It’s basic economics. Leave money in the bank, or in low-risk investments with a defined annual yield, and over time the initial principle will grow substantially if it is not touched. Compound interest is the topic of many articles and talks by financial experts and with good reason. Smart, disciplined saving and investing can lead to long-term security. Slow and steady frequently wins the race. As the voiceover industry evolves, this principle of compound interest can be applied to building your career.
With commercial and other classic broadcast genres becoming lower-pay volume hustles, the days of staking your fortune on a few high-dollar campaigns are rapidly coming to an end. Voice actors must now build strong businesses for the long haul, steadily developing a roster of clients that will lead to income compounding over time. Ultimately, the end goal of most modern voice over artist’s careers is likely to be predictable daily work, as opposed to one-off windfall jobs.
What does this mean in practice?
Build for the long-haul, and be practical. Rate cutting and accepting abusive pay is never encouraged, but a healthy dose of realism is necessary to build a sustainable flow of daily work. Local automotive commercials, for instance, often only pay a couple hundred dollars. If you become the voice of a group of dealerships, however, you might do 10, 20, 30 or more spots per month, every month. Become the voice of numerous dealership groups across the country, and the pay compounds along with the security of knowing that losing one client won’t break you. Casino & gaming work can function the same way.
Corporate narration and explainer video voiceovers work much the same way. You won’t get rich off of either on a per job basis, but with the average corporate job paying $400-$500 for a few minutes of narration, and the average explainer just a bit less than that, accumulating regular customers in these sectors can lead to steady work and growing income. Corporate and explainer clients tend to be more loyal than commercial clients, who deal with frequently changing tastes and campaign directions. Many of these narration clients will stay with the same voice for years, often providing monthly or even weekly work. Building a base of 20, 50, 100 or more of these clients is a powerful route to income stability in voiceover. Moreover, pay is rising in these sectors, whereas it has fallen and stagnated in commercial work.
E-Learning has the dual distinction of being both well-paying, ($1,000-$3,000 per finished hour is a common standard,) and also filled with loyal, long-lasting clients. The barrier to entry is higher, requiring a considerable facility with language, stamina for long narration, and attention to detail, but the results can be the backbone of a VO career built for the 2020s. Like corporate narration, rates are steady and climbing, demand outpaces supply, and clients are likely to stick with a narrator for the long haul. A base of 10 or more solid E-Learning clients will keep the cash flow steady.
We all love the glamor of hearing our voices on the air, and the good news is that there are more commercial opportunities than ever. That said, the smart money in voice over is moving to genres that are less populated with talent, where demand is causing rates to become stronger over time and where client loyalty is consistent. Whatever segments of the industry you play in, build a core business that creates a self-fulfilling snowball effect…..compounding the rewards of a large client stable and regular work.