Someone told you you’ve got a great voice, and now you want to be a voice over?
Let’s start by assuming you have a modicum of talent, a glimmer of potential. You can read out loud, fluently. Oh, and someone has probably told you, you have a nice voice…
First off – don’t. Just don’t. There are 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 voiceover? Still?
This is 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. The same rules apply, 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.
Some of these may be affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but I will only recommend products and services I have used myself or know to be highly regarded within the industry.
If you find some dodgy links, please let me know. I’ll aim to update this again in a few months time.
Let’s get started
Best start here with one of my favourite takes on the subject from highly experienced creative writer, Simon Rushton, cunningly titled “So you want to be a voice over”.
Let’s get this one out of the way. I know you’re tempted. Don’t do it. You’re not ready. They don’t want to hear from you. You won’t really be surprised to hear the agencies don’t want yet another voice unless you’re bringing something very special, they’re swamped. But Harvey Voices offers some realistic suggestions.
Things have moved on a bit since I first wrote this. We’re now awash with fantastic voiceover podcasts. Start with Nic Redman and The Voice Coach podcast for practical advice for all voice users on how best to use and care for your voice. She also has a fantastic book available called On The Mic. Also, check out the award-nominated VO Social (they meet in real life too) also run by Nic with Leah Marks. And, for the business of voiceover, American voiceover Marc at Everyday VoPreneur.
The Americans love to coach, train, and sell to hopeful talent, something that’s gathering pace in the UK. Google David H Lawrence XVII – check out his YouTube videos for SAG/AFTRA and VO Peeps. You’ll find bags of FREE information. His website is http://www.vo2gogo.com
Sticking with our American friends, take a look at VO Peeps, a group set up to support and educate budding voices in Orange County that has now become internationally recognised. Work your way through their back catalogue of fantastic guests. Founder Anne Ganguzza is also a super-savvy social media wizard and a coach in her own right.
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:
It might seem like the easiest way to “break” into the industry. Exercise caution. Make the most of the free advice that sites like bodalgo and voice123. I’d urge caution with voices dot com and be careful to read and understand the basics of intellectual property rights and licencing. This is more important than ever now that AI is gathering pace, do not sign away your rights by accident. (One cautionary tale here).
These P2P sites are full of part-timers, are massively oversubscribed, and are pushing rates down at a breath-taking speed… Remind yourself that these sites are businesses and they exist to make money, for themselves. Be smart, and lurk on voiceover 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 setup. And that means you’ll also need to learn how to use it.
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 voiceover rates. Liam Budd is your point of contact. You can keep up to date for free by joining the Equity Audio newsletter here. Check out the American GVAA rate card too.
For your first demo – JP at The Showreel has been established for years.
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 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.
But 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, play on TikTok, 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, you’ve researched, and are willing to learn. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t voice a game or narrate an audiobook if you’re prepared to put in the investment to get you there – both time and money.
In a nutshell…
Studio equipment and production:
So, let’s be honest, there are people earning pennies with a duvet over their head and a mic plugged into their laptop. Don’t be that person. Show yourself some respect. 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 b-double-e.co.uk is a whizz at setting up equipment and editing audio. If the thought of learning all that technical stuff gives you the shivers, check out Eddie Delag and Henry Willard for broadcast-quality sound engineering, they can make you and your audio sound great.
Just want to get started already? The Rode NT2 microphone and Scarlett 2i2 audio interface make for a reliable and easy to use combination that many voiceovers have launched their career with. But remember, a bad space can make even the most expensive microphone sound horrible. Do your research on the difference between soundproofing and sound treatment, and commit some time to creating a great space to record in.
So, do you still want to be a voiceover?
I wish you all the very best. If you want to ask more questions once you’ve worked your way through all this, you’re welcome to book a free 15-minute chat here, and if you’d like to book a longer paid-for session, we can discuss it on the call.