A voice over told me recently that she got an enquiry for a local radio station jobby. She quoted £ 100 (which is fair quote for a local station IMHO). And then the radio station replies "eh, how about £ 16.50 instead?" So she ended up doing the job for £ 16.50. I think this is a prime example of when it's OK to turn down work. Why?
Number 1 – it doesn't look good dropping your rates so dramatically, as it discredits your original quote.
Number 2 – you can't work for £ 16.50, you'll be out of business in no time. At those rates you're better off working at McD's as they pay £ 5 per hour, but at least they give you 8 hours a day, every day.
Number 3 – remember that radio stations get paid to sell ad space, and not to produce radio ads. They make their money by selling ad space to companies, so to sweeten the deal, they often throw in the production for free. As such, they are normally on a very tight production budget since they are not getting paid to produce work (the production in this case is a business expense). You on the other hand, being a voice over, are being paid to produce work. That's your livelihood. You can't make a living charging 16.50 per job.
I'm not saying you can't get a good "cheap gig." I also know a number of VOs who do tons of work at that price for radio stations. The difference is that they get a high volume of these gigs, and they are quick and easy to knock out. So if people want that price, they gotta buy in bulk. Voice overs could consider selling a pack of 10 or 20 gigs at a discounted rate, so that you guarantee yourself the volume.
Of course there is always going to be some VO willing to do a once-off job for 16 pounds, that's OK, let them have it. But it's important to walk away from those jobs, because they just drive the price down for VOs everywhere. It's a race to the bottom and everyone loses. If more people say no to those McDonald's rates (yes, you will actually be better off working at McDonald's at those rates) it means that companies will have to try harder to find a VO at that price, which means it will cost them more time and effort … more time and effort means more money. Which means … ta-da! The rates go up! Spread the word.