I was recently asked what rates a beginner should charge for voice over services. This is a rather difficult question as there are many schools of thought. When working via the internet, you can find rates anywhere from $15 - $500, $1,000 and up. Some feel like it’s worth it to work cheap in order to at least bring something in and for the experience. Others feel like you’re selling yourself short or even that there must be something “wrong” if you don’t charge enough! On a personal note, I once bid what I thought was the going rate for a project inadvertently overlooking the rate the client had posted (sometimes they’re higher than normal rates!). I was contacted by the casting person later saying that although the client liked my audition, he was afraid that something must be wrong for me to bid lower than their posted rate! I must say, that was the first and only time I heard that, and generally, we worry that the jobs go to the lowest bidder. What I learned from that, of course, was to thoroughly read all of the information given about the job with particular attention to the rate posted by the client! Even if it’s higher than what would be the norm, you won’t find me bidding a cent lower!
Some of the mass voice talent websites have come up with rates based on surveys of talent listed on their sites. Other voice talents base their rates on AFTRA and SAG scale – or their minimum wages. And even so, if you are also working as the engineer, it’s difficult to list flat rates for work without knowing the length of the script, how long it will take to record and edit the audio, the area where the commercial will air, how long the spot will air, how many phone prompts there are, if music and/or sound effects will need to be added, etc. Your voice over rates have to encompass all aspects of the job.
I wouldn’t presume to tell a performer what to charge for his or her voice over services. The best I can advise is to study the rate ranges posted for jobs found via internet sites. Decide if those rates are enough to justify giving your time and talents. And always, ask to see the complete script, find out all of the details of usage and what editing is required by you before giving a firm bid. You also need to clarify how any pickups and/or client changes will be handled after your final recording has been delivered.