Your voice has value both figuratively, and maybe even literally.
To prove this point, I’m joined on the show this week by a side hustling couple who have turned their voices into an income stream worth thousands of dollars a month.
Dom and Nicole Draper from TheVoiceoverCouple.com are award-winning voice over artists. They get paid to talk!
As professional voice over artists, they’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Nike, Netflix, and Adobe.
In this episode they share how they went from hustling on Fiverr outside of their 9-5, to working with voice over agents and agencies and turning this into a full-time business.
Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to hear:
- how Dom and Nicole got their first gigs
- how they scaled up their business and raised their prices
- the broader tactics you can apply to your own side hustle
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The Inspiration to Become Voiceover Artists
Dom explained that he had an interest in radio and journalism and already had all the equipment to record his voice when he met Nicole.
Nicole was a self-titled “theater geek”, an actress, and has a musical theater background.
When they got married, Dom said they were always looking for ways to combine and use their passions.
It was actually Dom’s mom who suggested they check out Fiverr and some other online marketplaces to see if there was a way they could sell their services.
Dom ended up deciding to give voice over work a go. He recorded some samples, created a Fiverr profile, and soon started getting some jobs coming in.
About four months later Nicole also created a Fiverr profile and started getting some gigs of her own.
Dom explained that they complement each other well and cover different voicing styles. He has a more formal voiceover style, while Nicole has a more theatrical approach.
Equipment and Startups Costs
Dom already had all the equipment he needed to record voiceovers when he and Nicole joined Fiverr.
He’d been using the same AKG Perception 120 microphone for around 15 years and said it’s still a great mic to this day.
At the beginning of the year, Dom and Nicole did upgrade their mic to a Sennheiser 416 after they closed on a big job.
The Sennheiser costs about $1000, but “you’ve got to invest in yourself as you level up,” Nicole told me.
Dom said he can tell the difference in quality between the AKG and Sennheiser. But for anyone starting out, Dom said there are loads of affordable microphones that will be good enough for around $100.
Getting Initial Traction on Fiverr
Dom remembers his first Fiverr gig well. It was for a radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and it was to record some promos for a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rap concert.
“We had no clue what we should be charging,” Dom told me looking back at how he priced up his gigs.
“We got paid $10 for that,” Dom said.
Today, the licensing alone would be $200, and he’d also charge more for the voice over work.
Starting out at a low price point does make sense on Fiverr when you’re trying to get some traction. Dom just didn’t realize how low he was pricing his first gigs.
Nicole remembers her first gigs were a lot of church announcements and she was also charging around $10 at the time.
Licensing Voice Over Work
Dom and Nicole charge a licensing fee for their voice overs. This is normal industry practice, and it’s essentially a usage fee to cover the ongoing use of their voice recording.
To know how much to charge, Dom said he uses a licensing rate guide published by the Global Voice Acting Academy (GVAA).
For example, if their voiceover is going to be used locally or on social media and for a short period, the licensing fees might be around $200-500.
On the other hand, if it’s going to be used globally or on TV the licensing fees can run into the thousands.
Dom did a voiceover gig for Yahoo and his work was used on YouTube, paid ads, Spotify, and some other streaming services and he charged $10,000 for the licensing.
The other benefit of licensing agreements is that companies can opt to renew the licensing agreement if the term expires and they want to carry on using the voice over.
Tools and Training That Help With Voiceovers
Dom and Nicole recommend learning/adding some additional skills that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Dom had a background in editing audio and said this proved useful when he was getting started.
It enabled him to knock out voice over samples quickly when they were starting out and helped improve the quality of their final edits.
Nicole said that you’ll find Apple, Adobe, and other companies in the audio space offer free training, resources, and conferences if you do some research.
“Take all the free stuff there is, invest your time in that,” Nicole told me.
Going Full-Time and Landing Bigger Clients
“It took my wife really pushing me to quit my job and really grow the business,” Dom told me.
Dom and Nicole were both working 9-5 jobs when they started doing voice over work.
They joined Fiverr in 2017, and it was March 2021 when Dom felt comfortable quitting his job and going full-time on his voice over business.
It’s only been upward since Dom’s gone full-time, so it was definitely the right decision for him.
Another big influence and support network that Dom said helped him to make the decision was the voiceover community.
Both he and Nicole said there is a great community within the voiceover industry. They’ve received loads of support and encouragement from the community, and also give back where they can.
“Get plugged into the community,” Dom told me.
Nicole still has her 9-5 and said she is in no rush to quit.
Nicole explained that as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to get healthcare and some of the other benefits that come with full-time employment. She’s happy to do her voice over work around her day job for now.
“Just have a plan before you decide to quit, and have a backup,” Nicole told me.
Building a Website and a Brand
At one of the online conferences Dom and Nicole attended, a fellow voice over artist told them their website is important to their business and it needed some work.
Or, as Dom put it, their website was “a hot mess.”
So, Dom built a new website.
Dom used Wix to build his site, which is a drag and drop website builder. Wix also walked Dom through some basic SEO steps and helped him to optimize his site for some of his chosen keywords.
Dom has put everything an agent would need to see on the home page. He’s listed brands he and Nicole have worked with, some of their samples, and some information about what they do.
Its worked out well, Dom said they are getting hits from all over the world every day and it’s generating business for them.
What a Day in the Life of a Voice Over Actor Looks Like
Dom explained that a typical day is spent balancing recording new auditions and fulfilling client jobs.
Dom and Nicole have two agents, and they send new auditions their way on a daily basis.
The goal is to turn those auditions around as quickly as possible as that increases their chance of landing the gig, Dom explained.
Dom said these marketplaces are dedicated to voiceover work and are “a step up from Fiverr” in terms of the quality of jobs.
There is an annual fee for using the platforms, but he and Nicole have landed some interesting and well-paying voice over jobs.
Expected Audition Take Rate
“The rule of thumb in the voiceover industry is to just send it and forget it,” Dom said when I asked him how many auditions it takes to land a paying job.
Dom said he doesn’t spend time worrying about how many auditions he’s sending off.
Thinking about it can get discouraging, so he just focuses on sending as many auditions out as possible.
That said, Dom did share that on Voices.com, he lands one paying gig for every 39 auditions.
Connecting With Agents and Agencies
Agents have been a good source of voice over work for Dom and Nicole.
Dom found one of his agents through Instagram. He spotted a link to her site on another voice over artist’s page. When Dom went to her page he saw she offered free 15-minute calls.
Dom booked a call, the agent liked what she saw and added him to her roster of voice over artists to send auditions to.
Dom has also connected with agencies through voice over work he’s done through online marketplaces, and also by reaching out directly.
When reaching out directly, Dom said don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting many replies and don’t keep messaging people.
Just keep reaching out, give prospects a brief introduction into what you do and a link to your work, and leave it with them.
Once you’re in good favor with an agency and on their books, that can also be a good source of jobs.
How Much to Charge for Voice Over Work
Dom and Nicole started out charging around $0.20 a word. They’ve since increased their rate per word to $0.50.
This means they charge $50 per 100 words of voiceover work. Dom said he can knock out 100 words in 5-10 minutes with editing, so it’s a great hourly rate.
You can also add some upsells and add-ons when using Fiverr to make more money.
Dom said he charges more for turning jobs around quicker, splitting up files, including different file formats, adding music, etc.
“The biggest misconception is that everybody can just do it,” Dom said.
Dom and Nicole have had loads of people reach out to them saying they want to get into voiceover work, but just don’t have the skills to do so.
It’s not as easy as just speaking or reading from a script. There is editing, acting, and other elements that go into producing high-quality voiceover work.
Dom’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Network, network, network.”
Nicole’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Charge what you’re worth.”
Links and Resources from this Episode
- Carrie Olsen on The Side Hustle Show