Does this guide have all the answers?
Is this based on generalizations?
Everyone is different and your mileage may vary.
This is a simple, very basic guide to starting a career in voice over. Every section can be elaborated on in great depth. This is merely meant to serve as a jumping off point for the voice talents of tomorrow.
What Is Voice Over?
Voice over is anything your voice goes over. This means there are endless possibilities and genres. It also means that there are many different paths to a career in voice over.
But before you run out and buy the coolest mic you see (more on that later), take a second to answer these questions.
Copy and answer the following questions in a word document of your choice:
What are your voice over acting goals?
What is more important to you- being in your desired niche (for most people this is animation and video games) or earning a living income being a voice actor?
These are important questions to answer because it determines what you’ll need in order to move forward. In this guide, I will be speaking in regards to the steps you’ll need to take in order to have a career as a professional voice actor. The following information is intended for those who are looking to either supplement or replace their income.
Top 7 Skills Of Highly Successful Voice Actors
I’ve noticed that most successful voice over talents have a few things in common. They have a background in:
● Customer Service
● Public Speaking
Top 10 Traits of Highly Successful Voice Actors
Most of them also share similar personality traits and are:
● People Persons
Being a professional voice actor is synonymous with being a business owner. Your product is your voice. It’s up to you to advertise, brand, and market your product. Nobody is ever going to care as much about your business as you do. And however successful you may become, it will always be up to you to keep your product (your voice over skills) up to date and keep your brand relevant. Much of your time as a voice actor will be spent selling your product.
Eight Steps To Beginning Your Voice Acting Career
Many voice actors (myself included) take the following approach to beginning a voice acting career. This is an abridged version and I will elaborate on the eight steps that I mention below.
1. Research and read about voice acting
2. Create a business plan (including a budget with working capital)
3. Find a coach or coaches
4. Train with your coach(es)
5. Create a recording space with a qualified and experienced engineer in the voice over industry
6. When your coach and you determine you are ready, plan and record your demos
7. Create a website that adheres to industry expectations
8. Begin auditioning and direct marketing
The Eight Steps: Elaborated
1. Research and Read About Voice Acting
There is a ton of information about voice over that can be found with a quick google. Finding reliable information isn’t difficult but it does take time. The voice acting community is also known for being very warm and generous. If you need some guidance, send a brief, friendly message introducing yourself and ask for a reference. Facebook groups can also be a great resource for information. Again, don’t be shy to ask for references!
2. Create A Business plan
Once you’ve done your research and have an idea of what you want your career to look like, create a business plan.There are many complementary templates available online from organizations like the Small Business Association. It’s ok if you’re unsure of what to write in
some areas on those templates! They are simply a way to organize your idea into a tangible plan. Your coach can also help you define your business plan after you have a basic draft.
3. Find A Coach
Finding a good coach and finding the right coach are not necessarily one and the same.
A GOOD Coach Will:
● Take an interest in you as a talent
● Listen and ask questions as well as lecture
● Refer you to more advanced instructors as you progress
● Be responsive
● Exercise patience
● Be actively working as a voice actor
● Have references from other students
The RIGHT Coach Will:
● Make a connection with you
● Make you feel comfortable
● Challenge you
● Encourage you
● See and communicate your potential to you
Take a few minutes to chat with any potential coaches personally before signing up for one-on-one sessions. It’s important to feel comfortable with your voice over coach. It can take some time to find the right person, so don’t rush this step!
4. Train With Your Coach/Practice-
It’s certainly not impossible to become a voice actor without a coach(s) but it sure is rare. It’s similar to any other career as an artist. There’s always that one person who is incredibly talented, in addition to incredibly lucky, who makes it without training. But think of it this way- you can do yoga at home by watching a video but you’ll only get a personal critique if you go to a class with an instructor. Professional athletes, dancers, and actors all have coaches they train with regularly.
Classes and one-on-sessions should focus on:
● Script Interpretation & Delivery
● Mic Technique
● Audio Editing
● Business & Marketing
Different coaches will specialize in different areas. Always do your research before working with a coach. Again, don’t be shy to ask for references. If there’s a voice actor you admire, ask them for a coaching reference. They may even be coaches themselves!
5. Create A Recording Space
Besides excellent customer service and acting chops, your audio quality will be an enormous factor in your success. I cannot stress enough how important it is to consult with a professional engineer who is familiar with the voice acting industry before investing in a recording space and equipment. Your recording space is more important than your recording equipment. There is not a single microphone on this earth that can compensate for a cruddy recording space. Furthermore, there isn’t any such thing as the “best microphone.” There is only the best microphone for you. Your audio engineer will also be able to help you choose a microphone and all the other gadgets required to produce quality voice overs.
You and your coach will train together until it’s time to record your demos. Your demos are (typically) a 60 second compilation of different voice over spots that showcase your talent as a voice actor. Depending on how much training you need/are able to afford, it can take anywhere from several months to several years before you’re ready to record your demos. This is because demos are meant to showcase your very best performances. Your demo is your pitch to a potential client. You want it to sound better than just good. It should sound fantastic! Demos are also expensive. Don’t waste your money by recording your demo before you’re ready. You may end up with something you can’t use.
Your website should be easy to update and should conform to industry expectations. This is the store front of your business and where future clients will find your demos. Consult with a professional to ensure that your website adheres to standards.
8. Auditioning and Marketing
Congrats! You’re officially in B2B sales. You now need to sell your product (your voice and related services). This means auditioning and reaching out to anyone whose business could use your voice. Your daily routine will include:
● Researching potential clients
● Reaching out to potential clients
● Maintaining a CRM
● Creating and maintaining a social media presence
And there you have it. The most basic of guides to starting a career in voice acting.