My “secret” life as a voiceover talent

As Coco Martin's voice coach in a TV commercial.As Coco Martin's voice coach in a TV commercial.

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. Is it 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.

Working with ABS-CBN Davao Director Beling Rodriguez.

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 (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. Pre-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

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.

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 budding entrepreneur, a marketing person, a trainer, a struggling writer. Little do they know, I’m a voice talent by heart.

It completes me.

28 Comments on "My “secret” life as a voiceover talent"

  1. 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.

  2. So interesting. What a cool career!

  3. 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.

  4. Wow, nice trivia about yourself. I learned more about voiceover artist, how I wish I have a good voice. hehehe!

  5. Congrats on your new domian Ms. Rochelle!

  6. Elizabeth O. | July 25, 2015 at 6:34 am | Reply

    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.

  7. Wow! That’s a wonderful talent and surely an income generator. How I wish I can do that.. hehehe.. Goodluck dear! You are one talented lady.. :-)

  8. Sounds like fun work! I’m sure it’s real tough too, but so many possibilities!

  9. Wow! Just wow!!! I’ve always dreamed of becoming one!! haha.

  10. Woah its nice to see a person behind the voice in ads. Nice job :-)

  11. Wow! After getting a gig as a spot writer, I realized that it takes a lot of time doing a short video with VO. Just imagine completing the whole process itself.

  12. I used to dream of doing this job too when I was a kid. umm question: how can we get a job like this if we dont have our own equipment?

    • Hi Grace. It’s costly if you don’t have your own equipment but that’s the fastest and most convenient route you can take when you’re starting out. You only need to find a good recording studio. They charge per hour from P500-P1000 (depending on the studio). If you can finish recording in a few minutes, your remaining minutes will be used for the editing. Try to spend only 1 hour para di ka lugi. Anticipate that expense when factoring your rate. Make sure hindi ka malulugi, baka maubos mo yung talent fee mo sa recording studio pag matagal ka especially on long scripts and complicated editing (song mixes, etc).

  13. I didn’t know much about the career of voice over talents. Reading your post gave me a better idea of how it goes. And you’re right that in doing something, you should have fun somehow or you’ll lose interest in the end. Nice post!

  14. It’s a secret no more and I am glad you share it with us. It’s a pleasure to meet you here in the blogging world.

  15. Wow! I would love to do that hehe. My secret life is other people dont know I blog/

  16. Wow, it’s no wonder why you’ve so lots of people following you online.

  17. Hi Ms. Shelly, I wish I could have some skills like this. hehe :)

  18. lot for sale dasmarinas cavite philippines | May 4, 2016 at 10:31 am | Reply

    Wonderful post! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the good writing.

  19. My “secret” life as a voiceover talent | AROUND PILIPINAS – Very interesting

  20. thanks for sharing your secret, I want to hear some of your songs!

  21. My “secret” life as a voiceover talent | AROUND PILIPINAS

  22. May I ask your name and how can I contact you?

  23. or you can write me in my e-mail..
    Thank you thank you

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*