Since becoming a full-time voice actor, I am constantly approached by people from all walks of life who talk about how cool it seems to be in TV commercials, video games, and other fun and exciting projects. It’s something a lot of people think about but are often afraid to pursue or just aren’t sure where to start. Whether people have complimented their voice, they spent time working at their college radio station, or they’re just big fans of animation and gaming, voiceover is a dream career that many hope to achieve.
But figuring out where and how to start a voiceover career in terms of finding audition opportunities, agents, and professional jobs can be a bit daunting at first. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that a great or interesting-sounding voice or the ability to do lots of different voices or impressions is enough to launch a successful career. Having been in this industry since 2014, I can tell you that there is a lot more that goes into it. In fact, your voice itself is often one of the least important things.
The first place you’ll want to start is voiceover workshops, classes, and coaching. It’s important to understand all the different voiceover genres (i.e. commercial, corporate narration, animation, video games, audiobooks, etc) and figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what you naturally excel at, and what you struggle with. Knowing where you potentially fit in the world of voiceover can help you effectively manage your time auditioning and marketing down the road. Voiceover training can also help you with everything from script analysis to proper mic technique to gaining confidence in your acting. You can find some fantastic voiceover workshops online through Actors Connection in New York City and Real Voice LA in Los Angeles, among many others.
Once you’ve spent a significant amount of time learning and growing as a voice actor, the next step would be to have a proper recording space and equipment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to achieve a great sound and you can also grow as you go. It is recommended that you use an XLR microphone and audio interface as opposed to a USB microphone, which lacks both sound quality and professionalism. A great resource for new and experienced voice actors is Booth Junkie’s YouTube channel. Run by Mike DelGaudio, the voice actor breaks down and reviews equipment in an extremely accessible way.
Now that you’ve got training and a space to record in, it’s time to think about having a voiceover demo professionally produced. Ideally, you want a demo for each genre of voiceover that you want to work in. Demos range in price and some can cost in the thousands of dollars. Do your research and find an experienced writer, director, and producer who will create a voiceover demo that’s within your price range, highlights your strengths, and delivers a finished product that sounds professional.
With a demo or multiple demos, you’re finally ready to begin auditioning. But where do you find voiceover work? There are several methods to finding voiceover opportunities including agents, pay-to-play sites (like Voices and Voice123), direct marketing, social media, and more. Though you can find voiceover work through other sites like Fiverr and Upwork, it’s not advised if you’re looking to work professionally because of the low rates and quality of projects in many, if not most cases. If you’re wondering what you should be paid for voice acting, there are wonderful resources like the GVAA Rate Guide and Gravy For The Brain.
A very overlooked aspect of becoming a voice actor is understanding the business side of the industry. Knowing how to market yourself, how much to quote for each project, how to invoice and accept payments, how to handle your taxes each year, and many more administrative aspects are vital to your long-term success. Spending time with voiceover coaches who focus on business and joining online communities on social media sites like Facebook and Discord can be a wealth of important information.
One of the best parts about working in voiceover is that it’s something you can do part-time or full-time and work at your own pace. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to learn from many different resources and forge your own path that works for you and your vision for your unique voiceover business. Voiceover can be an extremely fun and rewarding career if you have the right combination of talent, business, and technical skills to become successful. Wishing you lots of success as you embark on this exciting new path!