Late voice-over payments. The bane of any voice actor is doing great work, only to have the client forget, delay, or skip out on payment!
As a voice actor, you’re self-employed, meaning you don’t have a billing department or upper management to handle this. This is something you’ve got to take care on your own. The difficulty is collecting your voice-over payments without insulting or offending your client. We all know happy clients are repeat clients, and they tell their friends!
It’s certainly not easy terrain to navigate, but here are seven ways to ensure you can get paid, and have a happy customer:
Set terms in your Contracts or Invoice
Not everyone writes contracts, but they can be simple and to the point, made to protect your clients interests and your own! Whether you set a contract or send an invoice for them to agree to, it should have terms that delineate penalties for late voice-over payments. Beyond 31 days, and every 2 weeks after that, additional percentage or flat fee should apply. Doing this will also give you leverage in collecting. You can play the good guy by offering to waive the fees if they pay immediately.
To prevent any discrepancies or back and forth he said/she said, always agree to amount, timeline, and any details (that should also be covered in the contract) via email, not on the phone or in-person. Similar to a contract, this will ensure you are given what was promised.
9 times out of 10, the client has simply forgotten when the payment was due or got busy. Send a friendly but firm reminder that their bill is coming up (or was already due) and most likely they will get back to you with payment and an apology.
Make voice-over payments easy
There are dozens of ways to get paid, but some are easier than others. Set up a paypal business account if you don’t already have one. This allows you to send money requests once the project is finished, and avoid late voice-over payments all together. Another way is to set up your website to accept all major credit cards/PayPal. PayPal for business can be added to your website, but other possibilities are Square, E-commerce, or Venmo.
Collect half up front
While this is easier for larger projects, it works fine for small ones as well. It gives your client the option of breaking up their payment, but ensures you at least have some form of payment. Also, it’s easier to collect a smaller late payment.
Third party contact
If work you have done has already aired or been released to the public, a last ditch resort is to contact the marketing department of the company that released it. It is illegal to publish work without paying talent, politely (it’s important to always be polite and calm when speaking to a third party) explain what has happened, and detail exactly who it was that they are working with who has not paid you. Normally, they will reach out to them to ensure payment is made simply to prevent any possibility of a lawsuit.
If a client has a reputation of not paying their clients, don’t do the work.
Sometimes it’s not worth the gig if the company or person is known not to pay or was unreasonable before. It’s one thing to have clients that are always late, but my last piece of advice is simply don’t accept a gig if you think there is a high chance of not getting paid.
Never be afraid to speak to your client about what they owe you. Speaking up for yourself is important, especially in the professional realm when you have no one else to do it for you. This is your livelihood! You did the work and you deserve to be paid. Keep rockin’ the mic!