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E-Learning: How To Get Hired
For Projects - Or Be Rejected
By Rick Gordon
Voice Actor & Owner
e-Learning & Commercial
The name of the game in being hired for voice-over e-learning projects is:
  • getting it done,
  • on time, and
  • on budget.
In other words, if you are a team player, e-learning is a great place for you.
But this is not always the scenario. So here are seven major reasons why you might not be hired for e-learning - and another seven factors that will improve your chances.
Of course, your rates also weigh heavily on a producer's ability to hire you - or someone else - for the job.
7 TO AVOID ...
You might not be hired if you ...
1)  charge for auditions
2)  have a minimum fee for each recording session
3)  make a fuss over script changes and/or submit your recording knowing there is a script error in it
4)  demand payment upon submitting your audio
5)  do not deliver quickly
6)  cannot follow direction from the producer as to the “read style” requested
7)  submit too many “read styles”
On the other hand, here are seven reasons why you will get hired for e-learning projects. You:
1)  work with the producer, understanding the production sequence and realize mistakes will be made
2)  understand that your normal minimum regular rate does not exist for e-learning projects
3)  understand that - even though the script was very small - you are a part of the production team, and you are patient.
4)  consider your small part as just another audition, and do not gripe about what you are paid. Rather, you realize that a new client has heard you and hopefully they will keep you in mind for future projects - perhaps single-voiced projects where you can charge your regular rate.
5)  can submit voice-overs in multiple characters
6)  subtly - and cautiously - suggest minor changes in the script if there is an obvious mistake in the grammar, spelling, etc.
7)  remain positive throughout the entire process, and understand what the producers and instructional designers have to create.
At we put all of our VO talents in direct contact with the producing team.
We understand that this is a team project, and that the goal is to make a professional total production that both the client and the VO talent will be proud of.
We are finding that in many cases, our repeat clients want to use the same VO talents in their future productions.

One aspect of the e-learning business that many VO talents cannot - or refuse to - grasp is the final costs of these productions. They are expensive.
We have to keep in mind that before we are approached to provide the talent, there have been many steps completed. For example,
  • The concept has been sold by an e-learning production company to their client.
  • The topic has been thoroughly discussed and debated and finally approved.
  • The writers have submitted many scripts and information texts, and the graphic designers have been given their tasks, which I am sure can be formidable.
  • The budget has been discussed and agreement has definitely been made that hiring VO talents can be especially pricey if they all have to be paid “minimum pricing” for their talents.
An e-learning production company simply cannot afford to pay regular rates.
Can you imagine if you required 15 character voices - and we have two projects going on now in this category - how much the VO talent costs would be totally?
Keep in mind that some character parts will be just five words - yes, five words. The client simply cannot afford to pay your $150 minimum.
So keep this in mind when you are asked to submit your talent for a ridiculously low pay rate. Trade shoes (a favorite expression of mine) with your client, and you will see production costs escalate off the planet.
Bite the bullet and think of it as an audition. Hey! When have you ever been paid for an audition?
Many clients are more than happy to supply testimonials or recommendations to our voice talents, which of course would be uploaded on your personal web site.
These could be simply: “Great talent with many well-done characters." “Very easy to work with - a true professional.” “Very helpful catching glitches in our script and offering alternatives.” 
As I mentioned before, the name of the game is getting it done, on time and on budget. If you are a team player, then e-learning is a great place for you.
Rick Gordon is a veteran voice talent based in Canada, and is also the founder/owner of Commercial and co-founder/owner of e-Learning - two major online voice-over marketplaces. Commercial was created 10 years ago as the web site where voice talents are "hit and heard." e-Learning was introduced in 2008 specifically for e-Learning voice-over projects.
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Comments (9)
Rick Gordon
4/11/2010 at 9:11 PM
Thank you.

Yes, of course, dry read only. To my knowledge there is no other requested or required in e-learning.

Cheers, Rick
Pamela Tansey
4/9/2010 at 8:41 PM
First-time-heard facts here, Rick, excellent article! Printed and saved this one! Thank you for your unique insight.
Paul Strikwerda
4/9/2010 at 7:45 PM
That was very helpful Rick. Thanks for the links as well as for the info. I take it that these rates are for dry-read only?
Bobbin Beam
4/9/2010 at 10:40 AM
Excellent information here, Rick. Especially on the team member aspect.

A great part of my business recently has been e-learning, and there are numerous occasions where I've helped out by correcting grammatical errors on the fly, asking the right questions in the right way, and making deadline. These clients have used my voice-over services over and over again. We are thankful for each other.
Rick Gordon
4/9/2010 at 10:34 AM

Here is my response to an inquiry just a few minutes ago. I think this would be of some value in getting the correct perspective on the business.

Here is a link to our pricing page for E-LV. Keep in mind that these rates are only for multiple (more than one) voice-over projects. As you can see, the rates vary from $25 down to $16 per minute. This is exactly what our VO talents get paid, rounded to the next minute. Example: 72 seconds = 2 minutes.

Keep in mind that if you are fortunate enough to be chosen as the "main narrator" and recorded, let's say, 25 minutes, your pay would be $400 at the $16 per minute rate. In addition, you would also charge $1 each for edited files. 25 minutes at the top rate would be $625, plus file editing charges.

Here is another link to more information:

So in a nutshell, 5 words would pay the minimum depending on the category. The good news is at least you get heard. Yes, your goal is future work. It’s all about collaboration

Cheers, Rick
Brian Whitaker
4/9/2010 at 10:03 AM
I echo what Pearl said. They do keep coming back, once you've proven you're on the team. BRIAN
BP Smyth, Narrator
4/9/2010 at 9:16 AM
Thank you Rick, for that very informative article. I haven't had the opportunity to perform for e-learning projects yet, but I would certainly like to.

BP Smyth /
Paul Strikwerda
4/9/2010 at 7:35 AM
Thanks for sharing your insights, Rick. Your observations make a lot of sense in the context of any voice-over project.

Pricing strategies are always controversial and somewhat mysterious. What one person considers to be a 'normal minimum regular rate,' might be ridiculously low or too high in the eyes of another talent and/or producer.

In order to really understand what you're saying, it would be useful to specify what the going e-learning rates are. Most rate sheets that are out there, seem terribly outdated.

Secondly, many of the objections you list sound too familiar, and I'm sure I'm not the only talent who has heard a producer say: "I can't possibly pay that. My market is very different, you know!" Or: "In this economy it's simply impossible to pay you a regular rate."

Whether you read freelance guides for graphic designers, copy writers or voice-over pros, there seems to be a consensus that it is wise to make sure that 50% of the negotiated fee is paid upfront, especially if there's no established relationship.

If employers want to have the luxury and freedom of using a disposable workforce, they should at least give the temp workers some credit (literally) before the start of the project.

The Freelancers Union has launched a campaign to expose employers who did not live up to their end of the deal. It's called "Get Paid, not Played," and it's no surprise that so many independent contractos are fed up with being tossed around, having to beg for the money they earned months and months ago.

I fully understand that flexibility is a must to get hired, but there are limits as to how far we should be asked to bend (over backwards).

Thanks for putting your two cents in, Rick. Or is the going e-learning rate a penny for your thoughts (he said in a teasing way...)?
Pearl Hewitt
4/9/2010 at 1:17 AM
Thank you very much for your article, Rick.

I have voiced a number of e-learning modules, particularly for a large oil and gas company in the Middle-East. A production company in Oregon hired me and basically told me how much I would be paid. I wasn't asked how much would I charge.

I originally thought, "Wow! You're going to pay me how little?" and the deadline was within a very short time-span. The scripts were more than just a few words, but it was obvious that my part was a small contribution to a much larger project.

I completed the given task in good time, followed all the intricate instructions for labeling and organizing the files into folders, and sent the completed work via Once the job was done I received payment approximately 30 days later.

I expected this, as I was told payment would always be on a net 30 basis. The producer wrote a very nice testimonial on and all was right with the world!

I thought I'd worked hard for my small payment, but the gig paid off. The same company came back again offering repeat business and over the period of a year I had raked in quite a tidy sum of cash! Nice!

My BNI business networking group has a motto of "Givers Gain" and I hadn't realized how important that was until I joined last October. I now know I was a giver of my services for the Middle-Eastern e-learning project and I definitely, financially gained eventually!

Thanks again, Pearl
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