Per Word Pricing: Absurd

March 30, 2022 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

Over the past decade, some clients have requested estimates for their eLearning projects based on a “per word” cost.

This practice originates outside of North America, and is an unfortunately ill-advised practice that works against an objective pricing structure arrived at over many decades of practice for non-broadcast narration.

Let’s start with the basics for both client and voice actor: as a voice actor, you’re not selling words. You’re selling narration. Your finished product is measured objectively in one of two industry-sanctioned ways. 

  1. The time spent doing the work (also flawed, but accepted practice with industry mandated “minimums”), or 
  2. By the amount of finished narration you provide, usually broken out into segments, of 5 to 10 minutes, or even “per-finished-minute”, with prices also affected by usage (online, or strictly non-broadcast).

Narration is not just “words”. If it were just words, certain words would have more value. 

For example, the word “Otorhinolaryngologist”, has a bit more heft than the word “and”. Why shouldn’t a voice actor charge more for that word? Can you imagine THAT estimate process?!

Also is 1985 one word? MS Word thinks it is, but it’s actually nineteen-hundred-and-eighty five, or at the very least nineteen-eighty-five.

These sorts of semantics are to be polite, ridiculous.

When arriving at pricing in any field, the more objective the metric, the better. 

In the case of narration that’s the amount of supplied “product”, or narration. So, the accepted practice of “per-finished-minute” pricing, or pricing by segment, with a minimum “get out of bed” charge is the fairest, most objective way to go about pricing narration for clients.

Thanks for reading. Respectful discussion is always welcome.
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