Here I am, back with another FB inspired rant. A relatively newcomer to the business posted, saying they were offered $250 Canadian for 30 minutes of elearning voiceover work. I can barely keep up with my son’s 4th grade math, but that equals $500 for 1 hour. Now, the conversion rate for CAD to USD right now is such that for the US dollar equivalent that means $400 per finished hour. I jumped in and said “That sounds pretty good to me, actually that’s pretty fantastic!” My comment was then followed by post after post about how terrible those rates were and how the actor should walk away.
My question is this. Are the people commenting working in e-learning right now? I am. Every day. What I’m noticing is rates much lower across the board than they were even a few years ago. Would I love to work for $1 a word? Sure I would. I have found, however, working with some of the biggest producers out there, that the rates for this type of work just are not there.
Now, I’m not saying anybody should be working for peanuts. This type of work can be difficult. However, for anyone that does it frequently, there are ways to set yourself up to be efficient enough to get almost to a 1:1 labor to finished product ratio. What do I mean by that? Typically, in order to record 1 hour of finished audio, it takes a voice actor about 2.5 to 3 hours. That’s because you need to stop and correct any mistakes, re-read if necessary. Accidentally cough? Need to go back and re-do again. Don’t know how to pronounce a word? You need to stop and figure it out first, you are not allowed to guess. However, there are tricks to make this work much faster.
One such trick is to punch and roll. This is where when a mistake is made, you stop the recording, your computer plays back the previous 5 seconds, then you start reading where the audio stops and the computer keeps recording. By the time you are done, you have a clean copy. If you can get your client to sign off on proofing, then at this point you are done! I have my voice over booth setup in such a way that I can punch and roll and do 1 hour of audio in almost exactly 1 hour! It’s an industry standard practice in audiobook recording. Where the “acceptable” rates, by the way are even less than what was quoted in the FB post. $250 per finished hour is good. $400 is great!
There are additional tasks sometimes. If you agree to proof yourself you need to listen through and do that. You may be asked to split your recording into additional files, and you should ABSOLUTELY charge for that.
Still, for my money, if I can get $400 per finished hour, I’m going to do that all day long and twice on Saturdays and be a very happy camper. Guess what people, it’s only going to go down from here. It won’t be long until an AI voice can produce most of the elearning voiceover work out there, for even less. Better Get, while the Gettin is good.