Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bouncing Higher

Like it or not, we are living in the era of craigslist.  Someone will mow your lawn for $20.  A photographer will shoot your wedding for $100 and so-called voice talents will record a 10-page narration for $50!  This is the world we are living in.  Every profession deals with low-ball inquiries from clients.  You don’t have to like it but there are some things you can do about it.  I used to get upset when clients would call me up for a quote and then come back to me, telling me they found someone else that can do it for less.  Now, I just ask them a few questions.

1. How important is your business to you?

2. What is your marketing objective with this script?

3. How important is it that you have professional audio quality?

4. Is this person who can do it for less a professional voice talent?

5. Can I provide a sample for you first and then you can decide?

6. What is holding you back from wanting to pay my requested rate?

7. If I throw in a free voicemail message for your business, will you hire me for this rate?

8. Would you like to hear some samples of work that I've done that are similar to your content?

9. Did you know that 50% of the rate I am asking for is allocated toward my studio expenses? 

10.  Do you have Toto's first album?  (I always throw that in for fun!)

While cost is a factor in any business decision, it should not be the number one objective when hiring voice over talent.  Take car shopping for example.  Do you look for the lowest price tag or the car that will best fit your needs?  The same holds true with a well-versed and seasoned voice talent.

No matter how hard you try, many will still take the less expensive route only to be dissatisfied with the quality of the talent and eventually hire a more experienced talent to record the voice over.  In my career, I have had several of these clients come back to me after originally going elsewhere for a cheaper rate.

Thankfully, there are a lot of wonderful clients out there who understand that in order to move product, they will need to hire a professional and pay them what they deserve. When clients hire so-called VO talents for $20, it shows you what they think of their own business. The cost should not be a factor as the end product will result in exactly what you are looking for.


Anonymous said...

I sold cars for a living many years ago. I used to tell my customers thatit id not matter what the price was, if you were not really happy with the car. Just something to think about

Dan Friedman said...

Nice Terry. Everyone needs to keep working toward raising the bar in this industry. It is as simple as that.

Btw - at one time I had all of Toto's albums. Yeah baby!

Dan Friedman

Stephanie Ciccarelli said...

Thanks Terry!

I have just shared your article on my Facebook page. Great insights all around.

Thank you also for sharing the questions that you ask of prospects who shy away from your fees. I think a lot of people will find posing questions to be helpful. Asking might get them out of a bind or make the best of a situation. Getting answers can also prevent an uncomfortable or costly experience. These questions let prospects know that professional voice talent mean business!

Thank you again. You're doing a great service to your peers and those starting out.

Best wishes,


BillH said...

Definitely something to chew on,...then again, I've been chomping at one bit or another for a while now,...this one, however, demands mastication...

Tracy Jo said...

Excellent post! It is nice because this doesn't only apply to VO work. I can use these questions for my photography business as well. Thank you!

Herb Merriweather said...

...excellent blog, Terry! I grant ridiculously low (or free) pricing to special projects only and those are carefully (prayerfully) chosen. These questions are just what we need to think about and use to establish a standard. Favorite Toto song: "I'll Supply The Love"...

Pearl Hewitt said...

Great blog Terry. As you know I have had experience with a $20 lowballer so now I am definitely going to keep a copy of your questions on my office wall to constantly remind myself of what to ask!
Thank you very much for all you do for us voicers (if that's what we are) and oh btw, when I was young, Africa was one of my favourite songs, only beaten by Baker St by Gerry Rafferty (nothing can beat that sax intro).

Terry Daniel said...

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. I really appreciate it!

Chinook23 said...

Terry, I understand the frustration of lowball bidders. But frankly, this economy is producing a new cadre of freelancers who are carving careers out of sheer desperation. Does that mean their work is shoddy or unprofessional? Not necessarily. Perhaps it means they are trying to escape from working two jobs that barely cover their bills, but they have not been in the voiceover industry long enough, or in better economic times, to have acquired a list of strong clients.

This economy is producing leaner, meaner working-class Spartans. It's producing talents who work from a rented room, rather than a house with a two-car garage filled with crap that no one ever uses.

Went to an auto mechanic the other day who replaced 2 CV joints in my vehicle for $175! About a third of the cost of a Firestone or Sears garage. Did a great job too! But he lives in a room above his shop and his shop is down an alley obscured from view. My point: Great work, low price, LOW OVERHEAD.

Personally, I don't have a mortgage. I don't believe home ownership is such a great deal. After all, once you sign the closing papers then the expenses of lawn mowers and ladders and tools and appliances and furniture begin to consume credit cards and lines of credit. And there are few individuals who have a job they can count on to be there for 30 years.

So as for the lowballers ... maybe they simply need less.

Just a thought.

Terry Daniel said...

I'm not saying these folks never do great work. My point is that instead of getting frustrated, there are ways you can educate clients that call you up and request a job for a low rate. Whether this works or not right away, most of them eventually come back to you.

Cliff Zellman said...

Great article and great responses. All valid. Raising the bar "universally" should always be our #1 goal. Asking clients questions is a wonderful practice.

BTW, I was in the tape library at Davlin Studio doing a 2" tape inventory while Steve Lukather was laying down the guitar parts for "Hold the Line". I heard it through the walls and was thinking, it doesn't get any better than this!

Paul Strikwerda said...

I've written a lot about rates on my blog, and I firmly believe that some people are absolutely worth the $40 they charge for a ten page script.

Not a penny more.

Anonymous said...

I am just really getting into the voice over side of the biz, having been in radio for over 25 years. It is a different type of challenge. When you are in radio, voice work and production are part of the job andyou get a steady paycheck. I do understand why some people low ball their rates right now in the industry, they just want to survive and build their business. And there are a ton of price shoppers out there. It is the down side of the biz and makes it tough on folks trying to get started. That being said, I have lots of days that I am not doing any work. Why? Because I do not do the low ball gigs. And some days you question yourself, especially if you have a decent amount of bills to pay. It drives my wife nuts and it gets tough sometimes to tell her there will be another opportunity around the corner. You just do not know how far you have to travel to get to that next corner. I am fortunate to have Terry as my coach and I have confidence that he will help me get to the point that I need to be.

Mike Owens

Old Kitty said...

I don't have Toto's first album but my ex brother in law (oh yes!) had it cos Toto was his favourite band of all time!

Anyway - I have no idea what a craigslist is but I think I get the general idea. We (as consumers) are always out for a bargain but I'd like to think you pays what you gets! I find it amusing when people rate a dress for e.g. bought online for under £5.00 as "bad quality". I'm thinking, well what did you expect for £4.99???

Dear oh dear! Take care