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Ways to Build a Career in Voiceover 3

22 May

Making Sense of the Digital World

Can you build a career in voiceover in new world of digital???

Online ‘Opportunities’?

Are you passionate about building a career in voiceover and just starting out?

You may have thrown some money at any of the online platforms that are out there now, ‘selling’ you on how easy it is to make big bucks in voiceover.

I have these things to say about that process.

Be cautious. Beware. And be prepared for little return on your investment.

I do know of some people who’ve picked up a few jobs this way.  The problem is that they’re auditioning for several, to many hours a week or month, only to pick up something that pays much less than agreed standard rates.

They’ve invested their hard-earned money on gear, a mic, an audio program, on creating a facsimile of a broadcast quality studio (not easy to do).  

Then they audition…alone, without any direction, and often with very little, if any, training.

This seems to me like an awful lot of expense and output for potentially very little, or no return.  Sadly, it’s almost certainly not the way into a career in voiceover.

If those people calculated what they were earning per hour just trying to get jobs, they may start to see this as an unsound investment.

If this sounds like you, then this blog might be a little hard to digest, but knowledge is power.  So here’s my take on what’s going on, that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

V/O Platforms.

Okay!  Clearly I see problems.  One of the biggest problems is that most of these platforms have poor rates structures.  They charge fees (or allow people to bid for jobs) for rates that are well below industry standards.

Often sites will pay based on word count, which is definitely very faulty.  

Other sites will have flat fees no matter what you do.  This is a huge no-no.

In the profession, fees are based on:

  • Medium: TV, Radio, Internet, Non-Broadcast (for in-house, medical, corporate or business use)
  • Reach: Where is this to be shown/heard and how many are likely to see/hear it?
  • Duration: How long is this recording likely to be around?

Word count is never a way to measure value to the client.  

Flat fees are an insult to the craft and profession.  They don’t honour the voice actor and the value that voice brings to the message.

Needless to say the biggest no-no is that almost always the online model doesn’t represent fair fees.  Their practices actually erode *real rates in almost all areas of voiceover.

Mostly, the only people making real money are the proprietors of these sites.

Please don’t support them and join the hundreds in the race to the bottom on rates for V/O.

*For information on real rates, go to WoVo (World Voices Organisation) for some guidelines. Now that we all consider voiceover is a global proposition, join a global organisation.

You may also find rates on the websites of your arts union in whichever country you’re in. Some Voiceover agents will publish rates on their websites.

***Do Not fall for anyone offering you an ‘opportunity’ by working without pay or very low pay. This is an imperative!

No matter which stage you are at with voiceover, if you’re good enough to get the job, you’re good enough to get paid.

Another problem with the online model is that it’s almost always impossible to build a relationship with the client.

The way most sites work, you may never speak to or see the client. You may never know their name, where they are or what they have to say about your work.  And you may never get feedback about what you’ve submitted.

The platform owners prefer to have ‘control’ of who they feel are ‘their’ clients; those paying to post.

You’re just a cog in the wheel.

🙁  Sad but true.

Not only is this not an optimal way to work. It’s also not a sustainable way into a career in voiceover.

The more you begin to understand that ‘wanting to build a career in voiceover‘ is one thing.  Actually achieving it takes time, patience, tenacity and most of all skill.

There’s no easy way in, whether you’re targeting sound studios, radio stations, TV and radio networks, animation, games, book narration or the huge and growing non-broadcast working environment.

You need to get wise about your own skill set and where you’d be best spending your energy.

Then you need to arm yourself with some strategies for empowering yourself.

This is where a coach is essential.  Doing it on your own may work for the very few, but just like any business, you need to know the ins and outs, the do’s and dont’s, the tricks and techniques, and the trends.

In short, it’s a must to understand the landscape of which ever area of the industry you’re passionate about being a part of.

Oh, and if you are serious about building a career in voiceover, you need to think about joining a professional organisation.

Your Arts Union website will have info about joining.

In Australia it’s The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).  The section is called Equity!  Follow this link to read about them and if you’re a working voiceover artist, you can join from that page 

I encourage you to step up and value your contribution and your abilities, by charging the correct rate for what you’re doing.

If you are working in the profession, join whatever Union or Association will assist you to become a committed, valued and respected member of the voiceover community.

Happy VoiceOvering!

Abbe Holmes About Abbe Holmes
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.

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