When To Ask for More Money | Working as an Artist
I was on set last week and while getting my makeup done, I was having a conversation with the makeup artist about working for low pay. While having this conversation we both discovered that, at the point in our respective careers where we started gaining some momentum and success, we were no longer willing to work for low pay and were unsure how to approach saying we weren’t willing to work for that rate. We both felt worried that if we turned work down because of the low pay, we would lose the opportunity at future jobs and never work again.
Guess what? That didn’t happen.
I have done a similar blog/video on the topic of pay and about when you should stop working for free … but when should you start asking for more? Answer: When you know you’re worth what you are asking for.
When you are first starting out in this business you are at a disadvantage; competition is fierce and the jobs are very limited. You have to proove that you are worth your salt and that this isn’t a flash in the pan for you. You have to show casting agents that you are absolutely committed to your craft, that you have an ability, that you’re dependable, and most importantly, that you’re not going to lose their clients money.
It can take years to establish this reputation. But once you do, you have the ability to take your career into your own hands and mold it into what you want it to be. This includes what you think you should be paid for your work.
If you subscribe to my YouTube channel or my blog, you probably know that my main source of income is through voiceover work. Because I have been fortunate in my career, I have many clients who contact me outside of my agency with lower budget projects or perhaps they are a production company I have worked with before and they need some VO for something new they’re working on. I am not attached to a certain rate that I absolutely won’t work below, but I do have a general idea of what rates I am willing to work with and what I won’t.
Often the client will ask me how much I would charge for a VO without giving me details about the project. I make sure I get specific information such as the usage (where and how long they plan on using the piece) and how long the piece is. As a rule of thumb, the longer the useage and the more places they want to use the piece, the more I charge. I also factor in length of the piece – the longer the script, the more I charge. More often than not, the client agrees to the amount I initially counter with. Rarely do they ever say no, that’s too much for our project (I think maybe that has happened once).
Remind yourself that you have a marketable skill; if you didn’t they would take anybody willing to work for free and throw them in front of a camera/microphone/audience.