My “secret” life as a voiceover talent

Okay, so my secret is out. I’m an independent voice over artist.  My voice has been used in numerous radio commercials, corporate audio-video presentations, newscasts, telephone response system, voice overs, and narrations since 1994. Fine, now I just gave away my age.

Voice acting/recording is not my bread and butter though. But while I have other regular sources of income, the voiceover craft has always been an essential spice in my life.  It’s been my passion since I joined the radio industry two decades ago and stayed there for seven fun years.

Long after I left radio, up until now, I still do it. It’s a special part of me that I can’t let go, no matter how hectic and serious my life has become. I’m not as young and carefree anymore and I have more responsibilities now than ever before. While perhaps for some people, voice recording is considered just an odd job, it’s more than that to me. It’s my love, my stress buster.

I love giving life to an otherwise humdrum script. Sometimes I help in formulating the script too. I love being a voice to a faceless character.

Is it lucrative? It depends on one’s skills. It is in demand? Recently, I see a surge in demand for audiobooks so I believe if you know where to find clients and you’re good at what you do, you can make a killing out of it, regularly.

Lots of Filipino voice talents can compete with native English speakers due to our neutral accent (some can even mimic American and British accents). Plus, Filipino talents charge lower rates compared to their American counterparts so those clients who work on a budget, they outsource the job to Filipinos.

To give you an idea about the business side of it, here are sample rate cards (Filipino rates):

30-second Radio Commercial – $100 minimum

Corporate Presentations, tutorial/training modules – $100 (0-5 minutes audio)

Audio book – $100-$300 per hour of finished audio

All rates above are for raw files only, no music beds included. For complete audio production, the rates are higher depending on client requirements.

Some people don’t understand why a 30-seconder would cost that much and even higher on some cases. The output may sound like a breezy job but the truth is, there’s a lot of work behind a single 30-seconder commercial or audio file.

Behind the scenes of a 30 seconder voice file:

  1. Post production reading, rehearsing –   5-10 minutes
  2. Recording  –   5-15 minutes (depending on skills, it could take 30 minutes)
  3. Editing      – 1 hour or more, depending on client requirements

Ergo, a 30-second audio file takes more than an hour to do.

For longer audio files, it would include lots of research. One word or name could mean 15 minutes of researching and calling several people just to make sure your pronunciation is correct.  No, not all the time Google has the answers.  Some words and names may not be on YouTube and other sites where you could verify proper pronunciation. Not even native speakers know all the answers. What I’m saying is, it’s tougher than one might think.

My latest audio projects:

  • Game of Thrones Season Finale Spoiler Alert
  • True Detective Review
  • NBA Draft Confidential
  • Newscasting on weekends (jaygerfm.com)

How I do it:

I have set up my own recording system at home just this year, which makes it more convenient and cost-effective compared to doing it in a professional recording studio or in a radio station (which I’ve been doing since the beginning of my voiceover career).

Sometimes clients work on a tight budget so negotiation is part of the business. But I make it a point not to sell myself too short. Like I illustrated in the kind of work that a 30-seconder audio file would entail, imagine a 300-page audio book.

One time, a client said my rate was too high so he tried to haggle. I gave in, considering that I really wanted to do that project. After the recording, he took back his word and said I deserved to get paid in full. Ending, he added more payment before I left the recording studio.

If you have the same passion, pursue it.  It can definitely put food on the table and the great part is that you’re enjoying it.

Working with Direk Biling of ABS-CBN Davao.
Working with ABS-CBN Davao Director Beling Rodriguez.

156562_3422703979130_1024508926_n

As Coco Martin's voice coach in a TV commercial.
Worked as a voice coach to multi-awarded young actor Coco Martin in a TV commercial.

I put it this way: It’s my recreation that actually puts good money in my pocket. That’s exactly the reason why I can’t let go of this craft — I love it and I earn from it.

To others in the business world, I’m a business manager, a budding entrepreneur, a marketing person, a trainer, a struggling writer. Little do they know, I’m a voice talent by heart.

It completes me.

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13 thoughts on “My “secret” life as a voiceover talent

  1. MELISSA U July 21, 2015 / 9:05 am

    Oh my. This sounds so fun! I always wanted to be in radio but being a voiceover artist seems better. I think I have a new dream. Hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why Yet July 21, 2015 / 4:45 pm

    I guess it’s not a secret anymore. I became interested in this field because I grew up watching Looney Tunes. I also love doing the voices when I read to my children.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elizabeth O. July 25, 2015 / 6:34 am

    I always tried to imagine the faces behind the voice recording. Now, I have an idea! 🙂 And you just don’t have a pretty voice, but a pretty face as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shelly July 25, 2015 / 6:22 pm

      Awww, thank you Elizabeth! 🙂

      Like

    • Shelly August 2, 2015 / 8:38 pm

      Narration lang ng yun ng GOT Spoiler Alert on iTunes, hahaha

      Like

  4. Lai Gamboa (@laigamboa8) July 30, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    I always admire people behind the voice on radio and tv. Thanks for sharing the secret, its no longer a secret anymore, :).

    Like

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