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Ask Voice Over Clients For The Fees
You Want - You Just Might Get Them

February 12, 2015

By Debbie Grattan
Voice Actor

Note: This post originally appeared on Debbie Grattan's website and is republished here with permission from the original author.

Fear is one sneaky little critter, and it can be a pretty crafty foe when it comes to stopping us from doing all kinds of things - like asking for what we want.

I’m not talking about asking for what we want by slamming down our fist with a ridiculous demand.

I’m referring to polite and non-threatening requests that can help us get ahead in our career – and the world in general.


Let me give a couple of examples from my own recent experience, both of which came up during projects I was completing for voice over business clients.

In both instances, some changes occurred during the project and I felt the fee amount that we had originally agreed upon needed to be raised a bit to adequately compensate for the additional work and usage involved.

It would have been SO easy to ignore that feeling in my gut and just finish the project, thereby avoiding the risk of rocking anyone’s boat. But experience has taught me that when I feel the urge to make a request, it is best that I speak up.

So, I emailed a very polite message to each client explaining why I felt the pay should be more than what we had originally estimated.

In both cases, the request resulted in a pay increase.

In one, it also prompted a phone conversation where we discussed improving our pricing policy moving forward. In the other, the client more than doubled what they originally offered!


Asking for what we want can be especially important when it comes to being fairly compensated for our time and talent in the voice over business.

The market can often seem diluted with so many vying for the same jobs; we might think low pricing is the way to win. But in many cases, voice over clients are very willing to pay for better quality and more value.

And in ALL cases, we’ll never know … unless we ask.

Not every request for a pay increase necessarily results in one. I’ve had instances where a loyal client had a very tight budget on a particular job, and I agreed to a lower rate than usual. We were still able to discuss the issue in a positive light, and lay the groundwork for future opportunities.

Asking for what we want is magical that way. And it sure beats what can happen when we’re too afraid to speak up.


When we’re too fearful to make a request, bad things can happen.

For starters, we’re not likely to get what we want because people won’t have a clue as to what that is. We can then start to feel resentful, which can make us unhappy in our work as well as our lives.

Feeling resentful toward the people who are helping to pay your bills is self-sabotaging, and absolutely deadly in the voice over business.


Fear can still stop us from making our request:
  • We may be afraid of being rejected.
  • We may be afraid of making someone upset.
  • We may envision a confrontation, or think that the request will change our relationship with the person in some way.
It’s human nature to want to be liked, to make people happy, and we may fear that making a request will result in a negative outcome.

While fear may be playing all those games in our head, we need to remember that the basic reality of the situation is much simpler. In a business situation, what is the worst thing that will likely happen if we politely ask for what we want?

The person might say, "No.”


But "no” is not the end of the world.

"No” is not a rejection of me as a human being, it’s just a rejection of my request. And an opportunity to perhaps make an alternative request that will elicit a different response.

Even a rejected request is still preferable to being unhappy, resentful or not getting what we want simply because we’re too afraid to ask for it.

So, how about you?

Was there ever a time when you felt fearful around asking for what you wanted but you did it anyway and you got a great outcome? Please comment and share your story!
Debbie Grattan has been a full-time female voice over recording artist for more than 20 years. She has collaborated on over 10,000 projects and partnered with hundreds of production companies, marketing and advertising firms, commercial voice over recording studios and corporate/business clients around the United States and abroad.


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Comments (4)
Debbie Grattan
2/12/2015 at 6:25 PM
Thank you William, Johnny, and Kurt for your comments! As VO-preneurs (someone coined that phrase somewhere I read the other day) we are quoting prices daily, and must take many things into consideration when making those requests. I think it's harder to up a loyal client's rate, and will often honor the rate we negotiated in years past. But from time to time, I do have to bring them up to speed too. The price of everything rises, so just trying to keep up with inflation and hold off the ranks of Fiver and others that tend to pull our professional rates down.
William Cline
2/12/2015 at 9:58 AM
Great Article Debbie !!!
I think you voice what a lot of us feel, just being open and honest with the client about things is really about improving communications so that you're both on the same page.
Johnny George
2/12/2015 at 8:48 AM
A very important subject that we don't discuss as often as we should. Thanks Debbie, for bringing this to the forefront. An insightful look into a topic so many steer clear of due to trying so hard not to be confrontational. I too need to step up when that gut check kicks in.

Thanks for opening the discussion.
Kurt Feldner
2/12/2015 at 8:48 AM
Good arguments in favor of speaking up. As we all know, but find it sometimes hard to follow - "you'll never know unless you ask."
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