I provided my first voice over in 1995. Granted, at the time I had no idea that it was a voice over. I was a high school co-op student working at a radio station in Welland and the Program Director came into the productions studio and said, “Here. Record this.”
Now it’s 2012 and I’m still recording scripts, though they don’t often get handed to me as easily as my first script in October of 1995. Voice Over has become my full time job. Each day I face new challenges, learn new things, and try to make myself a little better at it. But I still remember how hard it was starting out.
I really believe that it’s important for those of us who have been in the game a while to share our knowledge and experience with those who are starting out. It’s about taking pride in our industry and doing our part to make it stay great. As a firefighter, if all I ever do is complain about the rookies but never teach them, how will they ever get better? Voice Over is no different.
If you’re a new Voice Talent starting out you’re going to have a pretty substantial learning curve. I’ve been doing this close to 20 years now, I’m still trying to figure some things out. But here are a few things that I believe will help you along the way.
5 Tips For New Voice Talents
1) Be Patient: Let me ask you, have you ever experienced immediate and complete success right out of the gate on anything you’ve ever attempted in your life? Probably not. It’s a process. It takes time. Effort. Practice. It takes failure. The fact of the matter is, you’re not going to book every job. For the first while, you might not book any job. Just keep practicing and hang in there. It will come.
2: Don’t Be Bitter: When I’m scrolling through sites like Voices.com or Voice123.com and reading posts in the communities by new Voice Talent’s, I often see a lot of bitterness. Everyone can see that. Including Voice Seekers. Would you hire someone to work with you if they had a bad attitude? Not likely. So if you’re complaining all over web sites, blogs, and social networks, just remember the Internet lasts forever and clients do and will Google you. Be careful what you say.
3) Invest In Good Equipment: I recently read a post from a new Voice Talent who recorded their demo using the built-in microphone on their computer and they couldn’t understand why nobody would hire them. VO’s spend thousands on equipment from computers to microphones to software to complete studio setups. You’re not going to break into this business with a $200 netbook and it’s built-in microphone. If you’re serious about a career in Voice Acting, you’re going to have to spend some money and get some good gear.
4) Find Your Voice: If you don’t sound like James Earl Jones (and you probably don’t because very few do) don’t try. Don’t fake it. Be real with yourself. Get to know your voice. Find your sweet spot. Be the best YOU you can be because nobody else can. Find YOUR voice. Be comfortable and confident with it. That’s when you’re going to start nailing auditions and booking jobs.
5) Don’t Undercut Rates: This one is probably my biggest pet peeve, but allow me to be blunt. If you can’t book the job on talent and voice alone, cutting the rate by 50% or 75% isn’t going to make a difference. It’s only going to make you look desperate and amateur. Slicing and dicing rates, working for $25 or $10 or free isn’t the way to get work. Being good is the way to get work.
Take Your Time. Do It Right
This is a great industry. I love the challenge of doing something new every single day. A new project, a new delivery, a new style of read, a new client. I never know what’s going to come my way next and that energizes me. As a new VO I know you’re excited to get started and be heard. My best advice is to take your time and do it right. Your career will only benefit in the long run.