Why $5?

by | May 10, 2015 | VO Business | 5 comments

$5Why not just do it for free?

This blog officially beats the proverbial dead horse — again — but I can’t stand it anymore!

I ran across a tweet for this Fiverr VO offer yesterday:


This person’s pitch goes on to say:  I am a professional voice over artist and actor in New York City! I have done voiceover for national and international commercials, cartoon shows, smartphone apps, online courses, and small projects. With my voice over, I hope to help you with anything you might need! Thank goodness for Fiverr!

Yeah, thank goodness! 

The reason I hesitate to even write about this is that I know I’ll get strongly-worded messages calling me out for being elitist, or a snob, or saying “…everybody has to start somewhere…”.

This topic is right up there with:

  • religion
  • politics
  • Mac v. PC

….only it’s uniquely voiceover-centric… or I guess you could say unique to freelance creatives.  Writers, photographers, graphics artists included.

I refuse to engage in the anecdotal evidence that people have to “put bread on the table”, or start “somewhere” when just beginning a career, or “I’ve got medical bills to pay”.  It’s not up to me to judge those individually passionate justifications.

All I can say is:

  • I choose to value my work more than that
  • I’m not accepting “volume” work at low prices and the “promise of more work soon”
  • I’ve worked hard, and spent plenty to be a professional, and I charge professional rates
  • When someone does a VO for $5, everyone who does VO suffers
  • Saying “no” to undervalued compensation is a powerful negotiating point
  • I’m in it for the career, not just the job
  • As an industry we CAN demand better pay…and get it.

Sure, market globalization is a reality that probably hits Europe and North America harder than anywhere else.  I understand that the internet is a disruptive technology that levels the playing field in many ways…good & bad.  I also see where unions have failed miserably to represent our business (or even NOTICE our field of creativity).

So that’s where you personal ethics and pride of ownership come in.  That’s where your sense of value and your service to your customers means something.  Don’t fold…don’t balk.  Freelance creatives set their own mark.  Set it high!

Personally, if I did a VO for $5, I’d wanna go take a shower right away… or be so disgusted with the whole business that I’d sell my ‘416 and go work in a tire shop.

I hear they get more than $5 a job.




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  1. cindolo

    Courvo, this is so right on the money. Thanks so much. I’ve been a musician for 25 years and this issue is very familiar. Hold the line, peeps, and keep your dignity!

  2. Mike Elmore

    If the IRS was/is having a slow spot they could probably focus on any contractor that does work for 5.00 for ANYTHING. After you take the roughly 30% of that for taxes (wink, wink) and factor in the electricity it takes to run your computer during that time (NO REALLY) you might as well be doing it for free. Orrrrrr perhaps many of these people aren’t reporting these hand full of peanuts as income earned>

  3. Jack

    Hi Dave,

    When I first started out as a VO Talent, it was suggested to me to go to Fiverr and a couple of other cheap sites to get some experience. I soon realized that I was downgrading myself as a talent. Why should I go to the investment of coaching, sound booth, and many hours of marketing myself for 5 BUCKS! I have dedicated myself to be a “professional” voice talent. It takes a lot of hard work and a never-say-die attitude to succeed… and you will.

    Have a great day!


  4. Kate McClanaghan

    Here, here, Dave! Why bother with the lowest common denominator? You establish a presidence with this potential client. They will come to rely on that rate, if not from you, then from some other shmoe who’s more desperate than skilled. Never degrade your work or value. Your objective is not to secure one, single job. It’s to go the distance and secure a career full of on-going employment.
    Leave Fiverr to handymen and Craigs List rejects.
    ; )

  5. Dan Hanna

    It still helps to be reminded of how self-destructive even starting down that path is.


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