An HONEST Take, on How To Get Into Voice Acting and Things to Watch Out For
--Based on my personal experience learning the business.
You are probably at the beginning of your journey and still learning some of the skills that are needed to become a voiceover artist.
At the beginning you need to learn about the industry,
technical skills (recording, editing and producing showreels),
voice skills as well as essential business skills.
The skill of a voiceover artist is to bring a script to life and lift it off the page for an audience who can’t see you.
To do this though you need to learn the basics, practice and then get a showreel produced that shows off your voice talent.
How To Get Into Voice Acting
Like learning to to drive a car, you have to grind some gears to figure out how things work,
how not to die, or kill anyone else, and avoid becoming a revenue pinata for the government.
You wont get anywhere without planting yourself in the driver's seat.
Learn about your voice
Learn the basic techniques of voice over
Learn how to READ
Learn how to record your voice to a professional standard
Learn how to produce demos and samples
Learn how to market yourself with those demos and samples
Learn how to audition
and finally, profit.
Of course different people or educational sites might go through these steps to give you a feel for why they are important.
But in most cases, they are simply going to give you JUST enough to dangle the carrot in your face and get you to punch in your credit card info for
them to give you something like this...
"Here is what you KIND of need to do, know, and pay for, on top of actually having any talent! To learn another arbitrary list of "tips", please
waste more money on us,
and we will blow all sorts of smoke up your ass, but we won't actually give you anything too useful!"
That is their plug, and what they have committed to to make money, and it works.
they are often not going to do you any favors when the opportunity to extort you is so easily taken.
i think it's hard enough as it is to get into this, without having to pay to play,
and not even knowing what you are really getting yourself into with the very real possibility of throwing away your money on equipment,
software, and production costs, not to mention hours upon hours of your life simply learning to, and being able to produce industry standard recordings.
Things most "how tos" for voice over don't adequately convey,
or altogether omit from their click bait videos to get you to give them money to find out the "REAL" details to exploit your ignorance for their profit,
more than likely because they are mediocre, at best, at voice over, and simply have some passable knowledge of audio editing and production.
This is NOT easy.
you do NOT just, jump in and suddenly produce good content and income.
You have to be marketable.
You have to be stubborn as hell, and literally have the tenacity of a cockroach to survive and thrive by any. means. necessary.
if you are easily discouraged by rejection, criticism, revisions, or being overwhelmed by a ridiculous amount of necessary knowledge and work,
don't quit your day job.
I am by NO means an authority on voice over, but i have put in a ton of hours to get where i am,
and am slowly but surely turning this into a career instead of a pipe dream, which is quite rewarding in itself,
in addition to the income, which is, let's be honest, the primary incentive for learning to produce a marketable
product with such a substantial initial investment.
education of any kind is generally behind a paywall, that includes the material to get that education,
and there is no insurance there if you fall on your face, or decide it's not for you.
someone living paycheck to paycheck is probably not willing to gamble on something like that lightly...
I know first hand, I've never even bought a lottery ticket.
unknown quantities are terrifying when you are riding a unicycle on that tight rope.
that goes for ANY situation like this.
What makes you want to do this to begin with?
Who or what is your driving force?
Are you even talented enough to do this?
Are you prepared to learn an obscene amount of skills to produce a simple short recording that doesn't sound like hot garbage?
Do you have the sheer unassailable will to succeed no matter what in the face of initially overwhelming expectations,
and the strength to commit to something that takes a huge amount of time, all the time.
you have to be absolutely relentless.
Channel the honey badger spirit.
anything less, and you will fail in this industry, regardless of your talent.
Even if you are mediocre in raw talent, tenacity will make you successful.
The refusal to give up is probably the single most important thing to hold on to, to make this work for yourself and make an honest career out of it.
Mic, booth, camera, DAW (digital audio workstation), video editing software,
building a website, getting a professionally produced demo and most importantly,
putting in the insane TIME investment to become competent.
you are looking at, minimum to produce quality marketable audio,
around 3000 dollars to just get your foot in the door for something you might not be cut out for.
For us peasants, 3000 dollars is a pretty risky wager.
becoming a student again and learning a whole slew of new skills.
it's not just hitting record and blabbering into a mic.
learning your DAW, learning to hear what does or does not sound good,
using plugins and filters to suit your needs, and how to adjust them.
the importance of producing crap audio until you figure out how and what makes a good recording,
is a swamp you have no choice but to walk through.
Put in the time to figure it out.
Can you get a mentor or coach?
Do you have a demo, or even the funds to pay for a demo?
Learn to edit videos
Optimizing your website, your social media, your networking and job sites, and intermingling them.
SEO algorithm abuse, producing quality content for free as much as you can, with as much variety as possible,
to have a diverse arsenal of voices for a diverse market so you don't have to beg for work,
or keep killing yourself at your day job.
nobody does this solely for funsies.
that is just not realistic.
The whole idea is to make money at something you have the potential to be good at and enjoy if possible.
Also, setting your rates at a reasonable level until you become a household name is vital for your marketability.
(conjecture, because I sure as hell am not a heavy weight in the industry... yet...)
more clout means you are worth more money.
pretty much everything works like this, and voice over is no exception.
git gud, git paid
Things to Consider
#1 learn your voice, your operatic classification, your niche, your range,
your ability to translate a script into the performance required to authentically represent it...
you are an ACTOR, words without emotional context and interpretation relative to your current job, will not sell your performance.
This is where the talent comes in, I think.
you pretty much have to be a spaz and an orator to make whatever it is you are voicing, work how it's supposed to.
Do people tell you, you have a good voice or a sexy one, or can make funny voices or imitate accents?
Many people can do all of these things yet do not become voiceover artists.
Remember that voice acting is difficult because you have to express everything through the voice.
Unlike stage acting, you do not have props, your body or other actors to help signal what you are saying.
So, you need to know what exactly you can, and cannot do.
stepping outside your comfort zone is good,
but you have to know where that comfort zone ends to establish what your bread and butter is going to be,
and whether or not it's financially viable to do that.
#2 Learn Basic Voice Techniques
Once you've understood the limitations and specialization of your voice, you need to learn some of the techniques to control it.
This involves everything from warming up your voice,
breathing techniques to volume, intonation and pitch.
a huge one is mouth/saliva or teeth noises...
i had to CONSTANTLY spend hours and hours editing this crap out when i first started before i learned to keep it out of my audio.
The best way to learn is to take a professional course either online or in a studio workshop.
#3 Learn How To Read Scripts
The first thing you need is literacy. period.
if you read like the fat kid from billy madison, or like floyd mayweather,
I have some bad news for you...
this aint it for you fam .
Another option is to write down the script from a TV commercial or a piece of narration (a book, for those of you who know what those are.)
You know what it should sound like,
so the next thing to do is to test how well you can perform that script.
Remember that timing in reading scripts is everything.
record yourself and play it back, learn to be critical and also get friends to give you honest feedback.
learn to love the sound of your own voice,
because recording yourself and ripping it apart is what you need to do CONSTANTLY to develop your skills.
don't get comfortable, and stagnate.
#4 Learn How To Record Your Voice
The cost of setting up a professional home studio is NOT within most people's budget.
you have to get creative initially, until you have a proper acoustically treated booth to record in.
blankets and pillows on the walls of a small closet? yup.
A good home studio allows you to record your voice and produce your own showreel.
A good home studio is VITAL, if you want to work in the global voiceover industry.
It allows you to take paying jobs from producers around the world.
A basic voiceover studio is ideally a purpose-built room that’s been soundproofed,
acoustically fitted, and has equipment built into the booth.
There are, in reality, a number of different ways of creating a home studio and for the most part,
It will depend on how much studio you need and can afford.
The two essential skills to learn though, are how to record and then edit your voice and not make ears bleed.
#5 Learn How To Produce Demos
The first impression that voice directors will have of you is a demo or sample,
and even then they may only listen to the first few seconds before deciding if you are right for their job.
Your demo is how you showcase your talents when looking for work.
Most casting directors won’t care what you look like, what they want is a voice that will fit their project.
Remember to place your ***best***(OBJECTIVELY) material at the beginning of your demo, and that they are RELEVANT to what you are auditioning for.
After busting your ass and learning the equipment and tools, and creating a professional demo reel,
you’ll be ready to move forward, meeting agents and casting directors and learning how to promote yourself to buyers.
#6 Learn How and Where To Promote Your Work
As a beginner in the voiceover industry you will need VORACIOUS TENACITY to get work.
Having a plan, OR niche, can massively improve your chances.
If you get this far, you will know your equipment, your voice, and have a professional, MARKETABLE, industry grade demo.
now it's time to dive into building your personal brand.
What does this entail?
you should be building a proper, professional, and simple website for people to experience what you have to offer.
listen to your work and understand who you are.
you want to build your profile across the main social media sites, create your own personal website,
and put your demos and samples on some pay to play sites.
there really isn't any way around this, unless you are a lucky bastard and know somebody in the industry that can shill for you.
You need to find your target, and hunt them down for the niche you want to work in.
you hit way more often when you aim with intent.
know your limitations.
do not overextend yourself and try to sell a thin product.
This industry is EXTREMELY dependent on reputation.
don't jeopardize it with half assed content.
quality, or nothing at all.
# 7 How To Audition
Here's where magic starts to happen, and the meat grinder you put yourself through to get here begins to actually be worthwhile.
This is the make or break part, so the better prepared you are, the more chance you have of succeeding.
Things to think about going into an audition:
Warm up ahead of time – not in the waiting room.
practice practice practice. never go in stiff.
Read the script... read it again... then again, and again.
get your head in the script.
it's easy to tell when somebody is reading something for the first time, because it sounds choppy...
like you are reading a new book, because, well, you are.
have a committed plan for reading the script –
decide beforehand, on the tone and pace needed.
try and think about the audience.
OVER AND OVER AND OVER.
until it sounds perfect.
Keep it simple – stick to the direction or outline provided – don’t over complicate it or try to add your own frillery to it, unless they ask you to.
You will have bad auditions too, regardless of preperation. But this is inevitable. Walk it off, take the criticism, and do better next time!
learning how to audition professionally, and more importantly,
preparing yourself in advance each time, will get you hired.
So How Do You Get Into Voice Acting
You bulldog it.
You let it beat you to death, then you get back up and walk it off, then you come right back for the next round.
You PRACTICE, and LEARN, and put in the blood, sweat and tears any good profession requires.
Use any means necessary to promote yourself and refine your brand, and improve your arsenal,
canvass social media, your friends, people from work, or church or club or whatever.
If you find someone who works in or for the industry,
shove them in your network, and LEARN from them if possible, and develop your talent.
They will not come to you, you have to hunt them down, suck it up,
put yourself out there, and hope they remember when they started,
and the people that helped them become successful, and are willing to help you,
help yourself to be worth something in the industry.
Join voice over groups on social media, on employment sites, or get on dedicated voice over market sites.
(Bunnystudio, Fiverr, Upwork, Voices, Mandy, etc etc. volume volume volume. stay hungry at all times.
Literally any medium through which your productions are accessible is a viable way to get hired.)
In conclusion, based on my journey, my adventure, to get to my goal of becoming a mainstay of the voice over industry,
FAR more went into it than so many of these types of videos let on,
only for them to paste their little website in the description, which offers half assed advice,
and wants you to SPEND money for their crumbs of "advice" they extort you for. This is touted by their alleged expertise, even though you, or anyone else, has ever even heard of them.
they have no right to stand between you, and your potential success.
Put in the work, the time, and havethe implaccable WILL to accept nothing less than success, and you will not need them.
It might take a little longer, but you will learn so much more,
and value that knowledge achieved through your own hard work,
and not because some self proclaimed master wizard or whatever sold you some vague tips for the industry,
that really doesn't help you at all..
Not all of them are this way, of course. sites like Backstage, gravy for the brain,
and acx, surprisingly, have some really good resources available for free that are actually helpful to people just starting out.
I'm by no means an expert, and i'm sure so much of what i've said is specific to my experience,
but hopefully this account will give you some tiny understanding of what you are potentially signing up for in getting into this business.
I hope we all make it one day, and we should always do our best to help our community any way we can.
none of us does it completely on their own, not well anyway.
passing on knowledge and keeping the community thriving and accessible is a reward all its own, and if we don't take care of each other, nobody will.
Not so long ago, I was working in a auto body shop, working on wrecked cars,
physically killing myself with heat exhaustion during the summer,
being covered in and inhaling carcinogenic dust,
and destroying my hands and joints.
I was miserable.
I did that for 10 years of my life,
and all it did was waste so much of my time,
and wear my body out prematurely.
I could never get more, or even close to the same amount of what i put into that work,
and merely survived, and never broke even, much less thrived.
When I was at my mental and physical breaking point,
I made the choice of pursuing something that had only ever been a pedestrian hobby,
and had been a profession I dreamed of, but had no real hope of entering.
it was a naive aspiration up to that point. once i made the decision to go after it,
I kicked myself for waiting so long, and for thinking that it was something i couldn't realistically do.
I haven't made it yet, but I know that with the knowledge and experience I've ruthlessly pursued, I will.
I have put in a lot of work to get where I am, but it was worth it, even now, and I haven't even achieved what I want to yet.
by all accounts, i'm still a clumsy novice, but i know i have the tools now to someday soon, be much more.
I hope this helps anyone, someone, and you can learn anything from this, from my hard learned lessons in the trenches thus far.
until next time, stay hungry.
Good luck. I'll see y'all at the top.
--Ragnar, The Voice Over Viking