I regularly get inquiries about tips and how to get started in voice over. As you may have realized, the entertainment industry has changed, and adapted, along with those who have the drive to do this work. The first question is, why do you want to get involved with voice over?
There is commercial voice over, animation, gaming, audiobooks, industrial, eLearning, podcasts, web series, radio… and “other.” Basically, think about what you want to do. What is your goal for becoming a voice over talent?
My journey started in 2016, and I have been an official LLC since 2017. I was browsing through the Extracurricular section of my local community college’s class offerings, and “Intro to Voice Over” popped up. I realized I pretty much had the tools I needed to get started. Before seeing the course, it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be something I could do from home or on my own. I later found that many professionals (pre-pandemic) were working from home or some even on the road. I signed up with a mentor, and kept taking more and different courses. I signed up with freelancing sites – anonymously at first, as I had heard from multiple people that they were technically taboo…the justification being because they were disrupting the standard of how folks get work, thus having an effect on the rates. While I agree with some of the reasoning, you will never sell a hooptie to someone who wants a Lotus. Quality of work is important, and that is how you will get ANY of your work, no matter where or how you get it. That being said, these days I do not really recommend the freelancing sites that are out there. The reason is the general rule in business – you get what you pay for, and generally the less a client wants to pay, the more they expect, and the more fussy they will be. A great bit of general business advice is to “fire bad clients.” Anymore, I only have EXCELLENT clients. I only work with amazing people, because… well I prefer nice and reasonable people. Don’t you?
Thinking back, my goals are/were more “bigger picture.” I wanted a flexible schedule and fulfilling work which would support my other interests. Vague, fine – however, it worked. One of the first voice over tips I got continues to be the most helpful: “people hire real people.” Be the best YOU that you can, and always speak from the truth. That can be applied anywhere, whether it’s copy for a toilet paper commercial, or a character that’s being sucked up an alien tube. No matter the situation, there is always a reason for the words being said. So know that reason, and speak from there.
Once you decide what kind of of voice over you want to pursue, it’s time to start signing up for classes and taking notes. The ability to record from home is the second most important thing. The first is having the skill set, including acting and mic technique, as well as work etiquette.
Some of my most helpful mentors and classes have been with the following:
Among voicing every female character in South Park, Eliza Jane is also the voice match for Elizabeth Swan in the Pirates of the Caribbean games.
“Renowned for voicing the female population of Comedy Central’s South Park, Eliza has an extensive list of credits in some of the most popular animations and video games. As a coach, she has helped perfect the accents and dialects of countless colleagues, from beginners, to Oscar winners, to the casts of Overwatch, Mafia 3 and Resident Evil, among many others.”
Out of all the courses, EJ’s has been the most helpful and have been directly responsible for my significant growth and quick success especially with audiobooks and character development. I have been able to raise my rate with each project, and can now consider myself a working professional thanks to her guidance. There are a variety of course offerings; just know if you sign up for one of the yearly programs, you will be expected to do homework and really put in work to get the results. If you follow her instructions, success is inevitable (assuming you do the work). Sometimes there are free webinars, and the guest speaker list is simply amazing.
The Global Voice Over Academy has a lot of great one-off webinars and has many downloadable for purchase. Browse here first to get acquainted with the different facets of the voice over industry, especially the more recent offerings, as the whole industry has changed a lot in the past couple years. It’s been fascinating watching this happen and adapting. I also regularly refer to their rate guide.
Lastly a few other resources are blogs of well known and well established voice over folks who have really good basic input, and you can find a lot of information on etiquette and general guidelines here:
Follow a home build for a temporary space – Don is great, and is in the process of building a closet studio. I’ve done similar set ups, and have had to set up and break down a vocal booth about 4 times in the past couple years. He also offers consultation and is an audio master. Lots of great videos here.
Dan Lenard offers a home studio assessment if you’re having trouble with your studio set up. He also has a few videos up that will help you understand some of the technical stuff that goes into home recording.
Dave Courvoisier was a main anchorman for CBS / NBC and for the past 12+ years has been freelancing voice over work. He’s written a book as well, and has a blog with tons of great information.
The above advice is where I start everyone off, and many questions can be answered by reviewing the above websites. While I am still green and learning, I can happily consider myself a working professional, and have been able to curate a career that works for me and my wants. I love reading, I love performing and I love playing. Most of my work is now in audiobooks, and I have voiced my first animation in 2020 with NightMARA. I am happy with my progress, and look for fun and enriching projects. Staying true and working towards my goals keeps me booked, and keeps me happy. As long as you remember your why, you too will enjoy a fulfilling career, and that is true for whatever work you want to do.
I will do another blog later on my preferred beginners equipment, so keep an eye out for that. Probably next month, because this stuff takes time as well! I do regularly get asked the same questions, so I hope this has been helpful to you. If you have additional questions feel free to pop them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.