Seems easy enough– follow along with what others suggest and you have a rate sheet!  You can find several samples of rate sheets on sites such as V123 and Edge Studio etc.  These are great guidelines to non-union budgets that are currently being paid, but does that mean this is what you should be charging?

There is much to consider when creating a rate sheet for yourself.  First off, are you union or non-union?  Most likely you are non-union if you are reading this article, because when you are union, the union lays it all out for the client which helps you with this daunting decision.  That’s the nice thing about agents and unions – you won’t have to negotiate your rate, they do it for you based on their guidelines, so current online rate sheets are good guidelines for the non-union world.  However even in the union world, these rates are only guidelines so you may find you are paid less or more than the guideline amount.  It’s time that you got good at knowing what you are worth, so you can negotiate and get what you deserve.

I’ve always found it interesting that talent never seem to post their rates on their websites– or anywhere for that matter.  For the most part, I assume it’s because they don’t want to lose a higher budget because they’ve posted a lower budget on their rate sheet, or because they don’t want anyone to copy their rates, etc.  I do not have my rates posted either.  I suppose there’s really no reason in particular, except that it seems to be the norm.  I believe our Voice world has turned into a high negotiation Mexican border.  We negotiate every job and so therefore it makes it hard to be firm in any rates as they always fluctuate.

One client will be more than happy to spend $300.00 on a message on hold, while the other will not pay more than $75.  Same type of project, just different budgets.  This is what makes it so hard.  Will this ever change?  I doubt it.  We will always have low and high paying clients.   The union tries to avoid this and keep a steady rate for the industry.  This is a great thing as it teaches clients how to value our services, as much as they value their own.  You do want to have your limits or minimums, just as in the union world.

So how do you value yourself to know what to charge?  Take this into consideration: I had such a hard time when I first joined the industry.  I started in the birthing of the online world so there were no sites or talent who posted rates so it was always a major guessing game.  I got really good at asking, “Do you have a budget in mind?” before offering a quote.  There are some jobs that I can’t believe what I got for it!  If I would have offered the rate first, I would have lost out on a ton of money.  Sometimes clients will come back with a higher (or lower) number than you would have expected, so it’s always best to first attempt to put it back in their hands.  Most clients have an idea of what they have for a budget, they just want to see if you’ll do it cheaper so they can save a dollar.  Most of us are that way– we all want to save on our purchases– so clients are no different.  If they can get the same value for a smaller dollar, they will.

This is a lot of the problem with low balling: many talent practically give it away.  And if their experience is extremely green and they aren’t very good yet, okay– then you get what you pay for.  But those who are experienced and giving it away are destroying our industry.  I do know that we all have bills to pay so we need to take what we can get for the most part, but you’d be amazed at how many clients will give you what you ask for, if you weren’t so afraid to ask.  The most important thing you need to do is realize what you’ve invested in, so that you can have the return you deserve.

How much time and money have you spent into training?  How much money have you spent on demos, marketing, branding etc.?  What people don’t realize is that the rates you charge are part of helping to pay back your investment.  I’ve spent a ton of money and time into my craft and someone has to help me pay it back.  Much like the lawyer or doctor went to university for years more than the rest of us were willing to go.  They sacrificed the most and so we justify (even if we hate it) $300/hr and then some.  So it’s all in how you look at it.

This is no different than any other profession where they look at the return, the difficulty in the job, the demand, the experience level etc.  These are all things that help determine why we can charge what we do.  It’s not like we charge $150-300 per hour and work 8 hours a day 5 days a week.  Our pay scales may be big for some projects, but perhaps we don’t do more than a few big projects a year, so these jobs add up to a full time average or above average salary– with tons of fun and learning along the way.

People think that this is a rich industry full of money and get rich quick opportunities, but it really isn’t that anymore.  It’s harder and harder to just make $30,000 a year– nevermind get up to three figures.  Not saying it can’t happen– because it can– but I only want you to be realistic.  You might make a “steady income” instead of “hearty income,” but you have to just love that you get paid to talk (and edit a bit).  So the reward is personal, but not always financially.

It’s extremely important to get yourself assessed so that you know what you should be charging, if you don’t already know.  I have a fantastic opportunity for you to do just that (I only wish someone would have done this for me). Join me for my next hands on webinar August 28, 2013, where I will do exactly that. Those of you that join the call will get a complete assessment from me.  This will give you a better idea of what to charge and how to word it to the client so that you can get what you’re worth.  You have to sell your rates to the client, and this can be even more daunting, so I will help you to communicate to your clients to get what you want.

If you can’t attend, you can purchase it to listen to later.  I’m sure you’ll have all the answers you need after 2 hours of assessments, but if you still need help, I will give you a consultation as well as a part of the webinar package.  You can also contact me for a private session (but the webinar is a great value at $39.95 for 90 hours).

Knowing what you are worth isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.  So find your way through the grey and come out on top: confident, valued and justified.

Until next time everyone.

All my best,

VO Chef Deb

Aka – Deb Munro

My Voice, Mixed Your Way