The Fair Pay Paradox
By: Siobhan Dowd
It’s been almost a year since I decided to explore the possibility of becoming a Voiceover Artist. When I started on this journey, I really didn’t know what a VO was, did, or needed to be. I’m happy to say that the more I learn, the more I love my new vocation and am certain that I’ll find many years of happiness as Siobhan Dowd Voiceover!
It really couldn’t have come at a more relevant time for me. Having spent the early months of my VO exploration attending workshops, tutorials and 1-2-1 coaching sessions, I felt I was ready to enter the marketplace this summer and subscribed to some P2P sites in my quest for paid work. I picked up the odd job here and there, each time elated to have been trusted and sure that it would all kick off from there. I’ve been Shortlisted for lots of great projects and reassured myself it was ‘bad luck this time’ when they didn’t come my way. But well-paid work didn’t pour in, so I looked into other means of finding paid work and found myself on ‘Freelancer’ sites trawling through job offers paying scandalously low rates. Although a BIG part of me knew that the offers I received here were akin to daylight robbery, I needed to get my career off the ground and I questioned whether I was asking too much in expecting to be paid fair wages for my work. So, I took some jobs paying next to nothing and I supplied them with high quality, well thought through, time consuming voiceovers along with excellent customer service – because no matter what the pay, I always want to provide a quality service delivered with a good work ethic. I am still growing as a VO and have much more to learn, but I know that I know more than enough to do a professional job that I am proud of.
Now for the conflict… I agree with the article above, that I should ask for fair pay for my work. I am worth it, and by accepting less I not only affect my own career but contribute toward businesses that devalue creatives and make all of our lives harder. But (always the ‘but’), I need to earn a living in a competitive marketplace. No matter the quality of my work or the number of custom auditions I painstakingly record, if I have no credits or testimonials to show to clients, wont they always choose a more established VO in my place?
I remain conflicted. The points raised by Randall Ryan are affirming and comforting and I will strive to keep developing my skills and my network in order to find clients that value my work. I will audition and apply for good jobs with fair pay. But if all of the lovely jobs I am shortlisted for today, flutter off into the distance tomorrow, I wonder if the promise of professional engagement – actually doing some paid work – might draw me back to the Bad Place of the $20 Voiceover!?