Disclaimer: This isn’t a how to. This is me simply sharing my experience, thoughts and opinions on voice acting.
So you want to be a voice actor? Great!
Maybe you have an AWESOME voice and everyone tells you that you should be a voice actor. Or you’re the one who whips out some wicked character impressions at parties and blows people away.
– You read stories to your niece
– You work the drive thru intercom
– You want to let off some steam
– You heard it’s good money
– Your inner child would be mad at you for not trying
The reasons are ENDLESS! But one thing that every successful Voice Actor has is: ENDURANCE. I don’t mean they can run fast, I don’t mean they can do the longest “Yea Boi” in history, I mean they DO NOT STOP. They practice, they audition, they market themselves, they invest in equipment, then they rinse and repeat. This industry rewards those who don’t stop because CHANCES ARE, you won’t get that gig. Or that one. Or that one. But you DO. NOT. STOP. And then boom. You got one. 50 more nos. Hey another one! 200 nos. Another one!
This industry is NOT easy. But it’s doable. Just don’t stop.
So, you know what you’re up against and you still want to be a Voice Actor?
Great! Welcome to the community 😊
Now where do you start?
Let’s say you’ve never cracked the mic before. Let’s say you don’t even know what the heck “cracked the mic” means.
Here are a few things to get the ball rolling:
Do your research: This is a big industry. And a competitive industry. You’re going to want to know the different lanes of voiceover so you can focus on one or two to start. Can’t act for shit? Maybe corporate explainer videos are more your deal. Is your voice super nasally and annoying? You might be perfect for the voice of a nerdy teenager in an animated series or show. Once you’ve done your research and know what’s out there, you can focus in on getting the specific training you need.
Find a workshop near you: Everyone has different skill levels, and working with a professional will help you find out what kind of training you need before you start auditioning. Workshops can cover a number of different topics. Animation, Commercial, Corporate, Acting, Auditioning, Audiobooks, the list goes on! No workshops near you?
Try online coaching: Or in person coaching! You’ll spend a pretty penny for an hour or two, but if you find the right coach that is honest with you, you’ll have a plan once your session is done. Every successful voice actor has a coach. Or two. Or five. Or they’ve worked with a coach. A coach is someone who knows the industry and knows how to get a great performance out of you. They know how to find your weaknesses and get you on the right track to success.
Great! You’ve taken your first steps into training yourself to be a voice actor or voiceover artist. Next, you should be looking at where and how you’re going to practice.
A space to record: Whether it’s a pillow fort, a closet full of clothes or the inside of your car, you need to find a place that will provide good acoustics and a nice quiet space for you to record your work. When you’re starting off and you’re only practice a few times a week for example, it’s fine to have a space you can go to with your smartphone and belt out some lines, but once you’ve decided to take the next step, you’re going to want to invest in a bit of a more permanent/consistent workspace.
A mic that isn’t your phone: That might be a personal recorder, like a Zoom H2n. Or if you want to record into your laptop or tablet, try starting with a Blue Yeti USB mic. You’re going to graduate from these to an XLR mic eventually, but starting here is a great place.
Find some voices: The voices were in you all along! Now bring them out. The easiest way to do that for some people might be mimicking other people’s voices. Go on Youtube and search for best voiceover commercials or something along those lines. Then listen to how those VOs say their lines. Try to copy their cadence, style and pitch. Or make it your own. If you’re aiming to do animation and character voices, watch animated movies and TV shows! Develop voices that you think would be needed in TV and movies. A scrappy teenager, a wise old woman, a super hero, an evil wizard. Find out what your voice can and can’t do.
Prep for a demo: The reason I split the demo section into two parts is because the prep is just as important as the final product. You don’t do your prep right, your demo comes out wonky. So what’s in a demo? Well, what kind of demo do you want to make? If you’re looking to land an agent down the road, you’ll need at least commercial and animation, with maybe narration as well. If you’re planning on attacking this beast online then you may also need corporate, explainer, audiobook and video game demos. Each demo is different. Do your research on what’s in them.
Prep for a demo part 2: You know what kind of demo you want to make, awesome! Now you need to find someone to record it with. Yes you could do a demo on your own, but it’s worth the money to pay for one to be done because the difference between a self made demo and a professionally made demo is definitely noticeable. Sometimes a good way to do this is to find a recording studio in your city and asking them if they have anyone who teaches or coaches that can do a demo with you. I’ve been lucky enough to find people to help me prep and direct me during my recording process, but you might not be as lucky.
Record your demo: Yay, you’re recording your demo! Now, there are a few demo related things that seem to be subjective in the industry. Some casting directors and agents want to hear demos without SFX and music, but most still want some sprinkled in. Some CDs and agents want 4 spots of 20 seconds each where as others may want 6 spots of 15 seconds each. These things are subjective. A good range for commercial demos is 4-6 spots with about 60-90 seconds total and for animation demos you’re looking at 6-9 voices for 80-100 seconds total. Again, whoever you hire to help you may have different opinions on these things.
You’ve got your own space to record, you’ve got some different voices and your demos, hooray! Here’s what I would recommend you do next.
Online auditions/Casting sites: This is a real meaty subject and will get it’s own post later, but I’ll cover the basics here. You can get online auditions through a number of sites. Some you pay to use/play, some you don’t. I have experience with a few of them, here are my thoughts.
Voiceacting.boards.net: Free to use. Paid and unpaid gigs are posted. Very little activity on a regular basis.
Fiverr: Fiverr is free to use and you can find some work starting out here, but the jobs you’ll find are very low paying. You can’t audition on here, but people will contact you if they want you to record something for them.
Casting Call Club: CCC is free to use but there is a gold membership. The benefit of the gold membership seems to be that that you get notified of paid jobs sooner. This site has mainly unpaid “fan” gigs with a few paid gigs sprinkled in. Since you can audition without paying for a membership, many jobs will get hundreds of auditions.
Voice123: Free to use with different paid membership tiers. Your tier dictates what jobs you’re invited to audition for, how fast you get invited to jobs and how high up on the search function you appear. Jobs start at a minimum of 100 USD. You can not audition with a free account, unless you’re personally invited to a job by a client.
Voices.com: Free to use with different membership tiers. The lower paid membership gives you access to all jobs that match your profile as soon as they are posted. The higher paid membership bumps you to the top of the search list. You can not audition with a free account, unless you’re personally invited to a job by a client.
Getting an agent: Getting an agent is important, but it won’t guarantee you any work. It’s like those casting sites, you get more opportunities to audition when you have an agent. But a lot of clients prefer working with agents to working online through casting websites.
The most common way to get an agent is to find a website for an agency in your area, look into their submission process and then submit your demos and a brief bio of yourself. Then cross your fingers. Your first agent ideally should be someone that you can get to relatively easily with public transit because they will likely have a studio in house for you to do auditions from.
And that’s how the cookie crumbles my dudes and dudettes. It’s a grind with a lot of rejection, ups and downs and thinking to yourself “can I do this?” but it’s all worth it in the end.
Go out and get voicing!