Updated September 16, 2020:
So as soon as I posted on Facebook that I had booked a role in an animated film followed quickly by a job narrating an audio book, I started getting the private messages from fellow…now out of work…actors saying such things as, “Voice over work is my dream come true! How did you do it?”
So rather than trying to answer 50 private messages, I’m going to share what I can here, because the answer is not quick, simple, or cheap, and you all deserve a complete response.
First, know I didn’t just wake up one morning saying, “I think I’ll try getting some voice over work!” and then just do it. For me it’s been a process that’s taken many years of trial and error, baby steps, and disappointment, and trust me, my journey is still just really beginning. I would say at this point I’m an intermediate in skill and success level, but I have a long way to go before I can play with the big kids.
So while perhaps sharing my efforts might save you a little of the trial and error I experienced, know from the outset there are hoops to jump through and the competition is fierce. It was fierce before COVID, and now that actors are at home twiddling their thumbs and trying to figure out how to stay creative and keep working, it’s even more so.
The first thing you all have to understand is you cannot do voice over work without training. You don’t just buy a mic, start talking into it, and expect to start booking jobs. I am an experienced actor who was a Theatre Arts Performance major at Hofstra University and got extensive training in acting, voice, diction, and dialects there. I went on to study Speech and Theatre Arts Education at Colorado State University where I took such classes as Oral Interpretation, and in later years took voice over classes with masters like Elizabeth Reeder Neubauer at Studio E in Austin.
Second, you need experience doing voice work in other people’s studios before you can think about setting up your own. You need to understand terminology and how things work when you do a voice only spot directed by someone else and captured by an audio engineer before you can consider trying to do it yourself.
Finally, once you have the training and background, you can think about mics, hardware, and software. The first thing I will tell you, in regards to my experience, is that Microsoft computers did not work out for me. The computer I had that ran Windows was noisy as all get out, so I ended up buying an Apple Mac Book Pro. It was not cheap, but it is relatively quiet. Perhaps others can give you advice as to how to make your Microsoft computer work for you, but it will not be me.
Once you have a computer you trust will work out for VO work, you will need to determine where in your home to place your studio, and it needs to be a place that is quiet and free of interruptions. You will need to buy all the other hardware that VO artists use to record, beginning with a mic, and you will need to install the software that will allow you to do your work and edit it. Your voice, the way you use it, your physical set up, your budget…all those will dictate what you will need, and you can get tons of information about all of this by Googling it. I can tell you that in addition to my MacBook Pro, my best friends are the WavePad program installed on it, an AKG P220 mic, a Scarlett Solo Pre-Amp, and a walk in closet that I converted to a studio.
Finally, once you’ve got your remote studio set up, you will need a way to find work, and frankly, that is the most challenging part of all of this. There are VO websites like Bodalgo, VO Planet, Voice 123, and Upwork. I have profiles on all of these. Some ask for a fee upfront, others take a commission when you book, just like an agent, and others…like Upwork…work with a combination of both models. Once you have some experience, you might want to try to land an agent that primarily works with voice talent, and that is my ultimate goal.
I wish everyone reading this lots of good health and success, and hope I have in some way helped. Be well, everyone.