How Much Should You Charge? The Great Rate Controversy.

First of all, if you have an agent, get them involved. And if you’re just looking for a great rate sheet, this is widely considered the best:

  Guide to understanding rates

The GVAA rate card can also be found at – it’s the same thing, same company. Other popular rate sheets around the internet include Edge Studio’s Voice Over Rate Card (registration required), and the Voice Realm’s Voice Over Rate Card. There is also a list of rate resources here.

How to Negotiate

Ask “What’s your budget?” absolutely as soon as possible! Before the discussion even starts, when possible. This is very basic, but if you’re new to finding VO work, dealing with the budget question well will tremendously increase your pay. Then follow up with “What other voice over does your company do?” And possibly, “Do you need more than one language?”

If they say “We have no budget,” ask “How many words is it and where will it be used?” and then try following up with a high minimum:

  • “We have no budget.”
  • “How about $300?”

These exact words were spoken on behalf of a student recently. The client agreed to $350. If they say “OK,” follow up with “What other voice over do you think you might need?” Then you can negotiate a package deal, or simply learn enough to decide if you want to work with them. You might think “no money” and “$350 would be fine” are very different, but remember, businesses MUST negotiate. A business can fail due to insufficient cash flow, even with many assets, good credit, etc. Don’t be upset that they negotiate. Just join the party 😉

Remember that if they want timing matched to a video, if they want to direct the recording, if they want anything other than you delivering a recording, that’s extra. Examples of bringing up budget early and often:

  • Q: “They’ve been trying to find someone to redo our voicemail at work.”
  • A: “What’s the budget for that?”
  • Q: “A friend of mine recently did some voice over for his job”
  • A: “What kind of budget did they have for that?”
  • Q: “A friend told me you do voice over.”
  • A: “What’s the budget for your project?”
  • Q: “I don’t know if we could afford professional voice over.”
  • A: “What’s the budget?”

If they have a budget, whatever they say, respond with something such as “That doesn’t sound like a typical budget…”

  • …but I might be interested if we could do any future work on a more standard budget.”
  • …but I could send you a standard budget rate sheet if you like.”

Then, if you haven’t already asked, follow up with “How many words is it and where will it be used?”and be prepared to follow up with “That would be a bit more, what other voice over do you think you might need?”