Have your friends and family persistently encouraged you to pursue your passion for voice acting? It's a common experience. When I got started over 30 years ago, I was always getting showered with compliments on my voice. This went on for two years and then I finally took the plunge! While the prospect was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking, having a supportive network was crucial. However, it was equally important to silence my nagging voice of doubt.
Research Conducting thorough research is crucial before deciding to pursue a voiceover career. Setting realistic expectations and understanding that this is not a quick fix for generating income quickly or an instant solution when you're unemployed is important. Establishing a successful voiceover career requires significant time, hard work, patience, and perseverance. While some individuals may obtain positive results quickly, such as securing work or agency representation within weeks of delivering their professional demos, it is essential to be prepared for a lengthier process. Based on my 35-year career and the suggestions of talent agents nationwide, the following are critical steps to take when starting a voiceover career.
Learning the art of voice acting is the essential first step. However, many new talents on voiceover forums, mainly social media, seem to focus solely on purchasing recording equipment. While buying a microphone may be more exciting than investing in coaching, it is not the best way to start your VO career. If you do not learn the necessary performance skills to book commercials, narrations, and character roles, your shiny new microphone will become a mere decoration you can flaunt to your friends. The real achievement lies in your ability to book work and be listed in talent agency rosters.
Working with an experienced voiceover coach to improve your script performance and marketing skills while working towards recording professional demos is important. Some people may think that I'm only suggesting this because I am a voiceover coach myself, but the truth is that if you ask any talent agent in the country, they will tell you the same thing. Believe me, if you don't have the necessary performance skills, you won't be able to make it in this industry.
Professional demos are essential in the world of voice acting. They serve as your calling cards and are your number-one marketing tool. Demos should include around 5-6 audio clips and the total length should be about 60 seconds, although many talent agencies, including Atlas Talent, are okay with going a little over 60 seconds. Variety is key - you can't have the same read on a demo for every clip. Agents and Producers prefer working with talents with a range in delivery. I can't stress this next point enough! It is best to avoid creating your own demo unless you have extensive experience in voice acting and audio engineering. Even if you do, having a second set of ears listening to your reads and directing you is highly recommended.
Many new talents attempt to produce their own demo and while that could work for some low-pay clients on Fiverr, it will not fly if you're interested in talent agency representation. I would strongly suggest avoiding DIY demos at all costs. Talent agents will be able to tell that you did it yourself within the first five seconds of listening to your demo. This isn't the best way to start a professional relationship with an agent. Instead, get your demos professionally produced.
Home Voiceover Recording Studio Setup
It's easy to think that you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on the best gear on the market. Not true! While having decent gear and professional sound is important, in the end, the client cares more about your voice and performance. No, this doesn't mean purchasing a USB mic, plugging it into your laptop and you're ready to go. There are a number of very worthy mic and interface choices that won't break the bank. Then, you'll need to spend some time treating your recording space. You don't want to sound like you're in the middle of a gymnasium when you record. I have heard audio from talents who had incredibly expensive gear but they sounded lousy because they blew off the importance of a well-treated space. Don't take this important step for granted. In fact, most audio engineers would argue that a well-treated recording space is THE most important part of your audio chain. And here are some words of wisdom and encouragement from Jan Anderson, one of UVT's voiceover coaches; "There can be a significant learning curve to setting up a great-sounding recording space and absorbing the ins & outs of working with recording software, so get to it well before you have your demos in hand. If you start marketing your demos without really knowing how to deliver quality work, you're really putting the cart before the horse. If you're new to voiceovers and just setting up your recording space for the first time, it can be frustrating to get it dialed in and sounding good. There are a lot of variables: acoustic treatment, ambient noise, quality of the gear and its placement, mic technique, etc. It can take a while, even with help. Multiple test recordings and seemingly minute changes, all to chase acceptable audio quality for pro-VO. Hang in there! Try not to get discouraged. You WILL get there, particularly if you have someone on your side who is experienced and knows what to listen for."
Once you have your demos, it's time to start sending them out. That means creating a good spreadsheet of prospective clients, agents and producers. Creativity is needed when reaching out to buyers. Imagine all the emails and calls they get monthly from new voice talents. Your email and phone calls need to be creative. When you reach out to potential clients, ask good questions about their business. Point out something interesting you read on their website. Make the call or email about them! Your professional demos will speak for themselves. Every call or email is only the beginning of building what will hopefully be a positive rapport with the client. Even if they don't hire you immediately, it's a big win when the client wants to talk with you. Every year, I get booked by clients for the first time when I had reached out to them several years earlier!
To showcase your demos, you will need a space easily accessible to your potential clients. For this, having a professional website that is user-friendly and easy to navigate is a must. A one-pager website can be an excellent option that looks professional yet straightforward. Your clients should be able to access your demos quickly without feeling overwhelmed. If it takes them more than 10 seconds to find your demo, they may lose interest and move on to the next option. Therefore, it's essential to have your demos above the fold, and an opt-in form for clients to contact you should also be included.
Don't give up!
The voiceover business is too competitive! Have you heard this line before? Me too. Here's my take: Many new talents will sink their teeth into the voiceover business for about a month and then quit. Why? They didn't take the advice of professional voice actors, coaches and talent agents. Instead, they skipped the coaching process, attempted to produce their own demo and put all their eggs into those pay-to-play audition websites. Then, after finding little success after a month, they quit and move on to something else. So think about it: These talents were your competitors for about a month and they've already dropped out. So, the business ISN'T as competitive as one would think!
If you're passionate about a career in voiceovers, you should be aware that it requires dedication for more than just a month. Although some talents succeed immediately, others may take several months or even years. It's essential to remember that, like any other business, it takes time to see results. Despite what some voiceover books or online training courses may suggest, voice acting is no different. The rewards can be great, but you must be willing to put in the time and effort without expecting overnight miracles. Good luck! If you would like to train with the coaches at UVT coaching, check out our VO training course page at uvtcoaching.com/voiceover-coaching-programs. We look forward to hearing from you!