Having recently been approached from several budding voice overs requesting advice, I’ve felt a) humbled as to why they’ve approached me in the first place, and b) I thought it worth re-visiting this topic (which I have covered in the past), as the idea of becoming a voice over still seems to be increasingly popular…
Could it be that there have been more voiceover opportunities – such as the increase in online video narration or promos, audio for apps games and toys, and within E-learning, more audio inclusive learning opportunities? Conversely, there are now many more media outlets for communication than there were before, and multiple niche television channels but, as rates were often linked to scale of broadcast – there are now less viewers per channel and, consequently, rates are generally not as lucrative as they once were. Gone are the days of a small network of radio stations and television channels, which commanded higher rates – and I think many potential voice overs enter the business based on how it used to be. So, I think all-in-all, it’s probably been a case of swings and roundabouts.
There can be a feeling, especially from actors who would like to make the transition to voice over, that it may be an easier option than acting. It isn’t!
It is true that sometimes we get to do higher profile work, once well established, but a lot of the time it’s day to day narration, such as e-learning, on-hold/telephone messaging, online videos and the like – which is also great, as we get to learn about lots of different subjects!
So, when I get asked advice about getting into the business, this is what I’ve learnt and can share with you:
- You’ll need some natural ability in the first place, but I’d definitely recommend getting some voice over coaching from a reputable source to hone your skills – not just a one day course, but something more comprehensive over several weeks/months. I didn’t do this originally, but wished I had! I’m now doing this alongside my work, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Moral of the story? Don’t skip this bit in the rush to get ‘out there’.
- Whilst you’re studying and working with a coach, do your research – seek out other voice overs and listen to the good ones – what is it they’re doing – or very often, not doing, which makes them effective?
- Practice, practice, practice…this goes on ad infinitive…I’m still practising!
- If you’re an actor, broadcaster, DJ – don’t just ‘get a demo done’ and send it out to agents. If you haven’t yet learnt the tools of the trade, the art of voice over is quite different – all of these categories have something to bring to the party, but probably not enough – and often we bring with us bad habits – I know, mine was acting! Start at step ‘1’. If you don’t come from any of these backgrounds, definitely start at ‘step 1’.
- Set up your studio. Your coach can help with this, but I’m not going to cover it in this post.
- Write your business plan. Doesn’t have to be War and Peace – just something with specific and realistic objectives. It’s called the Voice Over business for a reason.
- Hone your marketing skills. Yes, you heard me right – marketing – because you’re probably going to be doing this 70% of your time. When I say this to people they usually sound surprised that ‘marketing’ features anywhere in the advice bit.
- The voice over business is a highly competitive one, just as competitive as the world of acting, so you’ll need to keep ahead of what’s going on around you. Things change rapidly.
- Being a successful voice over takes a lot of consistent, hard work. It doesn’t just come to you; you have to go find it. One of the top agents can find you some jobs; but the majority you will need to source for yourself.
- Motivation. Are you highly self-motivated? You’ll need to be to make this career really work well for you.
- Get used to rejection and feedback…this is a really funny skit based on a voice over studio session by Jake Yap.
- Isolation – working from home as a voice over can be isolating. If you’re a people person, then this may be challenging.
- Finally, do checkout some great voice over tips from the excellent people at Excellent Talent. It’s always good to hear what agents are looking for…