The freelance voice acting industry is fast-growing. With companies and individuals going for a more holistic approach, humanizing brands is now priority number one.
The game is no longer about having a “brand voice”, but about voicing brands. Luckily, affordable, quality voice-overs are no longer the province of mega-corporations. Voice-overs are now at everyone’s fingertips!
Not only that, but more people are finding that freelance voice acting is a fun, lucrative job. Hitherto unexplored talents can get a chance to shine with a very modest investment. A small home studio with some soundproofing and a few voice lessons, and it’s off to the races!
Business Insider ran an article showing it to be one of the 20 highest-paying jobs you can do from home.
A 2018 Gallup poll revealed that about 36% of Americans are freelancers partaking in the gig economy. On the other hand, the voice acting industry is a $4.4 billion/year behemoth. Combine these two notions and you’ll get a clear idea of why freelance voice acting is moving ahead full-steam.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
Freelance voice acting: the nitty-gritty
So, why the emphasis on “freelance”, anyway? Bear with us! As more people move into self-employed trenches, it would seem pertinent to make a few points clear. Indistinctly of whether you’re hiring or providing services, these are good to know!
Voice acting and voice-overs are often used interchangeably, but they don’t refer to the exact same thing. Some disambiguation is in order.
A voice-over is a production technique where a voice is recorded. It can then be used in a variety of media, both audiovisual and audio-only. They’re almost as old as radio cinema, and ubiquitous these days!
Think about any commercial, narration, movie dub, or other cases where you hear a voice not recorded on-site. The scope and penetration of voice recording in our culture go bone-deep. You can’t even escape them at a train station or stadium! Even prerecorded PA messages are examples of voice-overs!
Voice acting, however, refers to the act of recording itself. An actor or actress has to play a particular character or part according to a script or a set of guidelines. This is when freelance voice acting gets a chance to shine. Be it a dramatic part or a complex corporate message, a voice actor is the embodiment of a mission statement.
Freelance Voice Acting and In-housing
Why is freelancing so popular in this profession?
Another point which we promised we’d get to is the “freelance” part. While some voice actors are affiliated with an agency of company, this is not the way most conduct their business these days. Gone (or going) are the days of the studio system and one-company contracts.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the industry is unregulated. In the US, many voice actors that work for high-profile movie and video game companies have some sort of affiliation; the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists comes to mind. This is not the same as being under a contract, mind you. It’s an organization intended to provide industry artists with better rates and working conditions.
Moreover, due to the nature of voice recording, it doesn’t even have to be done on-location! When it comes to castings and auditions, voice talent is frequently hired through demos, not in person. This means that freelance voice acting continues to proliferate at an exponential rate. In an era where technology is freely available, a capable person can easily get their start in the trade.
In-house voice acting magic
This doesn’t mean that companies don’t choose to have in-house talent perform recording sessions. Sometimes, it’s just the quickest, most cost-effective solution. Maybe you, or someone in your staff, know how to execute the script and literally speak to your target audience.
If you are already doing this, or thinking about it, we’ve got your back! Check out our “Voice-over Tips for the Fearless Entrepreneur” guide; it’ll help you avoid some of the common mistakes when attempting in-house recording.
Also, in-house doesn’t mean you’re not using professional talent. Having someone on retainer is also a cost-effective, no-fuss solution to frequent recording sessions. Say you need to record sessions for a weekly video or podcast. Would it be preferable to hire the same pro every time, or negotiate rates on a contract basis? These are economic and pragmatic concerns to keep in mind.
Sometimes it pays to go with the DIY route, sometimes it pays to… well, pay for peace of mind.
Say you’re in one of these categories:
- Hiring a pro on a constant or per-job basis.
- You’re a pro, or thinking about becoming one, looking for work.
Where do you get started? Allows us to roll out the red carpet for our specialty:
Gig Economy Freelance Voice Marketplaces!
Quite the mouthful, isn’t it? It’s not like we expect this particular neologism to catch on, but it is succinct. Everybody’s trying to make it on their own in the gig economy, but there are difficulties from going it alone.
A freelance voice acting pro has to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. They often have to be their own coaches, editors, sound tech and public relations team. This can get exhausting quickly, and it’s not always easy to find a gig that rewards all that time and effort. They also want to get paid on-time, not have to fuss about every small detail, and find good clients.
Likewise, companies must find a good return of investment and will want the services of pros that know their stuff. They want access to curated portfolios, pros that mind deadlines and directions, and quality guarantees.
Gig economy marketplaces quickly became the easy, go-to turnkey solution. It’s easy to find a vast pool of talent in these, but some discernment is required.
Let’s go over a general overview to give you a better idea of dos and don’ts!
Fiverr, Workana, Upwork, and General Freelance Marketplaces
None of these are specialized freelance voice acting marketplaces per se. The idea is to find freelance work or workers that can perform a wide spectrum of tasks. This means you’ll find an endless supply of people that will purport to do what you’re looking for. “Purport” is the keyword here, and the main reason for watching your step.
These platforms accommodate people of every experience level. That means they are solid solutions for those who are just getting started, or if your project is not mission-critical. You can also guide yourself by 5-star reviews and try to get the freelancers with the highest rates. If you do that, you’ll generally be safe. Many pros that are in specialized marketplaces are also in these general ones; the way we see it, the more opportunities the better.
But what if you want a good mix of experience and value? This is where things get a little trickier and you could face some setbacks. As most of these sites offer no guarantees and no accountability, they require little in the way of verification. Just a photo of your ID and passport, and you’re in!
In turn, that means that freelancers often don’t have to offer proof of their qualifications. Sure, you should always guide yourself by someone’s portfolio and samples, but that still leaves you in the dark. How so? Freelancers leaving or refusing revisions is a common concern. People going for freelancers with dirt-cheap rates and reviewing them positively even though their work is subpar is also common. You could find yourself in a mess if you go by reviews alone.
Which of these is the best?
Generally, our money is on Upwork. You can find a very good pool of proven talent from around the world. They also usually have deep portfolios and have had their skills verified. Upwork, in general, is pretty stringent about who they allow to do business on their platform. Bad apples don’t stay long enough to be a problem, mostly.
Fiverr tends to be all about very cheap rates, and you generally get what you pay for. Sure, many people want cheap rather than good, but we know that’s not the kind of branding strategy you’re thinking of. Dime-a-dozen talent usually means dime-a-dozen results. Lately, though, they’ve tried to solve this by having their own curated platform, Fiverr Pro. They charge higher rates, but the quality is vastly improved.
Workana is mostly centered around the Latin America marketplace, so you could find great voice talent there that’s cheaper than average. Some bilingual marvel may astound you, but careful! Most voices are heavily accented, and that’s great if you’re going for that, or need Spanish freelance voice acting talent.
Curated, Specific Marketplaces for Freelance Voice Acting:
Finally, we’ve come to the real nuggets of gold! Both the user and the voice freelancer will be spoiled for choice here. How does one winnow the large offer on display to its more essential components? Here’s what you should keep in mind once you have a good script or are looking to get started.
- Platforms that respect both the freelancer and the client. Curated content should be the norm. Portfolios should be wide and easily accessible.
Clarity on deadlines. Expect them to be enforced rigorously. Penalties should be applied for the freelancer if they don’t fulfill their obligation.
- A quality finished product that meets market regulations. You want your end audio file to be usable on Audible, Amazon, YouTube, etc. The platform should be able to comply with any specific directives you supply.
- A satisfaction guarantee. Don’t like the end product? Get your money back. Simple.
- Competitive rates. The voice-over industry has — in general — more expensive rates than the medium. This is because voice actors have an extremely specific, trained skillset. Paying for actual pros is often more expensive, but lets you sleep easy.
What freelance voice acting platforms are good and comply with these directives, you ask?
Our own VoiceBunny is absolutely no slouch. An API that endeavors to connect you with one of its over 28000 narrators in 50 languages. Got a specific age, accent or tone you want to hit? A perfectly curated, easy-to-use database can connect you with what you need.
If you’re looking for narrators, BeeAudio is a very good choice for audiobook narrations. Projects that can include multiple narrators (to act out different characters) are possible. That way, you can weave a richer tapestry for your listeners. They’re also always accepting applicants!
Freelance voice acting is a great source of income and an endless supply of talent for projects. The synergy between actors and brands Is ever-increasing, and demand continues to skyrocket. In such a prolific, high-energy, market, staying up-to-date with trends is a must.
That’s why you’ve got us! Now you’re armed for success, show the world what you’ve got!