A Lot of eLearning Trends In 2020

Whether it’s because of the Covid 19 Pandemic or the industry just continues to boom, there is more eLearning work than ever! The demand for female voice over roles is continual, and as a full-time professional voice actor, every time an eLearning job arrives in my inbox I am delighted. I have always loved working with the instructional designers and project managers to bring their content to life. Before I became a voice actor, I was a teacher, so perhaps that it was I feel so at home with this genre. At the moment, there is a huge amount of eLearning content and based on the work coming in I have noticed a lot of trends in the type of work being sought, rates, tech needs, and what books the work. If you are looking to expand your eLearning bookings or to work more in this genre, these are questions you should be asking:

What gets your foot in the door with eLearning content creators?

The Demo MattersYou need a solid demo that represents both a range of your abilities and your understanding of the industry. My vocal range is from teen to middle age, and that is demonstrated in my eLearning demo, which goes from tech industries to pharma to medical. My demo switches gears from upbeat and engaging to serious and professional. My demo is set to music, which is controversial is often eLearning is dry. I wanted my demo to standout and by pleasant to listen to, and I believe it meets that goal.

What are you typically asked for when cast in an eLearning role?

It has been a while since I was cast as a generic third person narrator in eLearning. Instead, for the last sic months, ever booking to land on my desk is a character role, where the instructional designer wants an authentic, genuine role that is You need tobelievable for their training. For example, this week I was cast as  a college student who had gone down the wrong path and had a drug problem and was now in recovery. I had to be sensitive and relatable. It had to be believable. I was telling this girl’s story in this university’s training scenario. Last week I was a caller in a pay roll company’s HR training. I was the good caller this time, but in the past I’ve been the bad caller. In both instances the character had to be believable, authentic, and sincere. As a female eLearning narrator, this is a big responsibility: to continue booking work for clients you have to be able to switch gears and maintain whatever character you are playing for them that day. The character must be consistent throughout and must have nuance.

What Rates are you booking at?

Maintain Industry Standard RatesRates are really important. My bookings typically range between $0.25/word and $0.45/word with a $150 minimum and $1 per split. I charge for splits if there are more than 10. I prefer to quote the price per word and not per finished minute as I speak quickly. Last week I had a potential client reach out and ask me if I was on Upwork. I told them I was not. They wanted to know if I would honor Upwork’s rates, and I explained that at this point in my career I could not work for those rates. I then referred the client to GVAA and Gravy for The Brain, in hopes of keeping the conversation going. They did come back to me that if they had flexibility they would let me know, but in the mean time it is important to be willing to walk away. The next day I had a job come in that was 617 words and paid of $400. It is important never to settle.

What technological requests do you get from clients?

The Tech MattersMost typically, my eLearning clients want MP3s that are split and fully edited.  I typically add EQ, compression, and a d-esser. If you are booking eLearning work for big companies, it is expected that you should have a professional grade studio at this point. Especially because they often do not have music or effects behind their training, the quality of the audio that you provide matters more than ever.

Final Thoughts:

There is a lot of eLearning work for voice actors at the moment. If you intend to be booking it, you need to have great sound and be able to maintain a character consistently for the duration of the script. Your demo gets you in the door, but if you can’t sound as good as that on every single job, then you are not ready to work.

I Saw It in The Sound Wave First

Late Friday afternoon I was in my booth recoding a bunch of agent auditions that had come in. Initially I felt fine. I had completed all of my booked work and I wanted to submit a few more reads before I called it a day. I typically don’t have a lot Laura's wave form showing mouth clicksof mouth clicks when I record. I do run Izotope RX7 as part of my effects stack, which takes care of whatever clicks there are, but I tend to stay hydrated and am not so clicky, especially since I gave up caffeine. I noticed that even though my noise floor was the same as it always is, I had a crazy amount of spikes and clicks present that I do not typically see. This was 3 to 5 minutes before I became violently ill and had to run from the booth, I could see what I had no idea was about the be a horrible case of food poisoning, in my audio!

Within minutes, I had gut wrenching pain, could not stand, and was horrible nauseous. I almost fell over my puppy Daisy trying to run from my studio. It was brutal. I did make it upstairs in time, but had gone from functioning and working to completely ill and a total mess in moments. It was terrible.

The Nutrition Challenge

The food poisoning came on in the middle of a nutrition challenge I have been doing. After all, in the midst of a global pandemic, what could be more important that putting my health first? And as a working mom, staying healthy and cooking good food, and presenting an over-all healthy lifestyle for my family, is always a priority. I also find that there is a direct correlation between my food choices and the way that I sound, so this nutrition challenge was right up my alley.

Since I typically try to eat well, why was this challenge unique? Well, I had been eating a lot more raw vegetables than usual and avoiding any processed carbohydrates. I still eat carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and squash, I just have been avoiding gluten free breads, cereals, and pastas. I had also been eating A LOT of salad. When a say a lot, I mean consider a normal amount, and then for me, the past two weeks had been more than double the amount of salad eating I ever do. It had been an insane amount.

In the midst of a nationwide romaine recall in 19 states, I believe that I got profoundly ill either from romaine lettuce or from an autumn lettuce blend, the latter more likely being the culprit. Whatever the cause, after epic vomiting, I was left dizzy and with a fever that hovered around 100 for 48 hours and alternating between chills and sweats.

A Forced Rest

Laura Schreiber on Sofa with Her DogsAs a small business owner, I work all the time. Typically on the weekends I work less, but I still work at points every day. This food poisoning forced me to pause. I was not even sure on Saturday if I would be ok for my like sessions on Monday, but I know realize I will be. Talking is hard, sitting up is hard. Sometimes the forced rest is essential to get back to where we were. I guess it is an opportunity to reset- to restart. In truth I have no other option, when one is so dizzy that going up and down the stairs feels unsafe, the rest is the only option. In lieu of any work, I laid on the sofa in my den surrounded by my dogs and tried not o move at all.

The Implications

As a voice over actor, our business is our baby and it is hard to set it aside for even a moment. When you have such a profound passion, even some intense vomiting does not dampen the passion. But the vomiting makes it virtually impossible to work and to work well. To act well, we have to meaningfully engage with our copy and easily switch from role to role, whether it’s the millennial commercial voice or an engaging professional in an eLearning narration. When you cannot sit up straight and you are burping a lot, it is pretty impossible to connect with the copy and be present in the moment as your stomach is really calling all the shots. Unless you have a great character gig as a burping child, this is really not the time to be in the booth.

The opportunities that arise here are ones for communications. If any work needs to be rescheduled, it should be done right away. I was fortunate, if ever there was a time to get sick, Friday afternoon was a good one. I had time to recover. I did not miss any booked work, I did not need to move any sessions, I did not need to notify anyone of my convalesced state.  Believe me, I have had to do all of those things in the past, and you feel terrible to let a client down, so being able to work is a good feeling. I was lucky that considering how sick I got, it happened over the weekend and I will be ok.