Voice acting is the art of doing voiceovers. It is about providing a voice for use in a professional piece of audio work. This can range from voice over for gaming, videos, cartoons, commercials and much much more.
In fact, the query “how to start voice acting?” is one I get so frequently that I’m compiling some basic information and advice.
And here comes my take on what it takes to get started in voice over, with five tips I freely share with anyone who asks.
1. Hire a voiceover coach
Yes, that really is my recommendation for what to do first. You don’t have to meet with them a million times before you start auditioning, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money, but you will be shocked at how much more quickly you will be able to gain traction in the industry after having consulted with a good coach.
Here is the situation you are trying to avoid: You spend a bunch of time and energy (and money) trying to book your first job. You’re submitting quality auditions, but you can’t figure out why you’re not getting hired. After a few months and no bites, you get frustrated, decide that the voiceover industry is oversaturated, and that it’s impossible to break in, and you hang up your microphone for good. A good coach can keep you from this fate!
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Even experienced, full-time voice actors still get coaching. So don’t think of it as training wheels or a crutch. Think of it as the responsible thing to do. Think of it as taking your business seriously enough to invest in yourself.
And if you’re thinking, “I’ve seen cartoons before. I watch commercials every day. I get how this works. I don’t need a coach to tell me how to talk,” trust me. You will be surprised by how much there is to learn about voiceover that will be invaluable to your career, and that a coach can teach you.
2. Buy a decent voice over microphone and equipment
It is easier, cheaper, and more accessible to record quality audio today than it ever has been. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that all you need is your iPhone and a quiet closet to be a working voice actor. And while you don’t need to spend $3,000 on a microphone (though you can if you want to), you do need to buy a studio-quality microphone and setup. If you don’t have these, you probably aren’t going to win any auditions because you will be competing with professional voice actors who are recording in their professional-grade home studios. And, even if you did win an audition, how would you record it if you didn’t have a pro setup?
You wouldn’t decide to start a cupcake business, and start telling people that you’re a cupcake baker, if you knew nothing about cupcake baking. Since you’re reading this blog post, you clearly aren’t afraid of research, so that’s awesome! Keep it up. If you attempt to win voiceover jobs without having looked into what it takes to submit a quality audition, you will end up frustrated and wondering why you aren’t booking any jobs. If you aren’t willing to take advantage of the many great resources out there about voice acting, and you can’t bring yourself to spend the time soaking them in, that’s a good sign that you’re not ready to jump into the voiceover business anyway. When I first started my voice over career I was totally obsessed with learning everything about the industry. I read every book, blog, post, article and website I could find. I watched every YouTube video. I listened to every podcast. I absorbed so much information about voice acting I nearly burst!
4. Listen to other voice overs
I’ve talked before about how listening skills are the most important skills you need to be a voice actor. But I’m not just talking about listening to be a good communicator. You also need to be listening to other voice over work. You can’t expect to break into the commercial voiceover world if you never listen to commercials! Most people try to skip the commercials or at least mute the TV or computer. But that’s when a voice actor turns the volume up and sometimes even replays the commercials. (My husband LOVES it when I play the commercials two or three times!) Voice over trends in the commercial and promo market place change often. It’s important to stay on top of the latest trends so you know what the market is looking for.
5. Know how to record quality voice over audio
Once you have all the other steps taken care of, you still need to actually record, export, label, tag, slate and properly deliver your audio file to your potential client. There is a great, free recording platform called Audacity that has everything you need to record voiceover auditions and jobs. There are also a good deal of programs and YouTube videos to teach you how to use it. It isn’t terribly complicated, but it will take some voice acting exercises to become good and efficient at it.
This is a basic run-down of things you want to have in place before you start auditioning. Of course, there are more things to consider, like how you’ll get your auditions: from an agent, a casting site, or directly from clients. But following these initial steps will put you in a much better place to start booking work once you do start auditioning for voiceover work.