We want our business to be successful. And voiceactors wish to be appreciated as talents and exemplary business people. As such, voice actors must be careful not to take it too personally when people try to use our emotions during negotiations. No matter your profession, knowing your worth will help you set fair business practices that will eventually grow your company and grow your self-satisfaction.
Recently, my brother brought a great revelation to my attention. I shared with him a story of how I was trying to get a job with an organization I greatly admired. As such, the producer offered me a rate for a project that was significantly lower than my normal rate for similar projects. Since I believed in the organization’s overall message, I decided to take the offered rate. But then, the producer returned to me with additional requirements and directions without offering additional funds for my extra work. So, I tried to develop the best re-audition I could for my go-ahead to start the job per all the specifications. Later, I mentally waited for hours and then days for what I hoped would be the final approval to begin the work.
When I shared this story with my brother, I assumed he wouldn’t understand my predicament because, after all, he’s not a voiceover talent. But, almost cutting me off in telling my story, my brother nicely scolded me pointing out that I was not being truthful the producer. It started with the me dropping my voiceover rates and then accepting other musts. For a moment, I stopped and thought, was I so concerned about working for the organization that I had compromised myself as a businessperson? Then, as my brother pointed out, being a voice talent doesn’t mean you don’t need to eat. I had forgotten my worth. Ouch!
Well, I came to my senses and thought, I have an intelligent brother. But also, accepting low rates from potential clients does not serve me as a voice actor or businessperson.
Negotiation is Everything
M.J., a famous female Black American voice talent, told me years ago that negotiation is everything. M.J. pointed out it’s okay to ask for what your business needs to provide the best projects for clients. However, accepting low-ball rates only sets you up for a continuous cycle of lower prices that, in most cases, can hurt your business and keep you from growing your voiceover career.
Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. John Fitzgerald Kennedy
While working with the client, I think I should have let them know the rate and requirements were outside of my business tenants. That way, the client could have moved on and searched for another voiceactor. Sometimes, it’s better to cut one’s losses and move on.
Moreover, being too reasonable can translate into being seen by others as of a low quality or not very talented. If one only accepts low rates, a potential client may think a voiceover actor is cheap and must not be any good. As a voice talent, I invest in my training, studio upgrades, and the like to continue providing my clients with the best products. Without charging reasonable rates, my business cannot grow, nor can I grow as a talent. The quality of what I provide would suffer, and my business could go under.
It’s about Business
My story reminds me that while I enjoy voiceacting, I must run my business like a business. Compromising the fundamental canons of my company does not help my current or future clients. This incident reminded me of how important it is to work with budgets to help my clients, including negotiating the best rates and benefits for all involved. Keeping these basic tenets will lead to developing successful projects and relationships.
Self-Satisfaction from Self-Respect
Walking away from a job that is not a good fit is not giving up. On the contrary, the act of walking away is affirming one’s standards and best practices. We feel the most validated and affirmed when we stand our ground, trust ourselves, and our standards. Acts of courage feed into our spirit and are a setup for even better projects and successes in the future.
Now, go and break that lip!