I was extremely excited to see that “The 2021 State of Voice Over” survey was released and contained valuable information once you dug into the numbers. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much written about what it reveals from both a professional artistic and business side, especially for those who are starting their journey in Voice Over and have their own freelancing business.
The survey was published on January 15, 2021, and closed on February 1, 2021. It was available in both English and Spanish, and 1244 responses were collected in total.
The participants in this survey came from 3 main sources:
- A few unsponsored posts on Twitter and Reddit
- 2. Voiceover-specific Facebook groups including, but not limited to, Voice Actors of NYC, The Gardner Collective, VO School Podcast, Women in Voiceover, VO Mamas, Voiceover Pros, Voiceover Community, Voiceover Universe, VOpreneur, VOcation- Voiceover, and more.
- An email list of over 800 voice actors with professional home studios
One major key point brought out from the 2021 survey was direct marketing through email, one of the least expensive tactics for marketing your freelance business, was literally ignored by Voice Over actors starting out in the profession. According to the survey, 91% of those beginning in Voice Over send less than 2 emails a day to potential clients. Also, out of 85% of the total gross income of these same actors, 10% or less of the income comes from agents and managers. When you compare that with the Gross income for 2020, almost 94% of beginning voice over actors and 71% of intermediate voice over actors earned less than $8000/year.
What is a bit “Hard to Square” and if someone can provide me with insight, one question posed to those surveyed, considered beginners to Voice Over, asks that they remove the P2P and Agent revenue streams from their yearly Voice Over income, and only consider the percentage of gross income made from “Direct Marketing, Website, and Other Sources?” A large portion of the surveyed beginners said, in an earlier survey question, that 10% of their revenue was derived from the direct marketing. I’m at a loss as to what “Other Methods” of marketing contributed to the other 90% of revenue claimed received. Please, let me know what the “Other Sources” are, I would like to add it to my business marketing strategy.
Directly marketing your talents through a carefully crafted marketing email campaign adds another tactic to your marketing armamentarium, inviting your potential clients to explore your website and list you on their talent roster. What data reinforces and backs this up shows in the need, or lack of, for agents/managers.
The survey stratifies “Talent Level” into Beginners, Intermediate, and Professionals, asking each group, “What percentage of your total income comes from work you booked through your agents/managers?” 85% of beginners booked 10% or less income through agents, 75% of intermediates booked 10% or less through agents, and a little more than half of the professionals received 20% or less through agents.The survey proves success is far more dependent on self-marketing as opposed to signing with agents or with Demo parking lots where you pay a yearly fee, as well as a potential “rep” fee after booking a job.
Another topic in the survey is the use of online casting, or P2P sites, by those categorized as beginners. As a beginner myself, I signed up for three major sites and found out quite quickly that all had in common a greater number of auditions per day and a greater possibility of booking a job. The survey indicated that many new aspiring VO actors use these sites to perform a mere four auditions or less per day.
The “State of Voice Over Survey 2021” presented data that provided serious information regarding realistic income attainment to those thinking of possibly entering the Voice Over profession and what alternatives may be more suited to their life goals. The survey clears much of the promotional interference regarding on-line casting and P2P sites, and the real changes, gains, and losses associated with them. What I think is the most valuable finding is that to be successful in this – and any profession – is that YOU must do your own legwork to equip yourself with the artistic, technical, and business knowledge in this, and any other, field. Constructing a business plan that is both realistic and objective while relying on oneself to execute it will greatly improve your ability to achieve whatever endeavor you choose to pursue.