If you’re considering starting a side hustle, recording audiobooks for money may be the perfect job for you. The side hustle of learning how to become an audiobook narrator is something you can do from the comfort of home, and also with minimal qualifications.
If you’re intrigued, keep reading to learn which equipment you’ll need, how much money you can make, where to find job opportunities, and the key skills you’ll need to guarantee success.
What does an audiobook narrator do?
An audiobook narrator is someone who reads out loud and records their narration of a book or given text. Narrators use their captivating and soothing voices to bring stories to life.
Unlike some jobs that require advanced tech skills, you don’t need a lot of prior knowledge or experience to make money recording audiobooks.
Qualifications for becoming an audiobook narrator
Reading out loud is not particularly difficult but it does take practice and technique. Narrators are telling a story, and how you tell that story can captivate or bore an audience. Here is how to become an audiobook narrator with these important skills.
Articulation: Be able to clearly and correctly pronounce every word in the text.
Breath control: Being able to read long passages without gasping for air.
Voice control: Having control over the tone, speed, and volume of your voice.
Pacing: Make sure you can read text with a natural flow that is easy to listen to.
How to become an audiobook narrator in 6 easy steps
If you’ve met the previously mentioned qualifications you’re ready for the next phase. Here's how to become an audiobook narrator by following these simple steps.
1. Study other audiobook narrators
Every audiobook narrator brings something unique to their work. In fact, a great narrator can not only tell a captivating story but lead to increased book sales. Before breaking out your microphone, take some time to study the masters.
You can start by relistening to some of your favorite audiobooks and paying attention to what stands out to you.
And if you don't know who to study, Chirpbooks.com has put together a list of some of the best audiobook narrators. This list includes Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, and Stephen Fry.
2. Practice on your own and record yourself
In order to make money recording audiobooks, you’re going to need to practice. Similar to singing in the shower, you may think your voice sounds good until you listen to it on a recording.
Try recording yourself reading a chapter from a book, or a chapter from your own book. Then, listen to how you sound.
Does your voice sound choppy or smooth? Do you make frequent pauses or do you insert space fillers?
Recording yourself and listening to the recording after can feel uncomfortable. If you don’t sound like Maya Angelou on your first try it’s ok.
Listen and make notes of where you can improve and record again. Keep trying until you feel comfortable and confident with your recording.
3. Volunteer to read out loud
After a few rounds of self-critiquing, you are ready to start getting paid. You may be eager to start recording audiobooks for money, but doing some pro bono work can benefit you before you start taking on clients.
Try volunteering to read out loud to children at your local library, book store, or elementary school. You can also sign up to read out loud for free on websites such as LibriVox.com.
By volunteering, you can see how the audience responds to your voice, learn your strengths as a narrator and gain confidence to read out loud on a professional level.
4. Upgrade your equipment
One of the most essential steps for how to become an audiobook narrator is to upgrade your equipment by getting a quality microphone. Your cellphone or computer microphone won’t do.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of microphones at varying prices to choose from. Self-publishing resources published their list of best microphones on the market to help you start making money recording audiobooks.
Once you’ve picked out your ideal microphone you’ll want to also choose a microphone stabilizer or stand to reduce any extra noise.
Another piece of important equipment that will help you get paid to record audiobooks includes headphones and a computer that runs efficiently and has adequate storage space. Along with a program to manage and capture recordings such as Audacity for PCs or Garageband for Macs.
With the basic tools in place, you’ll want to make sure you have a quiet and soundproof recording space and audio software. You can easily create this space in a closet or small room by putting up foam patting on the walls.
With a noise-free space and quality microphone, the last piece of equipment is editing software that will help you to make your recording sound professional and increase the sound quality.
5. Create a demo
With all your equipment set up, and a few practice recordings under your belt, you are ready to create your demo. Here’s how to become an audiobook narrator by putting together an amazing demo.
Choose a book you are familiar with
This way your personality can come through. It’s also easier to read out loud from a book you've already read or have listened to before.
Record five minutes from each chapter
Recording a few minutes from each chapter gives you a variety of samples to choose from. This gives you the opportunity to put together a demo that showcases your voice.
While recording it’s a good idea to include readings from at least three different genres with one fiction and one non-fiction.
With your new demo ready to go it’s time to get it into the hands of publishers. Some narrators will send their demos directly to publishers, however, there are a variety of sites you can use to help you find clients.
Uploading your demo to your website is a great place to start as well.
Where to find jobs
Now you know how to become an audiobook narrator, so it's time to learn how to find a job as one. The internet is a hub for numerous types of work including voiceovers and narrators. Check out these websites to see which is best for you.
Bunnystudio is a freelancing platform that focuses on voice and voice-over jobs, writing, and other design-related work. The application process is simple and requires making an account, and taking an assessment test. Once you’re approved you can start receiving work.
ACX allows you to work with a wide variety of authors and book genres. It starts by making a profile, choosing how you want to get paid, and then auditioning for jobs you’d like to take on.
When your audition is accepted you will work on the project until it’s complete. After completion, you will receive your payment and start the process over to make more money recording audiobooks.
This platform makes the process of recording audiobooks for money simple. You start by creating a profile, uploading your demo, and waiting while professionals find you.
When an author likes your voice they will submit an offer with the price of the project. Once you accept, voices.com will take care of the contracting and agreement so you can focus on the work. Their website also has resources to help you get the most out of your work.
Fivver is one of the freelance capitals of the internet, and it’s a great place for beginning audiobook narrators. The advantage is you can set your price and create a gig for the type of work you want to do.
With this platform, many newcomers start with a low price point. However, as you complete more jobs and get high reviews you are able to raise your prices.
People per hour
People per hour provides services for millions of companies. When setting up your profile it's important that you showcase your talent and skills. This way their AI system will better pair you with a potential client.
How much can you make recording an audiobook?
So you know that you can get paid to record audiobooks, but you may be wondering how much you can make.
Recording audiobooks for money depends on different factors including your level of experience, your location, and whether you want to be paid per project or per hour.
Whichever platform you choose to work with, it's important to verify their pay rates and systems.
The common methods of payment include:
- Pay for a finished hour
- Pay per finished project
- Pay per word read
- Royalty shares
- Set your own rate
Most narrators charge per hour and here are the average rates.
Per finished hour (PFH) for beginners, ranges anywhere from $25 -$100 depending on the platform.
The PFH for more experienced narrators can range from $100 - $250 an hour.
If you become a highly sought-after narrator you can charge $300+ per hour.
Key tips for success when learning how to become an audiobook narrator
You know that recording audiobooks for money can be profitable, but how can you guarantee success? Here are the best tips on how to become an audiobook narrator.
Create a stand-out demo
The most important aspect of creating a demo is to make sure the audio is clear and free from background noise and other distracting elements.
In order to create this noise-free audio, you’ll need to get a little technical. Luckily there are apps that are free to download and will help you adjust your audio to create perfect sound quality.
Networking can benefit every freelancer. When it comes to making money as an audiobook narrator it can be helpful to reach out to publishers directly. Especially if you created an audiobook recording for your own book.
You can find publishers by searching for their websites or connecting to them through LinkedIn.
Another great way to network is to connect with other audiobook narrators and study how they navigate and manage their voice careers.
Work with a professional
If you’re new to narrating and want to improve your voice potential, try taking classes or hiring a coach. By doing so you can acquire new skills and techniques, and network and build relationships with other professionals in the field.
A voice coach or even an acting coach can help you train your voice to be able to narrate for a wide range of genres.
Be prepared for words with difficult pronunciation
Every language has words that are complicated to pronounce, even for native speakers. English for example has colonel, Worcestershire, mischievous, draught, and quinoa.
In order to master these words and similar ones, try looking up their pronunciation on google and in a dictionary. Then practice saying them out loud before you record a demo or audiobook.
Listen to your pronunciation and have others listen as well to make sure your pronunciation is understandable.
Take breaks and take care of your voice
Recording audiobooks for money means talking for 4-6 hours at a time. This can be tiring on your vocal cords. When you start to get paid to record audiobooks, take breaks in between recordings.
Along with this, make sure you’re staying hydrated and healthy, and having some hot lemon water nearby can help, as well.
Get feedback through social media
Social media is not only a great tool for networking, it is also a great way to get feedback. You can be bold and post your demo on your social media pages and ask friends, family, and followers what they think.
You can email or message trusted individuals in your social network with your demo and ask for their constructive feedback.
Find your niche
Although niching down is a very helpful way to break into the industry and helps you stand out, it can take some time to find which genre your voice is best for. Different audiobook niches include kids and young adults, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, and drama for fiction.
There are biographies and memoirs, business and personal finance, self-help and personal development, and much more.
And the best place to start when recording audiobooks for money is to find a genre that you really enjoy.
If you have difficulty finding work in that niche, try a new one in an adjacent field. For instance, narrating children's books can be similar to narrating young adults or fantasy books.
Recording audiobooks for money can be your next side hustle!
Recording audiobooks for money is a great side hustle, especially for beginners. It's a skill you can practice and improve upon. You can work the hours you want, there are countless opportunities on many different websites, and it can be a fun way to make money.
With a little bit of practice and the right equipment, you can start to make money recording audiobooks. And if you're interested in other literary jobs, see our article about content writing for beginners, or learn key book writing tips.