Voiceovers for a living

making a living from voiceovers

I see a lot of posts about making a living from voiceover work and I’m inclined to think these people have never done it. They paint this rosy picture about the need to have a good voice and making a motza by doing voiceovers for cartoons and the like. Well for the majority it has nothing to do with your voice and a lot to do with your willingness to work and invest in yourself.  I break it down into five steps and keep it simple. I promise you that if you follow these simple steps you will have a good foundation in the industry and I speak from experience having made over $100,000.00 from voice work every year for the last 20 years.

 

a living from voiceovers

 

Step 1. Get a realistic view of the industry.

It’s not about good voices its about people with average voices doing good reads! Be a good reader not a pretty voice. I can introduce you to a lot of people with good voices who barely make any money in this industry. Its not about being offered a gig doing a voice for the Simpsons, it’s about selling yourself to producers who need a VO for a corporate presentation or someones message on hold job. When you have created your showreel its a big job getting it out there. The competition is fierce and the time spent prospecting will directly reflect your earnings. If you are serious about putting food on the table by doing voice work be prepared to allocate one day a week EVERY week to talking to producers.

Be prepared to TALK to them not just a quick email with your showreel attached. Prospect, Prospect, Prospect.

 

Step 2. Invest in some good equipment.

I get calls from potential VO people every week and when I suggest they invest in some gear they tend to get a little upset. “Can’t I use my iPhone with a free recording App?” No. and you’ll need to set up a room in your home for a sound studio. Get some advice from someone who has done it to fix the acoustics of the room and buy a good PC or Mac and PAY for some good software and a good microphone. This is not a big investment as years ago it would have taken hundreds of thousands whereas nowadays its under $10,000.  Your final product is a combination of your voice and the quality of the recording. The last thing a producer wants to hear is your dog barking in the front yard over the top of his soft romantic read. Interestingly one of my favourite VO ladies has her sound booth in her walk in wardrobe. Seems the clothing and all the junk in there creates a nice dead room.

Adobe Audition is a great piece of software and they let you rent it. C’mon your mechanic has a tool kit you should too.

 

Step 3.  Hone your skills.

Ring charities and offer to do free stuff for them. Make on hold messages for any member of the family who has a business or offer to record their voicemail message on their phone. Offer the local blind society free on hold messages.  Do some community service announcement for the local radio station. There is a 10000 hour rule that says you won’t get good till you have knocked up the hours.

Do the hours and let someone benefit from them. You will get benefit in the long run.

 

Step 4. Register on ALL the Voiceover sites.

I copped a lot of flack when I first joined fiver to do voiceovers. My compatriots in the VO industry (because of their complete ignorance) thought I was selling out doing $5 voiceovers. Nothing could be further from the truth. I actually earn better dollars per second on fiver than I do at a lot of other places. Sure the site is full of “also ran” voices charging $5 but people pay good money for good reads. Unfortunately the premium voices in our industry shunned fiver and now it is full of cheap voices. What they should have done is gone in early and made it a premium outlet. But that is their loss.

 

Step 5. Get a website to sell your voiceovers.

There is no excuse not to have one. With places like squarespace and wix out there the cost is low and the benefits high.  Its your shopfront. Have a link to your email and your phone number and if you are a member of something like voices.com.au make sure you have a link on your email signature to the site so people don’t have to chase you for your showreel.

 

It’s a great industry and it has been kind to me because I was respectful to it. I invested and prospected and registered everywhere. I put in the hours and made the friends. Its not easy but it is simple. You can do the same. Happy VOXING!

 

 

John Hubbard joins voices.com.au

John Hubbard has joined voices.com.au and he has quite a story.

It all started for me in Western Australia in the mid 70’s while John Hubbard was in his  late teens. He was influenced by his uncle, Bill Gill who worked in the radio and TV industry. A defining moment was when his father arranged for him to visit 6KY in Perth and sit in with Rick Stone during his night shift. Rick did VO’s for Johns’ father’s business. John was around 14 at the time and decided that night, that this was what he wanted to do.

John takes up the story.

I completed radio school, got a start doing nights in a country station, then another, then was sacked. Something I became used to over time in the industry!

While searching for another radio job, I recorded a demo cassette to present to a Perth recording studio.

I needed to catch their attention and get it listened to, so accompanying the tape was a very brief description of myself. Some thing along the lines of “Virgin needs an opening. A voice that’s never pricked the ears of a metropolitan audience is now ready and willing to give all.”

I posted it and before the end of the week, was called in. A one-hour + session that paid around $120 if memory serves correctly. Much more than a week’s pay at the radio station. I would go into the recording studio once or twice a week and make enough money to pay the rent, my bar tab and never cook at home. Life was good for a few months but all good things come to an end. The jobs became less frequent and I needed a real job. Back to radio, my first love.

Radio and voice-overs go hand-in-hand. I always remember Friday afternoons at the radio station. I had the gift of churning out 20 scripts one after the other, rarely proof-reading and the production manager laying the music at the same time as we went from script to script so we could be at the pub by 5.                      Great days indeed.

Blessed with parents who always corrected me when I missed-pronounced a word or was lazy with letters like T (It’s not wader it’s waTer always sticks with me) and the ability to adapt to any script has enabled me to continue in the work I love. Long may it continue.  Get Johns great voiceovers at voices.com.au

Walter Williams is part of voices.com.au

One of Australia’s most in demand full time professional Voice Over Talents started out in Tropical Far North Queensland or Far Q as the locals call it.

He wrote & voiced his first radio commercial at 18, after being inspired by a pro beef sticker on a Cattle Truck he overtook on the trip to his first Radio Station…
“You’re in Cattle Country Now, So Eat Beef You Bastards” became “You’re in Cattle Country Now, So Eat Beef You Buy from…(insert client name)” just to tidy things up and make it PG for the kiddies listening.

Since then Walt’s big, rich & deep tonsils have been The Voice of Harley Davidson, Lotto, Husqvarna, Endless Pools, LG, Secrets, Cadbury, Suncorp, Mantra, Magic Millions, Star Track, Hanson, ORS, Meridian, Foxtel, QRL, QRail, Westpac, Bank of Qld, Mission Australia and many more.

Prestige clients keep coming back for his emotive, raw, contemplative, professional, smooth, confident, deep, commanding, articulate, engaging, authoritative, educational, approachable, comforting, friendly, warm, enthusiastic, upbeat, versatile, informative and entertaining voice.

His own digital “Studio 54” on the banks of the Bremer River ticks all your technical requirements, including Sound Proof Booth with a signal chain of iMac 27 using TwistedWave DAW, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface, recording on an Aston Spirit Mic wired through Mogami Gold Studio cable for premium state of the art broadcast quality with same day turnaround for most projects…including TV, Radio, Internet, Narration, Phone On-hold, IVR, Corporate, e-Learning, Launch Videos, e-Books, Explainers etc.

Amongst his Voice Over Heroes are the legendary Mel Blanc (who’s many characters he can mimic through so many wasted hours in his youth watching too many cartoons) plus Australian Broadcasting Royalty: John Laws, Keith Scott, Holger Brockman, Kevin Golsby, Ross Higgins and Noeline Brown.

Walt is the Swiss Army Knife of V/O’s with his versatile voice he can deliver the goods time after time from Soft to Hard Sell, Retail and Narration he nails it and is officially one of the *Top 10 per cent of Voice Talents in the World.

In 2018 he’s ready to hit record and move some product for you.

So nows the time to trade up…Welcome To the Big Time!

Messages on hold for VOIP phone systems

The message on hold business will just get bigger

In the 30 plus years the message on hold business has been in existence much has changed. Our first systems were cassettes in modified car cassette players. Long tapes with auto reverse did two things. It wore out the tape and it wore out the auto reverse mechanism.  Along came CD burners. The machinery was expensive. The blanks were expensive and if you coughed during the cutting process you would end ups with a $25 coaster. Yes blanks were $25 EACH. Then came MP3 players. Ah the joy of no moving parts.  Nothing to wear out and at long last some reliability. Fast forward to now. The advent of messages on hold for VOIP phone systems

The need for any sort of external message on hold player player is disappearing fast.

Telephone systems are getting smarter. With the advent of VOIP and what is essentially a phone connected to your internet modem we are seeing phone systems with some amazing capabilities. How about one internet connection to a building but 3 different phone systems  connected to it. Each with its own messaging system. At voices.com.au we have had some unusual requests to create messages for different extensions within the one office. and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) to guide callers to the different departments. Some businesses are even able to create messages aimed at their suppliers and play it to them depending what buttons are pushed on the IVR. What difference has this made to suppliers of telephone messaging? Well for one thing the writers are writing much more complex scripts and more scripts per client. Message on hold and IVR businesses will become digital suppliers only delivering via the internet and only ever supplying hardware by drop ship from places like amazon and eBay. Statistics say we spend 94% of our advertising dollars trying to get customers to ring us and just 6% on handling this callers. We will need to spend that 6% wisely to get the best return and capitalise on the 94%.

Before you think you have too long to wait check this out. The Vtech 4 line business system. For a few hundred dollars you have a fully functional phone system capable of handling four incoming lines. But! You can use it with only one. All the good facilities of small PABX at a fraction of the price. (Voices.com.au used this exact phone) And yes you can have message on hold.

Where will the future lead?

If you look at the past as a guide to the future you can see a time when the mobile held by the tradie will have all the facilities that the office phone system has. It will be a complete phone system with conferencing, messaging, and all of the other little toys bigger phone systems have now. Your humble small business person with no staff will have professional messaging on their phone so that they can have it professionally answered when they are up to their necks in a job. If you are looking to messages on hold for VOIP phone systems contact voices.com.au.

Professional Voicemail Greetings

Professional voicemail greetings

Professional Sounds for Voicemail Greetings

Finally you can have professional voicemail greetings for your mobile phone voicemail box and landline voicemail.

For years the little guy has been ignored. The guy or girl who started a business on the kitchen table and used his or her home telephone and mobile phone as their shop front. The only drawback was the voicemail. You really wanted professional voicemail greetings but uploading was impossible. You just had to make your own and they never really sounded that good.

Voices.com.au accidentally solved the problem when trying to do something else completely. Its a trade secret now but you can buy the results.

Your answering machine is quite often your first point of contact with a customer. You need to rely on it to not only make the customer feel comfortable with you but also hope it is good enough to get the prospect to leave a contact number.

You have about 75 words to get your point across. Tell them who you are, where you are and that you are making a commitment to solve their problem and get back to them as soon as possible.

So its as simple as that. Now if you are starting off and you don’t have the budget of Elon Musk you can still sound like the big boys.

To find out more go to voices.com.au/professional-voicemail.greetings

 

Home Studios

Voiceover Industry Changes

Why is the voiceover industry changing?

Better change with it.

 

As a true VO person, owner of voices.com.au  I try to keep up with articles on the web about Australian Voiceover subjects. One of my favourite places is voiceovers.asia, often some very wise words come out of this site. Ever since the “pizza oven syndrome” hit the voiceover industry margins have been squeezed and incomes dropped and it was only the fittest who survived.

The “Pizza Oven Syndrome” is what drove a lot of people out of the pizza industry. Originally pizza ovens were $100K but improvements in technology and cheap overseas labour saw pizza ovens drop to as low as $10K. That allowed a lower price entry to the market, players only fought on price point and not quality and uniqueness and it became an industry where no-one makes any money. A mugs game.

Now voiceovers asia have had their say about the phenomenon.

If pricing for voice services is the number one subject of VO forums, then number two would be the disdain for the pay2play and freelancer websites that they are perceived to undervalue the work of voice talents. This situation is the cutting edge of contemporary voice work – or a case of ironic deja vu.

Before home voice studios were viable, voice talents had agents and went downtown to professional studios to record. Breaking into the voice business, as a talent, was hard.

Now the Pay2Play sites are squeezing rates, and freelancer sites offer voice work for US$5.

Then came the home voice studio phenomenon. Because of technological advances, clients could book a voice living anywhere, with their audio delivered by ISDN, FedEx or FTP. VO talents could spend a few thousand dollars to build a studio at home that, while nothing like the pro studio’s Neumann U87 / Avalon Pre-Amp / SSL 4000G set-up, was now considered good enough. The barrier to entry for the voice business was now dramatically lower.

Over the following decade, ISDN gave way to Source-Connect, which gave way to ipDTL / Skype / SessionLinkPro / WeTransfer, and forums are full of “what microphone should I get” questions answered with some POS $99 USB-powered microphone.

Now the Pay2Play sites are squeezing rates, and freelancer sites offer voice work for US$5. The same folks who shoved the old guard off their velvet studio sofas are now under pressure from a new wave of voices pushing the bar even lower. I never hear any of these VO talents connecting the fact that what is happening to them now is what they did to those who came before. The Fog of War can have this effect.

The same force that let home voice studios kill off the old guard is still at play – economics. The current crop of top voices moans about the pressure on broadcast loading fees (no-one will pay suggested rates) and the small budgets on digital ads which some clients now use instead of broadcast ads. Fat money TV spots are never coming back: knuckle up, this is the future.

Pay2Play VO sites and freelancer sites aren’t the ones stoking the “race to the bottom” on rates: the industry has been doing that to itself to keep up with market forces.

Winter is Coming. Adapt or Die.

 

Based on an article at voiceovers.asia.

Jacqui Faulkner – My Voiceover Journey

Every voice actor has a story

All of the voiceover artists at voices.com.au have their own story. It’s an occupation that often draws the question from friends and acquaintances “How did you get into that? Well in this series we asked the talent to tell their story. This time its Australian female voiceover artist Jacqui Faulkner. Loads of talent and many faceted. Here is her story

Jacqui Falkner with Dwane Forster (Producer.)

Home grown Talent

I began voice acting approximately fifteen years ago and a home-based studio in Traralgon, Victoria. Here I experimented with and was coached on how to use different accents, types of diction and articulation methods in order to effectively convey different ideas to given audiences. Later I worked on the audio side of a graphic fantasy novel called Fire and Water (written by Australian author, Jo Eshuys). This project required me to use a variety of voices while speaking and singing in character. I narrated parts of the story and sang much of the poetry which was contained in the novel. Most of the audio was recorded at an office-based recording studio in Noosa, QLD. The recordings and my voice coaching was done by Jo himself and his nephew, Duane Forster. Duane is a computer programmer and technician with years of audio experience behind him. From here I moved to Melbourne and began recording professional voice demos at Petrophonic Productions. Here I learned many different techniques and ways to manipulate my voice to suit the promotion of certain products, brands and concepts such as, BIC, Nike and Blockbuster Video. In 2014, I completed a few voice over jobs for YYYfm; a community radio station in Ferny Hills, QLD. Here I created some voice tags which were used between different radio programs, announcement and songs. I also worked for the Ministry of Buzz program which was run on the same radio station. My biggest job was a radio add for Donna Thistlewaites Career Smart Mum’s Workshops. Since then I have continued work in radio for other broadcasters.

I learned many different techniques and ways to manipulate my voice to suit the promotion of certain products

A voice actor and Australian female voiceover artist I currently look up to is Teresa Lim who has done many voice overs for companies such as Nickelodeon, Myer and RACQ. Teresa is renowned for delivering voice takes which sound pristine and which carry the emotion and storytelling that clients love. I would be honoured to have Teresa be my next voice acting coach. I thoroughly enjoy voice over work and I aim to continue this avenue for many years to come. I am a versatile voice actor and am always looking to push myself into new and exciting roles. Let the journey continue!

Hear Jacqui at voices.com.au You will find her in the talent section.

 

Don’t throw away your old phone.

VOIP Phones

What will the NBN mean for my old phone system.

New technology like the NBN and VOIP phones bring new fears. Will this new system be mandatory and will it cost me a fortune. Relax. It’s not a scary as you thought and there is a small piece of tech that could save you lots of dollars. Going NBN is really just going VOIP. (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

 

Get an ATA Device

 

Convert analogue to VOIP

Goldstream have a very good box for just over $60

Simply put an ATA will allow connection of  an analogue (older style) phone to the NBN router and it will give the landline phone experience we are used to. Unlike the phones of old when the power is out you phone won’t work. (VOIP Phones do have their limitations) It takes the analog signal and converts it into something that can be used by the internet. So that favourite little phone you got on special at officeworks is going to be OK.

If your needs are bigger you will be amazed where you can get a phone system adaptor now. Even places like Kogan sell things like this amazing phone system. And for only about $800. The Technology is really bringing down prices and giving small business the tools it needs to compete with the big boys. That also means your investment in things like messages on hold are not wasted.

All you need is someone to explain it to you. Or have a good google.

More info here here and here

Ashleigh Mac is the owner of On Hold Technology Pty. Ltd. and voices.com.au 

 

Why do I need a good “messages on hold”?

Message on Hold

In the business world it’s a common practice to put the customers on hold. This is because of the hectic business activities; a person has to deal with multiple customers at the same time for which he has to put other people on hold. This can be very frustrating for a customer, according to a research customer usually hang up the phone within 15 seconds after being put on hold.  This is where custom messaging on hold comes in. The music on hold is becoming ineffective as it doesn’t keep the other person attentive. “custom messaging on hold” is now gaining more importance, especially in the business community.  Let’s look at some of the reasons why having “custom messaging on hold  is important.

1: Keep the Other Person on line for a long time

Having a custom messaging on hold keeps the other person on the call for a longer period of time.  With the custom message, the other person has actually something to listen to attentively. You can provide promotional offers or any other sort of message that keeps the person on the call so the line doesn’t get dropped. According to a survey almost 90% of the people drops the call out of frustration within 30 seconds.  The main reason for dropping the call is that the other person feels ignored and it hurts his feelings. By adding custom message on hold, the other person knows that he is on the call and he will be attended soon.

2: Provide Important Information

Keeping the other person on hold means that he is having a phone to his ear eagerly waiting for you to come back. This waiting period is crucial from a business pint of view where you can sell something to your customer such as a promotional offer or tell them about a product launch. This can help the customer find out about the important stuff that they usually ignore in their normal life. With custom messaging on hold you can build a trustful communication with the customer. For example: If a person calls phone company, the company can inform the customer about its best latest offer which can be beneficial for them.

3: Get Things Ready from Customers

If you are business organization that requires you to ask important information from the customers which they don’t usually remember. You can save a lot of time to attend a customer by putting a Message-On-Hold that asks the customer to have important information such as their home address, social security number or something else.  This will keep the customer busy in finding all the information before the call connects and it will also help the host to help the customer fast.

4: Keep the Customers Up-To-Date

If you are business organization, then putting Message-On-Hold can keep the customers up-to-date. You can inform about your holidays or office hours when you are open. This helps in building credibility and it shows professionalism to others. You can be personal with your customers on custom Message-on Hold, which helps in customer appreciating you as well.

5: Get it made by a professional.

Drop by voices.com.au and see how easy it is go get a no obligation quote.

Your On Hold Script

Messages on Hold Australia

First things First!

Writing the on hold message.

The most common thing said to us by customers wanting a voices.com.au on hold message system is “I don’t know what to say”

Message on hold scripting and writing your on hold script is not as difficult as you may think. It just requires a little thought and plenty of proof reading.

You have two choices. Write it yourself or get us to write it. If you are commissioning us to write the script you will need to supply us with a brief.

You can download the brief right here.

You can download our complete guide to Messaging on Hold “Hold That Call” here.

YOU are the best person to write your brief if you are getting us to complete the writing. (the brief is the list of thoughts and prompts you give to the writer. Its the outline)  You know your company, your services and your products better than anyone else. Start by listing 10 subjects you wish to cover. Remember the best message is a message that creates curiosity. You want the listener to ask more questions of look for answers on the website. Don’t use the MOH to try and do a complete sell. Keep your messages to “one thought”. Only cover one subject in each message or “paragraph”.

Writing it yourself.

Please be aware, our price breaks for recording are at every message and each message should be around 75 words (give or take 15 words).

Your script may include one or more of these elements: –

  • IVR / Menu Voice Prompts – Directions for your callers, for example:
    • For sales, press 1
    • For accounts, press 2
    • For customer services, press 3 …etc.
  • On hold sections – On hold marketing messages mixed with music whilst callers are on hold.
  • Answer machine greetings – If the caller needs to leave a message.
  • Out of hours – If calling outside office hours.

Here are some examples to help you structure your on hold script

On hold Message 1 – Get off to a good start… Let the caller know where they are and be courteous.

Thank you for calling voices dot com dot au, one of our advisers will be with you shortly.

On hold message 2 – You are less than 30 seconds into keeping your caller on hold. Give them something to think about…

On hold messaging has never been so easy and affordable. With voices dot com dot au, there are no ongoing payments, no contracts and no residuals

On Hold Message 3 – What do your callers not know about you?

Did you know?…as well as providing on hold music and messages, voices dot com dot au is a sister company of On Hold Technology Pty. Ltd., a provider of high quality voice over talent and audio production services.

On Hold Message 4 – Use the waiting time on hold to your advantage; let callers know about your other services, products, seasonal promotions, offers, industry news

As part of your on hold audio package, we can offer you a discounted message revisions and seasonal messages when ordered at the same time. Once you are connected, please ask your adviser for full details.

On Hold Message 5 – You may also wish to thank your caller every minute or so and offer additional options.

Thank you for continuing to hold, your patience is appreciated. Please continue to hold and we will be with you shortly. If you would prefer to leave a message and get us to call you back, please press 0 at any time.

Tips for Writing Your Script

Spending the time to write your on hold messages is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and inform your callers about your company’s products and services as well as advertise offers, promotions and company news. You should write as many on hold sections as required depending on how long you expect the average caller to be on hold. Usually 6-10 sections of dialogue is sufficient.

If you need to use IVR voice prompts (Interactive Voice Response) to direct your callers through various menu options, try to keep them as short as possible.

For example:

Thank you for calling voices dot com dot au. In order to connect you to the right department, please choose from the following options: For General Enquiries, press 1, For Billing, press 2 and for any other enquiries, press 3.

Finished Your Script?

OK, so once you have completed your draft, we recommend triple checking it. After all, once recorded, it will be with you for months if not years.

  • Re-read it more than once
  • Read it out loud
  • Read it to your colleagues and get them to read it back to you

Choose a Voice Over to record your script.