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Female Voice Talents: Do Clients Ask You
For Lower Fees? How To Educate Them ...
March 11, 2014

By Debbie Grattan
Voice Talent

As a freelance female voice over talent, it is very important for me to understand how to price my voice over services in a way that creates a win-win feeling for my clients and for myself.

If I am priced too high for any given project, the client may not hire me for that project or, if he does hire me, may feel like he didn’t get his money’s worth and therefore will be less likely to hire me for future projects.

If I am priced too low, the client is very happy but I will feel like my efforts and talents are not being fairly valued - and that may lead to some negative feelings that can really get in the way of client relations and me being productive in my business.

I also find that when I have priced myself too low, there are often more requests by that client to make more changes for no additional charge, or to completely redo the project for little or no added cost.

So, I have learned that clients who expect me to charge significantly lower than normal fees for female voice over services are often the same clients who want a lot of free changes on the back end.


For me, finding that perfect balance point in pricing comes from experience and intuition.

Being aware of the client’s needs, the variables of the project, the range of the current going rate and what just feels right.

As the old story goes:
"Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice. The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.”

The point of this story is obvious and its lesson could be applied to many businesses or areas of specialty, including voice over.

However, it is sometimes difficult for people who hire female voice over talent to understand just how tricky it can be to make a script sound great. There is so much subtlety involved.

Delivering female voice over services is as much an art as it is a business, yet many people don’t see it that way initially.


So, I sometimes find it necessary to explain to a new client who is overly focused on getting a "cheap” price, that yes, there are many other female voice over talents out there who can record his script for the price he’s asking, but he needs to ask himself,
"What will be the quality of the final product? Will it get him (and his end client) the results he is seeking?”
Essentially, I am reminding him that female voice overs are like many other business services or products: you usually get what you pay for. And when you’re trying to communicate your message effectively to your audience, it’s not wise to scrimp on the person who is speaking your message out loud over the top of your video or on your radio commercial.

No matter how great the final audio or video production is, if you add a sub-par voice over track, it’s going to be less effective than if you hired a professional, experienced voice talent.


Voice over work is so often seen by the layperson as being something that "looks” easy. People hear a voice on a commercial and they can imitate it almost exactly and think, "Hey, I could do that!”

But an artist must create on the spot and be original and relevant, on target - not just an imitator of other artists who work in the same medium.
When I am hired to do what I do, I’m not just hired to deliver the product. I’m hired to be a "creator” of the product. To bring something original and unique that captures the true essence of what the client is after.


Any experienced voice over talent can share stories of being in a session doing take-after-take on one simple phrase, to get it just right.

There is a reason that advertisers and marketers strive to get it just right. If it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t take the time to do it. Anybody can read a line into a microphone. But it takes a real voice over artist to read the line in a way that captures the essence and conjures the desired image or thoughts in the mind of the audience.

I liken it to being an accomplished jazz musician who has mastered the technical theory and now can easily improvise and play the notes the fit the moment.

Voice over pricing is one of the key points I educate clients on to help them understand why the price is where it is and to illustrate that in many situations, a good portion of what they are paying me for is my knowledge of exactly where to put the X.
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 (5)
Karen Kelly
3/24/2014 at 11:36 AM
Kudos to Debbie, as I have experienced many of the same issues when pricing my services to those few clients who seem to have a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) attitude about the hiring of female voice talents, and their true worth.

With 10 easy clients come at least 1 or 2 difficult ones, and those are the clients who drain the most of one's resources and dignity. Those of us who truly respect the craft, and their profession, should stand their ground and trust their senses that the price they charge is fair and reasonable based on the work assigned.
Fight on,

Karen Kelly, Creative Director, Westside Studios (Los Angeles and Denver)
Susannah Kenton
3/12/2014 at 2:15 PM
Well said, Debbie! The ability to put the "x" in the right place as a voice artist? Priceless.
Sean Caldwell
3/11/2014 at 11:07 AM

Nice article. My experience with clients seeking below market cost vo's matches...they often don't know what they are doing, have plenty of revisions, and expect much for little. It's better to pass on those jobs and say "a professional rate for that project would be X" and feel good about the work you do.

Reminded me of the story from another vo talent. They quoted the client a professional rate for a project. The client responded "wait, I'm going to pay $1,200 for a few minutes of your time to record that?" The wise voiceover talent replied, "no, you're going to pay $1,200 for the two decades I've invested developing my ability and skills so people believe the message and buy your product." Sold!

Elizabeth Holmes
3/11/2014 at 11:05 AM
Thank you for this, Debbie! I love the Tesla/Ford analogy, and especially the jazz musician parallel. What a helpful perspective.
Dorien Jaye
3/11/2014 at 11:02 AM
I absolutely enjoyed reading Ms. Grattan's article about Female Voice Talents: Do Clients Ask You For Lower Fees? How to educate them...

Your observations, opinion, and anecdote were spot on. I would only add, that YES, as even more difficult it may be for female VO artists, it is a problem that spans both genders. This has been an on going problem for freelance voiceover artists for quite some time. And an added problem is the, and NOT ALL, P2P sites that force the talent to drop their rates so low in order to get the job it spoils those clients into thinking this is just the way it is.

I applaud you and encourage others, both male and female, to continue speaking about this and collectively figuring out how to rectify. Unfortunately,this is going to be an on-going problem as long as there's VO pimps willing to whore out the talent!

Dorien Jaye

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