Well, not everyone.
I know established talent who have set minimums for all sorts of contingencies. $350 minimum session fee for turning on the microphone, regardless of the length of the copy. 25-cents/finished minute. $50 per page, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, Arial 12-point typeface. $250 for the first hour, then $125 after that. Quarter hours go for $50 each.
‘Course you could get around it all by joining the union. Their rates are set in stone for reasons lost in the mists of time (kidding!) Union rates may be more relevant VERY SOON if the AFTRA/SAG merger goes through.
I’ve tackled the subject of rates several times recently. Paul Strikwerda and others, too.
See: CourVO’s Blog: Setting Rates, October, 2011
See: CourVO’s Blog: 20+ VoicOver Rate Sheets and Resources July, 2011
See: CourVO’s Blog: VO Rates Rants, Feb. 2011
See: CourVO’s Blog: Setting VO Rates, June 2010
See Paul’s Blog: Why You’re Leaving Money on the Table
See Paul’s Blog: AudioBook Fees, What to Bid?
From time to time VOICES.com’s VoxDaily touches on this: http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2010/04/a_discussion_about_rates.html is an example. And Edge Studio publishes a highly-regarded rate card.
Doing a search for “rates” on VoiceOverXtra also returns quite a few good resources.
I also administer two LinkedIn groups on this subject, one is private, one is public.
This issue is inevitably tied to honest appraisals of self-worth, time and equipment invested, and market variables. No matter what others tell you…unyielding, fixed, hard-and-fast one-size-fits-all rates are a rarity.
Ask friends in the biz. Research the topic.
The last thing you want to do is underprice your value, nor do you want to over-bid yourself out of a job.
One immutable law comes clear, though. The more you think of yourself and your product, the higher esteem you will gain in the eyes of your client. ‘Works like a charm.
One more thing: be willing and able to say “no”. “YES” can seem desperate sometimes when you know better.
A couple of recent articles on setting freelance (not necessarily VO rates):