9 Tips for Starting a Successful Voice Over Career
As kids, many of us dream of becoming famous actors. From dazzling movie stars on the red carpet to the hilarious voices behind our favorite characters, it’s extremely common to consider pursuing a career on the big screen. Of course, most of us find other dreams and careers, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave acting completely behind. In fact, a career in voice over acting might be more obtainable than you think. Here are nine tips for starting a successful voice over career.
As with any goal, you have to put in plenty of effort. Many people see voice over acting as little more than fancy talking, but there’s a lot more work that goes into it. Do what you can to build your skills in and out of the recording booth. Take an acting or improv class, read about other people’s tips and experiences, and listen to the work of other voice actors. Don’t stop just because you land your first good gig, either. You can always improve your acting skills, no matter how successful your career becomes.
Setting up Your Studio
A recording studio is the key to any voice over actor. A quality demo or audition tape is what will land you roles. While your talent is the main element to this, quiet recording space with good equipment also has a huge influence over the end product. Your home studio doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it does need to meet a few requirements. Make sure the space is quiet—a closet big enough for you and your equipment works perfectly. You should also have a good microphone, headphones, as well as recording and editing software. This also means you’ll want a computer that can handle the audio files and software you’ll be working with.
Put in the Practice
Like any serious pursuit, it’s necessary to put in the practice. Fortunately, you can put your voice over skills to use pretty much anywhere. Practice reading out loud or memorizing and reciting the script to commercials. You can also get creative with your practice opportunities. Volunteer for storytime at your child’s classroom or the local library. If you’re on the lookout for creative voice over projects, consider auditioning for a play with your local theater company—traditional acting skills can be a huge benefit in the recording booth.
Record a Demo
As stated above, a demo is the key to landing a voice over job. This is what potential clients will listen to when deciding what kind of voice talent they want. It’s your chance to show off your skills. You should have a demo for every single voice over style you provide. If you have an announcer, narrator, and character voice, record a demo for all of them. The same goes for all the languages and accents you can do. Be sure to listen to your demos after you record them. Pay attention to details such as tone, pitch, volume, and enunciation. Find out what sounds good and what doesn’t, and don’t be afraid to re-record. It might be time-consuming but listening to yourself is a great way to evaluate your own skills. Besides, practice makes perfect, and you definitely want the perfect voice over demo.
Networking and marketing are essential to the voice over industry. Figure out your specific goals and create a strategy to match. Putting yourself out there is half the battle. Fortunately, there are plenty of online services and communities where you can post your demo and connect with clients. It helps to market yourself for your specific specialty or niche. Clients look for actors who can fit their particular vision, so if you’re specific with your description, you’ll show up in more searches. For example, if you market your gender along with your demo and a client is looking for a male voice over service, that automatically puts you higher in their search. Additionally, remember to be specific, efficient, and professional whenever you communicate with anyone else in the industry. This is particularly important during the audition process. Do your best to respond quickly and follow instructions. Whether you get the part or not, directors will note your capability and be more likely to remember you for future projects.
Learn More about the Industry
The more knowledgeable you are, the more confident you will be every step of the way. Get to know the voice over industry inside and out. Learn more about the kinds of clients you’ll audition for and what they want out of a voice over actor. Stay on top of details such as standard rates and schedules. Networking can also help with this—talk to other people about their experiences, expectations, and successes. This kind of information makes it easier to navigate the industry, find work, and keep clients and directors from mistreating you.
Boost Your Portfolio
Like with any job, a good resume can work wonders. Boost your voice over acting portfolio in whatever way you can. Even if you’re just starting out, there are ways to find work that suits you. Many colleges have film students who are looking for actors for their projects. Small businesses might also need a voice for their video marketing campaign. While these kinds of projects probably aren’t going to give you a big paycheck or a lot of publicity, the experience and the note on your resume is worth the effort.
Find Your Audition Routine
Auditions are a huge part of life as a voice over actor. While the process can be nerve-wracking—especially when you first get into the business—the only way to get parts is to put yourself out there. Make it easier on yourself by establishing a reliable audition routine. Whether it’s a lucky bracelet, a meditation session, or a breakfast of champions before the appointment, having something familiar you can rely on will make audition day easier. It also pays to prepare ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with the script so you’re more comfortable with the part. You should also do some research on the role and the client, so you show up with a good understanding of the project and everyone else involved.
Don’t Give Up
Finally, the biggest tip for starting a successful voice over career is to not give up. Competition is high and growing every day, but with more and more people turning to voice overs for their projects, there’s bound to be an opportunity for you. Putting yourself out there and sticking with it is half the battle. If you can do that, you can find the perfect project for you and your talent.