Are You In Bed With A Bad Voice Over
Client? See If This Pertains To You ...
June 17, 2016
By Paul Strikwerda
Let's not waste any time introducing this topic. Here’s what I want you to do. Read the statements below, and nod (or sigh) if any of them sound familiar.
I’m 99% sure that at some point in your voice over career some client from hell fed you a few of these lines.
Combined with a certain tonality and body language, they all spell the same two-letter expletive: B S
You just know that when people say "I will keep you in mind,” you will never hear from them again. Ever.
The person who said "I wish we could pay you more,” is laughing all the way to the bank because he just saved his boss a boatload of money by hiring a wimp.
And when someone says "Trust us. Everything is going to be fine,” he or she is waving a big fat red flag in your face.
LEARNED YOUR LESSON?
Tell me you’re not surprised. Please.
You see, while playing in the sandbox at kindergarten, you should have learned your lesson: not every kid is playing nice. And when these kids grow up, they’re even worse.
Why? Because experience has taught them that they can get away with almost anything, and get rich while doing it.
These clients have two things in common.
Desperate doormat novices are easily manipulated. They’ll work just for the exposure. They’ll record a rewritten script for zero dollars. They’ll send the audio files, trusting that payment won’t be a problem. Until they get burned, or they get smart.
SOB STORY ...
One of my young colleagues just came to me with a sob story:
"I was so happy and proud that I booked my first big gig, and the client seemed so nice. He said he loved my voice, and he had total faith in me. I worked really hard to deliver the project on time, and I think I did a pretty good job."When did this happen?” I asked. "Six months ago,” my colleague answered.
"And did you get paid?”
"No,” said my colleague. "Once I had sent the audio files, the client disappeared. It’s a long story, but when I finally spoke to someone at the company he was working for, they said he got fired. No one knew anything about the project I had worked on. They said they didn’t owe me anything.”
THAT SUCKS, BUT ...
Part of me wanted to feel sorry for my colleague, but the other part wanted to tell her:
I know this totally sucks, but it’s not the client’s responsibility to teach you how to be a professional.
You may feel that this guy took advantage of you, and he did. However, you allowed it to happen. You enabled that client to treat you poorly.
This is no longer a hobby for you. You’re in business now, and you have to protect your business. The best way to do that, is to prevent problems from the outset. Don’t assume that everything will be alright, and that all people have the best and purest intentions.
Clients run businesses too, and if they want to be successful, they must do two things:
It’s not their fault if you don’t stand up for yourself and negotiate a decent fee. They’re not to blame if you’re okay with working without a contract.
On one hand you are vulnerable. On the other hand you also have power. You have something the clients needs and wants.
RENEGOTIATE - OR WALK AWAY
If anything, remember this: A client cannot make you do anything you’re uncomfortable with. If you don’t like it, you renegotiate, or you walk away.
Before you do any work, both sides need to be clear about their expectations. Ideally, those expectations should be turned into a written agreement. Without such an agreement, you’ll have a hard time making a claim in court, should it come to that.
Before you sign on the dotted line, you have to fully understand what you are agreeing to. If you don’t, ask an expert to explain it to you.
One of the things you must be clear about, is payment. Let the client know that the work you have done is yours, until he pays for it. In other words: the right to use your work transfers upon full payment.
Of course you need to define usage, too. In case of voice overs, are you talking about a full buyout, or is there a renewal fee?
YOU'RE NOT BEING DIFFICULT
Please understand that asking for a contract does not make you difficult to work with. A solid contract benefits both parties. Parties that are about to start an intimate relationship. A relationship that requires protection.
Mike Monteiro from design firm Mule put it this way:
"Starting work without a contract is like putting on a condom after taking a home pregnancy test. It is not going to help you at that point. You have lost any leverage you had.”In summary: clients can make strange bedfellows. Make sure you don’t end up feeling used.
Watch the warning signs. Listen to the language. And don’t fall for all the two-letter expletives!
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. And he is author of the new book, Making MONEY In Your PJs: Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs, and writes an informative and entertaining blog.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.nethervoice.com
Making MONEY In Your PJs: http://makingmoneyinyourpjs.com
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