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Professional Voice Over Actor FAQ

What You Need to Know When Hiring a Voice Over

When employing a voice actor for any aspect of your business, the actor becomes the voice of your business. Whether for marketing, explainer or product videos, for websites and social media, radio and TV commercials, voicemail, they are all representative of your brand.

Hiring a professional voiceover talent can be affordable, or cost prohibitive, depending upon at least three variables including who you hire to produce a project, the script lengths, and the usage of recordings.

  1. You can hire an ad or media agency, a video production company, or a marketing company to produce everything for you. The choices and price points are endless. They will in turn, hire talent for you. However, if YOU hire the voice talent independently, you’ll save time and money by avoiding the time and cost of intermediaries.
  2. The script length is both how many words are in the script and/or what the script will time out to when recorded. For example, 90 words equals 30 seconds, approximately. A voice artist can usually give you a quote or an estimate based on word count, knowing how long it will likely time out to. However, some scripts are read unusually slow or fast, so it may time out differently.
  3. Usage of recording means how the recording will be used and where. A 30 second TV commercial broadcast in the Toronto market costs significantly more than a 30 second narration that will go on your website. The exposure of the recording is taken into consideration when a voice talent quotes a script. Radio and TV rates differ dramatically. And now, a YouTube commercial, which is technically called non-broadcast, is billed at yet a different rate. (These are generally called Pre-Roll spots.)
    Further considerations for rates are script revisions, technical or medical terms…those things the voice talent should bring up, when necessary.

How long will the whole process take?

Turnaround” is generally 1-48 hours, depending how long the script is, when it is submitted, and who you are submitting it to. If you hire a voice over actor directly, turnaround can be under 48 hrs. If you hire a video production company, who then hires talent, the voiceover may take a bit longer. If you hire an ad agency, they will hire a production company and the voice talent, and this all adds more time to the process.

The Easy Way to Hire a Voiceover Pro

  • Contact the talent you are interested by email or phone.
  • Share as many details about your project as possible including:

Script – Ideally, if you can provide the final script, the talent can deliver a voice sample and better estimate the rate for your project. However, if the script is unavailable, an excerpt works, too.
Word count – Provide exact number of words and/or expected length of script.
Usage – Where and how will the project be used? …on a website, for a one-time event, on YouTube, on various mediums – in various markets?
Revisions – Knowing your company’s workflow, do you expect slight or major revisions?
Budget – can you provide a range of what your company normally pays for this type of project? If this is the first time you’ve hired talent, has your company allotted a budget? A talent can understand your needs more fully, and work with your budget, if you are able to reveal this detail.
Turnaround – Do you need the voice recording in an hour, a day, a week, a month?

  • Expect to hear a response same day, usually within an hour, including a sample of your script, an estimated rate, and turnaround confirmation.

How Much Does a Voiceover Cost?

The rate you pay depends on what you need. The types of voice-over projects are vast. Some are paid by word, by minute, by session time, and all are paid by “usage”.

I generally charge by project, though I am on monthly retainer and also monthly billing, for ongoing clients.

Because voice artists are independent contractors, both union and non-union, rates vary. What you want to be most wary of is inexperienced talent offering inexpensive rates because cheap = expensive.

Talent worthy of hiring will have rates that are all around the same ball-park. Where the rate discussion becomes complicated is in the usage of the voice recording because of the diversity of work for voice-over professionals. From voicemail and local commercials to big brands broadcasting on national TV or advertising on YouTube, the scope and breadth of work is remarkable.

Is your project a one-time event? Will the voice be used on a video that runs in perpetuity? Are you selling to a small town or a tri-state area? Are you using it as a paid ad or for social sharing? There are endless questions to be asked about usage, but here are the goods.

I can provide you with an estimate, if you are able to answer (at least a few) of the following questions:

  1. What is the script being used for?
  2. What is the word count for the final script? (approximation, if necessary)
  3. Where and how long will it be presented?
    The Global Voice Acting Academy Rate Guide has recently become a standard that many voice talent look to, to set their rates. For your reference.

Working voice-over actors work with a client’s budget to the best of their ability. Always keep in mind that you are not simply paying for a recording on an mp3 or wav file, but for: a quality studio, a skilled and trained talent, and basic audio editing, at the very least. Remember: cheap = expensive, so shop around to ensure you will receive what you really need!