The voiceover spectrum, from amateur to the many levels of pro - Carrie Olsen Voiceover
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The voiceover spectrum, from amateur to the many levels of pro

“Oh, you’re a voice actor? Me, too!”

Doesn’t this sound like the start to a beautiful relationship? I mean, how often do voice actors actually run into other voice actors in every day life? Not often. Especially if you’re in the middle of the country like I am. But what these two self-proclaimed voice actors may realize after a very short time in conversation is that their worlds couldn’t be more different. Enter the voiceover spectrum.

These days, many voice actors get their start by auditioning on pay-to-plays. There are even some who earn a full-time income solely from them. Then there are voice actors who have mid-level agents and also gain new clients by marketing themselves well. And finally we have the few who make a living doing very high profile, high dollar work. And if we’re going to be truly inclusive, there are hobbyist voice actors who record things mostly for their own enjoyment or for very low rates.

What does all this mean? Is it good? Is it bad? Or is it just a thing? Dig around the internet a bit, and you’ll get some very strong opinions on the matter: “Anyone who accepts a job that pays less than union rates is hurting the voiceover industry.” You’ll also hear (or read), “It’s the wild west out there. Get whatever jobs you can, however you can. It’s nobody’s business but yours how you make a living.”

So, which is it? Are voice actors who get all of their business on Fiverr taking work from those of us who drum up our own business and work with agents?

My thoughts? Honestly, despite the time I spent writing this post, I try not to spend too much time thinking about it because… well, I have work to do. And I’ve found that worrying about what everyone else is doing isn’t really the best use of my time. Things change. Not just in voiceover, but in every industry. The people with the most resilient businesses are the ones who have learned to go with the flow. To focus on what they do best and to constantly work to do it better. That means never getting comfortable, especially with how fast technology changes these days.

I’m hardly an expert on building a long-lasting voiceover career. I haven’t been at it that long myself. But I can absolutely see the benefit of keeping my nose to the grindstone, so to speak. Instead of worrying about how the new crop of voice actors coming in might hurt me, I choose to spend my energy making myself as indispensable as possible to my clients. I’m not saying I ignore what’s going on with newer voice actors. Quite the opposite. I think it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on in the tech scene, as well as what’s changing from a customer service viewpoint, so that I can adapt if necessary. But I don’t let the fear of someone else taking my job keep me up at night. If anything, I invite the competition as an opportunity to continue improving. It definitely keeps me from getting lazy!

It is understandable how emotions can get tied up in this conversation. Especially if you’re genuinely concerned for the well-being of your personal business or the industry as a whole. And I’m all about allowing yourself to feel your emotions. But I’m also all about productivity. So after the feelings have been felt, you have to decide what you’re going to do. And I hope what you decide to do doesn’t hinder you, but allows you to grow personally and as a business.

So, where do you fall in the spectrum? Are you happy with your place there? And is this conversation worth getting worked up about? Or should we all just get back to work?

Carrie Olsen

I'm a full-time professional voice actor and voiceover business coach. I have done work for Taco Bell, REI, BNSF Railway, Bank of America and ESPN to name a few. I dreamed up this community of voice actors to connect, grow, learn and get mentorship from each other. We're the most dedicated group of voice actors on the net, and we're here to help each other build and sustain profitable voiceover businesses.

Carrie Olsen Voiceover