Mouthing Off on Voiceover ROI

by | auditions, Business, Career Advice, Voice Acting

In a voiceover world….gone mad…over ROI…

Wow. John Florian  at Voiceover Xtra stirred the pot a bit when he posted Jennifer Vaughn’s 2009 statistical analysis of her auditioning ROI and comparative analysis between marketplace sites, and Voice123.

A firestorm of discussion posts from all over the place followed at that site. I resisted the urge  to play.

Even a very accomplished, veteran voiceover friend of mine who  shall remain nameless also read it yesterday told me, she was feeling sorry for herself  after learning that the 18k  or so Ms. Vaughn disclosed what she earned last year from those sites represents, a very small percentage-  or about 2% -of her total annual gross income from voiceover work.

Before the newbies start salivating, working folks make voiceover work sound and look easy. The fact is, the business looks like a shape of a pyramid. The low paying jobs that prevail on certain voiceover marketplace sites and the voice talent who go after them  like one of my voice acting coaches, Chuck Blore said,  “are crowded at the bottom. “

And this morning, like a breath of fresh air…

My talented voice actor friend, Anthony Mendez offers a brilliant , counter-perspective at his blog, “Don’t mind your business”.

While I feel it’s important to know your numbers, it’s just as vital to balance all aspects of a career as artist and business owner, and as a productive person to our society. Unfortunately some are or have been going out of business but are unaware of that fact.  Your ROI may vary.

The cream, as it is said, “rises to the top”.


  1. If your income in your business isn’t exceeding your expenses, or the income isn’t enough for you to live with/on then get out of the business.

    This is a great reflection on how Voice Over/Voice Acting is not for everyone. It is a tough business that takes years to establish, futher years to grow, and constantly keeping the business stable and growing.

    I used to say these things to people who wanted to get into the ‘business’; with the addition of “I don’t want to scare you off of getting into VO”. But these days I don’t encourage anyone to get in.

    Why? Because if you look at it, like Bobbin said above, the bottom of the pyramid is very crowded. There are more people taking lower pay, which just dilutes the whole industry all the way to the top.

    I have worked very hard to get where I am, and I want to be paid for my talent and experience that I bring to a project. I hate it when a client says I am charging too much, and they could always have someone do it for much less. It cheapens everything.

    Ugh. If you are thinking of going into VO, don’t. Go back to school and get another or your first degree and get a real job. 🙂

  2. Chris,

    I think it’s a matter of not necessarily trying to discourage people from their dreams if indeed they want to enter the business. But I do think it’s important that new folks realize that it’s not as easy as some voice coaches with highly skilled marketing campaigns say it is. True, the cost barriers to entry are very low. You and I know a lot of traditional studio operators are impacted by this trend, which I don’t think will diminish. Producers now expect that studio services of time and editing are part and parcel of the talent fee.

    I tell people to have at least a whole year of wages saved up if they’re thinking about quitting the day job before making the plunge. Even then, they may be going out of business, but may not be aware of it. There’s a balance between the art and the business, just as the cold reality is to be balanced with the dream of making sacks of cash.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. I agree about discouraging, really, I get so darned fed up sometimes with some of the coaches/schools that are looking to make loads of money off of peoples dreams that I tend to tell them to keep away.

    I hear you about the studio services being folded into the whole cost as well.

    For myself, I have never quit my day job and with the support of my day job all along it has allowed me to make some good choices. And have been able to build that second income slowly and more efficiently.

    Of course that takes a hit on my sleep 🙂

    I do think that anyone getting into this industry needs to think about what their exit strategy is. It’s the same for any job… if it doesn’t work try to fix it, and if you can’t, move on…

    Great post Bobbin, as always.


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