How to Hire A Voice Actor: 5 Steps to Finding the Perfect Fit
By Nikki Martinez
How many emotions can a single voice convey? Scientists found that the human voice communicates at least 24!
There is power in our voices: the power to connect, emote, create a sensory experience, or bring an idea to life.
Hiring a voice actor to read your scripts can be intimidating. Thankfully, you have a few options:
Book a voice talent through a voiceover agent or agency (you pay a fee to the agency)
Book through an Online P2P (Pay to Play) Website (you pay a fee to the website for their services)
Book the voiceover direct (you agree on a budget directly with your voice actor, no hidden fees)
The following tips cover what you need to know when booking a voiceover talent directly.
Step 1: Begin with the end in mind
What is the voice you envision in your head when reading your script? What are the kind of emotions you want to leave listeners with?
With new clients, I always ask a few questions, similar to the questions I ask writing clients:
“Who is your target reader?” ("Who is your listener?")
“What tone of voice would you like the article?” ("What tone should the voiceover be?")
“What is the message you would like to leave your reader with?” ("What is the character and their emotion?")
Here are some guidelines to get started with searching for the perfect voiceover.
Step 2: Define Your Voice Profile
So you’ve decided to use professional voice talent. The first challenge you might encounter is how to find the right voice who can:
Interpret your script accurately
Represent your brand
By becoming the voice of your written words, the voiceover artist is the link between you and your audience or market. So get this stage right.
Start by brainstorming. List specific qualities, such as:
--male or female voice?
--mature or youthful?
--authoritative or soothing?
--friendly buddy or parental guidance?
If you know your brand well, then it’s likely you already have an ideal voice in mind.
But when in doubt, read over your script and listen to your thoughts…
Do you hear a particular voice in your head reading it? Maybe a celebrity voice you know from the movies or a narrator you love?
Note this specific voice down, so that you can refer to it as a sample “peg” of what you want your voice actor for hire to sound like.
Step 3: Hire Voiceover Talent
Now that you know the type of voice to look for, it’s time to get searching. Here are the next steps to take in your search for the perfect voices online.
Decide Your Budget
How much are you willing to pay a voice actor to bring your words to life?
The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is probably accurate in this industry. Many voiceover actors have their own rates for projects. Some charge per word; others per project. Some follow the local industry standards; some go with online rate guides.
(Note that seasoned voice-over actors will have years of experience honing their craft. They invested in the tools, training, and exposure needed to get the job done. Their price point will match this experience. Decide what the voice is worth to you, and set a budget.)
Find a Talent Site
There are many websites to find voiceover talent. The ones I favor (ease of use, good rates, transparency between client and talent, minimal fees, great customer service) are Bodalgo, Voquent, and Upwork.
Your searches on these sites will likely yield dozens of voiceover talents. Narrow your selection down to your favorite four or five professional voice talents.
Craft a small audition
One way to know if the voice talent will be a good fit for your project is to ask them to read a part of it or “audition” for the role.
To do this, select a portion of your script (no longer than 30 seconds or a minute at most—you should be able to get a feel for the voice in this short time frame) to include in your letter to the voice talent.
The voice actor needs to know exactly what you want. Be sure to include the following in your letter:
Raw or edited voiceover
The time frame of the entire voiceover
Any music or sound effects needed
Type of audio file required
Deadline for turnover of your voiceover
Background on your project/brand/company
Step 4: Communication
Now would be a good time to tell you that I don’t always it get right. Some feedback and requests for re-takes I've gotten:
“There is too much air in your voice. We need it to be more assertive.”
“Can we speed up the pace of the introduction by 10 seconds?”
"Carry emotion but keep the tone conversational.“
"You are speaking too slow in terms of speed, keep it natural.”
When working with new talent, the first audio submission you receive may not be at all what you expect. This is when you talk things over, clarifying needed revisions.
Be specific with the instructions to your voice talent—you are directing their performance.
My best clients communicate their expectations clearly, from the start. They know exactly what they want, and when.
Some send me links to their favorite voices. Others send over mock-up images of their project with color schemes and branding, to set the mood for recording.
All this information fills in the gaps in my mind. It gives me a clear picture of the product so I can execute it as closely as possible.
Step 5: Post-production
In your communication with the voice talent, agree on how many revisions can be done within the fee. If, when listening to the audio file, you would like to change or improve anything, let the voice actor know immediately.
Sometimes, a voice talent is working on several different projects. You need to keep them focused on your task. If there are technical issues or revisions to be made, don’t wait a week.
Lastly, pay your voice talent on time. If you are happy with their performance, consider one or more of the following:
--Send a tip
--Give a referral
--Leave a positive review
The human voice is more than a medium; it is living energy and presence.
do more with voiceover
When you find the right voice talent, they will carry your story across continents, digital spaces, and even languages. They bring credibility, professionalism, and life to your brand.
More importantly, they connect you with your listener.
Now that you know how to choose the one that best represents your energy, it’s time to go find the perfect voice.
Thanks for reading!
Wishing you success,