Well, that title sounds like either a line from an Austin Power’s movie or a Salt-N-Pepa song. It is probably the most asked question in voiceover and the most contentious. So, today the aim is to simplify the whole rationale about how much you should charge as minimum fee. No biggie – right?!
First you need to figure out what one hour of your labor is worth. And here is where most new people to business go wrong. They usually say, “well I was earning $15 an hour at Target so that sounds about right!”. Here is a better example: “I was earning $50 an hour as a professional engineer so that sounds about right”. Nope! Both wrong. Let’s take the engineer as an example. His company was paying him $50 an hour. But guess what. His company was charging $300 an hour to the companies that used his service. The company has many overheads to pay for and they have a calculation that tells them how much it actually costs the company to have one engineer on staff. They then take that number and multiply it by the profit margin they want to make and that’s how they come up with $300 as the amount they charge. Cost of engineer = $150 (salary and costs) x 50% profit margin = $300. If you need some help with this, check out this video from the mighty Philip Banks in an interview with Jente from Voicebooking.com.
Remember that you are a business. Yes, this may be the creative industry, but you are still a business. You have overheads. Invoicing and billing time. Equipment. Marketing. Web services. Memberships. And much, much more. You should have the attitude that you should be paid for every hour that you work on your business. A standard business will pay employees to do the accounting, billing, marketing, maintenance, web-services, IT, etc. As a voiceover, you are usually all those things, and you deserve to be paid as such.
Why one hour? If you are familiar with this industry, you have probably realized that it usually takes less than 30 minutes to record, edit and send your file for most 2-minute explainer videos. So why do we charge an hour? The whole world pretty much works in hour long segments. Let’s say you had 6 live bookings in a day (a stretch I know but go with me). You must organize them into not only your day but also with the clients if they are live sessions. As a professional, you must arrange for the worse case scenario and multiple retakes. Many of us who have been in the profession for a long time know how a 10-word tag line session can turn into a 1-hour marathon when the client is on the other end of the line!
So, do you have a number? The GFTB and GVAA rate card says that the average is $300 for a minimum rate for a 2-minute corporate explainer. I like to use these as an example as it helps with what I call a Basic Studio Fee or BSF. As there is no usage in relation to these jobs it makes things simple. Now, remember that this is a GUIDE. It gives you an idea of the ballpark that you should be in. You can charge more, and you can charge less. That is a personal decision.
Finding that number is very liberating. It gives you a base to work all the other intricacies of pricing out from. If gives you consistency, instead of having to make your rates up as you go along. In short, it will make your life so much easier. Everything else tends to fall into place when you know what your basic studio fee or minimum rate is. And don’t undercut the going rates and think that it will you get you more work. Many clients I have spoken to say that a lowball quote from any Freelancer is always a sign that they are not as professional as the they should be. Remember, when they quoted the whole production video to the client, they factored in a rate for the voiceover. Most production companies know what a good rate is, so it is already built into their price.
Hopefully, that helps. Pricing and quoting can be a very daunting task. You will find over time that it becomes easier. Now I feel like watching “The spy who shagged me” or listening to Salt N Pepa’s greatest hits. Either one sounds pretty fun to me!