Tips on Reading Voiceover Copy Like a Pro

Most voiceover professionals read straight out of a copy during recording. This means that a voiceover artist has to be three things all at the same time — a voice actor, a reader, and a speaker. This fine balancing act requires skill, but the good news is that this skill is something any serious voice acting newbie can learn. The following tips on reading voiceover copy can help you multitask to the best of your abilities so you can, read, act, and speak effortlessly, all at the same time!

  1. Develop keen visual abilities.

Given that you will also be reading while recording, your eyes have to be a priority. It is important that your script be readable and without distractions. If you need to wear spectacles, cleaning them ahead will get rid of dirt and other marks that can distract you once you have started recording. Also, you have to practice on your eye-to-mouth coordination skills. While some people are naturally born with this dexterity, there’s nothing that regular practice cannot improve. Through constant rehearsing, you can easily get used to reading from a script and voice acting at the same time.

  1. Establish your role, audience, and purpose early on.

The delivery of your script will depend on three things: your role, your audience, and your purpose. By knowing about these ahead of time, voice acting using your copy will be easier compared to tackling things without preparations. Early preparation typically affects interpretation. Once you know ‘who you are’ in the copy, who you’re supposed to be talking to, and why you’re doing it, you can bet your voiceover results will be right on track.

  1. Connected speech and correct pronunciation.

An excellently-written copy is next to nothing if you fail to pronounce crucial words correctly or emphasize isolated words instead of adopting a natural flow of connected speech. To get the most out of your script, you have to be able to pronounce correctly, adopt the right inflection for certain lines, and deliver impeccably every single time. When inspecting your copy for the first time, try to highlight certain words and lines. This will signal that you need to vary your voice tone or adopt a certain voice acting technique for certain parts of the copy.

To ensure an effective and compelling voiceover result, you need excellent visual abilities, reading and speaking dexterity, and voice acting expertise. Beyond just voice acting, you also have to handle expertly all the materials you need while recording. This includes your copy or your script and other requisite tools especially if you work out of a home studio.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll soon be on your way to voice acting and reading voiceover copy like a pro!

 

A Buyout Fee for Voiceovers: Is This a Good Option?

Now that you have started to book voiceover projects, it’s time to determine how much and how often will you get paid. While some voice actors are paid residual fees, others are compensated through a one-time buyout fee. But how do you know whether a buyout fee for voiceovers is best for you? Here we give you some of the reasons why a buyout may be good or not-so-good for you.

Base-rate and residual payments for union projects

One of the biggest considerations for you as a voice actor is whether you will be working on a union rate or non-union rate. For a union project, you can command a base rate depending on several factors such as the nature of the recording, duration, and airing coverage. In addition, you may be entitled to residual or royalty fees depending on the length of time that the recording will continue to air. This residual payment is done on top of the session fee or base payment.

A fair one-time fee that covers everything

Many voice actors, however, work as independent contractors. If you happen to be one of them, you may be tackling non-union projects and, thus, will be paid a pre-determined rate or negotiated rate. This is what exactly a buyout payment is. One result of a buyout is that you won’t be expecting any residual compensation even if the client will use your recording several times after its initial run. Even so, there are many things you can do to ensure you get paid well.

First, you have to discuss everything with your client — from your basic session rate to any factor that may determine additional charges. The client may propose a budget or you may provide them with your quotation on specific projects. Second, you may negotiate. Sometimes, a negotiation will help in determining a fair rate. The rate, moreover, may vary from one project to another. Commercial works can fetch up to a thousand dollars, while narration projects may be paid by the hour.

Whichever kind of voice over work you do, you have to know which rate works for you and your client. Billing a very minimal amount may make it difficult for you to demand higher fees in the future. If you quote an expensive fee, you are essentially building yourself to be a serious player in the industry. But if this goes any higher, you may end up losing, rather than earning, new clients.

Yes, a buyout fee can be an excellent option if you are a non-union voice actor. However, the more crucial thing to factor in is the amount you will allow for a buyout. Make sure you don’t sell your services for too low or too high! A buyout fee for voiceovers becomes a good option only if you are paid with what you rightfully deserve!

Important Voiceover Work Legal Considerations

In this day and age when content, images, and other multimedia files are easily published and circulated on the Internet, overstepping on legal bounds can happen easily and frequently. You may not know it, but not everything you do as a voice over artist is permissible. Without prior knowledge of voiceover work legal considerations, you could end up compromising years of hard work and client-list building.

Listed below are some important things you need to focus on when you do voiceover work for your clients.

  1. Permission to use previous voiceover work for future auditions.

Depending on the signed agreement between the voice over professional and the client, a voice over recording may become the property of the client after full payment. There are cases, however, wherein the artist may be granted royalties on the recording, but this will depend entirely on prior arrangements. Should you plan to use a prior recording as demos for succeeding auditions, it will do best if you ask for permission from the purchasing client first. This is especially crucial if the script or the material came from the client himself or herself.

  1. The question of brand names.

One of the easiest ways for a budding voice artist to gain recall is to use well-known brand names in demo recordings. Although this is understandable, it can be tricky and troublesome. For one, using a brand name without permission may result in legal troubles later on. Secondly, mentioning a brand in your recording could make you sound as if you really are working for that brand. This misrepresentation may make it difficult for you to establish trust with future clients.

  1. Imitation vs impersonation.

It’s not uncommon to hear about voiceovers that are actually imitations of famous recordings or actual advertisements. But here you have to tread with caution. If you are not the ‘official voice’ of a specific brand, it is best to veer away from mentioning a brand or imitating a personality who has previously endorsed the brand.

Nonetheless, if you have made it clear that your recording is no more than a parody, and not an underhanded imitation, the celebrity is less likely to pursue legal action.

Success as a voice artist cannot simply be measured in the number of projects you have finished. You also have to ensure that all your projects are completed without raising crucial legal questions. By taking into account some of these voiceover work legal considerations, you will have a clearer idea about what is permissible or not in terms of voice recording.

5 Customer Retention Tips for your Voiceover Business

Any business owner or freelancer knows one clear thing: it is the clients that drive a business or career. If you are in the industry of providing voiceover services, it is no different. Without your market and a solid customer base, you will not be able to translate your efforts into profits.

Nonetheless, there is more to effective marketing than just customer acquisition. You also have to be able to keep your clients. Remember, a returning customer is a customer that has chosen to trust in you and your voiceover work. This is already an opportunity for your voiceover business to maintain that customer and obtain other clients in the process.

When done right, the following customer retention strategies may improve your list of loyal clients for the long-term:

  1. Provide exemplary work.

Without top-notch services, it will be difficult for your other client retention strategies to work their charm. You have to focus on delivering stellar voiceover results every single time, from one project to another.

  1. Create loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs are good way to give back to your returning clients. Whether it’s by way of a discount or a freebie, these offers will surely build a stronger rapport between you and your clients.

  1. Ask for constructive feedback.

Clients appreciate it when their comments are also appreciated. They have listened to you voice; maybe this time you can also listen to what they have to say. The practice of soliciting feedback also helps in establishing you as a trustworthy, confident professional.

  1. Resolve issues quickly.

Prompt resolution of issues is clearly important in any business. Your customers are just as busy as you are, so they would appreciate it if you act on any concern as soon as possible.

  1. Reach out to your customers consistently.

You don’t have to wait for your customers to actually transact with you again before you resume communicating with them. Voiceover talents can have a lucrative career, but the degree of competition online can be overwhelming. By reaching out to your customers, through newsletters or even a simple birthday greeting, you are helping them remember you and your business.

In today’s business climate, where offers are available offline and over the Web, you need more than just making new customers. You have to be able to keep them from choosing the next voiceover talent. While there are many other ways for you to retain your loyal patrons, these above-mentioned tips will no doubt help your voice-over business be a top-of-mind choice.

 

 

How to Succeed in the Voiceover Industry

It is no secret that the voiceover business can be intensely competitive, especially when just starting out and making a name for yourself. It takes practice and a serious investment of personal time to learn the skills needed to become established as a go to voiceover actor. So, what are some tips to succeed where others have failed in the voiceover industry? Below are some expert tips that have been tested and can help you on this journey to make it.

  • Read anything and everything you can find on voice over. For example, pick up a copy of “The Art of Voice Acting” written by James Alburger, a multiple Grammy winning voiceover artist. The wisdom of those who have succeeded in the path you are now on is worth the investment.
  • Get some professional training. This is not just limited to voiceover specific trainings either. Try some acting classes or even some production workshops. It will help to know what other performers are doing so you can use best practices across the board in your own work. This also can include finding local classes offered at a community center or adult learning center or, if you have the resources, hiring a private coach to mentor you.
  • Produce a killer demo. This is the first impression many companies will have of your talent. By putting in time and money to produce a great demo, you can save a lot of time and money down the line on networking and marketing for yourself. Bonus tip: do not rush into producing your demo and instead take your time to make sure it is ready to distribute.
  • Quality equipment is your best friend.  You can have the best voice in the world and immeasurable talent but that makes no difference if you are using an old and battered microphone to seize your voice. How and where you record your sound will play a huge part in how your final product comes out and DIY digital audio recording cannot replace recording done in a studio.

Finally, and most importantly, have fun with your craft. If you don’t love it, it will show and you can’t expect anyone to want to hire a passionless voiceover artist. Let your passion bleed into your work.

 

What New Technology Means for VO Talent

In the last half a century, the increase in global technological prowess has boomed loud across many industries. Every day there seems to be more and more capabilities computers and other tech have access to including AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, voice and facial recognition, and even text-to-sound (TTS).

Computers, usually in the form of robots, are now charged with managing and dispensing prescriptions, filling out mundane paperwork, and handling numerous tasks once done by humans alone. But those are all technical or manual labor related tasks, right? What could that mean for VO talent  and for other artists, like actors, writers, and painters?

Well, it can mean a few things both positive and negative. One negative is the switch from manual craft in the arts to the use of automated systems. An example of this is the use of electronic voices in place of actual human voices for National Weather Service broadcasts since 2014. Likewise, some of the most successful and profitable movies of all time are animated films like Frozen and the Toy Story franchise.

This escalating drift towards using AI and digital personas for entertainment could mean actors, especially voice over actors, facing an industry ruled by robotic or computerized replacements. However, there is some good news to help ease the transition.

According to the Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks, Ed Leonard, the industry does not see the rise of tech to be an actual threat to the actor’s craft. He advised that there is no replacing raw talent in entertainment and that technology is nowhere near human enough to fully replace actors. This is a fair point since while digital technology is getting more and more lifelike, like Amazon’s Alexa or Siri, there is still a distinct difference between those computerized voices and a real live person.

For the time being, innovation is actually more of a help to VO talent than a hindrance. Digital recording can clean up voices, remove extra noises that take away from a final product, and help match real voices to computerized or animated stories. Even in areas that could be easily switched up like broadcasts, audiobooks, and the radio, studies show consumers prefer the voice of an actual person to a synthesized AI person.

Voice actors are safe for the time being. Only time will tell what comes next.

Voiceover work: What does your home studio need and is it worth it?

Working from home can be a relaxing and freeing experience, especially for those lucky enough to make a full-time income from it. For voiceover artists, whether freelance or career, this can mean deciding whether or not to invest in a home studio for your voiceover work. While this would most likely require a time and money investment, some experts swear by it. This article will discuss whether you need it and if so, how to make sure it is worth it.

Do You Need It?

Every professional needs a personal space reserved for his or her career needs, whether at an external office or in the home. For a voiceover artist, it is highly recommended that you make the choice to either schedule professional studio time or create your own in-home studio. While it is not mandatory, it is incredibly helpful. If you are trying to make your voiceover career your only career, then yes, you do need it. If this is more of a freelance or passion project, then it is not.

Deciding on Your Studio Space

So, you need a home studio space for your voiceover work and want to figure out the best place to put it. If in a large area with an extra room, this would be perfect. However, if you do not have an extra room available, try to partition off a part of your home to create a feeling of a separate space and to get rid of distractions. For the non-claustrophobics out there, you could even convert a closet into your studio.  Once you have your space, make sure you have good sound quality in it and try to make it as soundproof as possible.

Getting the Right (Affordable) Equipment

Next, you will need to get the proper equipment to finish up your home studio. Thankfully, you can design and stock a high-quality home voice studio for $2K or under. You will just need a good microphone with a stand, a recording interface, a solid pair of headphones, and a computer with recording software.

So, is it worth it? Depending on how much time and energy you put into this home studio, it very well could pay for itself in voiceover jobs ten times over. It all comes down to how much you want to invest.

5 Best Places to Find VO Work

Where there is a will, there is a way, especially when it comes to actors finding a new gig. Voice over actors are no different, though it is always helpful to know where to look for new and exciting auditions places to post your demo or other opportunities to find VO work. Below are 5 of the best places to find voice over work, in no particular order.

Voice123

Voice123 is one of the biggest voice over sites and prides itself on high profile castings including the voice of Skynet for Warner Brother’s Terminator and the announcer for the MTV VMA’s. Some highlights include being able to connect directly with clients looking for VO talent, creating a customized profile page with all your demos, and the ability to find unlimited open auditions.

Find Voice123 voice over job postings here.

Voices.com

Voices.com is another large platform with the ability to post an ad looking for work as well as answer postings trying to find it. Major highlights include the ability to access unlimited auditions, upload an unlimited amount of VO demos, access to SEO tools to boost your rankings in the search results, and free access to eBooks and voice over scripts.

Find Voices.com voice over job postings here.

VoiceBunny

VoiceBunny is slightly smaller than the first two platforms but does deserve credit for its commitment to keep improving their search algorithms and ability to filter out bad quality, or spammy, posts. The platform also boasts of an average job post turnaround time of 6 hours (with an all-time record of only 4 minutes) and a team to manually screen voice over work for quality control.

Find VoiceBunny voice over job postings here.

Backstage

While incredibly popular with television and movie actors, Backstage also has a good amount of resources for voice over actors to find new gigs. Since it is not exclusively voice over postings, VO actors can also dip into other areas of performance if they wish.

Find Backstage voice over job postings here.

Craigslist

I know, I know, but here me out. Smaller businesses or one-off projects that don’t have huge budgets often post in job boards like Craigslist. The work may not pay overwhelmingly high but the experience you get is usually a huge win.

Find Craigslist voice over job postings here.

Other popular ways to find VO work include posting an ad online, reaching out to local agencies, and networking as much as you can with as many people as you can. You never know where the next big break will come from!

How to Use Facebook Ads for a Voiceover Business

Facebook is a powerful marketing tool for business owners, especially those in the voiceover industry. With over a billion users, you can reach many people you wouldn’t otherwise.

For those of you already on Facebook marketing your voiceover business, you may think a business page is all you need. Unfortunately, while it’s a free tool for marketing, it’s ineffective for most business owners. Facebook recently changed their algorithm, which limits business page reach. This means your posts will not receive the exposure you want to grow your business.

The reason Facebook has changed the way they use business pages on the site is because like all of us, they want to make money. They want to drive people to their Facebook ads opportunity and away from the free use of a business page. This is why you should use Facebook ads to promote your business in addition to having a page.

Ways to Use Facebook Ads

You have options when using Facebook ads. You can promote your business Facebook page to drive people to it and like your page. This brings attention to your page, increase engagement on it, and maybe drive people to your site if they see something that spikes their interest while on it.

The other option is to use Facebook ads to promote your website. People who see your ad will click on it and land on your site. It bypasses your Facebook page entirely, so keep that in mind if you decide to do this type of ad. This works for many voiceover artists because they have their portfolio on their website.

How to Create Facebook Ads

You create Facebook ads right from your business page. On the right-hand side of the page, you will see a section where Facebook is advertising their Facebook ads. Click on the one for either the business page or website. When you do that, you will be able to create a title for the ad, upload an image for it, and then a blurb to entice people to click. Below that, you will need to choose your audience. The more audiences you choose, the narrower your reach. This can work well if you know the specific audience you want to target. If you don’t, it’s better to be a little more general. With time, you’ll be able to fine tune the audience selections to increase conversions.

The last part of setting up your Facebook ads is to select a budget. The minimum is $5 a day, and Facebook will give you an idea of how many people you will reach with the ad for that budget. You can adjust the amount you use towards your ad at any time.

Before you head over to Facebook, there’s one more way to use Facebook ads, which will lead people to your business page. You can boost a post. If you find that a post on your Facebook page is performing better than usual or you want to show it to prospects, you can click on the button on the post to boost it. You can then go through the same steps as you do for regular Facebook posts.

Exposure is key to growing a business. Try Facebook ads to see how well it will work for your voiceover business.

Bookkeeping Tips to Help You Keep Your Voiceover Business Financials Organized

As a voiceover artist, most of us tend to be more creative and less concerned with the tedious details of things like bookkeeping. However, as mundane as it seems, when it comes to running any business, keeping your accounting in order is essential. You don’t want to be that person scrambling right before your taxes are due—only to send off your “financials” in a bag stuffed with receipts. You don’t have to be that person! Here are some bookkeeping tips to help you keep your voiceover financials organized:

Maintain thorough records

Organize your records as you move through the year. Keep track of everything that’s going on because if you’re keeping a close eye on your financials, then it’s easier to spot something that has gone wrong. Being unaware of any problems allows them to be unattended, leaving you with a mess.

Set time aside monthly

Since you most likely work for yourself, probably from home or even on the road, you can claim a lot in monthly expenses. Set a block of time aside each month to work on your accounting. Don’t wait until the end of the tax year.

Invoicing

Go ahead and send off invoices to your clients—even if the project isn’t finished yet. Set up a spreadsheet with every invoice for each client. Include the client, total amount, project, and the date you submitted it. It’s simple, yet highly efficient and easy to maintain.

Expenses

Keep a spreadsheet with your daily/monthly expenses. Enter the expense as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will spend hours sorting through receipts. Also, it is wise to keep your receipts or scan them onto your computer for your records. As a backup, keep a hard-copy of your receipts. Just tape them to a blank sheet of paper with the month written on it, and then file them for safe keeping.

Deposits

Deposit all received money straightaway. Do not let those checks sit around on the counter at home. By depositing your money immediately, it ensures that your records stay properly maintained.

Record everything

Keep an audit trail by recording everything. Being audited is a headache that can be avoided by keeping impeccable records. Perhaps, you find it tedious to handle your bookkeeping, but by keeping up with it, you’re reducing the likelihood that you’ll be audited by the IRS.

Tax payments and laws

Each time you receive a payment, set aside 25 percent for taxes. Decide whether you are going to pay your taxes every quarter (recommended) or if you’re going to pay your taxes yearly. If you set aside the money for the IRS, then you’ll have it on hand when you’re ready to make a payment. Also, learn the state and federal tax laws to ensure you stay within compliance.