Audiobooks represent an excellent passive income opportunity, and the market is exploding Even if though may take a couple hours to produce a high-quality audiobook, the profit it can provide in the long term is worth the initial time investment.
How do you become an audiobook narrator? If you love to read, have a talent or passion for reading out loud, it is fairly easy to become an audiobook narrator. Once you have the necessary gear to get started, you can offer your talent on platforms like Fiverr and get new clients fairly quickly.
This guide for beginners provides tips on how to get started narrating books for others, or for yourself. You will learn how to get started and get a couple pro tips to help you produce quality content for your clients.
The Audiobooks Market is Exploding
The growth of the audiobook market is exploding. According to the Audio Publishers Association, a new survey supported by data from The Infinite Dial 2019 shows that 50% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook. 55% of all audiobook listeners are under the age of 45 and over half (55%) of audiobook listeners have also listened to a podcast in the last month.
Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people spend less and less time actually reading. Many people prefer listening to an audiobook on the go instead of reading an eBook on a Kindle. Although most listen in their car (74%), others like to listen while doing less cognitively demanding tasks (ex. cleaning).
According to the APA survey, 74% of audiobook consumers listen in their car, up from 69% last year.
There definitely is an opportunity to make (eventually) passive income as an audiobook narrator. But you may be wondering what options you have to get paid in this industry.
How Do Audiobook Narrators Get Paid?
You can get paid to narrate other people’s books, or your own. Payment options differ depending on whose books you are narrating.
Narrating Other People’s Books
There are a couple ways you can get paid as a freelance audiobook narrator. You could you get paid a flat rate or hourly to narrate other people’s books. You could also make money through royalty shares.
“If the title is 10 hours long, you get paid an hourly rate based on the finished hours. I believe starting salary is approximately $100 per finished hour for newcomers, and can go up to anywhere in the neighborhood of $500 for the cream. This would not include celebrity reads.”
As a beginner, you will probably get paid a flat or hourly rate. You will have to prove yourself as an experienced audiobook narrator to be able to receive royalty shares. That is the most passive form of income in this industry, and probably the most interesting option for our readers.
Narrating Your Own eBooks
If you are starting out and want to go towards making passive income right away, you can take on the option of narrating your own content. You can potentially make more money because the sales go directly to you and are recurring.
On the other hand, building your own audiobook from scratch takes time. You need to be prepared to possibly not make any sales in the first few months, especially if you don’t yet have a website or an audience. However, using platforms like ACX or Kindle Publishing, you can sell your audiobooks directly to users who are looking for content.
Some are making over 2,500$/month on ACX alone.
Making Passive Income from Audiobooks for Beginners [Guide]
Below is a list of actionable tips to get started on this amazing adventure of earning passive income with audiobooks. There are always two options available to you: narrating for someone else, or narrating your own books. We will cover both options.
Choose a Niche You are Passionate About
If you are passionate about entrepreneurship, fiction books or biographies, then you should probably narrate books in the areas you are most interested in. If you are narrating your own books, it will be easy! You already wrote about something you are interested in. However, if you narrate for someone else, you may not be able to choose the niche.
When Narrating for Others
One of the best ways for a beginner to get started is by narrating for someone else. However, you probably won’t be able to choose the topic in this case. You will be provided content to narrate by your client.
We will explain how to create a Fiverr profile to start narrating for others later on in this article. When you are starting out you probably shouldn’t reduce your client base by stating that you don’t narrate fiction books for example. But once you gain experience, you can definitely specify which topics you prefer. This will help improve the quality of your leads, and work.
When Narrating Your Own Books
If you have already written a book, have a website with a lot of content, or already have a large audience, you can easily create your own eBook and also transform it into an audiobook. For those with a website or a large audience, try to see how you can provide your audience with premium value and turn it into an eBook (here is a guide on our site on how to create an eBook).
However, if you do not have an audience or website, and are still looking for a profitable niche, you could do the following:
- Go to Amazon.com, select a topic and then search for books in that niche: “[niche name] book”. At the top of the screen, you’ll see the total number of search results. More than 10,00 means that this is a highly competitive niche. Look at the best seller rank of the items on the front page. As you can notice, the lower the rank, the more they sell.
- Look for a niche with few results in Audible: Next, try to find books in niches that few people are searching for. Search for these on Audible, not Amazon. If you find zero books on Audible in a certain niche that is very strong on Amazon, this means the potential of this niche is huge. This is an indicator of an opportunity you can capitalize on.
Make sure, of course, that this is a niche you are interested in. You could also follow the information in this guide to learn more about niche sites, how to build and monetize them.
Finding the Right Platform For Your Needs
The platform you will use to narrate your own books is very different from the platform you would use to start narrating for others. Here are some places you can start in both cases.
When Narrating for Others
Fiverr.com (learn more on our site here) is an excellent place for beginners to start narrating for others. All you have to do is sign up to the platform and do the following:
- Have a look at your competition: Search for other audiobook narrators on the platform and study the best ones. You will be creating a profile as compelling as theirs (but, of course, don’t copy their content word for word).
- Fill out your profile: Make sure you add as much relevant information as possible to your profile, and insist on your strengths. Being a new user, you will have to convince buyers to work with you
- Create your offer (or “gig”): Add a compelling title, description, and create packages per number of words if you would like. Enter your pricing. If you speak other languages, put that in the title and description. People are looking for narrators in all languages! Not just English.
- Make sure to upload samples! If you upload a video of yourself or sample content, you will have more chances of finding buyers because they will have heard your work.
When Narrating Your Own Books
There are a number of platforms that allow you to upload and sell your own audiobooks. You should study these platforms before joining and decide which one(s) are the best for your needs:
Selling though your own website is the most profitable as you do not have to pay any commissions on your sales. You could also upload them to a platform like Awesound that contains a search engine – meaning people will be able to find your books on the platforms they use most. No matter what, you will have to promote your work, either through social media, affiliate marketing or other.
Promoting Your Content
When Narrating for Others
When narrating for others, you won’t have to promote their content – you will have to promote your job offer. Your goal will be to build up a portfolio demonstrating your work so potential clients will want to work with you. Keeping your Fiverr profile up to date, and your ratings high, will help you rank higher in Fiverr’s search engine. You could also promote your services on a YouTube channel.
When Narrating Your Own Books
The statistic from the Audio Publishers Association is clear: over half (55%) of audiobook listeners have also listened to a podcast in the last month. Promoting your audiobook via a Podcast is an excellent way to reach potential listeners. But you may not know how to create a Podcast or have the time to do so, but you can learn how in Project 24.
If you are an expert in your domain and have an excellent audiobook to share, instead of starting your own podcast (which you would also have to promote) you could be a guest on other people’s podcasts. This is a great way to build your audience and reach new people. You could also start a blog or YouTube channel following the Project 24 method.
Narrate Other People’s Books – Or Your Own?
You can make quick money by narrating for others – but this is an active side hustle. In that case, you are an audiobook narrator. You would find authors or clients willing to pay you to narrate their content. You would get paid per hour or per project. This is a great place to start as a beginner, especially if you do not have your own content to narrate at this point, or do not have a large audience to sell to. You can offer your narration services on numerous platforms, including Fiverr.
Once you are experienced, then you can move to the next level, which is narrating your own books. This is similar to creating an eBook, but it will be less time consuming as it takes much less time to say 10,000 words than to write them. Selling your audiobooks can be very profitable if they are in demand and if you can sell them direct to consumer from your own website (guide on how to sell digital goods direct to consumer here). To better understand royalties, we recommend this article.
Pro Tips for Beginners Interested In Becoming Audiobook Narrators
- To improve the quality of your audiobooks, you will probably have to invest in a mic. Check out our recommended gear here.
- Stand up when you read your audiobook content to open your diaphragm and increase the sound quality
- Drink a glass of water thirty minutes before starting and avoid coffee that will dry out your mouth, or milk products like cheese that could give you phlegm
- Make the listening experience interesting, do not have a monotonous voice but do not overdo the intonations either.
- Make sure to have good posture when reading, keep your shoulders back, breath deeply, and relax
How Passive is Narrating Audio Books?
Making money with audiobooks can become very passive after a few years, especially if you decide to sell your own audiobooks online or narrate for others for a royalty. If you offer your narration services and work as a freelancer and get paid per project or per hour, narrating audiobooks will not be passive. Of course, you could do a combination of both, but in that case you won’t have a 100% passive income source.
You can embark on this business opportunity for free, even your recent cell phone can record decent sound if you do not want to invest in a mic right away. However, you should eventually invest in a quality mic. Check out our suggestions here.
Narrating audiobooks for others is not scalable of course, because it depends on your capacity to produce quality content for a client. However, if you are selling your own audio content and making direct to consumer sales, then you can make a lot of money from marketing your product well. Therefore, selling your own product is more scalable.
Making money with audiobooks is not as hard as it might seem. If you have a great voice and you’ve done this before, it will be super easy for you to earn money from narrating books. Moreover, if you are experienced in a niche that is growing fast, you should have no problems advertising your audiobook and selling it online.
You will need to invest some time in the beginning to build this as a passive income stream. This will especially be the case if you want to create your own audiobooks and advertise them yourself. Expect to invest months to years building your business to make it passive. However, if you do not mind doing it as a side hustle, you can make income from it fairly quickly on Fiverr.
Narrating audiobooks is one of the less risky ways to make passive income. You do not have to invest a lot of money to get started. You can also start slow and still get an edge over other narrators in the future. This industry is growing super fast, so the need for audiobooks will only continue to increase. One way you can fail is to stop before making your first sale.
Fortunately, this passive business opportunity is available all through the year. You can start it any time suits you. For example, if you are one of the lucky ones who get more than a month a year off from work during summer, you can start it during that time.
ROI (Return On Investment)
Now, in terms of money, expect to make between $10 and $50 an hour in the beginning for narrating for other people depending on your skills. Once you make a name for yourself, you can easily get to make over $200 for just one hour of narrating.
However, if you choose to upload your own audiobook on Audible.com, or on your own website, and if you are in a profitable, expanding niche, after advertising it well enough, you can end boost your passive income to $10k/month.
How much does an audiobook narrator make? Audiobook narrators can expect to make between $10 and $50 an hour in the beginning for narrating for other people depending on their skills. Once established, audiobook narrators can make between $100 and $500 per hour of narrating.
How do I become an audible book reader? Before you become an audible book reader, it’s important to decide if you would like to narrate other people’s books, or your own. If you would like to narrate books or content for others, you can get started on Fiverr. If you would like to narrate your own books, you can get started on ACX.