Having been a full time professional Voiceover Artist for about 10 years now, this is something I have been asked constantly over that time.
I do find myself giving pretty similar replies to these questions so thought it was about time I wrote down my advice so that you can read it in your own time and have a think about whether life as a voiceover artist is for you.
What’s your why?
Firstly, ask yourself WHY you think you’d like to become a Voiceover Artist?
Yes, it can be a very flexible job that can fit around your life and be home based. In reality this only happens with time, effort, planning, training, financial outlay and resilience. Read on to see if it’s going to be worth the investment in all of these things for you.
Still want to know where to start in voiceovers?
Find out more about the industry, the internet is of course the obvious place to start, and as with researching all professions, you’re going to be able to learn a lot about the tools and skills you need to get started.
Google professional voiceover artists, have a look at their websites, listen to their reels.. those sites and reels cost money and the VO worked and trained hard to be good enough to get a professional reel recorded.
Be prepared to invest money and time from day one. You’ll be competing against these people.
What training do you need to become a professional VO?
There is no strict career path to becoming a voiceover.
Professionals I know and work with have come from a variety of backgrounds including acting and broadcasting. Some of us even have specialist backgrounds in audio engineering, TV presenting and some can speak many languages.
If these areas of work and skills are all new to you then remember that these people are your competition and you will need to train to match them and then to improve on them and offer something unique.
Get acting training, or learn about audio recording. It’s easier than ever to access training – from organisations like GFTB or the Showreel. If you’re really serious about your game then you can look to work with a coach such as the incredible Nancy Wolfson or Nic Redman.
The VOs I know are intelligent people who are not only great talkers – but great LISTENERS.
Listeners to advice, to training, to voices they hear around them, to themselves, to their “competition”, to direction, to Agents, to trends and to the markets they want to work in.
Start by recording and listening to yourself.. what do you sound like? Would you “buy” from you? Is there something unique about your sound?
You need to work that out - much as you would if you had an actual product to sell and then work out how you're going to sell it.. who to and where.
I have been told I have a great voice
Great – that’s very nice. Who told you? Have they heard it recorded? Do you know how to use it to persuade, sell, humanize, help people stand out in crowded marketplaces?
The more important thing is that you know how to use it.
And where is your best source of work? Who are the people that need your sound? Where are they?
Again – more listening needed and more research
Do I need a studio?
Yes, you do. If you are serious about making this your full time job at some point, you need to be available to work whenever the client wants you to be in a broadcast quality recording environment.
Again, get online to find out how you can go about building a studio or buying a booth. Invest in a good sounding space and a decent mic, - your competitors have..
Potential clients and agents have very well tuned ears and can tell immediately if your set up isn’t up to scratch.
It’s part of being taken seriously and of course - sounding good
Do I need an Agent?
No, you don’t NEED an agent. It’s great to have one though; I like that I have an expert team looking out for me and my work – negotiating fees and seeking work and taking the time to get to know me and the potential of my sound.
Agents can be the key to the jobs that you are aiming at but make sure you are ready before you start approaching agents as it’s important to get this right first time. They are busy people.
How can I find voiceover clients?
Make sure you have your ducks in a row (a good demo, training and a studio) and then when you’ve decided you know how you sound, what your voice is suitable for and that you’ll be able to do a good job, start the research.
Cold calling and cold emailing may not be your thing but it’s a hard reality of voiceover work. Also – no one will give you access to their hard won and precious client list. So never ask!
What about the voiceover P2P pay to play sites – I’ve done a few auditions?
Great – there are a variety of views about auditioning. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.. depends on the opportunity, client, job, market etc.
When I started out I did quite a few auditions on P2P sites which helped me sharpen up and ultimately practice my skills. But in reality, the returns are low for the amount of effort so, see them as practice.
Is the money really good in Voiceovers?
It can be, but you have to work for every pound of it.. if you’re getting your session fee for an hours work you might think you’re minted. But you have to work constantly to keep those opportunities coming in. Also, if you’ve been working years on your craft as a VO, they owe you for the years, not the 30 mins it took you to deliver a perfectly recorded and nuanced script that the client is thrilled with.
Never undercut your fellow Voiceovers. This is a weirdly strong and close community you are trying to be part of.. people know things!
Also, if you’re selling your soul on sites like Fiverr, you’re going to be destroying the very industry you want to feed you.
We are team players – not celebs
Ok good – you must want to be a voiceover artist more than ANYTHING else.
Go and get started!
If you would like to talk via skype about a potential career in Voiceovers then you can book a 30 minute session with Clare