Rates and budgets and negotiations, oh my! When was the last time you raised your freelance voiceover rates? Did you ask your clients for a raise or did you simply implement a rate increase? Asking a client for more money is rarely easy and can feel rather uncomfortable. However, not updating your current rate structure with clients can leave your wallet empty and cause your business to fall behind the rest of the industry.
When it comes to asking for a raise in a typical job situation, you would approach your boss. But as a freelance voice actor, you are your own boss. So boss, are you going to give yourself a raise? Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? It is. Don’t ask permission to raise your rates. Just do it. You are a business, not their employee.
Here are six tips for raising your rates.
1. Stop apologizing.
“I’m so sorry, but I’ve found the need to raise my rates.” “Unfortunately, my rates are increasing. I’m sorry if this is an inconvenience for you.” “As of next month, I’ll be raising my rates a little. Sorry for the short notice.”
Apologizing means that you’ve done something wrong. Raising your rates to industry standards isn’t wrong, it’s good business. Having an open and honest conversation with your client is the best way to go. Let them know that you value the relationship that you’ve built over time. Present them with facts about why your service is top quality and the benefits of working with you. Share your long term goals and include their company within that vision. Show that you’re invested and believe in their company as well as the value that you place on your business relationship.
2. Set a date for your rate increase to take effect.
Your clients need time to process your request. Notifying them about an increase in rates that will not take effect for several weeks will give the decision-makers time to absorb the idea. Consider giving your client at least 6–8 weeks notice before your rate increase is implemented.
3. Be prepared to negotiate and hear the word no.
You’ve sent the email to your client informing them of your new rate structure and when it will begin. Perhaps you’ve even included links to current online rate guides to help them understand what industry standard rates are. Good job! Now it’s time to decide a couple of things. Are you willing to negotiate rates with them? If they say no and won’t agree to your new rate structure, have you thought about parting ways with them? Knowing the answer to these questions is critical. Personally, I’m always open to negotiate with a client within reason. However, I’m also not afraid to say farewell if the client isn’t interested in fair rates and really, the clients who pay the least almost always demand the most.
4. Sound and look your best.
Audio quality is everything in our line of business. Is your sound on point? Is your studio everything it should be? Do you have killer editing skills? If you’re asking for top quality pay, you have to produce top quality work.
When I say look your best, I mean your online presence. Is your website looking good and functioning properly? Are all of the links working? Does it put a spotlight on how amazing you are at your job and why they should use your services? Is your social media up-to-date? Again, when you’re asking for more money, show why you deserve it!
5. Improve your quality of work.
We can all improve the quality of our work in one way or another. Improve your sound. Get more coaching. Give them a faster turnaround time. Learn to edit your audio better. Respond to auditions and emails more quickly. Jump on tasks as soon as they hit your desk. Be nicer. Show your appreciation. In general, work harder. After all, when you show how valuable you are, they’ll be more willing to pay you what you’re worth.
6. New clients, new rates.
When you acquire a new client, be sure that you set yourself up for success by setting proper rates from the start. Confidence is key!
Overall, when it’s time to increase your rate structure, be confident in the value that you know you provide. Understand that you may have to use some negotiation skills along the way and let a few clients go. But with your hard work, dedication, and excellent customer service, those low paying clients will soon be replaced with others who will value your work and pay proper rates. Now get out there and charge what you’re worth!
*This post was originally published on Aug. 21, 2019. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.