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How to best hire a voice actor for commercials

So you want to hire a voice actor for your commercials? Well, if you’ve got a killer message to deliver then finding the right commercial voice for your project is the very next step. However, the key to voice casting lies in knowing what you want as a client. This process starts long before the voice actor even steps up to the microphone. It also includes vital aspects such as emotional tone, timing, and budget. 

The good news though, is that voice acting costs are incredibly fluid. And neither clients nor voice actors stick to pricing guidelines as a hard and fast rule. More often than not budget restrictions and supply and demand are what ultimately determine project rates. That said, a good commercial voice will always cost good money and that’s the way it should be. 

how to best hire a voice actor: image of a moneybag with a dollar sign on it
Image: Envato

How much does it cost to make a commercial?

The short answer is that it depends. Whether you’re making a Facebook, YouTube, or even a TV commercial your costs will vary based on the target audience, product, and service. Essentially you’re looking at anything in between a few hundred dollars to a whopping hundred thousand dollars for a small to mid-level commercial. But, this amount isn’t set in stone. So, as a client, what you want to achieve through your commercial determines what you’ll have to spend making it. According to Fit Small Business, the lower side of commercial budget rates are:  

Basic amount

$500 to $2000, gets you still photographs, royalty-free music, and maybe commercial voice over actors. 

Mid-level amount

$2000 to $3500 is a medium investment that lets you shoot at a location with voice actors, hire a small team, and a qualified designer.

Higher-end amount

$3500 to $5,500, lets you work with a larger crew, shoot in more than one location, hire pro voice actors and even use a drone. 

So, with a little forethought and planning, creating a professional commercial without the cost of a blockbuster production is entirely possible. Now that your budget is set, it’s time to choose your commercial voice actor. Here’s how to do it! 

1. Consider the commercial’s effect on the target audience 

Think of Tim Allen, the voice of Pure Michigan, and Morgan Freeman, the voice of Visa. Their voices have become synonymous with the brands they sell. Similarly, your target audience needs to hear your message from a voice that delivers trust and reliability. One that transforms your brand from a shelf name to a customer’s trusted best friend. 

On the other hand, a commercial voice that doesn’t resonate with the target audience can do more harm than good. Which was the case of the advocacy organization Property Rights Alliance. Their video aimed to shame Australia’s plain packaging laws which required removing the branding from tobacco products. However, the video (which has since been removed from YouTube) came under fire for its poorly attempted mock Australian accent. Negative comments from global viewers included:

  • “How hard is it to find an Australian expat in the U.S. and pay them to narrate?”
  • “Practice your accent. It is as fake as your facts.”
  • “Did Crocodile Dundee have a stroke?”

Ultimately, when looking for a commercial voice, it’s best to opt for a native sound. This adds just the right level of authenticity to make viewers believe in the overall message. Understanding your audience also enhances your credibility as a brand because using the wrong voice conveys a lack of interest. This means viewers won’t take your brand or message seriously. And sadly a voice once heard can never be unheard.

2. Listen carefully to demos and custom auditions  

Vocal demos can give you a pretty good idea of what a professional voice actor sounds like. This includes the voice actor’s ability and range which is sometimes all you need to hear to make your final decision. Demos, however, are not the end-all for choosing your ideal commercial voice. A custom audition is another way to get a more definite idea of how the voice actor sounds in your commercial. 

First, send an excerpt to the voice actor you have in mind. 

Next, include examples, direction, and instruction on the type of performance you want the audition sample to deliver vocally.
Alternatively, you can leave it to the voice actor to come up with something on their own. Not providing direction can sometimes result in a nice surprise, an angle that you may not necessarily have thought of. 

Finally, review the auditions you’ve received and pick your winner.

3. How to hire a commercial voice based on rates

Going through a rates guide is a helpful step as it highlights what you can expect to pay commercial voice over actors. Voice123 also gives you helpful information on voice over rates so you’re not going into anything blind. Novice and pro voice actors do have varied rates but at the end of the day, what you’re looking to establish is something of a partnership. A relationship in which the client and voice actor both get what they want, while still creating a successful commercial. 

how to best hire a voice actor: image of two men shaking hands across a desk
Image: Envato

Final thoughts on how to best hire a voice actor for your commercials

The power of a commercial voice should never be underestimated. It’s why Jon Hamm has continued to be the voice of Mercedes-Benz since 2010. His dapper gent-like voice exudes charm, sophistication, and confidence. Everything necessary to sell a luxury brand. So, the right commercial voice can completely alter the viewer’s experience making the impossible; possible. And all you need to do to find your magic commercial voice is post your projects free on Voice123
And on that final note, we’d like to take a moment to wish you well in all your commercial endeavors. At Voice123 we have some of the most talented commercial voice over actors available so, now that you know how to best hire a voice actor for your commercials, be sure to go ahead and book one!  


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