Ten Things Clients Don’t Care About

Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneursIf you just said to yourself: “I think that title looks familiar,” I’ve got to give it to you.

You must have read my book Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs.

If you haven’t, please consider the story below as an introduction to some of the ideas you will find inside.

The basic premise of the book is that -even though I tend to write about voice-overs- most of what I have to say applies to anyone who’s running, or thinking of running a freelance business.

But don’t believe me. I’m the author. You can make up your own mind.

So, if you’re in the mood for some summer reading, here’s a little taste test!


Let me preface this chapter by saying that I feel very lucky. In the past 30+ years I was able to develop a strong relationship with a number of clients. The longer we go back, the fewer words we have to waste on what each side is expecting from the other.

It’s almost like a marriage. And very much like a marriage, a lasting business relationship needs commitment from each partner. It can be love at first sight and it can also end in a divorce, due to unspoken expectations and unfulfilled desires.

When I just started out as a freelancer, one of my more cynical mentors warned me against romanticizing the relationship with my clients. His mantra:

“Business is business and the rest is bullish*t.”

Today, these words resonate even stronger. In these fast and furious times, online matchmaking is getting more and more popular. And nobody seems to take it slow anymore. Making small talk is so yesterday.

“I need your demo now. Are you available this afternoon?”

Before you know it, you’re off into some dark room talking to yourself, and when you’re done recording, you dump the files into a dropbox.

As one of my friends put it: “I almost feel used.”

Well, isn’t that the whole idea? We offer our services. We deliver our services. We move on. End of story.

Let’s be honest. Most times, both parties aren’t that interested in getting to know each other before the deal is sealed.

How well do you really know your clients? How well do they know you?

Does it even matter?

In most cases it doesn’t, as long as the job gets done. That’s why it is time to take off those rose-colored glasses and get rid of your great expectations.

Here’s my top ten of things most clients don’t seem to care about anymore:

1. YOU

All you are is a solution to a problem; a means to an end. It’s your job to ensure that the benefits of hiring you outweigh how much you charge. Your client doesn’t have to care about you. It’s your work that matters.


What you perceive to be the benefits of your service is not important. The question is: Do you understand the needs of your clients, and can you meet those needs?

Your take on a script (or any other freelance assignment) may be interesting, but it’s often irrelevant. You’re the stylist. The client determines how she wants her hair cut, unless you have permission to be creative.


The fact that you’ve been at it for a certain number of years doesn’t automatically mean you’re the right person for the part. Over the years, some people have become very good at being very bad. They’re stuck in a rut.

Years of experience entitles you to nothing. In fact, it can make you look like you’re old school. The quality of your experience qualifies you. Not the length.


An impressive resume tells a client what you have done for others, usually years ago. All he really wants to know is: What can you do for ME, today?

If you can’t make that clear, why should he hire you?

Experience can also backfire.

One of my friends specializes in medical narrations. In order to impress a possible new client, he quoted a fine endorsement from a pharmaceutical company he’d been working for, for years. It was his way of saying: “See… I have a proven track record. I can easily handle your project.”

The other party was not impressed. The email he got back effectively said:

“Since you’ve established yourself as the voice of brand X, it would be unwise for us to hire you. People would automatically associate your sound with our main competitor.”


Never justify your fee by bringing up how much you have invested in your dream. That’s the price you pay for being and staying in business. After all, you don’t care about your client’s business expenses either, do you?


Clients won’t hire you because you happen to own a Steinway. They hire you because they like the way you play, or because you offer the best value for money.

You might impress your colleagues with a brand new Neumann U87 studio microphone. My last client hadn’t even heard of the brand.


It’s lame to blame technology for your lack of preparation. In voice-overs, home studios have become the norm. Even if you record in a stuffy bedroom closet (and call it a ‘professional studio’), you’re the head of IT, audio engineering and data transmission. If you can’t handle that, don’t expect any sympathy from the client. He’ll find someone who can.


Leave them at the door. Clients are clients; not friends or family. You’re hired to do a job, no matter how horrible you might feel about your dead cat or a recent break-up. Put your life on the back burner and focus on the project. Cry when the job is done.


You are hired to make your client look good, and not to boost your ego. If you’re in need of praise, visit an evangelical church.


Sure, nobody talks like you or walks like you. That doesn’t make you irreplaceable. Even if you’ve worked with a client for years, don’t be surprised if they ask you to re-audition.

One of the joys of being an independent contractor is that there’s no long-term contract with severance pay, should things come to a premature end.

You’re on your own.

Never take anything for granted. Complacency will be your downfall. Be ready to prove yourself, over and over and over again.

If you don’t take care of your career, nobody else will.

Business is business.

And the rest is…

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Book, Freelancing

27 Responses to Ten Things Clients Don’t Care About

  1. J S Gilbert

    Let me add my favorite thing that clients don’t care about, your passion or that you are passionate about…

    In fact, I have a friend who is a very successful executive recruiter and he mentioned that any resume or interview that contains the words, “passion” or “passionate”. will immediately land that person on the “ignore forever more” list.

    The only “passion” that means anything is your clients passion and how you make it abundantly clear that your every breath is designed to address their passion.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Agreed. The notion of “being passionate about something” has become a meaningless cliché. A client isn’t in business to fulfill the passions of those he chooses to work with.


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  3. Debbie Irwin

    Dear Future Client;

    1. ME
    Who am I? Doesn’t matter really. You don’t have to care about me. I’m just another disembodied voice you’d rather not get to know. Sure makes it easy for both of us.

    Yeah, you don’t really want to have my take on things, because I’m a commodity and you can find dozens more just like me. I’ll show up, perform dutifully, then silently slip into the darkness.

    Heck— Rome may not have been built in a day, but if it were, would it make it any less great?
    Fine wines may get better with age, but a Beaujolais Nouveau gets the job done too.
    And can you tell the difference?

    Who’s going to post a lousy review? I’m only sharing what I want you to see — the pretty me,
    but you already figured that out.

    Alas, nobody wants to see how sausage is made. Not even me. When I vacation an all inclusive price is an easier pill to swallow.

    Admittedly, just an opportunity for me to name drop.

    Nobody makes mistakes, right?!

    I got ‘em, you got ‘em, let’s pretend we live in a utopia!

    You didn’t think I need to be praised, complimented or thanked did you?

    Yeah, there’s only one me, but there are 6 billion other people who say the same thing. Pretty banal. And since it’s unimportant to know anything about me (point #1), who cares whether we have anything in common?

    And if I really believed all this, I couldn’t do what I do, and I wouldn’t be me. Because I thrive on connecting with people, and the more you can get to know someone, the more enjoyable the experience is for everyone.
    Finding those touch points of humanity is what makes each day a little richer, a little brighter, a little better.

    So while we live in a fast paced, one and done world, I believe that good relationships are the key to longevity— in business and in life.

    (P.S. Just in case my facetious tone was not detected, know that this was a satirical posting. In spite of my parodying the 10 Things Clients Don’t Care About, there are shades of truth in everything Paul wrote. Let’s be smart about what our clients want and need, but let’s not give up fighting for the things we believe in.)


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I love your response, Debbie, and I did catch your tone. As the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza put it:

    “No matter how thin you slice the cheese, there will always be two sides.”


  4. dcgoode

    Great as always Paul.

    I would say on the EGO thing…like Quincy Jones said to everyone that showed up for the “We are the world” session….”leave your ego at the door”

    My version..”put it in the garbage and leave it there..it will NEVER serve you, nor anyone else”.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Spot on, DC. Unfortunately, some people get involved in (voice) acting to feed their insatiable egos…


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  6. Tim Andrews

    Fun read Paul and spot on. ! My motto…
    Just do, what you say you will do! The rest will take care of itself.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Tim. That’s a great motto!


  7. D. Peter Maus

    Good points. The only counterpoint is that the client doesn’t care about your high end equipment. While technically, this is true…they don’t know hardware, and don’t really care about what you have…nonetheless, in the depths of their ignorance, they may they may have heard of a brand, or a type, or some technical parameter, and insist that you meet this specification. I can’t count the number of Client Prospects that have led off the inquiry with a demand for the list of my microphones, the brand and model of my computer. Or the brand and version of my DAW. And, they can be quite insistent about this. Despite the fact that those iconic mics have been eclipsed in performance many times over by newer technology at far lest cost. Or that the commonly used computers, or DAW’s, can be eclipsed by alternative makes/models/version that no one may have heard of, with absolute compatibility. The truth is, they do care. They don’t understand WHY they care, or the reasons that alternatives may produce superiour results. But they DO care. Despite the errors in their conclusions, it may affect how and why you do, or do not, get the job.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Some do care, but in my experience most of them don’t. I used to explain to all my clients what I was using to record my voice-overs. I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t equate “home studio” with “crap audio.” Then it became clear to me that many clients didn’t understand why a microphone even needed a preamplifier. They didn’t care about pickup patterns, the difference between a condenser and a ribbon mic. It all went over their heads.

    Many of my colleagues are “gear sluts,” and they usually want to know what I am using in my studio. But they are not my clients. 99% of my clients tell me: “Send me some audio you recorded recently.” That’s all they need, to know that I can deliver quality audio. The rest is simply too much information. Besides, owning a Steinway doesn’t make one a great pianist.


    steve hammill Reply:

    >>>…they don’t know hardware, and don’t really care about what you have…nonetheless, in the depths of their ignorance, they may they may have heard of a brand, or a type, or some technical parameter, and insist that you meet this specification

    This is precisely why I use BIG NAME mics and preamps, even though a MicPort Pro and an SM57 might work just fine.

    …my concession to playing the game 🙂


  8. Jeff Bugonian

    Wonderful blog post Paul! This is true in life. How much do we know about our doctor? probably very little. They know a lot about us because that is their job. How about our local meat cutter? We know nothing about their life and all they know about us is how thick we want our steaks or our bacon cut…mmmmmm bacon ;-). My point? Just do the work. Use the time that would be spent socializing on marketing or improving our craft instead. Otherwise we will just start shoveling up all the other stuff.


  9. steve hammill

    Tough love.
    99.44% true.


  10. Debby Barnes

    Paul, THANK GOD we can count on you NOT to paint a pretty industry picture or tickle our freelancing ears with solopreneur sentiments we’d LIKE to hear.The truth might sting, but it needs to be expressed. And you do that so well!


  11. Paul Payton

    When I was on the radio, the phrase was: “Leave your bummers outside the control room door.” We are our voices, the clients need not know or care about anything else. True in VO, too: Can I deliver what is needed when it is needed, on equipment sufficient for the job? If yes, proceed. If no, there are other lines of work.(Or, in my case, pro studios I can hire If the required tech level exceeds my abilities or desire to do it. I build it into my rate, and everyone goes home happy.)


  12. Debbie Grattan

    Hey Paul – usually I’m right there with you 100%. In this column however, I do have some differing opinions. The way VO talent is viewed as a commodity, the best (and maybe ONLY) way to procure work (besides just showing up with the right voice) is to have the experience, equipment, and testimonials from others to be able to rise above the crowd. While ultimately, I agree that a client doesn’t care about me, my problems, my ego, etc. – I think they do care about my experience in the field, my availability to assist them quickly, and the quality of my sound (aka studio). They may not put all this together, but it’s part of the package any professional, F/T VO has to offer. And it may be a grade or two above a novice, doing it P/T, with marginal equipment and no track record.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    What can I say, Debbie. There are exceptions that prove the rule. I too, have caring clients. Thank goodness for that! But in many cases, I don’t even get to talk to the end clients anymore. They are hidden behind agents, production houses, and other middle men and women.

    This morning I got an email from Italy. A producer was looking for a Dutch voice for an app, and they found me. They gave me a budget, and asked for a demo. That was all. They didn’t want to know for how long I had been doing this, or what kind of equipment I was using. We’ll record the script in a few days, and that will be that.

    For me, this experience is typical, and I’m okay with that. Business is business, and the rest is…


    Debbie Grattan Reply:

    Yes, Paul, of course, exceptions to every rule. And these days, if you fit the criteria, then it’s slam bam, thank you ma’am (or sir!) But just wanted to point out that some of the items in your list ARE things that clients care about. It may not be top on their list, or even something they’re consciously thinking of, (we just look at the final “dance” performance, not the years, sweat and tears that went into building it to that level). But if you’re missing some of these vitals, and it shows in the
    final product, that could be the end of that business relationship, any referrals that could come, and good word of mouth. We’re being judged on everything, even when we don’t see it.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Most of us are probably hired because of the way we sound, and because of the way that sound is recorded. If our diction is off, and if the sound quality stinks, that says something about our experience, our equipment, and our recording space.

    Another thing clients care about is responsiveness. If it takes ages before they hear back from us, we’re not increasing our chance to get hired.

    I do believe it is important to impress a client with a total professional package, but at the end of the day, voice-overs are a small part of a much larger picture. A picture that most of us will never see. And the things we personally care about, often make no difference whatsoever.

    I recently lost a job for which the client said I had all the right qualifications. Why didn’t I get it? Because a colleague put in a lower bid. The difference? Twenty-five dollars!


    Debbie Grattan Reply:

    Total bummer that we are undercut, daily! And sometimes price is the deciding factor. But sometimes, it’s not. My goal is always cultivating relationships, not so much winning every job. And sometimes I have to educate on value and experience VS. lowest price. The relationships are what continues my work flow. Auditions for a one-off, are hard to get and may be a dead end. But a great working relationship can flourish with tons of
    business, referrals, and good will for years to
    come. But the race never ends!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I agree with your business philosophy. Relationships can be vital. But what about a Pay-to-Play that explicitly forbids starting a relationship with a client? What if a client only wants a “one night stand” and not a relationship?

    I guess what I was trying to say is that we’re talking about establishing a business relationship here. The clients needs us to solve their problem. We deliver a service that can solve that problem. And in order to do that, it’s best to leave our personal business at the door. That’s the part most clients don’t care about.


    Debbie Grattan Reply:

    yes, I completely agree that we are service providers, and like all good cogs in the process, if we do our job well, it will hopefully be appreciated, even if not lauded. And part of that delivery of service, is doing it as seamlessly as possible – leaving personal business at the door.
    As far as P2P – that’s a whole other discussion. But I do find that I weigh what I will even choose to audition for, based on the potential I see. Auditions are such a shot in the dark, whether for a P2P or an agency, that often, it’s not worth my time. that’s another reason why I prefer to focus on corporate work, narration, production company relationships, etc. as opposed to commercial and talent agency work, since that’s a job by job basis. Even if you book one, then next day, you’re starting again from scratch. It’s like GroundHog Day! My peace of mind and steady work comes from cultivating the clients and kind of work that can be consistent. Sure, a commercial campaign can be consistent and very lucrative, so I’ll still throw my hat in when appropriate. But I know how high the odds are stacked against me there. I much prefer to work WITH the current, than against. Auditioning, job to job, with one offs is exhausting, and leaves little time or energy for the bread and butter, which is what sustains me in the long run.

  13. Mike Harrison



    Paul Strikwerda Reply:



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