Working with New Voiceover Clients

Graphic Burst NewNew areas and niches for voiceover work are springing up all the time, making right now an exciting time to be a Voice Talent. New opportunities mean first time clients as well. Terrific! But let’s face it, working with clients new to the process can present a few challenges. I hope this post will help make your road to a happy and long-lasting client-talent relationship as smooth as possible.

Clear communication from the start is the key to avoiding mishaps, and IMO the most important aspect of that is defining the scope of the work, i.e. retakes. Before home studios, retakes were less of an issue because in most cases the Talent wasn’t responsible for producing duties as well. Live direction made numerous takes more palatable because the Talent was being paid for session time (in addition to scope of use, etc). Once everyone was happy that they had a version(s) to work with the Talent was released. If pickup sessions were required they were most often paid as separate session fees.

Today, the Talent is often the Producer as well. What may seem to a first time client to be a perfectly reasonable request for a full re-recording requires the Talent/Producer to start again from the ground up, and a reasonable professional hourly rate can quickly become a losing proposition. Last week a (newbie) client awarded a job to me but then balked at my limits on retakes, stating that if I accepted the work I would be expected to provide as many retakes as he desired under the original bid until I “got it right.” When it became obvious that he hadn’t read the terms of my bid to begin with and wouldn’t agree to them, I politely declined the gig.

So here are some tips to working with new or first time clients:

1) Accept that part of the job may be helping to educate the client about the process of working with a professional Voiceover Artist. This is especially true if the job comes through a pay-to-play site.

2) Don’t give a full audition read of the script. Most Talent won’t do this anyway, but it seems that new clients are more likely to expect work on spec.

3) Create and save a little boilerplate description of what your bids do and don’t include, so you can modify it and paste when needed. On mine I tried to avoid making it read like legalese, but it’s serious enough to show that the terms are firm. Let’s face it, we’re professionals and this is intended to function as a de facto contract. There’s no need to apologize for it.

4) When working through a pay-to-play site, learn enough about how the client side interface works to be able to guide them through to the happy time when they release payment and give you five star feedback! I’ve found this to be much easier than trying to triangulate through the sites’ customer service departments.

5) Speaking of feedback, if you’re working with a site that allows for it, it doesn’t hurt to mention to the client how important positive feedback is to your future opportunities, and that you also have the chance to rate the experience from the Talent side.

Working with new clients can be tremendously rewarding. If a little extra care is taken from the start, you may well have the opportunity for repeat work and glowing referrals. I hope these few tips will help make that happen for you!