Considering a Career in Voiceover?
In this blog were going on a whistlestop tour of getting started in voiceover.
At a recent gathering of friends, I was introduced to a young lady, who we will call Steph. Steph has a steady job working in HR, however, when I asked her about her work, she said quite casually,
'Well it's fine, but it's not what I really want to do.'
'Oh,' I replied, 'what is it that you really want to do?'
'Well,' she said, looking a bit sheepish, 'what I'd really like to do, is get into voiceover.'
My eyes gleamed, and she could tell before I even opened my mouth that I was about to inform her that I myself, was a voice actor.
Now although people have reached out to me via social media and asked questions about getting started in voiceover, or progressing their career; all of them have in some way either already begun, or are well on their way to building a successful VO business for themselves.
Never have I encountered someone who is entirely in the dark about the industry, and how one might get started in it. We had a brief chat, and then set about exchanging details to discuss more at a later date. It was only in this conversation with Steph that I then realized how much there was to consider.
So in this blog, we're going to outline the initial steps, what to be thinking about, and how to get started with your career in Voiceover.
Coaching, Training, and Practise
Now before you embark on buying your first microphone, and diving into auditioning on P2P's, it's important to address a few of the more basic things you need. If you don't come from a performance background or have any communication skills training, you're going to need to look into voiceover coaching.
- There is plenty of 1 day, or weekend introductory courses both in person or online across the UK. So dive into one of those and give the entire thing a try, to see if you even enjoy the process in the first place.
- And if you decide to continue on your journey, find yourself a dedicated voiceover coach and start working with them. This will help you identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what sort of work in voiceover you'd like to pursue.
- Talk to other voiceovers and ask them about their work, the industry and what it’s like working as a freelancer. For someone going from full time employment this can be a big step.
- Practise, practise, practise. Now I know this seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people assume that much of this job is just reading out loud, or just being yourself behind a mic. Some VO's are lucky and can make a living with their unique sound and style of speech, but for most of us, we have to be adaptable to fit into the client's brief. So start downloading scripts from the script libraries available online, and practising!
2. Creating A Demo!
This is a big step from the coaching and practising, and you must make sure you are ready to create a demo before you do so, otherwise, you'll end up like me, recording several demos, and spending rather large sums of money, on demos that you no longer use because they don't represent your ability.
So make sure you are ready, but when you are, get behind the mic and record a demo. I would suggest starting with the big two, commercials and corporates. That's a great foundation to build the VO business on. And from there, move into other areas like elearning, audiobooks or even gaming if you're interested in the gaming world.
One thing to keep in mind when producing your demos is to work collaboratively with your producer. Don't be afraid to say, I don't think this part represents my skill set, or the type of work I want to pursue. There is no point in having a reel full of stuff that you don't want to voice in the first place.
Trust me when I tell you, anyone listening to it, will be able to tell!
3. Putting it all together.
Ok so you've done some training and have a demo(s), well now comes the other side of the business, some might say the boring side, but if you're like me, then you love all the other stuff, like branding, website creating, marketing, social media and just growing your network.
You can either outsource these things or do them all yourself, but it's important to have them all in line before you dive into the world of looking for work.
- Branding - Your voiceover business needs to have a logo and clear branding so you can be identified, and differentiated from the other VO's around you. As well as a clear understanding and description of your voice. Many voiceovers use a three-word tagline for their voices, such as warm, engaging and confident, or friendly, relaxed and bright.
- Website - Obviously you need to have a place to display your demos and your work, once you get some, where clients can find details about you. Even if you have nothing else to put up, I would recommend having a site with a clear picture, your demos and a small amount of information about you. The rest can be built and added on as you progress.
- Marketing - this deserves a blog all on its own but let's just say you're going to have to sell your business, so it's time to get on the old interwebs and start finding clients. If no one knows you, no one is going to be able to hire you. Depending on the kind of work you want to do, look for production companies, freelance creatives and media directors who might need your services.
- Social Media - it's important for your brand to have a presence on social media, whether you like it or not, most businesses use it to promote themselves or the products they are selling. And with personal businesses, like voiceover, it allows people to immediately see who you are, what you're about, and how this impacts the work you might deliver.
- Growing your network - as I said before, if no one knows who you are, then no one can employ you. So growing your network, not only with current and previous clients but also with other voiceovers, creative freelancers and people who can potentially recommend you for work, is essential.
4. Building a home studio.
Now everyone says it, but the most important thing when starting out is not the equipment and the fancy booth, it's the space you use. Find a nice quiet corner, in a nice quiet spot of your house. If you live on a busy road, try to make sure your space is at the back of your house.
My first recording space was a small room off a hallway in a house I was renting, it was a storage room that just so happened to have two mattresses in it, so I used those to build two of the walls, and voila! However I lived directly above a tube line, so I had to create a false floor to ensure I cut out the rumble of a train every two minutes.
Use soft furnishing, acoustic panels and sound blankets to dampen the space, and give it a listen. Experiment with the space and try listening to the sound. This will help to train your ear to listen to a dead space. You want there to be as little reverberation or external noise as possible.
There is a myriad of resources online, but one great place to look is Rob Bee of Bee Double EE. Rob can help you with general advise, as well as studio tickling tours to get everything running right.
5. Finding work
Well after all that coaching, practising and putting all the necessary brand elements together, you must be desperate to do some voicing. Well, there are several major ways to get work as a voice actor.
- Freelancing sites - places like Fiverr and Upwork offer voiceover work for everyone from beginners to experienced pros. But like every category in the Finding Work section, they are to be researched properly and understood before signing up.
- Pay to Plays sites - these are sites where you sign up, pay a yearly or monthly fee, and get access to lots of auditions coming through from production companies all over the world. Just be aware, many of them are algorithmic and highly competitive, so make sure you both have the time and can deliver the goods before forking out hundreds of pounds for a membership.
- Rosters - These are either production companies that have their own roster lists or voice-over-specific websites that offer voice talent to be booked online. Rosters differ from pay-to-play sites as they don't list jobs to audition for and ask for a yearly/monthly fee. Rather you list yourself and the client can choose you if they like your demos.
- Direct Marketing - This is one of the most effective ways to get voiceover work. Sending emails to clients directly to introduce yourself, talk about how they might need your services and advertise what you do. This is an effective way to spend your time and build a client list full of companies that will potentially return to you again and again.
- Referrals - Now this one is slightly more out of your hands, but we all know the old saying 'people talk,' well guess what, they do! So creating great relationships with clients will always lead to more work and more opportunities
So, you've trained, you've built a brand, you've set up a home studio and you've even started marketing yourself and getting work, I think it's about time you start calling yourself a voice artist.
Although this has been a whistlestop tour, it's designed to give you some idea of the steps involved in building your voiceover business.
If you're out there wondering where you can find more information, then Gravy for the Brain and Vo Star are fantastic resources to help you get involved. Find the links for them below. https://www.gravyforthebrain.com
Good luck with building your voiceover career.
Happy voicing everyone,