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.
“BUSINESS IS BUSINESS; AND BUCKS ARE BUCKS”
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.
VOICE OVER IS A BUSINESS
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.
STANDARD BUSINESS EXPENSES OR “OVERHEAD”
Self-Employment Tax Withholding
- This assumes you are acting as a sole proprietor and filing your income on Schedule C
20%-30% withholding is recommended by CPAs. Check with your accountant.
- I will be using ~23.55% in my example.
Agent or Platform Commissions
- This falls somewhere between 15%-20%
Home Studio/Office Expense
- This is variable based on your space and other household expenses.
- Work with your accountant to decide what is appropriate.
- I will be using 4% for my example below.
- This is variable based on how much you chose to spend on marketing.
- I spent a very conservative $1,865 on marketing in 2022.
- I will be using a daily rate of $5.11 in my example.
- This is optional. Do you outsource your editing and mastering or do this yourself?
- The amount will be variable. I’m using a $35/hour fee in my example.
Licensing (Business, Software and Taxes)
- Based on my 2022 spend for items such as Zoom, LinkedIn, Canva, Source Connect, website, DAW, and tax preparation; I will be using a daily rate of $1.80 in my example.
- Are you a member of the World-Voice Organization (WoVO), Gravy for the Brain, ToastMasters, or your local Chamber of Commerce?
- Based on my 2022 spend, I will be using a daily rate of $2.78 in my example.
- Based on my 2022 spend, I will be using a daily rate of $2.53.
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.
LET’S LOOK AT MY EXAMPLE
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)
|Overhead: Marketing Expense|
|Overhead: Contracted Services (Optional)|
|Overhead: Licensing (Business, Software) & Taxes|
|Overhead: Professional Associations|
|Overhead: Continuing Education|
$1,500/year (Does not include conferences.)
|Net Revenue on VO Job||$ 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?
MY TWO CENTS ON MAKING THIS DECISION
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.