What a Voice Over Really Costs

Music Energy (+clipping path for easy placing your text behind the object if needed)

Voice Over artists are often asked, “What is your rate?”  The answer can be complicated because it’s based on :

what you are being asked to do

adding in background music
syncing to presentations or video
dubbing to new language


paid channels like TV, Radio or Internet, social media ads)
non-paid channels like social media posts, YouTube
internal corporate use


specific market placement
length of time in use
per finished hour
union or non-union

And this is not an all-inclusive list.  The GVAA Rate Guide can help look up industry supported pricing.

A more real question you may hear is, “What can’t I do this job for $100?”  This is a direct question that can put you on the defensive and make you feel you have to defend your worth.  It’s not meant to though.  Buyers are trying to get more value for tighter dollars.  So are Voice Over Artists.  Let me take the emotion out of both sides and suggest a very simple answer.


I know that might sound sassy, but it’s exactly what Grampa Pete always said and it’s true.  You have to know what it costs you to do the work in order to charge a fair rate for the work.  Every business does.  So, let’s break it down.


As a business, voice over incur standard business expenses that reduce their gross revenue to net revenue.  Profit is only achieved when the net revenue is greater than zero.


Self-Employment Tax Withholding

Agent or Platform Commissions

Home Studio/Office Expense

Marketing Expense

 Contracted Services

 Licensing (Business, Software and Taxes)

  Professional Associations

 Continuing Education

This is also not an all-inclusive list, but it gives you a good ideas and gets you thinking about what goes into your business.  Work with your accountant to make your list and calculate your daily rates.


A buyers requests a voice over recording for $100.  You can see that it would only take you 30 minutes to record, proof/edit, and master.  So why not?  Isn’t that $50 and hour?  No.  I’m sorry, but it’s not.

What VO Really Costs
Gross Revenue for VO Job $                    100.00
Time Spent on VO job (in hours)0.5
Self-Employment Withholding (25.33%) $                    (25.33)
Agent/Platform Expense (20%) $                    (20.00)
Overhead: Home Office Expense
(4% based on sq ft)
 $                       (4.00)
Overhead: Marketing Expense
(Daily Rate)
 $                       (5.11)
Overhead: Contracted Services (Optional)
 $                    (17.50)
Overhead: Licensing (Business, Software) & Taxes
(Daily Rate)
 $                       (1.80)
Overhead: Professional Associations
(Daily Rate)
 $                       (2.78)
Overhead: Continuing Education
$1,500/year (Does not include conferences.)
(Daily Rate)
 $                       (2.53)
Net Revenue on VO Job $                       20.95

Once you understand your business overhead you can set it up a spreadsheet to calculate your net earnings. 

In our example.  The gross revenue from the job would be $100.  Our tax obligation comes out first and funds are set aside so you can fulfill your tax obligations.  Then remove agent or platform commission, and any job-specific outsourced contract services.  Now deduct remaining overhead expenses.  Your net revenue on this 30-minute job is $20.95.

Can you afford to do this job? Yes.  $20.95 is profit.  This is where you put on your business hat and be the boss.  Should you?  The answer to that question will depend on whether you view VO as a business or a hobby.  Are you just starting out or are you experienced?  What is your relationship with this buyer? Are they a friend, a proven referral sourced, or a beloved non-profit cause?  Will your schedule allow for this?


Know what you need to earn on a daily basis to live your life in the manner in which you intend.  Let this guide you in the business decisions you make. What genres you want to work in. What agents and coaches can serve you best?  Who will you market to.  And how you price your work.

Check the GVAA Rate Guide so you can make an informed decision about discounts you may be considering.

Don’t de-value yourself just because you’re new at voice over.  You have invested in your business (voice over) and your product (your voice, equipment, coaching, demos, etc.).  You’re being paid to do a job.

Your thoughts? 

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: