Today, I have a fun interview to share with you that will show you how to make money by becoming a voice over actor. It sounds like a fun job, plus you do can it from anywhere! I recently had the chance to interview Carrie, a full-time voice over actor (and RVer!), who explains how voice acting may be a possibility for you.
Carrie replaced her day job salary in late 2014, and quit her job to become a voice over actor full-time. People started asking her all the time how she got into voice acting and how they can too.
So, she created a six-week online class and it sold out. Several of her students booked voice acting jobs before the class was even over!
If you are looking for a new job or even just a side hustle, this may be something that you want to look into.
Check out the interview below for more information on how to make money as a voice over actor. She also runs a course called The Voiceover Success Intensive that I recommend checking out.
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Please give us a little background on yourself and how you became a Voice Over Actor.
In 2014 I was working my 8-5 job as an e-learning specialist. I was responsible for creating tutorials, courses, and running training webinars for an international construction company. It was a great job, and I enjoyed it a lot! But after my husband and I had our first baby, I desperately wanted to find a situation that would allow me to be home with my family more. But at the time, my husband was working to get a start-up business off the ground, and it wasn’t bringing in enough money for me to stay home, so I had to go back to work.
I always listened to podcasts during my commute to work, and one day I turned on a podcast that I had never heard of before. The host was interviewing a voice actor named Alyson Steel (who would later become my coach, mentor and eventually business partner).
I had no idea what voice acting was, but when she started talking about the process of recording scripts for TV and radio commercials from her home every day, my ears perked up. At the end of the interview, she said she offers coaching, and I booked a session with her.
After my first session, I became obsessed with voiceover! Every spare moment I had, I was practicing and learning as much as I could about it. I started auditioning shortly after I started getting lessons, and I ended up booking my first 3 jobs within 2 weeks of my first coaching session.
The first one was for a 2-minute narration that paid $450! I will never forget the morning I told Derek about that first voiceover job as I left for work. After that, I continued auditioning as much as I could on the nights and weekends.
Thanks to a national radio campaign, I replaced my day job salary with voiceover work, and was able to quit my job to pursue voiceover full time. My voiceover work has been supporting our family of three ever since.
What exactly is a Voice Over Actor? Who are common clients?
A voice over actor is the person you hear, but usually never see on radio ads, YouTube videos, explainer videos, corporate narration, documentaries, e-learning courses, audiobooks, TV commercials, video games, movies, and cartoons.
Clients can be anyone from a film student or YouTube gamer to Fortune 500 companies. I’ve worked with a variety of clients including Tiffany’s, REI, Kmart, Taco Bell, Walt Disney World, and others.
How much can a beginner Voice Over Actor expect to make?
The pay varies widely for both beginners and professionals. It really depends on your business model, your skill level, and your marketing strategy.
Most beginners will book the majority of their work through online casting sites. The more reputable of those sites pay at least $100 for every job.
Rates for each job depend on several factors: the medium (TV, radio, internet, etc.), the market (local, regional, national, etc.), the length (in either time or word count), whether it’s a union or non-union job, and sometimes the time spent in the studio, if applicable.
Rates on online casting sites range from $100-thousands, but when I first started booking work regularly, I was averaging about $300-$350/job. If you’re established, have a good agent, and run your business well, it is possible to make 6 figures/year voice acting.
A very small sect of voice actors even pull in 7 figures (think the “voice of God” movie trailer voice).
What do you like about being a Voice Over Actor?
Having fun! No two days are alike (unless you’re recording an audiobook — and even then you get to experience the story arch from day to day), and after years in an office, I love being able to “let loose” every day in my VO booth.
I also love wowing my clients with a creative take on their script.
A lot of times a client won’t know exactly what they’re listening for until they hear it. So I get a lot of creative license to just play with the script and create characters as I go which makes it just that much more rewarding when we “find” the perfect sound for a spot.
I get to do really fun, creative work — and I get to do it from home, or in a recording studio. As an adult, it feels crazy sometimes to literally “play at work”.
How can a person find their first Voice Over Actor job?
Lots of people get started on subscription sites referred to as pay-to-play sites. I booked several of my first jobs on Voices.com and later joined Voice123.com, bodalgo.com and The Voice Realm. You can even find work on Upwork.
And though I’ve never used Fiverr to find voiceover work, some voice actors have. Currently I get most of my work from my agents, repeat clients and referrals.
What if you’re not sure if Voice Over Acting is a good fit?
There are definitely some low risk, low barrier to entry ways you can dip your toe into the voiceover waters and see if it’s for you.
Just keep in mind that building up the business side is just as important as being able to “do voices.” And in reality, most voice actors use their real voices for the majority of their work anyway. I give away a free guide to getting started in voice over on my website. Reading through the guide will give you a better idea of what it takes and if it’s right for you.
You should also join the Voiceover Start-Up Facebook group. It’s open to everyone who has ever thought, “Hmm, I wonder if I could do that…” But really doing it is the only way you can tell if it’s for you or not.
Start recording yourself reading commercials and see if you enjoy the process.
What specific steps does a person need to take in order to make money as a Voice Over Actor?
- Training – It would be nice if all it took to do VO was to have a nice voice. But everyone needs training and practice (and then more training and more practice). I would never have been able to book so many jobs so quickly without training from my coach Alyson. Hire a good coach and listen to what they tell you.
- Practice – Start paying close attention to the voiceovers you hear on the radio, TV, online and even in movies. Practice copying the style of voice over you think you would be a good fit for. Record yourself and listen back. Make adjustments based on your coach’s feedback. Remember that voice over is a skill that needs to be developed and maintained.
- Equipment – You will need a good microphone and a quiet place to record. I started with a $100 mic, a $100 interface and a closet full of clothes as my studio space. I recorded my first few national radio spots in my closet! You’ll also need recording software, a microphone stand, and of course, a computer.
- Audition – Once your coach gives you the okay, you can start auditioning for work. The more auditions you do, the better your chances are of getting work. But it’s not only a numbers game. You’ll learn to audition only for the jobs that match your voice profile. This will increase your chances of getting booked and decrease the amount of auditions you need to do. For example, if your voice profile is middle age female, you won’t want to waste time auditioning for the jobs that call for the voice of a college aged girl.
- Make a demo – Your demo is the most important tool in your marketing toolbox. You’ll need one so that potential clients can get a taste of what your work is like so that they can determine if you are a good fit for their brand. It is also necessary for getting agency representation. In a nutshell, a demo is a reel of the best parts of your best work. Sort of like an audio-resume that shows off your skills and vocal range.
- Marketing – After you’ve proven that you have what it takes to book jobs and get consistent work you’ll definitely want to start doing your own marketing. This is what blew the lid off my business. I’ve developed my own brand and marketing strategy that has allowed me to book work almost every day. I also get plenty of referral business and repeat business too. This is nice because it cuts down on the time I have to spend auditioning. Good business skills will go a long way toward helping you get your business profitable faster.
- Agents – After you’ve got some work under your belt and have recorded a professional demo, you can start approaching talent agencies for representation. Agents are selective about who they choose to sign, but if you want the bigger jobs (like national TV or radio spots), getting an agent should be on your roadmap. Signing with an agent doesn’t guarantee you jobs — you still have to audition for and win them. This is a big reason continual practice is essential for working voice actors.
How much does it cost to start this side hustle and how much on a monthly basis to maintain it?
My initial investment was under $400. I already had a microphone and interface from podcasting.
I spent about $300 on my first few coaching sessions. Voices.com was having a special where you could do your first month for $9.99.
And I already had a computer, recording space (closet), and recording software (Audacity is free). For someone starting from scratch, you’ll want to spend at least $100 on a good condenser microphone. An interface will run you about the same on the lower end. You can set up a recording space for nothing (or close to it). And you can get free recording software. So the only variable left is training and practice.
Regardless of the training method you choose, you’re not likely to start booking jobs right away (I’ve heard it takes the average new voice actor 70-100 auditions to book their first job). But a good coach will give you the best chance.
Of course, there are all kinds of ways to get training, ranging from free (getting books from the library and studying/practicing on your own) to hundreds of dollars/hour (private coaching). Ongoing costs include coaching and membership site subscription fees if you choose to use pay-to-play sites. You can also update your recording equipment as your income and average job size justify/necessitate it.
What do you love about being able to make money as a Voice Over Actor? What has it helped you do?
Every day I get to do work that I love and earn more than I have in any of my past jobs. It’s the perfect fit for me. I worked to be able to make this my full-time job, and the journey hasn’t always been pretty.
There have been lots of ups and downs, setbacks, and disappointments. But I knew I wanted to make it work, and I’m so glad I stayed with it.
Being a voice actor has allowed me to see my family more. It has allowed me to earn more while making my own hours. And it has allowed me to express myself creatively while developing my acting skills. It’s also rewarding to help companies and brands tell their stories — and super fun to hear my voice in their ads.
Lastly, are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to try this?
Start paying closer attention to the voiceovers that are around you every day. They are everywhere! Start recording yourself.
And, if you are interested in learning more, give yourself the best chance of success by investing in yourself. Research your options, and then hire a coach, enroll in a class, start reading books, or do all three!
What can a person learn from your class? Can you tell us about some of the people who have successfully taken your class?
The Voiceover Success Intensive gives you the knowledge you need to confidently build a profitable voiceover business. The course is broken up into six modules and includes topics like home recording, how to tell where your voice fits into the industry, how to break down copy, and how to earn business by marketing yourself well. My coach, Alyson Steel, teaches several of the lessons on acting for voiceover and taking care of your voice.
Several of my students started booking paid voice over jobs within weeks of starting the class ranging from audiobooks to educational apps. Others have booked narration, education, and even TV spots during the course of the class.
Click here to check out The Voiceover Success Intensive.
Did you enjoy this interview with Carrie about voice acting? Are you interested in learning how to make money as a voice over actor?
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