How do I become a voiceover talent?
You might want to read my blog post: What Does It Take To Work In Voiceover?
. First and foremost, you have to realize that nearly everyone who does this for a living is self-employed,
because voiceover is a business, not just a job. But it can be a great way to earn a living, especially if you need to work from your own location. It’s also a great way to get to know people everywhere even if it’s just via emails and social networks. But it’s also hard work and requires performance skills, technical skills and definitely business skills.
What kind of mic do you use?
The Shure SM7b — sturdy and dependable. Since I’m in Florida, I wanted a mic that doesn’t mind humidity and that I wouldn’t have to baby. The SM7b has the rugged quality of most dynamic mics,
but also has the wide frequency response of good condenser mics, which are more common in voiceover studios. To learn more about the differences between dynamic and condenser mics, visit: Condenser vs. Dynamic Microphones
I’m a female voice over doing a project in English that also requires Spanish. Can I or my client hire you to do just the Spanish portion?
Definitely. I get a good portion of work through referrals from other voice talents helping their clients obtain Spanish voiceover. For more details, please contact me or visit my Client FAQ
Can you recommend audio software for voice over work?
Adobe Audition if you use a Windows PC, Adobe Soundbooth for Mac but reluctantly. Protools is probably better but can be pricey and unnecessarily complicated. People starting out use Audacity which is free and is available for PC or Mac. Adobe Audition is one-stop shopping for audio production. It can easily handle (1) sound recording, (2) sound editing, (3) mixing, (4) mastering and even (5) synthesizing/MIDI production. Adobe also bundles the software with “loopology
” clips which allow you to create your own sound beds for complete voiceover production. It also comes with all the plugins you would need for the most common sound effects, including its own built-in vocoder
I’m not very technical or good with computers. Do I really need to be if I want to do voiceovers?
Absolutely. If you want to have your own business, computers are essential tools. For voiceover talents, computers are probably the next most important recording studio component after the microphone. Most voiceover today is produced on digital audio workstations (DAW), which are basically computers with good audio programs and possibly an embedded audio interface (analog to digital converter) or an external one that still needs to be attached and configured. All recording happens on the computer. All editing happens on the computer. Gone are the days of recording onto reel-to-reel and splicing magnetic tape with a razor and adhesive and then re-recording that onto a master reel. Understanding not only computers but also basic audio engineering principles is incredibly important to having an operational voiceover business let alone a successful one.
Can’t I do all my voiceover recording at a commercial recording studio?
If there’s one convenient to your location, absolutely you can. But you’ll be paying for the recording studio session out of your voiceover fee or passing that added cost directly to your client. And of course, that total charge will have to compete with the rates charged by talents who don’t have those added costs because they record in home studios, hotel rooms, RVs, all with state-of-the-art mics and DAWs or even iPads.
Do you get paid upfront?
On big projects, I might request a retainer, which is paid before the project starts. Generally, though, I invoice on
delivery. For repeat clients who send me multiple projects per month, I wait and bill them at the end of each month. It saves both of us time and paperwork. I also try to stay organized and streamline my billing process as much as possible so that I can spend more time doing creative work. You may want to read my blog post: How to Bill Clients for Voiceover Services
Do I need a talent agent?
To gain access to top commercial projects, a reputable voice talent agent can be a real benefit. A great deal of work is available without an agent provided you network with other talents, advertise through websites or other media, or use a freelance job posting site. But a funny thing seems to be happening since so much of voiceover work has moved onto the web: more job referrals are coming from other voiceover talents instead of agents.
Do you have a voice talent agent?
I was listed with Voice Talent Productions in New York for a while, but since I don’t do live-sessions, it didn’t seem prudent to take up a slot in Erik Sheppard’s roster. All of my work comes through my own website or referrals from other voiceover artists. There is little downside to having an agent refer jobs to you. But an agent is not a publicist, and so it’s not unusual that more work comes from whatever I do to put myself out there.
Should I list my talent agent on my website?
If you want to generously give your talent agent 10% of every job you bring in by yourself on your own website, then feel free to list your agent on your site. Personally, I think it’s a bit foolish to do that. As a designer, I look for ways to make it easier for people to use things, like a website. If you list your agent on, for example, your contact page, you’re confusing your web visitor who now isn’t sure whether to contact you or your agent. It’s a head-scratcher.
Some voice talents feel listing an agent gives them professional clout. It might in certain markets. But really, I don’t know any talent seekers who have chosen any performers simply because they are listed with a particular talent agent, certainly not in the voice industry. If you do list an agent, I would simply put something like “Represented by Awesome Recognizable Agency, City, State, for certain markets, but you can contact me directly for a voiceover quote.” Then link the “contact me” or “voiceover quote” text to a page with your web contact form. Make it unambiguous that the web visitor can go to you directly and never has to go through your agent.
I have profile pages in a couple voiceover job marketplaces. Should I have my own voiceover website?
I have to disclose a potential conflict of interests: I design and develop websites in addition to providing voiceovers. But yes, in my professional opinion as a voiceover, you need your own website. Voiceover is an online business these days. No online business can exist without its own website. Think of it as your office or storefront. It’s the place people go to conduct business with you. A profile page can get some things accomplished but, in my experience, it can also be way too restrictive. Plus, you’re just one page in a database full of other voiceover talents. With your own website, you can do much more to get yourself found by prospective clients. In fact, prospective clients, if they can find you, may not take you seriously and may feel that the absence of a website shows a lack of commitment on your part.
Should I join a union?
That will definitely depend on the type of voice work you want to solicit or are already getting. If you’re having to pass on a lot of union jobs you’d like, it may be time to join up. I have an old high school buddy who now does ADR in Los Angeles and he has no choice but to be listed with AFTRA and SAG. Geographically, I’m nowhere near the type of work that would require union membership and I don’t go after a lot of commercial work via the Internet. I do get TV and radio spots but always from production companies that are free to hire union or non-union. I am sometimes sent audition requests for union jobs and have to pass on those. But, the unions may also have some restrictions that would force me to pass on non-union jobs that are more abundant. It’s probably a good idea to see what jobs are more available to you first, and then decide.
Do I need to take acting classes to do voiceover?
Why wouldn’t you? Some people are naturals, but even they can benefit from the skills a person can develop by taking acting or improvisation classes. Actors, especially stage actors, are taught to use their bodies and voices as tools. They develop skills to keep the whole package finely tuned. Having complete mastery over every aspect of your physicality helps you build confidence and focus. There isn’t a single skill that doesn’t benefit you — not only in your voiceover business, but in everyday life: presenting a speech, socializing, entertaining your kids, or any time you are communicating ideas and emotions with your body and voice. Many local colleges offer acting classes. There are also workshops and other learning opportunities in small community theaters. If nothing else, acting classes can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and that’s something that will definitely come through in your voice, as will the opposite.