Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Before you read any further, know that becoming a voice actor is a synonym for becoming a business owner. You don't "break into VO." You are opening a business, not unlike opening a retail store from scratch. That means it takes an investment of both money and time. In other words, slapping a homemade demo together, throwing it up on a wordpress blog, and waiting around for someone to hire you is not how anyone becomes a voice actor.
Voice actors spend more time looking for jobs than they spend in their recording space.
Just like any other business, much of your time and energy will be put into finding and retaining clients. All voice actors do this. Nobody lands an agent and then stops marketing themselves, no matter how big they get. That's because successful voice actors know that nobody will ever care about their career as much as they do.
This is what you can expect starting your career to ideally look like (in a nutshell):
Training: Interpretation and Delivery - When auditioning or when you're hired for a job, your client will expect you to be able to already know what they want you to sound like, often based on little to no direction. E-learning, commercial, medical, corporate, tv narration, animation, etc. all have different cadences and styles of delivery. If you go into voice acting trying to wing it, there's an excellent chance you'll end up on the industry block-list (it does exist and you don't want to be on it). This is where practicing with a reliable coach comes into play. Very few newbies without any previous experience and training are able to interpret and deliver a script without some kind of coaching.
Training: Audio Editing and Engineering - You HAVE to learn at least the very basics of audio editing (and nowadays, more and more clients want you to be able to do the mixing/mastering too).
Training: How To Find (And Keep!) Clients - It's almost unheard of for a voice actor to only get work through their agent(s). Every actor does their own marketing and outreach to some extent. When you're new, this means reaching out personally to at least 25 new prospective clients a week in addition to following up with leads, auditioning, and other marketing. This is where the vast majority of voice actors quit. You have to consistently advertise and market yourself in order to maintain a career.
Recording Space - After you have a solid understanding of the art of voice acting, audio editing, and business management, it's time to create your recording space. You must absolutely work with a professional audio engineer who specializes in voice acting to set up your recording space. If your sound isn't professional (background noise etc.), you won't get work. You can not be a working voice actor in today's climate with only a USB mic and your blanket fort at your disposal.
Demo - If your vo business is like a retail store, then your demo is your commercial. Your demo should reflect your range and your professionalism. Your demo must be produced in its entirety by professionals with experience, which is why you should never make your own demo No matter how talented you are in GarageBand, it will be obvious to the client if your demo was homemade.
Website - Your website is like your storefront and should be a single page (that's easy to navigate) and your demo(s) should be prominently featured.
This is, of course, the abridged version of how to get started. There's also the subject of mic technique, finding your niche in the various genres, how and what to charge, networking, agents, and much more! What do you want to learn about next? Let me know in the comments below.
If you're looking for even more info on how to start your VO career, why not take advantage of my holiday specials?