You’re not doing voiceover any favours…

broken fence. don't beg to fix the fence!We live in a tiny little village in country NSW. Our house is very old, as are the surrounding buildings. There’s a side boundary fence that’s… also old. A recent survey drawing describes it as “dilapidated”. Rude! The overgrown ivy and the dead peach tree are holding it up just fine, thank you.

So, a fencing contractor sees the fence, and comes to the door.

“I see you’re in need of a new fence.

I build fences! They are excellent fences – here, have some photos of the fences I’ve built! I can do timber or iron or post-and-rail, any height you like!

I’ll give you a quote right now! And I can have that fence done by next week.

So, can I build your fence?

My rates are low, just pay me… um… whatever you can afford!

Please can I build your fence?

Here’s my phone number, and email, and facebook page, and here are those samples you didn’t ask for, and my website is here, this page has pictures of past jobs, and you can call me ANYTIME. REALLY looking forward to building your fence!”

I hope by now you have realised that this story is fictional.*

Because who in their right mind would try to get work for their business in that fashion?

If a tradesman called me or came to my door with that, I’d be downright creeped out. I definitely wouldn’t want them on my property and I’d wonder why, if their work was so good, they were spending so much time on weird, creepy marketing tactics.

Begging for work is… not pretty.

begging for voiceover work - nopeI get a little worried when I see fellow voiceover artists basically begging for work.

It happens a lot and it makes me sad – both because of voice actors not having the confidence in themselves to know their worth, and because of disreputable agents, studios or production companies taking advantage of people and making them feel less worthy than they are.

The people who want to hire a voiceover are not doing the talent a favour by hiring them. They are engaging a professional, they should communicate as such, and they should expect to pay appropriately for the service and deliverables, which have great value to their enterprise. It’s a two-way street.

A voice talent agent is not doing voice actors a favour by representing them. They are working in partnership with a talent. The agent’s skill is to match talent with good jobs and negotiate the best possible fee for the voiceover. The talent’s skill is to do excellent voice work which also supports the agent. Another two-way street!

Somehow, on these two-way streets, both people end up at the same place: where the fabulous finished project is… who wrote these metaphors?

Many people have said it in many ways before me, but it’s worth repeating – being a freelance voiceover artist is about running a successful business; and running a successful business means making good business relationships. You, the voiceover talent, have services, needs and boundaries. The person hiring or representing you has services, needs and boundaries, too. Work these out together, and nobody should feel like they are doing anyone a favour.

shaking hands - run your voiceover business as a business

Sometimes (a lot of the time!) the needs and boundaries of the two parties don’t match up. And that’s okay. Not every relationship has to happen!

A production house is making a video and the client only allows $250 in the budget for voiceover. Your minimum rate is $400. There’s NO reason that you have to accept $250. It’s okay that they can’t afford you. You don’t need to please some random production house you don’t have any relationship with. It’s totally up to you when to bend your own boundaries.

Voice actors – stop trying to please people who aren’t trying to please you! They ain’t worth it!

On the other side of the coin – keep working to please those who ARE supporting and nourishing you. Deliver what you promise, on time. Be excellent at your job. It’s not hard, if you’ve already done the work of establishing those needs and boundaries in the first place.

Oh no, I got preachy again. Oops! But the dilapidated fence story was okay, right?

Know your worth. That’s all.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worth a million bucks.

this sparkly puppy is worth a million bucks, and so are you.

*except the fence. the fence is real. real dilapidated.

Images by @viradobosh , @shanti , @axel.bueckert and @beachbumledford via Twenty20

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7 comments… add one
  • Joshua Alexander Apr 28, 2021 @ 22:30

    Dear Editor, please continue to post fabulous blogs about the importance of knowing your worth and not selling out. They are illuminating and insightful. Can you do me a favor though? Please no more pink-background pictures of dogs-or-bears-or-whatever that appear to be disintegrating in the Avengers after the Thanos “snap.” I find that I stare at them for minutes straight wondering what I could have done to prevent such awful tragedy, and now I must face whether or not I should go back in time with the Time Stone in order to undo all of this hootenanny. While I ponder my available choices, I’ll simply lean against this fenc – WHOA!!! *thud*

    • Sumara Meers Apr 29, 2021 @ 7:04

      Dear Correspondent,
      Thank you for your letter dated 28 April regarding the fabulous blog post about knowing your worth. We appreciate your feedback and will take it under consideration.
      Please be assured that no puppies were harmed in the photography of the adorable puppy rolling around in golden glitter, and the editors are unaware of any Thanos incident affecting such. The editors are committed to the safety and well-being of all editorial subjects.
      Kindly note the warning sign next to the fence, and contact us again if you require assistance with that picket sticking out of your abdomen. We recommend golden glitter.

  • Jennifer Walls Apr 28, 2021 @ 23:40

    Excellent post! I see this almost daily in our community – especially on LinkedIn & Twitter. Thank you for talking about it. It’s a topic that definitely needs to be addressed as often as possible.

    • Sumara Meers Apr 29, 2021 @ 7:05

      Thank you Jennifer! 😊 It can be a difficult topic, but I really do get sad when fellow VA’s start feeling like beggars!

  • Jon Gardner Apr 29, 2021 @ 10:25

    It is a real struggle for beginners. Many don’t know what they are worth. Others want to stand up for themselves, but when so few – if any – jobs are coming in, it can be hard to say no. I have turned down many, many auditions because of the price they offer, or the ridiculous terms (All media in perpetuity? Not likely!). Along the way I have taken a few that didn’t exactly meet the GVAA guidelines also. What I have learned is I feel a lot better about myself when I do the former than when I do the latter. Great post Sumara – as usual!

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