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Voice Actors:

It’s time we touch on that ever present issue again... 💸Rates💸

Setting Rates: Let's talk about your worth and why...

Let me be clear - I'm not the be all, end all, nor should any one person on the internet be your reference for voiceover rates. Full stop.

However I do want to help fellow talent to educate themselves by offering resources.

Over the past few years, we've seen a great rise in talent, and a severe drop in rates. This is something that's often perpetuated by companies who know better taking advantage of newer talent, who don't.

So if there's one takeaway you get from this blog post, let it be how important it is that you take the time to seek out resources and educate yourselves if you are at all unsure of how to properly quote.

There are podcasts, there are blogs, coaches, sites that have specific guides made just for the purposes of helping you be informed on industry standard quoting practices!

Here are some links to trusted rate guides:

The GVAA Rate Guide - A very common guide that I, and many other VAs have used (and still use) to set our rates. It’s got *almost* every category one might be looking for and has a lot of specifics on usage.

The GFTB rate guide - The GFTB rates are a little less specific in my opinion, but they have general price categories in different currencies/for different counties which is super helpful for those of us who aren’t US based.

The VAC Indie Rate Guide - This guide can be a great resource for - you guessed it - indie projects! We all know that that most indie developers will absolutely not have the budget to support union rates. Which is why this rate guide exists.

*A note on indie rates:

While understanding that this is our job, it’s important for those of us wanting to work in gaming, animation, audio drama, etc. to make connections, help projects we believe in grow, and be part of things that fuel our creativity and passion as well.

And tacking onto that we have to consider exposure - indie games have less budget because they are smaller companies, with smaller staff, making content with less reach. Naturally, you’re not going to have the same eyes (or ears) on these projects.

And all these rate guides? NON-UNION. If you’re looking for union rates, you can refer to your country’s actor’s union website. They all have a public document with this information. In Canada that’s ACTRA, the US is SAG-AFTRA, for the UK it’s Equity (requires login to view their rates - maybe ask a union friend), etc.

Here are some general things to know that help talent when quoting:

💡 Reach - Are they Nike, or are they your buddy’s new sweatshirt brand? i.e. - how many eyes are going to be on this?

💡 Is this for a Paid Advertisement? Meaning Is the company paying to run/broadcast it, or is it being posted Organically? (non-paid/non-promotional advertisement.)

💡 If organic, again - how big is the company, and will it be on their website, or on their social media. Is it a story (24hr window, short exposure), or a permanent post? This can also help clarify the differentiation between longer form Commercial and Explainer content.

💡 Run Time? 3 months, 6, 9, 1yr, 3yrs, “in perpetuity”? Basically, how long does this company have the rights to use your voice in this context?

P.S. - learning what in perpetuity means and how it is entirely different between organic and paid advertisements is really helpful.

Taking on paid ad work in perpetuity might prevent you from taking on other work in the future. Let's say a home goods brand wants exclusivity for a year. If you worked with Homesense, in perpetuity (giving them the right to run your commercial any time they see fit), you could not take on that new client. Personally, I do not take on paid commercial advertisements in perpetuity.

Whereas Organic content is almost always in perpetuity, and is generally not exclusive. So if a client is asking for "Non-Broadcast" or "Organic" content in perp, there isn't really much reason to worry about this.

💡 Where? Local, Regional, National, International?

💡 Terms of Use. Are they trying to buyout all rights to the use of your voice permanently in all capacities? Meaning *could they take and use for AI*?

💡 Genre. We know that with VG, Animation, Mixed Media, etc. you’re generally giving away your voice *in that context* in perpetuity. The understanding is that the art is permanent.

Commercial, as we know, varies.

Corporate explainers/pitches tend to be internal, so the only eyes/ears on them are within the company.

e-Learning is for very specific, private learning modules and thus a small audience. And so on…

Here are some questions to ask yourself for some perspective if you’re worried you’re quoting too high:

💭 How much time, research, training, equipment, etc. have I invested to do this career?

💭 If I book 'x' amount of times/month for a project like this, how much do I need to make to meet my needs?

💭 Am I providing multiple services at once, saving my client time and money? (Recording, editing, time syncing slides/music, script editing/copywriting, etc.)

💭 This is a silly one, but I sometimes ask myself: "if I were a big influencer/celebrity, how many boatloads would a company pay me without blinking an eye?" Okay - now you can calm down about asking $300 for a 90 second explainer.

At the end of the day, it's up to you how much you quote. If you feel as someone who is less experienced you want to quote less, that is your decision. If you do something lower budget because it means something to you or is not about the money, that’s totally fine!

Just keep in mind that if we start to accept bottom of the barrel rates, (especially for big corporations) they become the standard. Then no one - let alone you - will be able to afford to pursue this career.

In the wise words of Bo Burnham, 🎶 Shit like this brings the movement down 🎶

Please take some time to educate yourself and find rates that feel right and fair for you.

Good luck out there my lovely voice over friends. ❤️

  • Writer's pictureAiden Dawn

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Let’s talk Mind Over Matter.

Understand that you will be short-sighted until you actively seek to expand your horizons. Getting caught up in the web of comparison will only become a drain on your energy and self worth, and will ultimately teach you nothing.

When you're looking up to another voice actor and that little bug of jealously scuttles over, be mindful that their journey:

1. Is the result of many years of hard work + dedication to learning the craft.

2. Cannot be compared to your journey, because they are not you.

There’s a book I'll often go back to and re-read if I’m experiencing a disconnect or feeling I’m missing a step. It reminds me of some very valuable acting fundamentals. And as actors, I know we all feel this disconnect sometimes. So I wanted to share my semi-annual rediscovery with you.

The book is called A Practical Handbook For The Actor by Melissa Bruner, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, and Scott Zigler. It’s one I’ve been going back to since it was required reading material in my first year of college

While it is not a voice acting specific book, it holds merit for ALL actors. And it’s usually within the first few pages of this book that I'm reminded - 100% of the time, the step I'm missing has something to do with MINDSET. Often, it is that I have been letting insecurity creep back in.

How we view ourselves, what we choose to spend our time/energy on - it's instrumental to our success. There's a particular paragraph I love from the book, that touches on this;

“As an actor you should never concern yourself with 'talent'. Talent, if it exists at all, is completely out of your control. Whatever talent might be, you either have it or you don’t, so why waste your energy worrying about it? The only talent you need to act is a talent for working—in other words, the ability to apply yourself in learning the skills that make up the craft of acting. To put it simply, anyone can act if [they] have the will to do so, and anyone who says [they] want to but doesn’t have the knack for it suffers from a lack of will, not a lack of talent.” (pg. 5)

So just to re-iterate here, lack of will, not talent.

I think it can be easy for many of us to get upset over things we don’t have, or maybe don’t have access to. Financially, especially - the state of the world is rough. And believe me I get it. More full time VAs than you know are living on the edge of their means.

Understanding that *we* - all human being as a global community - are in a recession, and the barriers to access that apply to *you* specifically, there are still endless resources out there just waiting to be explored.

Ahhh the beauty of the internet!

There are communities to hop into, colleagues to chat with, friends to make, and many an article; book; interview to learn from. At the end of the day, it is not about WHAT you have access to. It’s about what you DO with what is in your control.

So whether you’re taking a $250 workshop, auditing it, attending/auditioning at conventions, private coaching, going to a public library, or listening to podcasts - it’s up to you to find what works. What is in your control is how you choose to you to care about, hold onto, and act on that knowledge.

This is something all actors and entrepreneurs have to navigate every day. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has access to, or the privileges they may benefit from. They are not you, and they don’t need to take up space in your work!

Naturally, you will see less of the industry if you keep your eyes on what you cannot have. So keep them open wide. Ask questions, fall down rabbit holes, heck - repeat some stuff and find a nugget of wisdom you missed the first time around! I do it all the time.

Sure, you can't expect anyone to just hand you anything in this industry…But also - don’t assume it's impossible to grow just because it takes more time and some searching for the right people/resources.

We all have the privilege to wake up every day and choose to participate in a craft we love. Today I’m reminded to keep my eyes forward, heart on my sleeve, and head in the clouds as I dive back into what my job is an actor. And my friends, it has nothing to do with anyone else. ❤️

Good luck out there! - Aiden

There is a big, noticeable difference between marketing yourself to clients, and blanket irrelevance. Smart marketing is knowing WHO you’re marketing to and making the effort to engage on a relevant, human level. It’s not a box to check off.

I’ve received 2 emails this past week that were virtually the same. One celebrating Canada Day, the other - Independence Day in the US. At one time, a popular way to market oneself was to send virtual or physical holiday cards to stay "top of mind" in the industry.

But in this day and age, it feels incredibly impersonal.

Now some of you may be going “But Aiden - someone took the time to send you something! You should be grateful!” Well... here’s where we need to be clear about the difference between being on someone’s mind, and being on an automatic email list.

For me, these emails didn't even try to hide it. Both said nothing more than “Happy ______ day!” - no personal story attached; not a single reason to connect; just “happy whatever”.

If you’re going to celebrate something, be all means --

DO! With family, friends, on social media, to specific people. Social media is a great place to develop a social presence and tell the world who are, what you're up to, etc.

DON'T clog up someone’s professional inbox because your CRM told you to add your contacts to a generic holiday greeting list to stay “top of mind” with your direct marketing. 🚩🚩🚩

It leaves you a complete stranger, that’s just wasted another complete stranger’s time. It’s not productive. In fact it can be the opposite.

I know I’m not the only one who keeps my email well organized to keep it from becoming too busy. If it’s that way for me? Just imagine how full time casting; agents; production companies would feel if you sent them emails that had no relevance - it would get deleted without a second glance, or it could contribute to something important getting lost in the shuffle.

The last thing you want is to become yet another email someone has to unsubscribe to. For me, knowing that I’ve been added to a blanket list and sent an email void of personality for the sole purpose of “staying top of mind” is a such a waste of an opportunity to connect.

In a day and age where companies far and wide are sending out endless waves of emails, competing for space in your inbox, aren’t we tired of this by now?

It is exhausting to be on the receiving end of.

Something to get in the practice of as talent, is understanding that everyone’s time is valuable. And everyone is capable of feeling this exhaustion too.

If you’re going to take up space in someone’s day - make sure you’re respectful in how you do it.

Here are some better ways to go about this:

- Research before outreach. (Like possibly country of residence…)

- Offer something about you so you’re not a stranger!

- Be clear on intent so expectations are understood.

- Ask a question - people want to help!

Another really simple option is to engage with folks on social media who’s work you enjoy to develop a personal or working connection first. I promise you that goes much farther than a “happy whatever” email from a stranger.

In summary - Be careful how you market yourself.

Updating clients on what’s going on in your business via newsletter is one thing. But most people won’t want to be the wall you throw your CRM spaghetti at.

Some 🍝 for thought.

Good luck out there my lovely voiceover friends!

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