What’s your Budget?

One of the greatest lessons I learned was from a friend Mr Duffy. Brian, an astute businessman, told me to always ask, on any job, these magic three words: ‘What’s your Budget?’

Prior to this I would fall for the old pretty face who squirmed for the lowest price because of financial difficulties. So for many years I did jobs on the cheap. I always believed people’s stories, not knowing they were playing a game of life. I never realised they would pass my name to others who needed it done on the cheap. Overtime I toughened up but had yet to learn those magic three words: ‘What’s your Budget?’

Voice over has always been a sideline to my regular work. It was my icing on the cake.

Voice Over Job from Hell

A young lady starting a business called and asked me to voice her radio ads. She was starting a new business. As I was working in a foreign country, and English was her second language, she asked me to check the scripts. The English was not the best and I suggested a few changes. This became a nightmare of changes with her arguing points of English. We still hadn’t decided on a fee for the voice over. Eventually the scripts went ahead and she argued for the cheapest price possible. During negotiations she kept promising that when her company became successful she would give me loads of voice over work. She was also a nightmare producer and after many re-takes in the studio the job was done. On reflection I did much more than I was every paid for. I never saw her again. Until…

She called me two years later and asked me to do some voice over work. It wasn’t until half way through the conversation that I recognised her as the previous horror client. I gave her my price. She said she was desperate and needed a reduced price as her business did not work out and was now closing down. The ads were for a clear out sale. She became angry when I declined the offer of work. She wanted to know why. I told her I had reviewed by voice over work and was only doing limited jobs for regular clients. She slammed down the phone. I am so happy I never did that job.

Once you are seen as being cheap you run the risk of always being cheap and it becomes difficult to raise your prices. If you have a good product and experience and are you are proud of your work you can discount depending on the client. I always show my full fee on the invoice and the amount of discount.

The Budget

For the past twenty years I have played the game and now use those three words – ‘What’s your budget?’. It creates havoc in the mind of the uninitiated client. They give a look of despair. It’s not up to me to keep lowering my price to please them. Yes, it is easy for me to say that now. But in the beginning you need to have some sort of plan on your pricing. Survey the market. Find what makes you better than anyone else. And play the game – ‘What’s your budget?’