Have you ever purchased a Rolex out of a guy’s trunk? How about a back-alley dentist? Or even a $300 voiceover demo? The bottom line? You get what you pay for!
Anne and Gabby explain how the rates you charge are a reflection of yourself as a voice actor and what this means if you’re new to the industry. They also include some great resources on where to go to find industry standard rates and many other helpful tips about negotiating price with your clients!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
You’re worth fair rates! Don’t let mental money blocks keep you from charging what you’re worth.
As a professional, you need to charge professional rates.
You’ve invested in training, in equipment, this is a job, and you deserve to be fairly compensated.
You want to be the brand people ask for by name, not the brand people use because you’re the cheapest!
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
The GVAA Rate Guide is a great place to find out what you should charge!
The UK Voiceover Rate Guide from Gravy for the Brain
See how to overcome Money Blocks
VO: Today’s voices need to be more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO BOSS Set yourself up with Business Owner Strategies and Success, with your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Anne: Welcome everybody; I’m Anne Ganguzza, welcome to the VO BOSS Business Owner Strategies and Success podcast. I’m here with my lovely co-host, Gabby Nistico. Gabby: Hello, hello! Anne: And today’s topic, Gabby, I’m super excited to talk about is, market price, and how we price ourselves in the industry. This is a big episode. We could probably make a few episodes of this. Gabby: I’m sure we will, but I mean, come on, everybody loves money! I mean, money’s such a great topic, right? I mean– Anne: Actually, you know what, it’s funny because we all think, well, working with some students, you would think that they don’t love money, ’cause they’re afraid of it, and they’re afraid to ask for it, you know what I mean? So, I am completely okay with saying I love money. I love to make money, I love to make money in my business, I embrace money, I let it flow towards me, and there’s a lot of people who are so afraid to price themselves in the market, or price themselves, what I say, fairly, in the marketplace, that that really, I believe, is what I call a money block. Gabby: I agree, I think money blocks are definitely something that we have to contend with. I talk a lot about how people have the artist brain and the artist mindset, and the problem with that is that we A, sort of don’t see the worth, or the value in what we do, and it can be very hard to stand up for ourselves, and to stand firm with an understanding of our worth, and yeah, so I get that, so let’s start there, what kind of things do you typically see, that are holding people back, when it comes to just having good market rate money strategies?
Anne: Well, okay, so I know a lot of people who are just entering into the industry, and they feel that, “Well, you know what, I’m new, “so therefore, I’m gonna take this job for a lower amount “than somebody else, because I don’t have the experience, “or I’m new, so therefore, my price can be this,” and what I wanna say to those people is, alright, first of all, there’s, well, I have a lot of things to say, but, number one, number one, you invested in yourself, you invested in your skills, you invested in a studio, there is money that you put into your business, it is what I call the cost of doing business, and that accounts for a lot of the thought process in terms of determining a rate for what you can charge, and if you’re a newbie, I really don’t like that word, but if you’re a new person to the industry, you have every right to charge a fair rate, just like somebody who’s been in the industry maybe 10 years! Because you have put that money into yourself and in your investment, and when you actually say, internally, “Well, you know what, “I’m not experienced enough,” or, “I’m gonna do that job for $50,” what you’re doing is you’re projecting the fact that, “Well, I’m cheap,” or, “I’m cheaper than the next talent, “and therefore, hire me, because I’m cheap, or cheaper,” and that, I don’t think creates a good flow for wanting to embrace money coming into your life, because, really what that’s saying to your potential client is that you’re cheap. Gabby: Well, there are a lot of points, and you’re right, we could talk about just this for quite some time, so I try to stay concise on these points, but yes, I totally agree with you, the other thing is, of course, it drives down the rates for the entire industry, and it starts to make cheap a trend, which obviously, we don’t want as an industry-wide front, we wanna band together, and we wanna make sure that we’re all in line or closely aligned in terms of pricing. You also get into the cut-rate online marketplace-style websites that sort of perpetuate these ideas, things like Fiverr, which I am so against. When I have people who are relatively new and they come to me and they say that they’re on, like, the first thing I do is yank them off of those sites, I’m like, get the hell out of there, what are you doing? But I love analogies, and I love analogies because I think that they illustrate what we’re talking about so clearly, so the analogy I always give everyone is I say, okay, forget voiceover for a minute. Think about your dentist. Your dentist went to school, invested in their education, then graduated, and invested in their practice, and their equipment, and their office space, and their staff, and all of these lovely things. Now, imagine having a dentist just coming out of dental school, advertising, or basically promoting cut rates because they’re new. Anne: Right. Gabby: Who wants to go to that dentist? Anne: Well, exactly! I wouldn’t trust my teeth to somebody like that. Gabby: Right. “You’re my first root canal, so,” nobody wants to work with that guy, and so what’s interesting, and what people fail to see is that sometimes, the brand new dentist, the one just out of dental school, brand new practice, new techniques, new equipment, state-of-the-art everything, might actually be charging a hair more than the established dental practice that’s been around for a really long time, and might be just a little bit antiquated. Anne: Well, yeah, and actually, I love that, and that really brings forth the point that instead of bringing out the point that you’re new, you’re bringing out the point that you’re current, and that you’re relevant, and that is the marketing strategy that I think all people new to this industry should maybe think about! Don’t have your rates being low because you’re new or you’re not as experienced, no, you’re current, you’re relevant. You’re up on the latest technologies, and that’s what makes your voice able to serve your potential clients, and so I think that’s a great analogy, Gabby, I love that. I love that. Gabby: And I mean, they’re just, the new person is just as capable of charging a standard base rate as anyone else in the industry, and you really have to own that, you have to accept the fact that you’re just as valuable as someone who’s been doing it for 10, 15, 20 years or more! There’s nothing wrong with that. Now, it’s not up to me, or Anne, or anyone else, for that matter, to tell you exactly what you should be charging, but it is your job to make sure that you’re educated about what standard rates are, and we can certainly help in that regard to give people some knowledge that they might not have about what some of the trends and rates are currently. Anne: Sure, and I wanna say too that if you’re in, I’m gonna say the online sites, of course, like you mentioned, Fiverr and the pay-to-plays, so, I know that some of the places, they lean more towards a bidding war kind of a thing, which would be like, Fiverr or, and I remember I used to be, in my heyday, I used to be on Freelancer.com, and in those types of sites, where it was encouraged that the lowest bidder wins, but what I wanna talk about is to have you, if you are on these sites, because these sites aren’t going away, and they are an opportunity for you to get work, and so therefore, I think you should play the right way, and play where you’re not interested in just undercutting the next person, or having the lowest bid. In our pay-to-plays today, there are options for you to bid what it is that you want, you don’t have to stay with the projected budget, or, you know, try not to say, “Oh, I’m gonna offer this job for $100 “because I’m going to get it,” again, I think that projects out that you are advertising that you’re cheap, and so, I like to equate it to, like, for me, I buy hair products that work on my hair, that are excellent products, they may not be the cheapest, but I buy them, or I buy, I’m talking girl stuff, technology-wise, I buy the best products that do the job for me, and so, I’m not concerned about price, when I go to buy a cable, I make sure it’s a Belkin cable, and are Belkin cables, are they the cheapest? No, not necessarily. I buy Charmin toilet tissue, I mean, it’s like, is that the cheapest? No! But it’s a brand that I know and I trust, and I love, and so that’s what I want you guys to think about as voice talent, and as your voice talent businesses, you wanna be that brand that people just ask for by name, and that, I think, is the right way to approach what your market price is, or what price you feel is fair and just for you to put on your services, and I don’t want you to feel, I know there’s a lot of people, when this discussion comes up in the groups, and I also host with Dave Courvoisier Rates Roundtable every month, it always comes up where, this is what we should be doing, but I know there’s a lot of talent who are thinking, “Oh okay, alright, but I really need the work, “so I am gonna take that job,” and they’re not gonna tell anybody about it, but, that again is not helping the industry, so if we can try to just keep pushing it out that you are worth it, and make you feel that you’re worth it, I think that’s gonna help us elevate the industry as a whole. Gabby: I agree with that completely, and I’ll also throw this out there for the folks who maybe are engaging in the lower rate practices. Something worthwhile to think about, sometimes talent will say things, like when it comes to free or really low-budget work, “Well, I’m just looking to get started “and get feedback and get input, “and it’s gonna help me to grow!” That is not really true. Typically speaking, when you do something at a really discounted rate, you’re not held to the same standard as someone who charges for it, and so, many times what happens, again, I love analogies, this is kind of like when you call your cousin Larry, who’s kind of a do-it-yourselfer home improvement guy, to come fix something in your house. You know? Anne: I’ve had this. Gabby: Yeah! And we’ve all had that! And, you know, Cousin Larry might do an okay job, it might be decent-ish, but you’re not going to be inclined to really give him feedback, or tell him exactly what you think, because he did it for such a bargain price, you’re sort of just acting on appreciation of that, and not saying anything. Whereas, if you were paying a contractor, and you were paying a fuller standard rate, if something’s not to your liking, you’re gonna go, “You know, is there something we can do about that? “I’m not crazy about it,” or, and that truly is how we grow! When you’re in a session for a client that’s got what I call a real budget, and you’re up in the five figures, you’d be surprised how quickly they’ll tell you exactly what they like and what they don’t like. Anne: And that’s such a wonderful point that you bring up, because, I’ll tell you, there’s no better way to learn, you know what I mean, than being scared! In a way, for like, oh my God, this is not what the client is looking for, I had a couple of jobs when I was first starting out that were like that, when I sent it to the client or whatnot, maybe my audio quality wasn’t up to par, I will never forget that, that, you know, it’s like, “Oh no, this audio quality is horrible,” and I was like, I was mortified! But I tell you what, I fixed it, you know, that day, and so that propelled me to be motivated to really learn what is it, you know, how do you know you really have an issue, or need something fixed until you really know what that problem is, so yeah, I love that you brought that up, because multiple times, and I’ve been mortified, and it’s like, that’s what drives me to learn, drives me to make it better. Gabby: My very first national, I was a wreck, because the client was so, well, they were very curt, and they were very, just quick in the way they gave direction, it was not, I mean, it wasn’t a warm and fuzzy session, and not all of them are, but for my first national, it was definitely not the warm and fuzzies, and I was a nervous wreck, and I was terrified! I mean, I really was pushing myself so hard in that session, because I knew that I wasn’t quite hitting exactly what they wanted, and I was like, no, no, no, I’m gonna get this, there’s no way I’m walking away from this with them unhappy! The session was way longer than any of my sessions today would’ve been by comparison, but, you know, that’s how we learn, that’s how we grow, not, yeah, when you’re stuck in that weird land of, “Oh yeah, it was great, everything’s wonderful,” because you were so cheap, they don’t care. Anne: And that’s really a great point, because I think we’re scared of that emotion. If we’re gonna bring the psychology into it again, this is kind of maybe a subconscious money block where, if you’re scared of somebody saying no, you have a rate that you’re in the middle of negotiating, and you have like, “Okay, this is what I should charge for this job,” and that client comes back and is like, “Mm-mm,” I think we’re scared of that type of response, which is something that propels us to try to lower our price, and lower our price, and lower our price, and so, I think it’s because we are afraid of that, but just like you learned, and I learned, when we’re kind of a little bit nervous and scared and we’re motivated to do better, take that to your negotiation table as well, you know what I mean? Don’t let a projected feeling that the client is gonna say no to your rate let you drive that rate down, because that, I’ll tell you, in negotiation, the biggest thing that you can do is to come in strong, confident with a rate that you deserve, and be ready to face the music if they say no, and for you to say no back, if it’s not within your range, it only needs to happen once, right? Like your first national spot, being terrified and nervous, that happened once, and then that’s what made you grow. Same thing with me, and same thing with me when it came to negotiations, and, you know, when people say, “What?” You’re afraid that they’re gonna come back to you and say, “Are you kidding me? “That, you’re gonna charge that for this voiceover?” Well, be prepared, be prepared for that, and the one time that you say no, it’s so empowering, oh my gosh. It is the most empowering, then you’re gonna be like, you’re gonna start to be a negotiation pro, you’re gonna be able to charge those rates and be confident, and it’s all gonna be good, it’s gonna go forward, and it’s gonna allow you to accept that money flow coming in. Gabby: It is! I say no all the time. I quote out jobs to things, and the client comes back and goes, “Well, wow, that’s way more than we expected,” sorry, that’s my minimum. Happens all the time, happens to me multiple times per day, and the things you have to think about, and I know we’re gonna talk, Anne, about agents in a lot more detail in another podcast, but the thing you have to remember is that’s how your agents operate! An agent literally, has “no” built in to every fiber of their being! And your agent has no problem telling someone, “No, that’s too low,” and sticking to it and holding to it. The thing is, they’re putting a little bit of a buffer, and that separation between you and that information, so think about it, you may not know how many jobs your agent actually turns down on your behalf, because they’re saying, “That’s too low, “we’re not working for that!” Anne: Sure, and I think now, agents are more, especially with, we’ve been bringing it to light in the industry, about the rates, I think more agents are more willing to share, in maybe a sentence or two that, you know, “Alright, play if you want, we’re working “on negotiating something else.” I’m getting a lot of that feedback in a lot of my auditions. So agents are aware, aware, aware that we’re all fighting for better rates, which is a good thing, I’m really impressed with how that’s been progressing this past year. So I’m happy about that. Gabby: I agree totally. But now, let’s talk about, so okay, an actionable thing here, this is what I feel is the biggest actionable takeaway from today. Well, okay, maybe the second biggest. So, the first is not being afraid to say no, and being prepared to say no, psychologically prepping yourself for that process, and one of the easiest ways that I have found to do it is a draft email. Literally, have a drafted email ready to go that kind of explains, it has some blank holes where you can fill in the dollar amount, but that it explains in the nicest way possible, why that is too low a rate, and you have to, unfortunately, turn it down, or provide them the alternative of, “We could make it happen for this,” mm-hmm. Anne: Absolutely, be prepared. Gabby: The number two, and I think that this one’s huge, know your minimums. Know your minimums. You have to be able to set that line, to say, “I will not work for less than x.” Anne: Right, “I will not step in my studio.” And once I actually made that decision, “I will not step in my studio for less than,” and it was x amount of dollars, that just became so empowering for me, and it started really shaping how I was working on a daily basis, I was becoming more efficient, number one, because I didn’t have to do 100 billion jobs that were at a really low rate to try and pay the bills. It really allowed me to start to be selective, and the other thing too I wanna say is, know your rate, but know your client too. And understand, I think one of the biggest things I teach in negotiation is to understand who your client is, and get an idea of what you think their budget is prior to even stating your first round of pricing. So, the more that you know about your client, the more information that you know about them, the better that you’re gonna be able to serve them, and the better that you’re gonna be able to project a rate too, that will work for both of you. Gabby: Yeah, most definitely. The thing that is constantly, I think, present, though, for any actor, is that fear. It’s the fear of, “If I turn this job away, “there may not be another job behind it.” There is, I promise you, I guarantee you, that there is, and your third takeaway from today’s podcast, and this is a big one, and this is gonna scare some people, so, brace yourself. Anne: Get ready. Gabby: Alright! The third one is to take a look at the clients that you already have currently, and if the rates that you’re charging are too low, set a goal date to inform those individuals of a rate increase. Anne: Yeah, absolutely. Gabby: And you have to be prepared that a certain percentage of them are going to go away. But, those who accept the rate increase, usually what happens is, it will balance out, right, so whatever you lost, you’ll actually still be making the same amount of money, or a little bit better, and that frees you up! Anne: Yeah, it gives you more time to look for a client that will pay! Gabby: Exactly. Anne: Yeah, I love that, I love that, so, takeaways again, don’t be afraid to say no. Make sure, have a goal. Gabby: Know your minimum. Anne: Yep, know your minimum, and have a goal, look at your clients, have a goal, if you’re charging too low, or your rate is too low, have a date where you’re going to tell them that your rates are increasing due to economy, due to your additional training, due to your additional studio improvements, that sort of thing. Gabby: Yep. And if you want more information on rates, even though this is a topic I know Anne and I are gonna come back and address time and time again, yeah, but more information, I think we both probably agree, the best sources are SAG-AFTRA, number one, top of the list. Look at the union rates, know the union rates. You do not have to be unionized to benefit from those scale minimums! And everybody right now is a really big fan of what GVAA is doing, and the rate card that they’re publishing on their website. Anne: They have a great rate card, and I know, they’ve actually gone out and asked people who’ve been in the industry for a long time their rate schedules, and they put that together, I know for a fact, Cristina lives next to me, I know for a fact they’ve put in so much work into that rate guide, and it’s not a one-time thing, they are continually updating it, and they’re continually adding more information, so it’s a really great resource that you can find on their page, so I think those are the two best sources out there right now, and you know what? But don’t let the rate guides define you. You can absolutely step outside the rate guide and charge a higher rate! Or something that’s an average, or depending on the client, again, it’s all kind of a, it’s kind of a combination of knowing a base rate to start with, and then understanding who your client is and what you feel comfortable charging, and what you think will get you the most benefit, and the most work, of course, with that client. Gabby: Correct, and Anne, also, what’s the information on your roundtable with Dave Courvoisier? Anne: Oh yes, you’re gonna find at World-Voices, on their website, on their YouTube channel, so World-Voices Organization, just do a Google search on them, they have all of the Rates Roundtables, we’ve been doing them for two years, a little bit over two years now, on their website, free for anybody to watch, so there’s some really great that we’ve had there, so. Wonderful resources. What a great episode, Gabby, I could go on forever on this one. Gabby: Well, I wanna mention one more quickie thing, so this is a little pet project of mine, I have a website called Say No to Cheap VO, and it’s nothing more than– Anne:Great name. Gabby: Yeah, it’s my little pet project, it’s nothing more than a pledge page. It’s a place for you to go and see a list of some various resources on rates, it’s a place to get the discussions started with clients, but also, it’s a pledge, and so I invite all of you to go there and take the pledge, and commit to solid industry rates, and not undercutting. Anne: I love that, what a beautiful piece to land on, to finish our episode on, I like that! saynotocheapvo.com. Gabby: Yep! Anne: Alright. Well Gabby, thanks so much, I think it’s been a wonderful episode, I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this again in our– Gabby: Oh yeah. Anne: Future episodes, a big thanks to our sponsor, ipDTL, if you are impressed with the quality connection, and recording that you’re hearing, it is all due to our sponsor ipDTL, You too can record like a boss, you can find out more at ipdtl.com. Gabby: From all of us at the VO BOSS podcast, have a kick-butt week, stay focused, and rock your business like a boss. Anne: Like a boss. You can like us on Facebook at VO Boss Podcast, and Twitter @VO_boss. Gabby: Subscribe to us also on iTunes or Stitcher! Anne: Have a great week guys, we’ll see you soon.
VO: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS, with your host Anne Ganguzza, and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.