Why Hire a Professional Voice Actor for eLearning – Part 1


If you’re an instructional designer or learning experience designer you might be thinking, “why hire a professional voice actor for eLearning projects?” 

With AI voices available for cheap (or free), and USB microphones being so accessible that many instructional designers DIY their narrations, it does beg the question, why hire a professional voice talent at all? 

Now, I get it, the bottom line makes the world go round. Understandably, everyone is trying to save money where they can. However, saving money and cutting corners can come at the cost of something else. Consider what the cost is of not hiring a professional eLearning voiceactor. The old saying “you get what you pay for” certainly does apply. 

Let’s examine why you might want to start including a voiceover budget when you’re in the planning phase of developing learning solutions. 

Why Hire a Professional Voice Actor Reason #1 – We Make Your Job Easier: 

This one is simple. We take a big job off your plate. If you outsource your narrator, you don’t need to worry about:

  • Purchasing a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to record and edit your audio
  • Purchasing a microphone
  • Learning how to use your microphone and your recording software
  • Learning how to edit audio, which is the most time-consuming part of the voiceover process
  • Splitting up your audio files and naming them so they correspond with the correct modules
  • Recording retakes or revisions
  • Exporting your audio with the correct settings
  • Sounding natural and engaging to your audience

You can focus on the task at hand, and the job you have been hired to do. Sometimes it’s worth it to hire a pro to get it done and to make your life easier. 

That’s why I trust a professional with shaping my eyebrows. While I certainly could pluck my eyebrows I choose not to because it takes me forever, it’s painful and they never look very good after all the agony.

Why Hire a Professional Voice Actor Reason #2 A Voice Actor Will Exceed Your Timelines. 

eLearning content is what we in the voiceover industry call “mid-form” narration. It’s longer than commercials and shorter than audiobooks.

People speak about 150 words per minute. Take a look at that script of yours. Let’s say it’s about 2250 words. That means the final voiceover will end up being about 15 minutes long. But it never takes just 15 minutes to record. And it certainly takes longer than 15 minutes to edit. Let’s see if I can do math… (grabs calculator because who am I kidding?)

A professional voice talent who edits on the regular usually spends 5-6X the length of the final finished audio file prepping, recording and editing, and exporting the audio. 

So in this case we have a 15-minute voiceover. Times that by 5 or 6 and it will probably take 75 to 90 minutes to complete. Plus any time needed for revisions and editing those revisions.

Someone who doesn’t spend time regularly recording and editing audio will spend significantly longer recording and editing.  

When you work with a pro, you can expect your audio to be done quickly, and you will gain time as you will stay on task instead of spending time doing the voiceover yourself. This all means that your client will enjoy an on-time or ahead of schedule product! Dare I say, woot!

This is why I use click & collect for my groceries. I order them online and then pick them up. Someone else can do that task of finding my groceries. I can’t be the only person who gets crippling anxiety from box stores…

Hiring a Professional Voice Actor Reason #3
It Improves the Quality of the End Product

You are only as strong as your weakest link. Your team is top-notch and produces professional high-quality work, and all the components of your project are on point, right? Well, when you cheap out on the quality of your audio, that is what people will notice. 

It’s funny, but as humans, we are so talented at picking out the imperfections in something, and that is usually the impression that stays with us.

“Look at my gorgeous new white pantsuit!” you might say… but if you have a mustard stain on it, guess where the eye will go? 

When every other component of your project is top-notch, your audio should be too! 

USB microphones are affordable. They can even sound pretty good when you surround yourself with sound-absorbing materials, like clothes in your closet. 

But… when compared to a $1500 – $4500 large condenser studio microphone, a soundproof vocal booth, microphone technique, professional training, editing and post-production knowledge, and software that removes distracting things like mouth noise, it’s a different ball game. 

Quality audio does make a difference! It’s like when I drink wine… um, actually I have nothing to say about the quality of my wine because I like cheap narsty juice wine. I’m talking Barefoot Moscato from a box or the apple cider in the 2-liter plastic pop bottles. Anyway… moving on.

Why Hire a Voice Actor for eLearning Reason #4
We Make You Money!

What!?!? But this whole article is about why it’s worth the investment into voiceover and now you’re saying it makes me money!? 

Yes, it certainly can make you money. So it is definitely worth it to hire a professional voice actor.

If you are a freelancer doing everything on your own, then every minute you spend recording and editing voiceovers for your eLearning content is time you are taking away from either finishing your project (which would make you available to start another one) or marketing yourself to find more work. 

When I started my voiceover business, outsourcing my most time-consuming tasks was the first thing I did. This allowed me to spend more time marketing my services and booking more work. 

If you are a mid-size to a large learning solutions company, it can make you money by ensuring your staff is being as efficient as possible. Hiring professional voice talent makes it more affordable because Tim from accounting and Sally from marketing are not off-task from the job they are being paid to do – like get you more work and track down receivables.  

Stay tuned for Part 2!

This post is getting rather long, so check back in 2 weeks and I’ll post part 2 of “Why Hire a Professional Voice Actor for eLearning”

Thanks for reading!

Katelyn Dawn
Voice Over Made Simple!

Katelyn Dawn Voiceover Headshot