As someone relatively new to this field, and always on the lookout for expert help and advice, I’ve about had it with elitist posts like these. Rather than stew about it in silence, as I usually do, I’d like to venture into unknown waters and paint a picture from the other side. The “low baller” side, if you will.
I’ve been on Fiverr since August 2014, doing voice-overs at significantly lower prices than union people, I’d imagine. Before that, I was a military broadcaster for a few years, so at least I had some idea what a microphone was before I set out on my own. I left the military last year, and when a promising job prospect fell through (you know, the usual story), I thought, “Crap. What do I do now?”
I had two options. Become resourceful, or become homeless.
Whether or not I was “undercutting” anyone was the last thing on my mind. It was simply a matter of economics. Fiverr made it possible for me to start out easily (yes, I said easily), affordably (yep, that too), and instantly (I didn’t have to work years and years?) in voice over, on my own, with about $250 in start up costs.
I’m not saying it’s all been a breeze. As anyone who’s done voice over is well aware, doing good VO takes tons of practice, and there are plenty of moments of frustration. I cringe to think about my first few months, and how those files probably sounded. But experience is the best teacher, and I’ve learned an enormous amount over the last year – more from my Fiverr experience than I ever learned in any college course (AA, BA, and MA, if you’re curious). I’ve had regular, and usually happy, customers since I started, with no auditioning (a.k.a., wasting time) required. I frequently make more on Fiverr per month than I did after eight years in the military – a tad bit more than beer money, unless you have a thing for really expensive beer. And I should be worried that I’m undercutting someone who would charge ten times what I do? Or more?
I hate to sound unfeeling, but that’s not my problem. My customers get a good deal, and I get to eat and have a roof over my head. Contrary to “the world doesn’t need you” and “there’s no money in voice over” and “it takes many years to see a return on investment,” I hit the ground running, have regular work, and average $50 an hour from Fiverr alone (thank you, gig extras). Not millions, but it sure beats being homeless.
Things change. And flexibility and adaptability are essential to survival. The VO world, like so many others, has changed drastically even in just the last few years, thanks to the Internet and new technology. People who would never otherwise have had the opportunity or connections to make something of their talent can now showcase their work and abilities on the Internet – no degree or agent required – and then let the consumer decide. I don’t even know why anyone would bother with an agent anymore. There’s no need. I represent myself, and I do just fine.
Veteran VO actors can lament all day long about what a travesty it is that inexperienced wannabes are taking jobs from real actors, how much competition is out there, etc. Meanwhile, I (and other wannabes like me) will utilize solid vocal and audio editing skills, set up our lowballer gig profiles on websites like Fiverr, and make a decent living by being affordable and accessible to the thousands (millions?) of people out there in need of a good voice. Done deal.