Whether you have aspirations of becoming rich or not, money is important. If you're a skilled voice actor, you may be wondering how to monetize your talents or even make a living from your voice. If you're looking for the best ways to make money as a voice actor, you've come to the right place.
The top 10 ways to make money as a voice actor are:
- Record audiobooks
- Record for TV shows and movies
- Become an announcer
- Audio tour guide
- Narrate educational videos
- Voiceover puppets
- Product reviews
In this article, we'll get into each of these money-making activities for voice actors, but first, let's discuss freelancing, unions and employment to see which is likely the best fit for you.
Freelancing Vs. Joining A Union Vs. Employment
If you want to make money as a voice actor, you can opt to become a freelancer, join a union (if your country/territory has a union for actors) or become employed by an employer that needs a voice actor.
As a freelance voice actor, you can make about $37 per hour (or whatever you can negotiate) and decide how much you work every week. (Source)
To become a freelance voice actor, you will need to record a soundbite. The amount of time the soundbite needs to take varies by freelancing website, but when you record it, you should try and show your range. Do the voices you are known amongst your friends for. Speak clearly into the microphone.
The following websites are great for voice actors who want to freelance. Some let you determine your own rates, and most don't require any previous voice actor experience to use.
If you want to enter the voice acting world but need to get experience before getting a consistent job as a voice actor, you should consider freelancing. Freelancing gives you experience and allows you to show your range. As a freelancer, you will be able to work from home most of the time and determine when and where you work.
Joining a union can unlock many other jobs for you in the world of voice acting. Some productions only hire from unions, so it could be worth paying your dues to get access to additional work along with the support of a union.
Look for the union(s) in your locality. For example, I'm from Canada and have worked with many ACTRA union members, recording their voices on advertisements, animations, television narration, audiobooks, and more. In America, the primary actors' union is the SAG-AFTRA.
Becoming a salaried employee is a bit more difficult as voice-acting jobs are typically project-based (making them great for freelancing). However, if you can get yourself a full-time job as a voice actor, that's great.
Unless there's consistent demand for your voice, you may need to take on other responsibilities in your job, including production on the technical and personable sides. For example, when I was working full-time at a local audio production facility, there were times when my voice was appropriate for certain projects. Still, it was by no means my primary job description (I am primarily an audio engineer and composer).
Now that we know the vehicles to get work as a voice actor, let's get into the jobs that can actually make you money!
1. Record Audiobooks
As a voice actor, you can easily make money by recording audiobooks. You can read long books, short books, creative short stories, poetry, children's books, and more. Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular, so there is a high need for people who can read books aloud.
It is surprisingly difficult to read books aloud, but you will be paid quite well every time you do. On average, audiobook narrators make $200-$300 per hour, and it takes about 4-6 hours to record an audiobook. However, how long it will take for you to finish recording an entire book will vary on the length and complexity of the content.
You can charge around $100 per hour when you first begin narrating audiobooks. As you gain more experience, you can charge more. People are willing to pay audiobook narrators a large amount of money, especially as audiobooks become more popular. (Source)
You can easily narrate books in your home if you have a microphone and method of recording (typically an audio interface and computer with a digital audio workstation). If you don't have a microphone or recording system, you can go to a recording studio to narrate audiobooks.
2. Record For TV Shows And Movies
TV shows and movies always need people to do voiceovers for them, and as a voice actor, you are the perfect person for the job. You likely won't be able to work from home often, but for at least a few months, you will have a consistent source of income. (Source)
Voiceover actors are needed for the following kinds of TV shows and movies:
- Audio dramas
- Video games
- Dubbing for TV and movies originally in a different language
If you become the voice for any characters, especially if the TV show or movie is extremely popular, you will get exposure as a voice actor. That exposure will lead to more job opportunities. However, voice acting for TV shows and movies is a highly competitive field. It is likely the most competitive area that voice actors can work. If you can sing and voice act, you will have more opportunities.
Voice acting gigs are extremely limited because many famous actors are now going into voice acting, so TV shows and movie producers want them instead of a new voice actor. The celebrity's name will bring in revenue that you can't attract.
However, that doesn't mean it's impossible to be successful as a TV show and movie voice actor. It just means it may take a while to succeed in the field.
If you want to make money as a voice actor but have had trouble getting voice acting gigs, create or join a podcast. Podcasts are extremely popular, especially as more music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music become more diverse. People enjoy listening to others talk while they are on the go.
As a podcaster, you can opt to take on the following popular formats/topic or develop your own:
- Teach an area that you are experienced in
- Tell children's stories
- Conduct interviews
- Narrate stories
- Give motivational tips
- Talk about crime
People love crime podcasts. A deep voice could add to the atmosphere of the podcast, which listeners will likely appreciate.
To make money as a podcaster, you can advertise for other companies, find sponsorships, participate in affiliate marketing, and join Patreon. You will also likely make money based on the number of listeners you regularly have.
Unfortunately, you likely won't make a lot of money as a podcaster in the beginning. However, you can make a lot of money over time as more people start listening to your podcast. As a podcaster, your voice will be heard and potentially get you voice-acting gigs outside the podcasting world. You can also use your podcast as a reference and list the number of listeners it has.
4. Become An Announcer
To make money as a voice actor, become an announcer. If you are successful as an announcer, you can join other aspects of the voice-acting world and eventually join the area where you want to work. Announcing is a great thing that you can do to gain voice-acting experience.
As an announcer, you can do the following:
- Participate in audio advertisements
- Announce audio traffic reports
- Complete audio-only announcements on talk shows
- Announce at sporting events (sports commentator)
Sports commentators make between $13,167-$351,332 every year. However, the sports commentator job market is highly competitive, so if you eventually want to leave your announcing position, you should look elsewhere to find announcer jobs. (Source)
Advertisements and marketing have many job opportunities for voice actors, especially in the food industry. Food commercials want to showcase the food rather than the people, and to do that without creating an awkward and boring commercial; they need to have a voiceover in the background and will hire voice actors.
Voiceovers are needed outside of just the food advertisement industry. Almost every advertisement needs a voiceover in some way, and you can provide that. If you get your voice out there, people will realize that your voice is appealing, and you can eventually leave the advertising industry if you choose to.
Oftentimes, companies don't film only one commercial at a time. Instead, they film 2-3 commercials at once. This means that your voice will be in multiple commercials, and thousands of people will hear it, even if they ignore the commercial.
Documentaries are constantly being made, so they constantly need a quality voice actor to complete the voiceover. As you complete the voiceover for a documentary, you will be able to learn interesting facts about various topics that you didn't know beforehand.
Before you audition to narrate an animal documentary, make sure you pronounce the name of the featured animal correctly. If you can't pronounce it correctly, you likely won't be allowed to complete the narration, and you won't be paid what you were promised. Although, Benedict Cumberbatch once voiced a penguin documentary, and he can't even pronounce the word “penguin”!
Someone with a deep voice often narrates documentaries because their voices are comforting and interesting. If you have a deep voice, audition to narrate a documentary.
As a documentary narrator, you can make between $100-$500 per hour, depending on your experience level. That is quite a good rate!
7. Audio Tour Guide
If you want to make money as a voice actor, you might consider becoming an audio tour guide. Have you ever been on a tour and heard a voice narrating the tour that is obviously not coming from the tour guide? That is because an audio tour has been recorded beforehand.
Audio tours are useful because they allow the tour guide to do other things while the guests listen to the audio and take in their surroundings. Unfortunately, you likely won't be able to go on the tour for free, as a script will be given to you, but you will know many interesting facts about the tour afterward.
It is currently unknown exactly how much audio tour narrators make per hour or per narration. Still, you will be able to make money from it, especially if you narrate multiple audio tours for one company.
8. Narrate Educational Videos
As a voice actor, you can make money by narrating educational videos. Don't worry if it is about a subject or topic that you don't understand because when you record the voiceover, you will be given a script, so you won't necessarily have to learn the concept. However, completing this narration may help you understand the concept, so you will be learning as you work.
You may have to view the online course as you record the audio for it, but that is to ensure that you are talking about what is being written or explained in the video. It is confusing for people if the audio of an educational video is faster or slower than what is happening on the screen, and education is hard enough.
If you are comfortable teaching others, you can make your own educational videos and do the voiceover. However, if you do this, you won't get paid immediately. Instead, you will get paid overtime as people watch the video.
You likely won't be able to work from home if you narrate educational videos. Still, as more narration jobs are moved from the studio to home studios, more opportunities to work from home will appear.
There is always a need for narrators for educational videos, so you will have a relatively secure job if you are a good voice actor.
9. Voiceover Puppets
As a voice actor, you can likely do a variety of voices. Some of them might be childish or silly. If you can do childish or silly voices and want to make money as a voice actor, you could become the voice actor for a puppet.
If you become a voice actor for an extremely popular puppet, like Elmo from Sesame Street, you will have to be able to do a similar voice as the original voice actor or the one before you. If you don't, people will notice and become confused, or you won't get the voice acting job. So, if you are also really good at mimicking others' voices, becoming the voice of a character who already has an established voice would be great for you.
TV shows and movies that feature puppets are always being created, so there is a large market for people who want to voice puppets. If you voice a puppet, your face won't ever be seen.
You may have to control a puppet from behind a structure, but some TV shows record the puppets after the actors have completed recording the script. This ensures that the puppet's mouth moves when the actor is talking, so children think that the puppet is the one actually speaking.
10. Product Reviews
Before people purchase products, they want to read or listen to product reviews. They need to know that it will work and be useful for them before they spend their hard-earned money. You can help with that as a voice actor and make money doing so.
You can either be hired by a company to review products or purchase and review them yourself. You will receive a more consistent income if you review products for a company, but you will eventually make more money if you review products yourself.
If you review products yourself, your face will never have to be seen by the camera. Your hands and possibly your chest will be seen, depending on the perspective and angle of the camera, but the main focus will be the product you are reviewing. People need to see the product being used in a review to trust it fully.
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