it – we believe in you!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. The industry is flooded with posts, forums, emails, and inquiries asking what to charge.

  2. There are so many new voiceover applications that simply don’t have metrics and data, yet.

  3. A rate guide is only a guide. And they can’t account for everything.

  4. You have to know what your time is worth, how long a job will take and a comparable usage to generate a number.

  5. You must engage your client in a conversation that will reveal the job details needed to estimate costs.

  6. How long? When? Where? Those are the minimum details.

  7. Metrics for social and streaming media do not yet exist for the masses, but they are coming.

  8. Until then you have to have your own guideline.

  9. Assume that your quote will be counted and that there will be room for negotiation.

  10. Let your client know that there is room to negotiate.

  11. Ever profession has pre-determined costs and a way to calculate the value of a job.

  12. However most all service providers have an estimated rate for the ‘unknown’ of diagnosing, problem-solving, and the unexpected.

  13. Set your terms and state them clearly.

  14. No business transaction is permanent and life-long – so why are we accepting in-perpetuity voiceover?

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Recorded on ipDTL
GVAA Rate Guide


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

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>> 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.

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Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my VO BOSS bestie, gosh darn it all, Gabby Nistico. [laughs]

Gabby: Hi, hi!

Anne: Gabby, Gabby, Gabby. The question of the day that I see over and over and over again, and I’m sure you do too, right, in all of the voiceover forums, how much –

Gabby: The question of every day.

Anne: How much, Gabby, how much should I charge?

Gabby: Oi.

Anne: [laughs] I get that question so many times – if I were to charge [laughs] a nickel every time.

Gabby: What I find funny is not only the people that do that, but they of course caveat the post with “I checked the GVAA rate guide, and –

Anne: And they’re frantic. They’re frantic! You know, Gabby, my first initial response is, because everybody’s frantic, right, when all of a sudden they’re like, “oh my gosh. My client just contacted me and they want to know how much I’ll charge. Can you please just” – and then they need me like instantaneously to tell them, right, without me knowing much of the details what in goodness gracious they should be charging. I just have to sit back and go, wow. [laughs] There’s so many answers. So many answers floating around my head, but first and foremost yes, the GVAA rate guide, if it’s not there, which I think – I love the GVAA rate guide, Gabby. I know you do too.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: It’s a wonderful, wonderful resource. But hey, guys. It’s your business, right? Sometimes you just got to go and quote and pull it out from we don’t know where. [laughs] Or maybe I do know where but I can’t say it.[laughs]

Gabby: Guys, we’re in so much new territory, right? There’s so many new applications for voice, things that are not tried and tested yet. Rate guides, any rate guide is only going to address things that are repetitive and that have metrics and data that can be pooled together to come up with averages.

Anne: And it should be noted that it is a guide, guys.

Gabby: Yeah, it’s not set in stone, right?

Anne: Correct.

Gabby: There’s something to be said for you as the individual, the actor, the service provider. You have to have a general sense or understanding of what your time is worth, a metric to use to be able to determine the length of time that would be needed for this particular job, and then something to compare it with for usage category, even if it’s again something that’s somewhat new may be something you haven’t done before. And with that, you’ve got to have at least some rough ideas because, Anne, you’re right. The fact that people panic, and they think that there’s some –

Anne: Oh my God, magic number.

Gabby: Yeah. There’s some set-in-stone thing that they’re missing, I get the same thing. When my talent do that to me, my students or friends, and they go, “what do I charge,” the email they get back is me playing 20 questions.

Anne: Right. Me too. [laughs]

Gabby: There’s a point in time where at the bottom of those 20 questions, I have to like – I don’t mean to be passive aggressive, but –

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: I end up saying something like “this is the conversation you should be engaging in your client to determine this.”

Anne: Yeah. Sometimes guys, really, I mean you just got to bite the bullet. Sometimes there is no answer. There is no right answer. There’s no wrong answer, there’s only an educated guess, and sometimes you just grow a pair and quote. If I can say that, just quote. How many times, Gabby, have I done that, I don’t know. I have no idea. Right? What do I charge, oh my goodness. You can make an educated guess. You can research the market. You can make a baseline off of another rate guide, but sometimes there is no baseline, and you just have to ask those 20 questions, those very important questions which are “how long, where,” essential questions that you need to ask.

Gabby: When.

Anne: Once that is given to you, you then take your best educated guess.

Gabby: Look, I spent 10 years in casting, and I can tell you that only about one out of every three jobs was by the book, standard, easy to look up, you know, grab the SAG-AFTRA guide, find a number and go with it. Everything else essentially we were arbitrarily making up a number.

Anne: And especially now, right, the wild west of streaming digital media? Oh my goodness.

Gabby: I don’t want to make it sound like there’s no science in it. The science comes from your own experience and your own again, sense of your worth, or in my case in casting, it was the worth of the talent that I was representing, but a lot of times we would go, “I don’t know. Let’s throw this number out there and see what the client takes.”

Anne: [laughs] Exactly. Exactly. “I have no idea. Alright. Let’s try this.” That’s me, right? And you think I think, it should be noted, right, when we talk about the wild west of digital streaming media because of the fact it’s so difficult to tell how many impressions are made – let’s say in online streaming video, right – it’s hard for us to know how many times have people seen that video or heard that voice. And because on the backend, the logistics, they’re still being developed, it’s like baby technology.

Gabby: Oh yeah.

Anne: However I will tell you that, I think most of you that know me, my husband works in artificial intelligence now, and there are programs now being developed, rest assured, being developed that can track the amount of impressions so that you can get, you know, ratings back when ratings were a thing, Nielsen ratings, and how many times, how many people have watched your show and how many people have listened – it’s absolutely coming, guys. It’s coming.

Gabby: Yeah, I mean and it does exist in broadcast and that’s it, Anne, you’re right. It is being developed. It is coming for the Internet. We’re just not there yet.

Anne: Oh, it is. And when that happens –

Gabby: And not just the Internet. Streaming media, yeah.

Anne: Yeah, exactly. When that happens, you’re going to have a much better idea as to how many times and where your voice is going to be heard, which will help you in terms of the quoting and –

Gabby: In the meantime.

Anne: In the meantime, you’ve got to be brave, guys. You’ve got to be courageous. And if it’s not there, you simply have to state it in your terms. Again, when, where, how much and absolutely have to be specified in your specs when you’re quoting.