Upfront Payment


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Working online can and will involve situations where your gut instinct tells you, “I’d better get my money before I do this job.”

I always state on my invoice when I expect payment follow up 3 days after that. I follow my guts when it comes to rates. Don’t undersell yourself. You are unique

Anders Sundberg

Our advice? Trust your gut.  Be aware of certain tell-tale signs. This scenario is one of them:

  1. The audition happens.
  2. An email comes back: “We love it! But can you try reading this way doing the following… (insert advice).”
  3. You think of this as a callback of sorts, so you submit again.
  4. The client mails back: “Almost! Can you try it this way? The client likes your voice, but wants to make sure you are right for the job.”

…and that’s where you politely hit the brakes. You may be working with someone who thinks, as many people often do, that websites are free, or this so-called client has no intention of paying you at all. So the best time to ask for payment in advance is when you sense someone is beginning, or at least attempting, to take advantage of you.

Here are some of the most common reasons to ask for payment in advance. (Keep in mind that the quickest way to kill a deal is to accuse someone of lying or to imply that they are, so never ever do that). When:

  • working with clients not from your country, and you can’t find business info on the client;
  • working with party DJ’s, who need sound clips;
  • working with clients who alter deals after they have been agreed on, and
  • working with someone who suddenly becomes high maintenance when you’re simply communicating with them,

tell them you’d like to be paid, even if it’s a 50% upfront fee to close the deal. An escrow option might also prove useful here.

With someone I do not know, get half payment upfront, then build on that. Once the relationship is established and both are happy, then you can change your payments. On rates I go by industry.

Christopher Roman

One of the greatest advantages of the internet in this particular regard is transparency. If someone isn’t playing nicely with those whose services he or she hires, those who get their fingers burned will talk about it online. If you do your research, you’ll find their comments, referrals, follow-ups and outcomes. The voiceover community may be global, but it’s surprisingly integrated.

Voice 123 offers help with this, read this article, but, if you don’t have an established career you can be open to negotiation, just make sure you don’t go too low, because that affects everyone in the industry, including your future possibilities.

Armando Talavera

Again, the reminder: you’re the CEO and the entire staff complement of your company of one.

Look after that company; it must always come first.



  • Marc Scott

    April 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm Reply

    In all the years I’ve been doing this I’ve had exactly one client rip me off. Some may say I’m fortunate. I just like to think that I’m selective about my work and most voice seekers are actually honest people looking for a service.

    Nevertheless there are people who will try to take advantage of you. You do have to be smart and you do have to be prepared to have uncomfortable conversations.

    My advice is don’t get confrontational from the beginning and don’t assume the worst. Sometimes it really is just a simple misunderstanding.

    Thanks for the great post. I’ll be sharing it.

  • David LaBonte

    January 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm Reply

    Hi, Just my two cents! I always make “payment upfront” clear when submitting auditions…but I do that with a caveat…In the remarks section…”Full Payment is due prior to the release of the audio. (I do make exceptions for established producers/Agencies/Broadcast outlets… so ask!) Honestly my experience has has been established clients have no problem with this requirement in fact expect it…and in the case where I make exceptions it’s an Ad Agency or Broadcast oulet that just isn’t set up to do business that way (they are usually apologetic and then negotiate something that is acceptable to both of us). Have I lost out on some jobs because of it, highly likely..but I look at it in the light that I’ve ruled out potential problem clients. So to Stevens’ question to Marc…for real professional outfits asking for your money before delivering the audio is business as usual….NOT CONFRONTATIONAL. Steven I think your diplomatic solutions are helpful to many and help create a professional atmosphere…as always thank you for helping so many!

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