A Beginners Guide to Getting Started In Voice Over
You’re interested in career in voice acting, but you’re not sure where to begin. Start here, my friend, because we’re talking voice acting for beginners.
Hey, Nice Voice!
Do your friends say you have a “nice voice”? Or, maybe you’re in radio and you’re doing voice overs for local advertisers. You may be an actor and you’re curious if you could earn a few extra bucks. These are all very good reasons for taking a closer look at starting a career in voice acting.
Becoming a voice actor can be lucrative. Plus, you can work from home and you become a member of the vibrant voice over community. While there are many benefits to voice acting, starting a career in voice overs requires careful consideration. Read on for straightforward, actionable steps for starting a career in voice acting.
Anyone Can Do Voice Overs
At first glance, it seems like anyone could do voice over work. You just talk into a microphone and people pay you, right? Yes and no.
Professional voice actors or voice talent do indeed speak into microphones and get paid. And they make it look easy. But they didn’t just walk in off the street and start booking voice over jobs. Learning to be a successful voice actor is not as simple as it looks. Professional voice actors invest time and money to get their voice over career rolling. There are a few steps you must take to go from having an interest in voice overs to having a career in voice acting.
It’s smart to consider the costs of doing professional voice overs. There is training to pay for, gear to buy and demos to produce. And there is a huge investment of your time learning the craft. Let’s take a look at what you will need to get started on an amazing career in voice acting.
The First Step Is Voice Over Training and Coaching
There are a lot of people that believe they already have the skills needed to do professional voice overs. There are related vocations that provide a great foundation for a career in voice acting. For example, having a background in radio or theater provides you with some useful skill sets also used in voice acting. But having this experience is not necessary. You can succeed as a voice actor without related background experience. However, even if you are starting out with some basic knowledge of how voice acting works, you need training. That is where a voice over coach comes in.
Find a Reputable Voice Over Coach
Basic knowledge and natural ability need to be molded and enhanced. Like an athlete, professional voice actors work with trainers and coaches to sharpen their skills and build upon their natural ability. The first step in your voice over journey is finding a reputable voice over coach.
A good voice over coach will evaluate your ability and let you know if you should pursue voice acting. If a coach agrees to take you on as a student, you will work through a series of lessons and learn best practices. Training takes time and a good coach costs money, of course.
You should do careful research before hiring a voice over coach. Be aware that there are some voice over schools and coaches that take advantage of newcomers by making grand promises with little to no experience in the industry. On the flip side, there are also incredible coaches who specialize in training new talent. These are the coaches you should seek out.
Not sure which coach to choose? Try joining a Facebook group for upcoming voice actors and just ask. There are a number of professional voice actors who act as mentors. They can point you in the right direction and guide you toward a coach you can trust and advise you on who to avoid.
A Recording Space and Basic Voice Over Gear
In order to learn, train and work in voice over you need a space to record and basic recording gear. Working as a professional voice actor in today’s voice over industry requires that you have a studio where you can audition for voice over jobs and record paid gigs.
You will need, at the very least, a good microphone, a computer, recording software and a quiet place to record. Your recording space will need some soundproofing to eliminate outside noise and room echo. You do not need a fancy soundproof booth for training. Many new (and even some veteran) voice actors record inside their closet! As you build your voice over business, you will invest in great recording gear and a nice studio, but it’s ok to use a basic set-up when you’re starting out. If you can get good, clean professional sound, it does not matter where you record.
Build Your Voice Over Business
Voice acting is like any other business. In order to sell your service, you must set up a store front and advertise. In fact, a voice over actor is essentially a small business. Businesses need to get the word out about their service. Here’s a basic rundown of the essential promotional materials for starting a voice over business.
Professionally Produced Voice Over Demos
After training and setting up a recording space, the next step to becoming a voice actor is producing samples of your voice so others can hear you and decide if you are right for the job. These samples are called demos or demo reels. A voice over demo reel is basically a montage of audio clips featuring your voice over work. You might have a “commercial demo” which is a collection of short snippets of various commercials you have voiced. Or an audiobook demo, eLearning demo or a demo in any number of voice over genres. Your demos will depend on your specialties, which is something your coach can help you determine.
You might think you could just edit together a simple voice over demo yourself. Perhaps. But it’s not recommended. The voice over industry is highly competitive. The voice actors you are auditioning against for those big voice over jobs all have professionally produced voice over demos. You cannot compete against professionally produced demos with a DIY voice demo. Voice buyers can hear the difference. Having a demo produced by a trusted voice over demo producer is an important investment.
Create a Logo and Establish Your Branding
Take the time to brand yourself and design a logo around that brand so you are memorable. For example, if your name is John Gold you could have a golden logo and a slogan like “The Gold Standard in Voice Over.” Then you would use the logo and a gold color palette in the design of your website. Everything should tie together. Remember, many of your clients are marketing professionals and those extra touches show you your attention to detail and should ultimately help them remember your brand and your voice.
Create Your Voice Actor Website
After you have a logo and have determined your branding, the next step is launching your voice over website. As a voice actor, you are your own small business and every business needs a website. Voice actor websites do not need to be expensive or elaborate. A single page website will do fine if you set the page up to prominently display your name, your demos and your contact information. If you have computer skills, you can build the website yourself. Many voice actors hire a professional to design their voice over website. There are even website designers who specialize in voice actor websites.
Social Media Accounts For Networking
When it comes to doing business, maintaining social media pages are a must these days. Social media is a great place to tell voice buyers more about who you are, your accomplishments and strengthen your brand. Networking on social media is a valuable way to meet potential buyers and grow your brand. Social media also allows you to network with other professional voice actors.
Start Your Career In Voice Acting
Starting a career in voice acting is expensive and requires a lot of hard work. But, the time and expense are well worth it. The reward is a career that can bring in a six-figure income, the ability to set your own hours and the freedom work from literally anywhere in the world. And, of course, voice acting is great fun. You can voice cool characters, earn national recognition and be part of a tribe of thousands of voice actors around the globe.
Voice acting is an exciting way to earn a living. Your best bet to success is taking it one step at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to an awesome career in voice acting.
VOPlanet offers free voice over casting to professional voice actors. All of our voice actors are vetted, established professionals.
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I've trained with a voiceover coach, built a working home studio in my basement, recorded a professional quality demo, bought the recommended equipment, and auditioned for 600+ roles. Out of those 600+ roles, I got only 4 clients. Am I on the right track as a newcomer into the voiceover industry? My coach says there is a formula for how likely I'll get the part. He says for every 100 auditions/applications I am likely to get 1 role. Is this true in general or all of the time?