Cheap voice overs: Are they ever worth considering?
With the rise and rise of the freelance gig economy, more people are turning to voice work either as a side hustle or their main income.
After all, everyone has a voice, and a voice is the primary prerequisite to becoming a voice actor, right?
For the content producer, the rise of the gig economy can be seen as a boon as well. With more people in the market, come more choices. With more people competing for the same job, it stands to reason that prices will go down. And it is always tempting to make every dollar stretch as far as it can.
After all, a voice is a voice, and probably a nice voice should make for a good fit for any video, right?
That actually depends on the kind of content you’re producing.
If your project is short-term, low-budget and low-stakes, then a cheap voice-over may be exactly what you need. It could be a good way to test the waters on the most affordable options for future purposes.
However, in most cases, it may actually be more cost-effective to pay more for a professional.
If you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
This post has been updated in August 2021.
It’s Project Management 101: A piece of work can never be Cheap, Fast AND Good. You can typically have two of the three qualities, but not all.
Cheap is never fast and good.
Fast cannot be both cheap and good.
Good is never cheap and fast.
And for projects that represent your brand, that need to create an emotional connection, you would probably want every single aspect of it to be GOOD, rather than cheap or fast.
(That said, a professional voice actor may actually be able to provide you with all three qualities, just not at the bottom-of-the-barrel rates that you can find with a simple Google search.)
Think of the amount of time, effort and money you’ve put into making a piece of creative content that is congruent with your brand. Everything you’ve done – the script, the visuals, the colors, the cast, the director, the visual effects.
Now think of the voice over as the sound of your brand. If your video is the first time a potential customer hears you, don’t you want to make the best possible impression?
And research has shown that voice is important. People make snap judgments based on voice alone. So if you’ve already put in the work to make your content look good, wouldn’t you want it to sound professional as well?
A distinct voice also helps you sound immediately identifiable to your audience. Think John Krasinski for Esurance. His relatable, down to earth voice lends Esurance credibility, recognition and star power.
John Krasinski may be out of reach if you’re a smaller brand, and we’re not suggesting that a cheap voice over will definitely sound unprofessional. However, going with a tried and true professional can give you an edge, especially if you have a lot riding on the content you’re creating.
Voice over professionals sound professional because of two things – equipment and experience.
The edge that professional voice actors offer is value.
Years of training and experience will tell in their performance. Oftentimes, a script will be prepared with simple directions. The difference between a professional and an amateur will be how they interpret the given script and directions.
A professional will be able to offer attributes like knowledge of mic technique, experience as an actor on stage, behind or in front of the camera, as well as years of training and prior work experience.
A professional, knowing your audience, will target their performance to that audience. They will know that voice acting is more than just speaking nicely into the mic; it is a performance. The result should be that your audience will feel spoken to. They will feel heard and seen.
A professional voice artist will be able to inject tone, nuance, and emotion into the work, bringing it alive. Sometimes they might even have suggestions to tweak your script in a way that will make it better.
They will also come with industry-standard recording equipment, and the knowhow to operate the software and hardware. You can be assured that you’ll receive a quality audio file (remember to ask for a custom demo).
An amateur may still provide a dazzling performance that is worth much more than the asking price. However, they may take a longer time to get the work done. They may require more direction from your part, more takes in the studio. And they still may not deliver exactly what you need.
Cost is calculated in more than just dollars and cents
Consider this: A cheap voice over may look good if you’re just looking at the price tag. However, they could end up costing you more in terms of time.
A professional voice actor is doing voice as a full-time job; they will be available when you need them. They will know to consider your deadlines, and if they do take on your job, you can probably expect a quick turnaround time that would be important if you have a tight deadline. You can expect calls, texts, and emails to be answered in a timely manner.
They will provide you with a good quality audio file, that has been cleaned up and is ready to strap on to your video.
A cheaper voice over may get you someone who does voice only as a part-time gig. They may have other commitments, and may not be as available to you.
There may be lots and lots of options available, but you’ll be wasting time trawling the archives for the perfect voice for your brand. This takes up time that might be better spent elsewhere.
An amateur may require multiple takes and revisions to get the exact tone and manner you require.
You’ll be spending extra time coaching and directing amateur talent. You’ll waste time liaising with the talent and/or a recording studio, requesting multiple takes or even do-overs.
Their audio files may not be clean; the sound may not be sharp and you may need your sound engineer to spend extra time in the studio to clean it up.
You may end up not being able to use the work at all and still need to hire a professional to give you the quality that your creative content requires.
You may, in fact, end up paying double or triple what you had initially budgeted for.
So when you pay for a professional, you’re not just paying for the voice. You’re paying for client servicing, production quality as well as peace of mind.
Support the voice over industry
Professional voice actors go beyond the voice. They offer a distinctive sound for your brand. They offer experience, equipment, and effective performances. As business people first and foremost, they know time is money so they will never waste yours or their time.
We both champion and cherish the freelance gig economy. Everyone should have the option of working for themselves, wherever and whenever they want.
But if clients continue going for the cheapest of the cheap, professionally trained actors will be unable to compete. The overall quality of work in the industry will decline, and the art of voice over may one day be lost.
Perhaps a good way of looking at the price vs quality argument is by hiring an experienced voice actor at a fair price. There are many platforms out there, VoiceBunny being one of them, that are fair to both client and talent while also striving to maintain quality.
So when you’re choosing a voice-over talent, adjust your mindset a little – don’t just think cheap; think cost-effective!
Start your own professional voice over today with Bunny Studio!