Now that you know you need to hire a professional voiceover talent, where do you find one? I would love to say right here. But I may not be the right voice for you.
That’s OK. To find the voice that’s a good fit with your project, here are a few tips:
What kind of voiceover does your project require?
- Understanding Your Target Audience. If you have a target in mind, the path becomes that much easier to identify — and the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line. If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, a younger voice is generally what you want and it follows from there: hip audience, hip voice; mature audience, mature voice; and so on. This will also guide you in deciding what kind of production you need: hip, upbeat, mature, serene. It may be harder to identify your audience. For example, you might conclude that anyone could call your office and so your voicemail audience could be the whole world. But that’s not really true. Your business will generally attract a particular kind of clientele.
- Understanding The Image You Want to Portray. Although you’re usually guided by the kind of people you want to attract (your target audience), you still have to consider how you want them to react to you and your message. For example, for a public service announcement on the use of condoms, you might want to attract a young crowd, but want to convey a sense of trust, knowledge, and responsibility. So maybe a hip older brother voice is what you want to try for.
- Choosing A Voice That Can Best Reach Your Audience. In general, people don’t want to be talked at. They want to be spoken to — unless of course you’re doing a hard sell car ad, or you want people to come on down to Uncle Barney’s for his insane deals! You have to consider what you would like to hear if you were part of the audience you’re trying to reach. If you don’t know, ask. That’s why people do demographic studies or hire PR and advertising firms. You may be surprised to learn that the best voice to reach your audience may not be someone from the same age group. If you want to make a young child feel safe, for example, you may want to use a voice that sounds like Mom or Dad.
- Using A Particular Voice “Age” To Reach Your Audience. Obviously, voices come in all ages. The talent’s actual age doesn’t always matter, but sometimes it does. For example, some projects absolutely need the pure, playful innocence of a kid’s voice; it’s a unique crystal quality that, in my opinion, adults who imitate kid voices just can’t capture. Child voice actors can be hard to find, so if this is what you need, get started looking right away. But if you need an adult voice, you really have to listen to the voice quality so that you can get a sense of the voice age: young adult, middle-aged, senior. Your audience demographics will guide you.
- Deciding On A Male Or FemaleVoice. Some projects have set scripts that already determine how many voices and what genders are best suited. But if all you need is a single voice and gender isn’t specified, you’ll have to consider whether you want to convey a particular quality that, in your opinion or in the stated opinion of your target audience, only a male or female voice can produce. Here, however, consider thinking outside the box and breaking some gender stereotypes, otherwise, your message can wind up sounding like everyone else’s. Talented male voices can sound caring, nurturing, gossipy, even bitchy. Talented female voices can sound authoritative, commanding, ambitious, aggressive.
- Determining what language(s) your project will require. Generally, you know your project will need to be in a specific language, probably English since you’re reading this blog. But you can’t take for granted that certain communities have large numbers of Spanish speakers, or French or German. Or perhaps you are part of an international market reaching out to other countries. Consider the benefits of reaching out to speakers of other languages before you hire an English voiceover. For continuity, you may determine that it would be best to start by hiring a bilingual or multilingual voice talent for your project.
- Focusing On Talents Who Provide The Type of Voiceover Service You Need. Obviously, you have a specific project in mind: a commercial, or voicemail, or maybe a promotional DVD. Although professional voiceovers may do commercials, audiobooks, voicemail and just about anything needing a voice, certain projects require a certain type of expertise. Radio imaging, for example, requires a voice actor with a particular sense of timing and style and not every voice actor can effectively do radio or TV imaging. Similarly, voiceover talents who specialize in e-learning may not have skills for character development that some fiction or children’s audiobook projects require. Look for talents who provide voiceover demos for the type of service you need: commercial demo, audiobook demo, etc. Then, listen to that demo.
Where can you find the professional voiceover talent you need?
- Trying the Direct Approach at NikkiSaco.com. You’re already here on my web site. If not go there and send me an email. Like I said, I might not be the right voice, but I definitely know a lot of professional voiceover talents whom I’d gladly recommend for different types of voiceover projects in several different languages: English, Spanish, French, German and more.
- Visiting Voice Talent Productions. This is a New York agency I am affiliated with. It is run by Erik Sheppard and he has an impressive roster of talented professional voiceover artists (notwithstanding yours truly).
- Using Accredited Voice Over Talents. Accreditation for the voiceover industry is relatively new, but assures voice seekers that they’ll find talents who can provide professional interpretations and broadcast quality audio files. There are over 100 voiceover talents on the accreditation roster. If they aren’t suited for your project, the chances are good that they can recommend someone else who is. Visit SaVoa.org to learn more.
- Searching the Internet. Now that you know what you’re looking for, you have a much better chance of finding it. Or do you? Try a search for: young voiceover talent big brother condom PSA English. I doubt you’ll find the voice you need since you’ll first have to sift through pages of unrelated hits, even with all those keywords. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t consider the order in which you enter your keywords so the top hits will probably be to the more traveled “Big Brother” reality TV show sites. For this reason, you may have more luck searching for young male voiceover talent and leaving out the hotter keywords. But you’re still stuck sifting through a lot of talents and listening to a lot of demos.
- Using a Voice Talent Agency. Voice talent agents, like agents for actors, will generally sign on qualified professionals and can be an excellent source for finding the voice you need. In addition to Voice Talent Productions (see no. 2 above), you might want to visit VOPlanet, a voice talent agency that also provides a marketplace for posting leads.
- Posting Your Project on a Voiceover Marketplace. I would frankly forego, Elance or one of the other general freelance sites and go straight to a voiceover marketplace. There are three I can readily recommend. All three sites offer a lot of guidance to voiceover seekers and include profile pages on hundreds of voiceover talents with their demos available for your listening pleasure. They all provide a way for you to request custom auditions and bids.
- Voice.com – excellent marketplace headquartered in Canada, available worldwide. Jobs budgets must be $100 or more. Great customer service, blogs, and podcast for the voiceover community.
- Voice123.com – very good marketplace headquartered in the U.S. and available worldwide. No minimum on job budgets. All leads filtered through SmartCast system to target your job to specific voiceover talents. Sponsors a good voiceover forum with lots of information for talents and seekers.
- Bodalgo.com – up-and-coming marketplace headquartered in Germany and expanding worldwide. Excellent source of multilingual voiceover talents for international markets.
- Relying On Word of Mouth. Obviously, if you know someone who has produced a similar type of voice project with good results, that person may be able to hook you up with a voice talent or full production company. This is as good a place as any to mention that you might want to consider how involved you want to be in the process. If you hire a production company, that company will hire the voice talent and take care of producing your project. If your project is for broadcast on TV or radio, many production companies can contact media outlets to coordinate markets and air dates for your project.
- Hiring A Production Company To Do It All For You. ProductionHub is an online directory of film, video and audio production services worldwide. I have some professional companies which have hired me in the past and which I enjoyed working with and would readily recommend.
Wow, I can’t believe you stuck it out with me for this long article.