How do you calculate a voice over salary? It’s not that straightforward as there are so many variables from voiceover to voiceover and job to job.
I reality, a voice over salary is not a salary as such. Voice over actors earn fees on a project by project basis. The types of projects that a voice over will work on in any given year can vary enormously. Some projects may take weeks, while others can be very short, often less than an hour.
How To Calculate Your Voice Over Salary
The first thing to do is to recognise what you want to achieve as a salary. There are some considerations to take into account when attempting this calculation:
- Set goals and objectives
- Cover your costs
- Time is limited
- Success rates – auditions to work ratio
- Sources of work
- Reality check – test your figures
#1 – How To Calculate Your Voice Over Salary – Goals
If there is one thing that you should do as a voice over actor, it is to set your goals each year. Without a clear idea of what you want to earn, you can easily drift and end up wondering where the year went and why you didn’t achieve. Goals are simple milestones that help you to keep your life and career on track. They are the rudder that steers you across the choppy seas of life and helps you to reach your destination.
Top-level athletes, successful business people and achievers in all fields all set goals. By setting goals for yourself you are able to measure your progress, because you always have a fixed endpoint or benchmark to compare your progress with.
To reach your goals you need to do things. What things you focus on will depend on your goal. Objectives are what you you focus on to achieve your goals. An objective is a specific and measurable milestone that must be achieved in order to reach a goal.
Each objective you set needs to start with a verb. Here are some good ones: ”increase,” “deliver”, “sell”, ”work”, “find”, “decrease”, “speed up”, ”earn”, ”learn”. Start an objective with one of these words, and then use numbers to make it measurable.
Tactics are the small steps you do each day that give you the momentum. Tactics are your daily “to-do” list, that get things done and move you towards achieving your objectives and goals.
So now you need to set your goal for your salary – your annual income and then we will test if it is realistic.
#2 Planning Your Voice Over Salary To Cover Your Costs
Everybody has bills to pay, lights to keep on and just the usual day to day costs to live. If you are just starting out you may also have the cost of investing in equipment and training. Your basic costs need to be met. What you charge also needs to include profit. Profit is the money that will provide you with your working salary.
An easy exercise is to add up all your monthly bills, as well as any business costs as a voice over actor. Business costs are the necessities you have to pay out for to keep your voice over business running:
- website hosting
- hardware and software for the studio
- replenishing business cards/marketing
- travel – including running your car
- costs of any business software or platforms e.g. Google business
Once you have your figures, round them up to give you your annual costs. This is your overhead, or costs, you need to cover. Now, you can calculate how much additional money you need for holidays, pension, clothes, living costs and of course the odd treat. When considering how to become a voice actor, it is vital to plan first.
#3 – Plan Your Voice Over Salary By Knowing Your Time
You don’t have 365 days in the year to work. In fact you have far less than you probably think. Let’s break down how many days in the year are actual working days.
So we need to base our planning on the right number of working days as follows:
- Days in the year: 365
- No of weekends: 52 with 2 days = 104 days
- Remaining days = 261
- National holidays (vary by Country): 10 week days
- Holidays (time off): 20 working days
- Remaining days: 231 days
- Allow for sickness days in the year: 10
Remaining days: 221
On average then you have 18.4 days in a month for work. Of course this is an average some months when you take holiday you will clearly just have a lot less.
The key takeaway here is that even with 221 days you still have to account for things that get in the way of work and earning money e.g. book keeping, submitting taxes, admin/paperwork. These things will really eat into your time.
#4 – Plan Your Voice Over Salary By Your Success Rate
Getting work is as much a part of becoming a voice over actor as voice acting itself. How successful you are at winning work will depend a lot on your voice, your personality, determination, the type of work you pitch for, the quality of your recordings and many other factors.
The art of winning more is to perfect each aspect of your auditioning process; we cover this later in this guide. However, your pitch to win ratio determines your earning ability, your voice over salary. Work can come to you in a variety of ways. From your agent, direct clients, Pay to Play sites such as Voice123 and Bodalgo and of course self sourced jobs.
So you need to either know your ratio if you are already working as a voice over actor, or forecast what you think it will be.
The success ratio will then determine how much time in your day/week is focused on auditions.
#4 – Your Voice Over Salary Will Depend On Your Sources
There is no doubt that having regular work is a life saver in the voiceover industry. Regular work may come from many different sources:
- a voice over agency
- an established relationship with a voice over director
- an advertising agency
- an audiobook publisher
Sources of work that give you regular work help to iron out the peaks and troughs of casting/auditioning for new work. Creating, establishing and building relationships in the voice over industry is vital for long term success.
If you are at the beginning of your voice over career, it is unlikely you will have the comfort of a regular source of work. However, with good planning, it is not too difficult to build your network and gain such sources of income.
#5 – How To Test Your Voice Over Salary Numbers
Testing your numbers is important. There is nothing more destructive than setting unrealistic goals and then feeling disappointed at not hitting them. Of course this happens. But, if your goals were unrealistic in the first place then the chances of this happening are far greater.
If you set realistic goals and hit them, you will feel more motivated, which in turn will help you be successful. Unsuccessful VO’s amble though their career, whilst the more successful VO’s plan their growth. The most successful plan and regularly review their targets.
An example of testing a goal:
Voice over salary goal: $50,000 for year one
- If each job is worth: $250
- If you achieve: 1 job per day (total working days 221)
- Then you will earn (gross) before overheads: $55,250
With current voice over earnings, in time you should be able to achieve this. Let’s examine this in more detail though.
One job per working day is achievable if:
you have a ratio of 10 auditions to one job (industry standard is 100 to 1, but there are good reasons for this which will will show you later in this guide).
But, also think about the fact that not every day is a working day. Some days are admin, other days you will network, attend events, attend coaching sessions etc…
The key to success is to be realistic and set targets and then know what you need to do to achieve that goal. Clearly in this example if you do not audition ten times each day, then you cannot expect to hit your target (at least not consistently).
The hard work in any career is at the beginning, it’s the launch period and the time you put in to establishing your skills and credibility.
Achieving a good voice over salary is possible for those that are willing to put the time and effort in.