Wondering if it's just me, or do other women find it more difficult than most men seem to in getting all the business details straight, Terms and Conditions, before even beginning a job for new clients.
I'm sure there are a lot of women who don't, but maybe more of us "old fashioned" women tend to feel uneasy asserting ourselves business-wise while we are also discussing the actual voice over direction and details.
Hi Melanie - yes, I think you are right on the money - we women sometimes have a tendency to, as Financial Guru Suzie Orman says, put ourselves "on sale"; afraid of asking for the money we are worth and afraid of asking too many questions. I struggle with this constantly, the business side, but the more I do it, the more confident I am in negotiating the details of a job.
Thanks for your reply! As I mentioned in the post on "Ask A Voice Over Attorney", I have finally written a formal "Terms and Conditions" document which I will be adding to my Rates page on my web site. I think our reluctance is as Suzie Orman describes it. Also, those of us who have been in the business a long time working strictly through agents, never had to face these issues ourselves. It's new territory, and I am getting much better about it! I regularly require new clients or even smaller independent clients who I have worked with before to pay me up front via Paypal before releasing complete finished voice files. Most don't object, I've found - especially when I give them samples before recording the entire job for them to confirm style, recording quality, music, etc. That does at least protect me by making sure I get paid (via credit card or instant payment only!) before they get the files. I mention those 2 forms of Paypal payment for those who may not be aware of echeck payments. I discourage those because they take 3-5 business days (or more!) to clear and most clients want their finished files yesterday! I still do allow net 30 day invoices to regular clients or large corporations who cannot use Paypal, though. I don't think there's much of a chance for a problem with a larger well known company.
I used to have so many issues about asking for money. It wasn't until I understood how I dishonored both myself and my craft - and that my pockets were empty along with my fridge - then it made sense. There is not one person, company, or organization I pay for services that do me favors - I pay for services. Likewise, I provide a service that requires maintenance, continuing education, and meals.
Thanks for the comment! You're absolutely right. Can you imagine hiring a painter to paint your house and then after the work was done you decided to add another color to some trim or even redo the whole thing....I don't imagine the painter would do that without charging you! And yet, we're asked to do those kinds of things all the time - without additional compensation. Also, the painter wouldn't even start unless you paid at least 1/2 or 1/3 of the quoted price up front.
I am currently going through a non-payment for services rendered situation. The agreed terms of payment were to be net 30 as written and requested by my client. When those 30 days came and went I waited another 10 before sending a reminder letter. That was hard for me. The response I got was "I spoke with accounts payable and they said you will be paid AFTER we get paid by our client".
Now, even though I have the emails clearly stating otherwise, I, not wanting to make too many waves replied with "Oh, I am sorry but I must have misunderstood. Your email said net 30 upon completion of the work. I didn't realize you meant upon receipt of payment from your client." (I know, I know.. stupid!)
Another 14 days go by without a word. As uncomfortable as it was I had to write and remind them that my contract was with them, not their client. Another talent told me I didn't word my letter harshly enough. He may be right. I still haven't been paid!
Well, don't beat yourself up over this. I'm not sure tough wording would do you any better than tippy toeing around it if they're determined to wait on your payment. You know, try as we might, even those written agreements are hard to enforce - especially across state lines. Hopefully, they'll get their money soon and will pay you and it will all be ok. If not, and they are at least in your state, you may have to file a claim in small claims court or something like that. I just hate it when something like that happens. It's a lot harder to deal with when you're on your own and not working through an agent or a union contract. Even agents get stiffed, too, of course.
Even though I usually try to bill before sending finished files these days, I remember having a production company act like they'd never heard of such a thing! As I recall, they did pay in order to get the voice files, but they just said it wasn't the normal practice. If you're doing business with someone locally, that's one thing, but long distance....I think more and more people are doing that. It's like buying anything off the internet. You wouldn't expect to buy something from a web site and have them send you the merchandise and then pay them after it arrives! Gee, wouldn't that be a sweet deal?
Interesting thing...I don't think it's just the women who put themselves "on sale" all the time although I do think that's true a lot of the time. I worked for a guy for 10 years doing corporate comedy and we always felt that he undercharged clients. Perhaps because he wanted to get a lot of work. We felt he put our considerable talents "on sale". He was an honorable guy who wanted to make sure we had a lot of work. Then he sold it to a woman who promptly raised prices. She knew that there would be a dip in work but didn't want to sell the company short. Gradually I think that business will build and build again.
Dina, I went through something similar. Then I decided to use the overdue payment letter (actually it was the stern bounced check letter) that came with my Quickbooks. I had a certified check on my desk in three days!
Well, I'm pretty sure I'd never work out as a collection agent! I decided that I should give my client a call and speak directly with her rather than through email reminders. Talk about uncomfortable! I was all knotted up and nervous. I wanted to adequately communicate my position in a strong professional way and I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it.
Well, the client made my job easier by apologizing profusely and getting a direct answer from accounts payable. Even so, I never, ever want to have to do that again. This was a real stressor for me!!
I have an aquaintence who worked collections for a long time.... I tell ya, I don't know how she did it. She told me once that she just looked and everyone as "deadbeats". I don't think things are really as cut and dry as that.
No, of course, everyone isn't a deadbeat. And I've found most clients are willing to pay in a timely manner. I've also experienced sending a friendly "reminder" via email and having the client respond immediately with an apology and getting that check right out to me. It's all so much easier (on everyone) if you can just get them to pay in advance via Paypal, though.
I use to feel challenged when discussing terms and condiditons of a VO job....but now its like second nature to me, to give the business side of what I love to do, the same importance and priority that the client needs for the voice direction and details. This way both things are accomplished and everyone is happy once the job is completed successfully=)