As the Voice Over ranks fill exponentially, and having the competitive race for clients, the question of taking on new clients seems to be a bit muddled. With new Voice Over Artists coming into the market, many without formal acting experience and actual entrepreneurial business background, the journey is very difficult. Vetting Voice Coaches, training to properly interpret scripts, and keeping up with the technology, it is daunting. Now add business and entrepreneurial skills to that list and you have a mountain to climb. I am writing this article not to instruct but to point out one unusual, but common and familiar practice that I constantly read on Voice Over sites, that confuses and disturbs me, and that is the Rate Guide.
Prior to entering the Voice Over profession, I have owned a few businesses, I have been a Director of Sales for various companies, all to say that decisions made about the future of your Voice Over business should not be weighted only one factor “Rate” but needs to be put into perspective with other weighted factors when presented with a project by a client.
I bring this point up only because of what I read on a very popular Voice Over Group posting not long ago. I shall not mention the group or person(s) that participated in the discussion because that would be unprofessional. What I will mention is the circumstances surrounding issue and the reason for this article.
A member of the group posted a question about an offer from a legitimate eLearning company for a Demoto be provided to the company. The Company would select appropriate demos for client projects for the clients to choose. The eLearning company was transparent and upfront about their fee structure which differed from the “Rate Guide” we are oh so familiar with and was substantially lower. The member wanted to know whether they should provide a Demo, and in doing so accept the payment terms.
It is at this point I must tell the reader that I too was offered by this company the same arrangement and without hesitation spent about 1.5 hours rehearsing, recording, editing, and formatting the script provided by the company. To be honest I never looked at the Holy “Rate Card” at any time because I knew that my experience in eLearning narration was very limited, and this would be an opportunity to get a foothold into that market.
So, what’s the point of this article? I assume that the person who posted the question also had little experience in the eLearning market since he/she would know the answer to the question they had posed. The point is a business decision was made in a silo by only Rate Guide card and excluding all other weighted factors that should have been considered. First, the forum that the question was posted to, and comments offered needs to be considered. Who are these people providing advice, are they qualified, how many years of experience does each have in Voice Over, do they have their own agenda, have they ever had a business? Overwhelmingly their comments were negative to this companies offer, but I wonder if that’s because some may have submitted a Demoand wanted to reduce the competition by posting these comments for all to read. Second, what makes a person think that they should be compensated at the highest rate if they have little to no experience in that specialized market. The “Rate Card” is a guide, not to be confused with the tablets received on Mt. Sinai. If my decisions in the past businesses I owned were based just on price, believe me I would not be in business long. Future potential business is key, especially if you are new to the field. By deciding not to do business due to some rate guide you lose far more then you gain, except for the faux feeling that you “KEPT UP THE STANDARDS” of the profession while failing to get to meet new clients in the market
Finally, what would it cost you to enter a marketplace that you are new in and establish a professional presence so other clients independent from that low compensated eLearning company might seek your talents. Unless you are so busy with bookings that taking this on would detract from other projects that you are receiving Rated compensation, it would cost nothing.
My goal in writing this article is to give pause to those who think that Voice Over is a simple transactional business. I fully support fair rates for professionals, but in the same breath advocate for looking at the whole business picture, and think of future growth potential opportunities maybe not yet seen but are there.