Does this ever happen to you?
You get an email from someone who loves your voice, wants to work with you, has lots of work for you, but is not an American company? (This just happened to me today.)
I know this question has come up for many of you. What do you do? Do you jump right in without any inquiry into the validity of the company? Or do you investigate your potential client to make sure they are a legitimate firm?
Here’s how I handle it. Feel free to copy my response and use it for your own negotiations. In this case I was not given the name of the company or phone number. Just an email from a gmail account. Nothing against Gmail – but most professionals have email addresses with their company name in the address line. Such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
To me, Gmail is a “red flag” (no pun intended, but they said they were located in Russia). They may be a legit company. They may indeed want to use your voice. But the question you must consider strongly is —- am I going to get paid? And how will I get the money?
One way is to accept credit cards. This isn’t fool proof but it usually indicates you’re working with a real company. (Don’t forget to account for the 3%+ you’ll get charged by the credit card company.)
Another way is to accept payment via wire transfer. This can be very dangerous. Why? Because you’ll need to give your “mystery client” your bank account number.
DO NOT accept this form of payment unless you have done business with the client before and have been paid by them before. Never give your bank information to anyone you haven’t worked with and been paid by before!!!
Several years ago I did a lot of VO work with TVD. They are a New Zealand company. They are a great company. They had offices in the USA. And were eager to make payments in an expedient manner. After they closed their American offices, I still did a lot of VO work for them and I had no problem giving them by bank account number and setting up a wire transfer. It worked just fine.
Just be aware of one thing if you set up a wire transfer. Your bank may and probably will charge you a fee for accepting money via wire transfer. It’s usually very small. My fee was $5.00, so no big deal. But find out before you get nailed for a fee you didn’t expect. Once a bank has your money – it’s very hard for you to get it back.
So what to do? You don’t want to pass up good work – but you don’t want to get ripped off either.
Below is the email I suntan reply to the potential client. Feel free to copy and use any or all of it.
Hello, (Mystery Client name omitted by me.)
Thank you for connecting through my website. I’m glad you like my voice and I’d love to work with you on your upcoming project.
The estimated fee for narrating a 20 minute Documentary would be $5,000.00. This includes all recording fees, electronic delivery of the audio files, as well as all usage, as long as the original audio files are not edited or reused in any way for another project, or for any edits of the original project.
If this is within your budget, please reply to this email and, if you have a script ready, we can move ahead. I can do your narration on my own and send you the files and then make any corrections needed. Or you can direct me via Skype.
Also, since we have never worked together before and your company is located outside the USA, my company policy is to request a 50% retainer with the balance paid in full before the final audio files are delivered. I accept all major US Credit Cards.
Of course, once full payment is made I will gladly re-record any mistakes/errors on my part without any additional charge. After our initial project we can look at a more flexible billing process.
If this is amenable, let me know and we can begin working together.
Thanks again for visiting my website and considering my voice for your documentary.
Voice-Over / Narration