So, you want to be a voice over?

So, you want to be a voice over?

Let’s start by assuming you have a modicum of talent, a glimmer of potential. Oh, and someone has probably told you, you have a nice voice…

First off – don’t. Just don’t. There’s loads of us. Most people can’t make a living wage from it. It’ll cost you in terms of financial investment, time and sanity. You need to be able to run a business and understand everything from accounting, to marketing to basic audio engineering. And no, it’s not just reading out loud.

So, you want to be a voice over? Still? Here’s a page I put together a few years ago. Most of it remains relevant although technology has moved on and new organisations have sprung up. Guard your money, get personal references for “experts”, don’t underestimate how much hard work is needed, and be prepared to do far more listening than speaking.
 
If you find some dodgy links, please let me know. I’ll aim to update this again in a few months time.
 
Best start here, with a blog post from highly experienced creative writer, Simon Rushton, cunningly titled “So you want to be a voice over”.
 

The Voiceover Bible:

The internet is awash with free information, great podcasts, and endless advice. You can find this for yourself. But as you might imagine, I’m asked about getting into voiceover fairly regularly. So much so that three of us with totally different backgrounds got together and wrote a book (perhaps “very long pamphlet” would be more accurate).  I think Stewart got a bit overexcited when he called this a “bible”, but there’s certainly a lot of essential information gathered in one place for anyone that thinks they might like to try voice over, and I think it’s worth every penny (but then I would). Plus it’s free to read on Kindle Unlimited.
 

Agencies: 

http://www.excellenttalent.com/advice.php the home of the original UK Siri offers sensible advice to budding wannabes.
 
You won’t be surprised to hear the agencies really don’t want yet another voice, they’re swamped. But Harvey Voices offers some realistic suggestions.
 

Free stuff:

The Americans love to coach, train, and sell to hopeful talent, something that’s starting to catch on in the UK. Google David H Lawrence XVII – check out his YouTube videos for SAG/AFTRA and VO Peeps. Bags of FREE information. His website is
 
Take a look at VO Peeps, a group set up to support and educate budding voices in Orange County has now become internationally recognised. Join them for live meet-ups,  and work your way through their back catalogue of fantastic guests. Founder Anne Ganguzza is also a super-savvy social media wizard.
 
And to view? Don’t miss the super-slick VO Buzz Weekly tv show, awash with (mainly American) voiceover talent offering wisdom, anecdotes and great entertainment.
 

Pay to Play:

Exercise caution. Make the most of the free advice that sites like bodalgo, voice123 and even voices.com provide (I’ll leave you to google why caution is key with the latter suggestion). These sites are full of part-timers, are massively oversubscribed and are pushing rates down at a breath-taking speed… Be aware that these sites are businesses and they exist to make money, for themselves. Be smart, and lurk on voice over facebook groups to understand the history, and equip yourself with knowledge about industry standard rates (see below). Bear in mind, all these options require a basic home studio set up. Look to David Lawrence for advice on this one – he’s a huge fan of Audacity, and this is free.
 

Education:

There’s a wealth of great information about rates and not getting ripped off in this free webinar from Gravy For The Brain. You’ll also find a very useful and up-to-date rates guide on their home page.
 
On the issue of rates – no one appreciates the bottom feeders – join Equity and ask about voice over rates. Tim Gale is your point of contact. Check out the GVAA rate card too.
 

 Demos:

 For your first demo – established voices speak highly of  JP at The Showreel. Try also roundisland.net and www.soundswilde.com.
 
VOKickstart offers a 6 week free online course to give you an idea of what the world of voiceover is all about. It’s run by UK demo producer Guy Michaels from Round Island and contains some great information.
 

Do your research:

Aside from all this, the internet is AWASH with advice, coaches, training, and courses. Get on facebook and join some groups. Follow links on twitter. Research, research, research…. the only coach I’d recommend wholeheartedly is Nancy Wolfson at Braintracks Audio – she knows the business inside and out, and having worked with her myself I can confirm she is unquestionably the Real Deal.
 
And of course, you don’t need to spend any money to practice. Write your own scripts, record with an iPhone, edit with free Audacity, upload to Soundcloud, join Twitter, and build from there. There are so many opportunities, but you need to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve.
 
People can be very generous with their time if it’s clear you have already done the leg work, the research, and are willing to learn. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t voice a game or narratte an audiobook if you’re prepared to put in the investment to get you there – both time and money.
 
In a nutshell…
 

Studio equipment:

These days the greater majority of voiceovers have a broadcast quality home studio. It’s a big investment and you’ll need to learn how to use the basics like a professional. Rob Bee www.beeproductive.co.uk is a whizz at setting up equipment, and editing audio. Also check out Rich O’Donoghue and Eddie Delag.
 
So, you want to be a voice over? I wish you all the very best. If you want to ask more questions once you’ve worked your way through all this, please do email me and I’ll try and point you in the right direction.

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