As a voiceover talent, it is my job to make every word come alive and bring the script to life the way its creator intended. So I have been exposed to some pretty sensational writing, and I can tell you that as of recent sometimes the only word to describe a client who is all kinds of wrong is not even found in the English language. The word we need, instead, is the Hebrew word hutzpah.
If you are not familiar with hutzpah, let me share this mornings hutzpadic story and you will get the gist right away. A new and potential client from another country wrote to me overnight. “Sam” offered me $50 and said that was per role for an explainer video, and for those not in the know standard rates for explainers average from $175-$300 depending on the length. He then went on to explain that $50 was for a 3-4 minute script! Yes, I kept reading, mouth open, in shock. Sam then said that as this script was shorter than usual, he would be willing to offer me $50 for two scripts! This is what I call hutzpah! If you’re thinking I was unreasonable, read my blog on how long a short recording really takes!
So, how did I respond? I did actually respond. I thanked him for his interest and sent him a link to the GVAA rate guide, an amazing reference if you don’t know it.
I told Sam that I always maintain industry standards in every single booking, and that when he can afford to pay me a standard rate he should feel free to reach out again. I then wished him all the best in his future endeavors. No need to show hutzpah on my end.
There are a few problems with this situation. In order to send Sam walking, I had to have the confidence in myself and my work that I am worth what I know my work to be worth. I am not afraid to maintain my rates. Sadly, in recent weeks, I have gotten responses from these undesirable clients that they have multiple voiceover actors willing to submit at their rates. As long as folks new to the industry are willing to accept these low rates, they undermine the pay for the rest of us. If you are in this category, you might want to check out https://www.mikecoopervoiceover.com/. Mike often presents about this very topic at voiceover conferences!
Imagine calling a tutor for your child. The tutor is an expert in their field and that is why you trust them to begin with. They have an education in their area, and in the time that you pay them, they are going to share some skills and pass on a specific benefit to your child. You would never have the hutzpah to bargain with them or try to negotiate a different rate. As voiceover talents, we have had countless hours of training, have expensive studios to maintain, and have demos that have cost thousands of dollars. Our rates not only take this into account, but also pay for the session fee and the license for the use of our voice for a given amount of time. Attempting to undermine our rates is just hutzpah and we should never be afraid to maintain our standards.