A Huge Project! What Should I Charge?
Deciding your rates are, as with most things, a balance. You want to be sure you are charging enough to be worth your time and effort but not so much as to price yourself out of a sale. There are loads of articles that address standard rates all over the internet.
But what happens when you have an opportunity to audition for a massive job. An audio book or an ongoing project that spans weeks or months and will require hours of your time. The client lays out the specifics and asks what you would charge. The moment of truth.
You are looking at the details of the job and seeing how massive it is. Dollar signs are floating over your head. Then you think, "Wait, if I give them my 'standard' rate, they are going to walk. This is a huge job. I could probably cut them a break on my pricing...." You may even have gotten that "vibe" from a client while they were discussing the details with you. You distinctly get the impression that they feel since they are giving you a crack at such a huge gig you are going to "thank" them by giving them a discount.
STOP! Before you tread that path any further, there is one very important thing to remember: You are not a factory! What I mean by that is "bulk pricing" does not apply. My other business is hand made leather goods. In my shop I became accustomed to lowering my prices as the quantity of product purchased went up. When I had someone request 100 units of a particular product, I was happy to cut them a 50% discount because I was getting a 75% discount on supplies because I was buying in bulk. And because I was making so many I could "conveyor belt" the work and I got through making all those products in a decent span of time compared to making just one or a few. This is standard in most manufacturing and retail situations. The more you buy, the less each unit costs. (Sam's and Costco work on this philosophy as well. Buy more, pay less. Per unit anyway.) When I first got into VO I learned quickly how this is a concept that does not translate very well into VO.
While we often say our voice is our product, and this is true, we are fundamentally a service. This is an important distinction when it comes to pricing. Just because you spend 100 hours on a project doesn't mean you should be expected to charge less per hour as if you spent 10 hours on it.
A project of 7800 words is about an hour of finished audio give or take. So you need to factor that it will probably take one and half to two hours to record it. Then it will take you three to four hours to edit that audio. So that one project is four and half to six hours long. And that is if everything goes smoothly. Now imagine you land an audio book on ACX.com that is 78,000 words. Fifteen to Twenty hours of recording. Thirty to Forty hours of editing. See what I'm getting at? If you give that audio book a 50% discount you are essentially doing 60 hours of work for the price of 30. Manufacturing and retail discounts large orders because they are easier and cheaper to fulfill. That is absolutely not the case here.
Wanting to cut a client a break because they are giving you an opportunity to work on a large project is fine. But be sure to be reasonable and not undercut yourself. I haven't even touched on how if you do undercut yourself, this client will expect similar treatment in the future. And if you feel a client is pushing for a discount on a large project, I suggest sticking to your guns. Give them your rate, reasonably discounted or no, and stick by it. If they walk, then they are a client you didn't need anyway. Remember, what you do is worth money and you should be reasonably compensated for your time and effort. If a client does not agree then they are not worth either.
What do you do in a situation like this? Leave a comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks again!