Strategizing for How to Audition From Home

If you remember a time when you drove around from studio to studio to audition for voice-over gigs you’ve been in the business for quite a while. For the veteran voice talent it can be challenging to grapple with the changes that have taken over the industry with the online movement. There are a number of different strategies that you can adopt which will help.

Many voice talent perceive themselves as the artist or creative in the process, and while that is partially true, you are also a business. Some standard business practices apply, such as providing good customer service. No matter how many national commercials you’ve voiced the client doesn’t know you from Adam. In other words, leave your ego at the door.

Writing a Winning Proposal

Let the client know what you can do for them. When you’re auditioning for a project, especially if it’s in a marketplace environment, you’ll have the opportunity to write a proposal, which essentially acts like a cover letter. The attitude you present in the proposal reflects the type of attitude you may have while working with you. So do not discount its importance.

The goal should be to write a professional, courteous, and to the point proposal. In your greeting address the client by name, in your introduction tell them that their project is interesting and, if you’ve done some similar work, list a few of those jobs. Reaffirm your quote for their project, and confirm you can meet their deadlines or any technical requirements.

When writing your proposal, if every sentence begins with “I” try to rephrase it so they start with “You” instead. Again, tell the client what you can do for them. That’s what they’re interested in.

Recording an Audition That Turns Heads

If the client has included a script with their job posting or inquiry, then be sure to send them a custom read using a portion of their script. It need not be long; about 30 seconds is plenty for longer scripts.

What about short scripts though?

In the case of very short scripts consider adding a subtle watermark. Many clients find the periodic classic beep rather distracting. There has also emerged a newer approach using a whispered background noise, often the talent whispering their name. Clients find that a little creepy.

Some talent will change a phone number, name, or simply leave out a word, but clients tell us this appears as though the voice talent didn’t understand the directions or sent in an audition without checking it for errors. 

So if you feel uncertain about the client you’re auditioning for, a subtle watermark is your best bet. Just be careful which watermark you choose. You don’t want it to distract from your read. A good alternative could be to give them two or three takes fading in subtle music signifying the start of a new take.

Simple Strategies That Work

For this section, we'll dissect the strategies that have worked for so many talent by using a question-and-answer format, also known as Q&A. Let's dive in.

How much auditioning should I do?

Try to spend at least a couple hours a day auditioning and work your way up to auditioning for about 6 jobs an hour. If you’re confident in your performance, editing skills, proposals, and know what to charge it can be done.

Should I audition for every job invitation that comes my way?

Auditioning from home can become addictive. Between marketplaces and your own leads from your personal website, you could probably audition from dusk till dawn. But it’s important to create a structure around your auditions. Audition only for jobs that you are truly qualified for, that you truly want to do, and that you think you have a good shot at.

When should I pass on an audition?

At Voices.com, you can see how many voice talent have already replied to the job posting before you ever start recording your audition. Your best chance at landing the job is if your audition is within the first 100 auditions.  Ask yourself if the job is worth auditioning for if the number of responses is greater than 100.

How much should I charge for a voice-over job?

Quoting is a huge topic and there are certainly different approaches.  But for today, let's simplify matters by looking at the data.  Voices.com has the unique position of seeing not only what talent are quoting for any given job, but also what the winning "bid" was if you will.  While there are myths out there that suggest that clients always pick the lowest price, that's simply not true.  On contrary.  When analyzing the data from tens of thousands of jobs, client hire talent what quote in the middle of the range.

Said plainly, if the client has included a range (common practice in a marketplace) a good rule of thumb is to quote the voice-over somewhere the middle. For example, if the job is $100-$250 quote about $175. This keeps your quote competitive while demonstrating that you’re a professional.

If you quote at the lowest end it will appear as though you are desperate to get the job and you’ll brand yourself as being new and inexperienced. If you quote at the highest end your quote will not be competitive enough. Shoot for the middle. Above all, never quote below the minimum stated budget. Think of it as going to buy a luxury brand car for bottom basement prices. If you see a luxury brand discounted severely, you may start to wonder what's wrong with it.

How do I price longer projects, say those with 10,000 words or more?

In terms of long form narration you may want to use a formula that calculates a rate per word because your time commitment to the project is far greater than with shorter scripts. You need to consider how much time you'd be dedicating to that job that takes you away from auditioning for other jobs. Here's a formula you can reference:

Word Count / Words Spoken Per Minute (average is 145) = Total Minutes it will take you to record.
Total Minutes / Length of an Hour (60) = Total number of hours to record.
Price per hour x Total number of hours = Your total quote.

If quoting the top end of their range is way below what you would ordinarily charge, move on to the next audition. It’s not worth your time to reply.

Summarizing Audition Advice

If you’re becoming ‘audition weary’ your voice will start to show it. It will tire out losing its enthusiasm and you may find yourself resenting the booth if you stay in there too long!

It’s important to take periodic breaks from auditioning to let your voice rest. Besides, there are all those other things you need to do to run an effective business such as marketing, accounting, and networking. Take a break, your voice will thank you. Here's a summary of all the audition advice in a nice, clean list:

Auditioning Do's:

  • Sending a custom demo
  • Quoting within the stated budget range
  • Following artistic direction
  • Affirming that you can meet technical requirements in your proposal (i.e. ISDN, etc.)
  • Being professional
  • Keeping the recording to the point (slate, read the copy)
  • Take occasional breaks
  • Audition early – try to be within the first 50
  • Audition well – deliver high-quality auditions
  • Audition often – work your way up to 6 per hour
 

Auditioning Don'ts:

  • Sending a generic demo
  • Submitting if you know you're not the right fit
  • Disregarding artistic direction
  • Having a conversation in the audio recording
  • Quoting significantly higher than the budget
  • Over the top self-promotion
  • Lowball or highball your quote
  • Burnout

Coming up, did you know you can record auditions on your mobile device? We’ll explain how next.