Got a great voice — the kind of tonal quality that makes phone callers suggest you find a career in radio? You don’t need to change jobs. But you may be able to make money with your voice by doing voiceovers in your spare time.
With voiceovers you are paid to record audio from a script. This audio is used in commercials, corporate presentations, animations and cartoons. Voiceovers are also used in films, documentaries and for instructional videos. Phone companies hire voiceover artists to do answering machine recordings. Publishers hire them to make audio books. Tech companies use them to be the voices of audio assistants. Video game manufacturers use them to create character voices and instructions. In other words, the options to make money with your voice are varied and plentiful.
And, this type of acting work is often highly paid. An international voice-over site called Bodalgo estimates that a 30 second voice-over for an advertisement would pay $250 to $750. And a 30-minute narration for a corporate presentation would pay between $350 and $500.
To be sure, other types of voiceover work — e-learning, podcasts and animations, for instance — usually pay less. However, standard industry practice involves paying by the word or the second. And, by and large, you’re paid generously — somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 to $1,000 an hour.
Tools of the trade
That said, if you want to make money in this field, you need to be professional and produce professional-quality audio. To do that, you’ll need a good quality microphone, studio headphones, a pop filter and editing software. You may also need to set up a sound-proof studio to block out ambient sounds like barking dogs, chirping birds and the sound of traffic. That type of set up, even done in the most cost-effective way, is likely to cost $250 to $500.
And, you’ll need to record audio samples of your work, showing your range and specialties — i.e. radio commercials, accents, animations, and, perhaps, the ability to sync your audio with video.
Make Money with your voice
A number of online platforms can help you find voiceover jobs. However, several of them charge upfront fees to communicate with clients. In some cases, the fees are relatively modest and the job opportunities make them worthwhile. In others, the fees are steep and the jobs are scarce.
Here’s a quick overview of four sites that can help you find voiceover work at a reasonable cost.
Fiverr doesn’t specialize in voiceovers. It is a broad work platform that allows freelancers to sign up and provide almost any legal service. But it is a great place to start when you want to make money with your voice because there are no up-front costs and few barriers to entry here.
The site allows freelancers to sign up for free and post a detailed profile. This profile can and should include samples of your audio. You’re then expected to offer work “packages.”
With voiceovers, that usually involves creating a price per word. However, you add fees based on the content’s use. For example, one British actor charges just $20 per 100 words; $40 for 200 words. However, if you want timed audio sync, that’s an additional $25. Broadcast rights cost an additional $250. And, if you want one-day delivery of your audio, you pay a $50 rush fee.
Another actor charges a fee of $60 per 50 words, but adds just $150 for full broadcast rights.
Unlike many other voiceover sites, voiceover artists do not need to audition here. Clients hire Fiverr freelancers based on the information provided on the freelancer’s profile. That eliminates pitching clients for each job opportunity, which is particularly frustrating when hundreds of other VO artists are pitching the same people for the same job.
With Fiverr, clients order or pass. And, they pay the price the freelancer sets. There’s no negotiating. Fiverr collects payment and deducts a 20% fee from the freelancer’s pay.
Like Fiverr, Upwork is one of the largest online freelance portals for a wide array of work. Here, you can sign up and set up a profile for free. You can also post projects where you offer a set service for a set price, like you do on Fiverr.
If you’re trying to find available work, you can also browse available jobs. The site offers a myriad of voiceover jobs for both beginners and seasoned professionals. The jobs vary widely based on tone, gender, location, and accent. So, there’s a good chance you will find something that suits your skills, experience and interest.
The catch? To apply for jobs on Upwork, you need “connects.” You get a few connects for free. However, if you want to bid on multiple jobs, you’ll need to buy them or subscribe to a premium plan. Upwork’s premium plan costs $15 a month.
On the bright side, the site recently revamped its commission structure. Newcomers to the site used to pay a 20% commission to Upwork when they booked a job. Starting in May, they pay just 10%.
But, most jobs on Upwork are won through competitive bids. So, paying a premium membership or for connects doesn’t guarantee work.
Voices is a vibrant marketplace where voice-over artists can post profiles to get connected with thousands of potential clients. The site books voiceover actors for commercials, audio books, animations, advertisements, e-learning and video narrations.
Voiceover artists can sign up for free and create a “guest” profile. This profile includes information about you, your services and your background. And, it allows you to upload as many audio files as you want.
Thus, if you offer voice-over services for animations and ebooks, you can post two different audio files — one illustrating your animation work; the other your e-book work. You work in all categories? Upload a sample or two for each. There is no limitation.
If a client finds your profile and wants you to bid on a job, you can. Assuming you get hired, Voices will collect payment for you and release it to you as soon as the job is complete. The only cost is a 20% site commission.
However, if you want the site to match you to jobs, you’ll need to pay a $499 annual membership fee. And, if you get work, you’ll still need to pay the 20% commission. Is it worth it to be a member? Not according to many freelancers who have used the site. But the free account is worthwhile.
The Mandy Network connects actors, film and TV crew, theatre professionals, voiceover artists, dancers, singers, musicians, models and extras with producers working in television, film, theater and events. The site is a job board, not an employer. So it’s role is to connect job seekers with producers, directors and casting agents who are hiring.
Signing up is free. However, like its sister site, Backstage, if you want to apply to jobs listed here, you’ll need to pay a membership fee. On the bright side, the membership fees are modest — $7.95 a month or $50 a year.