Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence made headlines recently when she penned an essay about the wage discrepancy between men and women in Hollywood. While that topic is worthy of a whole slew of blog posts, I want to focus more on the payment aspect of it. Lawrence’s op-ed piece got me thinking about wages in general, and the touchy subject of asking for more money when you feel you deserve it. This is something that every voice actor will have to do at some point in their career, and it’s never a fun task. However, negotiating your pay and earning what you deserve is essential to your success and personal satisfaction in this line of work. Here are some tips to make the process a little easier:
● Establish standard rates. Spend some time researching the going rates for different projects, and then apply these to yourself (i.e., your experience, skill level, etc.)
● Remember to be flexible. Standard rates should not be set in stone, however. There are times when you’ll need to be flexible, and even if you’re making a little less than what your normal rate is, you might be doing yourself a favor in the long run. There will be projects that you want to do, but their budget is capped at a figure less than you’d like. Well, how bad do you want the project? Plus, when you’re flexible (without being a pushover, mind you), it’ll help you build a better reputation.
● Be ready to answer to how you arrived at your rates. There may be times when a client wants to know why you feel a certain figure is appropriate. Have a response ready, just in case. This is another argument for establishing your rates in advance, too. If you’re pulling numbers out of thin air, it will be much harder to defend those prices.
● Get the client to name a figure first. If you can, see if the client will throw out a number before you do. Sometimes a little patience will pay off. Let’s say you’re thinking a project is worth $750, but you wait to see what the client will say. Lo and behold, they tell you they’ve got a budget of $1000. Your patience just earned you an extra $250!Don't’ be afraid to haggle...or say no. There will be times when you and the client don’t agree on the first figure named. If you feel you deserve more, counter with another price until an agreement that you’re both happy with is reached. And if that moment never comes, don’t be afraid to say “forget it.”
Sometimes you just have to walk away from the negotiation. As long as you can truthfully say you negotiated in good faith and with good reason than you can feel good about it. You may be able to refer them to another talent, as well. Being helpful in the end.