Whether you are voiceover talent, a children’s writer, photographer – or do any type of freelance work at all – you have, at one time or another, probably had to explain your rates to someone.
You’ve had to explain why you charge what you charge.
Or explain why you can’t do something for free.
At my monthly SCBWI critique group meeting, one of our members, an illustrator, was telling us how frustrating it can be when she tells prospective clients her rates, then has to explain why she charges those rates and why she can’t accept low or no-budget projects.
“We can’t pay much, but it’ll be great for your portfolio!”
That’s one of the lines she’s hears all too often. She also gets this:
“We expect this will lead to more work!”
Or this one:
“You charge how much? But it’s just drawing.”
(Voiceover friends, do these ring any bells??)
I told her I get that all the time – and nearly every voice artist has. It can be frustrating, indeed. (I even wrote what became a popular blog post about rates and the value of one’s work last year, detailing why some rates are high and others are low.)
We talked about attitudes and expectations of clients and how to find a balance between keeping clients happy, attracting new ones, and maintaining rate integrity.
Then, following our meeting, one of our other group members shared a video that helped really put things in perspective.
Knitting: it’s a lot like voiceover
And a lot like writing. And illustrating. And photography. And teaching music. And any other kind of skilled work.
The video our fellow member shared was recorded by a woman named Jess who does “knit-for-hire.” That is, people pay her to knit sweaters, afghans, and other items - and Jess states in the video that she loses a lot of people when she tells them the cost of a custom-made, hand-knitted sweater.
Just like voiceovers and children’s publishing, there is more to the craft than simply “reading” or “writing.” As Jess explains, there are a number of factors which can determine the price of a knitted sweater: type of yarn, type of stitch, patterns, sizes, swatches, etc.
I encourage you to watch this video and, if you are a skilled worker, see if you immediately feel a kinship with her, as I did! And if you are in the business of hiring skilled workers, perhaps this will provide you with some insight as to how much is involved in something that might seem simple:
Surprised, aren’t you? I have to admit, even though I didn’t know a thing about knitting, I knew exactly what Jess was saying and why she felt the need to post the video.
So be proud of your craft! Be proud of your rates! And if you’re looking for someone to voice or produce a project for you, or write something, illustrate something, or knit something…please understand, we’re not trying to make more money than we need.
We’re just trying to earn what we’re worth.
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