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Business Basics For Voiceovers – Pricing and Value For Voiceovers

I’m hoping that this article will appeal not only to the voiceover artists themselves but also the voiceover seekers as well.  Hopefully the information will be as pertinent to them. The topic for this article is voiceover Pricing, which is often a neglected part of the marketing mix but as we all know quite a crucial aspect.  If you look at any of the voiceover forums, it does cause immense problems & I think it causes problems on each side – voiceover seekers don’t know how to price a project -what budget to set.  At the same time voiceover artists struggle to set a rate for a particular project.  They don’t want to price themselves too high and obviously they don’t want to undercut themselves so its a tricky balance of finding a happy medium where both parties feel comfortable and they both feel that it is a good price for the VALUE they are adding and receiving. 

It always surprises me that some voiceover seekers, even though they are searching out the services of a professional voiceover are not willing to pay a fair price for the services offered.  They must have some awareness, a notional idea of the benefits that using a pro voiceover will bring to their brand, their company, their product/service yet they’re not willing to pay for it or willing to pay a fair price.  So why is that?  And what is a fair price?

I think some of the problem may stem from the impression that voice over is an easy job – anyone can do it.  And with the Internet and more accessible technology its easy for anyone to set themselves up as a voiceover talent.  And this mentality seems to have reached some voice seekers who are unaware of the true costs and investment that is necessary to provide you with your professional radio commercial voiceover, your e-learning narration, your corporate video read.  And its also important for you, the voiceover artist, to remember how you have got to where you are now and how each element needs to be thrown into the mix to arrive at a pricing strategy that gives you and your work value. So if you or a client starts to question your rates here’s some things to take into consideration when and why the price is what it is.

1. Firstly,  TIME.  This is a significant factor.  I have a huge problem with job postings that start – “this is a quick easy job, will only take you 5 minutes if you know what you’re doing”  followed by a budget of £10/ $ 20.  I don’t know if I’m the only one who finds this sort of posting extremely rude and just plain naive.  No, No No !! I’ve just spent those 5 minutes opening my email client and reading your job posting – it will take me another 5 minutes to reply to it, so there’s 10 minutes already.  And all those minutes are billable.  It isn’t just the time it takes to record the voiceover.  What about the time it takes to communicate with the client, to discuss the script, the style or delivery, the quote, the turnaround time, the licence usage etc.  Then you record, edit, convert the audio to the format of their choice, upload it to their server, wait for feedback, do any re-records if necessary, edit, convert, upload again.  So no, a 5 minute voiceover does not take 5 minutes. 

2. What about the other costs that you’ve incurred – what about your home studio? Some voiceover artists make this cost quite transparent in their pricing by charging a studio fee. For others, they prefer to factor it into their final quote. Quality recordings come at a price. Even though equipment has become more affordable, it will need updating and replacing as your career continues to grow and succeed. This all needs to be factored into the investment you’ve made and continue to make in your voiceover career.

3. Training, and coaching – consider the investment you have made in attending workshops, purchasing voiceover books, taking part in local college courses. 

4 Demo production

5. Maybe you have a royalty free music library that you offer to your clients – how much did that cost?

6. And what about the basic running costs that every business incurs – stationary, printing cartridges, postage, envelopes, telephone calls, broadband connection.  And your marketing materials  – websites , postcards, e-newsletters, all have costs involved.

7. Memberships – online casting websites, union memberships, SAVOA  for example

8. Travel costs to studios and auditions.

All of these and no doubt many more costs all need to be considered for your pricing strategy.

These are to remind you of the value you have placed on yourself and your voiceover career so that when your fee is questioned you are confident that the value of your voiceover recording justifies every penny of your quote.

So how do you come up with some concrete figures to put on your rate sheet?

If you’re a union member than this is fairly straightforward- unions do tend to set minimum rates and guidance.  And I assume these are followed by clients who employ union talents.

If you’re not then you have some options: Go to the voiceover forums – a lot of fellow voiceover actors have very generously shared their own ratecard.  This is hugely helpful and will help you decide how you want to set your rates ,do you do it per word, per finished minute, per page .  You’ll notice this will vary from voiceover artist to voiceover artist as well as the method changes depending on the nature of the project and the market it is being used in. Also visit the online casting sites such as voices.com who have a downloadable pdf document with rate guidelines for different projects and different markets, and I believe  www.Voice123.com  also have a document that sets out their average rates for projects. 

There are also pricing strategies and psychologies that other businesses employ when they are setting prices – here are some of them which you may want to consider using when creating your rate card. I want to thank Ivana Taylor (strategystew.com) for these ideas from her 8 Pricing Strategies article on the www.smallbiztrends.com website.

1. The 9 and Zero effect. People associate the number nine with value and zero with quality. Look at the difference between fast food and a gourmet restaurant. A burger meal can sell for about $ 4.99 while a gourmet entree at the best place in town may go for $ 30. So the psychology of pricing isn’t so much about gaining additional sales because the price appears to be lower, it’s about what the price communicates about your offering. So which do you want to communicate? Value or Quality? Now you can price accordingly.

2. Prestige Pricing. Higher prices connote higher quality. Luxury brands are the perfect example of this strategy. A latte at Starbucks has a higher perceived value than a basic coffee with cream. Simply improving the look, packaging, delivery or promise of your product you can justify a higher price and support a prestige pricing strategy.

3.Quantity suggestive Pricing. Consumers are receptive to purchasing items in suggested quantities. When you suggest how many you want your customers to buy and give them an attractive price, they will do what you tell them.

4. Stuffing the bundle. But wait there’s more! Consumers perceive more value when there is more stuff included in the bundle. You can even call this a form of value-building. TV infomercials are notorious for this strategy. They introduce a main product and keep adding more and more items to the mix to build value – while simultaneously “discounting” the retail price.

Well I hope this has given you a few ideas about pricing and I hope that your clients will have a better understanding of the true costs involved, that they’re not just buying a voice – but all the expertise, technical ability and branding value that the particular voice brings to their project.

Alison Pitman
Professional Voiceover Artist. Provider of audio recordings for business including, podcasts, website audio, phone system recordings, training and presentation narrations, corporate video narrations, product tour audio, radio and television commercials and much more. Please visit my website to hear my demos http://www.thephonevoice.com/

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