What is the one burning question that you would ask to help reveal the secret to the voiceover world? Think of it. Do you have it? Ok, now….
…DON’T ask it!
That’s right – if you’re new the voiceover world, do this BEFORE you ask it….
Questions like “How do I get started in VO?”, or “How do you get work?”, or “What is the best voiceover mic?” are very common and perfectly understandable for those new to the trade. The answers are out there in Facebook groups, websites, podcasts, Youtube, etc. You’ll find the VO community very helpful and giving, but asking for the secret formula without doing your homework first may result in a little newbie jeering. I’m not a fan of that kind of treatment, so to help you avoid it, do your homework first!
Ok, so where do you start?
When folks asked me similar questions, I started sending them some “Intro To VO” tips from my experiences to help point them in the right direction. I wanted to share that template with you here:
“I heard you were interested in getting more into voiceovers so I’ll help out as best as I can. I started voiceovers (VO) on a whim after some time as a radio meteorologist and ski reporter but it took a LOT of time – like weeks and months – researching a transition into the VO world. I can’t say whether or not you have what it takes, but I’ll pass along a few links to point you in the right direction.
Research/Forums/Websites – Just about everything I learned about VO was from online forums so this is a great place to start. You’ll find that the voiceover community is very supportive. Here is a real good one – http://vo-bb.com/phpBB2/ You will find a LOT of info on these forums and sites, so take the time, dig through all the threads and soak it all up – it’ll take some time. A particularly good area is the “Where To Start” section where you’ll find some very informative sites like these…
- Todd Schick has a good site with some good FAQs
- Voiceover Xtra
- World-Voices Organization
Training/Coaching – A voiceover coach is key to evaluating your skills and finding your voice. Coaching takes time and commitment so be prepared to invest. Even experienced VOs use coaches on a regular basis and it’s fine – even recommended – to have more than one coach.
If you’re looking for a hands-on, in-studio learning experience in the New Hampshire area, a voiceover friend of mine hosts a class that can help. But for online coaching, Gabrielle Nistico, Julie Williams, Marc Cashman, are a few that offer their expertise and may have some helpful online videos. Marc Scott can help you with the marketing/business aspect of voiceovers. Many other coaches can be found through the Voiceover Xtra link above. Many voiceover talents come from acting/drama backgrounds so they have those acting chops that translate well to the microphone. Local schools/community colleges or theaters (improv) are great opportunities to develop those skills as well.
Studio/Tech/Gear – To record, you’ll need a home studio. Among the previous “getting started” sites above, there are numerous other studio/gear resources. The Voiceover Bodyshop guys (Dan Leonard and George Whitam) have a great podcast series, “Tech Talk”, and other topics. Here’s their Youtube and Facebook pages to browse through previous episodes. If you are focusing on a website at some point, the recent episode with Joe Davis from Voice Actor Websites is a good one – they helped me build my site and for a reasonable cost.
If you like videos, the Booth Junkie (Mike Delgaudio) has been making VERY informative videos for a long time – he does a great job talking about the basics and goes out of his way on actual demonstrations. Here’s one about setting up a studio. He does a lot of other studio/gear tutorials, microphone comparisons, and all sorts of other very helpful industry topics.
Demos – A demo is a sample of what you can do. This is your “business card” or “headshot” to potential clients and is the most critical aspect to connect you with voiceover work. It depends, too, on what kind of work you’re going for, whether commercial, narration, e-learning, etc. Here is a site with some examples – http://www.demosthatrock.com/portfolio.html . A professionally produced demo is not cheap! Unless you work as a sound engineer or producer, do NOT self-produce your demo! I tried it myself early on and it most likely cost me work.
After doing a LOT of homework, preparation, and a demo, you could test the waters with “pay-to-play” sites. These are subscription sites where you pay an annual fee, and get access to auditions for various jobs, or “leads.” One of them is Voice123 that I’ve had a lot of success with, but there are others like Boldago and Voiceovers.com.
Rates – Each VO has their own rates based on many individual factors. Here are some resources that give you an idea of voiceovers can charge. Here’s the Global Voice Acting Academy (GVAA) site that shows general rates – plus they have a lot of other great resources, such as studio tech, demos, etc. The Edge Studio is another good site with similar resources around rates, studio tech, etc.
Everyone’s circumstances are different so rates may vary widely, but please understand how offering rates well below industry (non-union) standards can impact the industry as a whole. There has been much debate about it over the years so take some time to read up on that.
Well, these are only just a few of the many resources that have helped me but these should get you started. Like I said, it takes a LOT of time reading and researching – like weeks and months, even years. Absorb as much as possible. It’s an ongoing learning experience, too, so don’t stop after hitting just a few websites. I’m still researching even after 12 years, because industries change and evolve. You will eventually hear common themes and ideas about the business that will shape your approach to the world of VO so that you can start defining your path.
I hope that this is a good start for you. I wish you luck in your voiceover journey!”