I recently bid on a project that required sifting through several hours of the client's pre-recorded video, and then re-record the audio for them. This seemed to me like a fairly big project, so I bid accordingly. I was definitely the highest bid by a long shot, but I knew the amount of work that was required, and even then I felt it was still a HUGE discount for the client. I really didn't expect to hear back from them. One person was bidding $88 and 1 day completion. I figure if this guy gets the job, he's more than welcome to have it, as he has no idea what he's in for.
But a few hours later, the client contacted me to say I was on the short list of possible voices. He then shared some additional info: Some scripts would be provided but I would have watch four hours worth of videos and transcribe some of them into a script. Also, the audio needed to match the video fairly closely, so it meant watching the video while recording to make sure everything matched up.
Based on this new information I raised my rate.
I've been down this road before. Underbidding just to get the project and then being overwhelmed with the amount of work that project required. I swore the last time this happened to me that I wasn't going to get burned again, so I bid at a rate that I felt was fair.
I didn't win the project, but I gained peace of mind.
As voice artists, we need to be fair to our clients with just how much work is involved on a particular project. There is a lot invested in all of this. I know I personally work very hard to make sure my voice is in top shape, I know the script, understand my audience, my vocal range is where it needs to be, I'm hydrated, warmed up, relaxed and I deliver the highest quality voiceover I possibly can.
I may only be selling a widget, but I'm going to show you that this is the finest widget ever made in the history of widgety things. And I'm going to do it in a natural, conversational, disarming manner that will, in no way sound at all like a stereotypical announcer (because, as we all know, the "announcer voice" is the third rail of modern VO.)
There are a lot of things that should be factored into bidding on a project: How expensive was that microphone and pre-amp? How much was that computer and recording software? If you belong to one (or all) of the P2P sites, how much does that cost per year? And let's not forget your voice. How much did you invest in voice training? How expensive was that demo? How much time did you spend preparing for this recording? How much time did it take to get a take you were happy with? How much time will it take to clean up and edit everything so you deliver presentable audio to the client on time?
Now: How little are you willing to work per hour? How many jobs are you missing because you're busy with this project? How much is it costing you in lost revenue for every hour you spend on this one, low-paying gig?
There will always be someone that low-balls the entire field just to get the job. Don't make the mistake of following them down this rabbit hole.
You're time and skills have value. Bid accordingly.
About Rob Marley -
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin Texas.