I’m often asked for recommendations on starting a career as a voice actor. So, I thought I’d post some suggestions here, for all to see. I’ve identified four key ingredients for getting off to a good start. Once you read this post please read the VO Newbie Part 2 blog post for a list of related resources.
One word of advice: Focus on acquiring skills and learning about the business for the first several months. Don’t be in a hurry to make a demo or look for an agent. You’ll get to that later. Be patient. Learn to walk before you run. Now, let’s do this!
Ingredient Number One: Passion, Persistence and Patience
You are choosing the path of the “Artist Entrepreneur”. You will be running your own business and developing the artistic skills to compete in a field full of talented, hardworking people. Are you ready?
You will encounter obstacles on the road to VO success. Overcoming them depends on the depth of your commitment to this craft and this business. Passion, persistence and patience are your watchwords.
Napoleon Hill taught me that desire builds businesses. If your desire is strong, nothing will stop you.
Start by setting some goals. They can be modest ones, like listening to two podcasts each week or completing an introductory class or reading a book about the industry. Write down your goals and keep them where you can see them every day.
Set aside time to learn as much as you can with the resources available to you. Once you know more about the industry you can start to refine vision.
Start NOW. Don’t wait. You can quit tomorrow, if you like. But don’t quit today. Start NOW.
Ingredient Number Two: Educate Yourself
Start by taking a voiceover class. I’ve listed a few in Part 2 of this blog. You can learn on-line or in-person. Make sure you choose a group class. It can be online or in person, but it should be with a group of people, not a private class. Here’s why:
- You will have to perform in front of other people. This will force you into the spotlight. If you’re shy or self-conscious, now is the time to overcome that fear.
- You will learn from other people’s performances. The critiques you hear in class can all be applied to YOU even if you are not the one being critiqued. Listen and learn.
- You will begin to build a community. Get to know your classmates and compare notes. You are all in this together.
- A good introductory class will give you an overview of the entire industry. You’ll learn much more than just how to talk into a microphone.
Us the internet. It’s a goldmine. Expand your education while spending as little money as possible. The internet is filled with wonderful resources covering everything from technical skills to marketing ideas.
Read. While the internet is wonderful and dynamic, nothing beats the wisdom you can acquire from reading a thoughtfully written book.
Ingredient Number Three: Home Studio
You will need to be able to record yourself and edit your audio. Technology can be daunting, but it’s part of your world now. Embrace it. I’m being purposefully vague in this section because I want you to research these things before you buy them. There will be many opportunities for you to spend money. For now, try to spend as little as you can on audio gear. You can always upgrade your kit when you are better informed and making money.
You will need:
- A microphone. A large diaphragm condenser mic if you can afford it. If not, a USB mic is fine. My first mic was a $10 desktop mic from Radio Shack, similar to what you might use for a zoom call today. Not great, but fine if you’re on a budget and want to test the waters. You cannot use a $10 microphone to produce professional recordings. It’s just for practice before you make a larger investment. I can’t recommend a mic here because that’s a long conversation. Do some research with the resources in Part 2 and you’ll soon know what I mean.
- Recording software, or DAW (digital audio workstation). Check out Audacity. It’s free!
- Audio Interface: You may need this depending on the mic you’re using. If you have a USB mic the interface is built in.
- A Pop filter: to place between your mouth and the mic so that you don’t POP your P’s and your B’s or FOOFF your “F’s”
- A reasonably quiet space to record your audio. This can be a closet or a basement or just a quiet space. Don’t even worry about acoustics too much at this point. You just need to get your voice into the computer without tons of extraneous noise around you. As you progress you will need to improve your acoustic environment. For now, don’t worry about it too much.
Ingredient Number Four: Community
Community is your cornerstone. I’d say this is the most important of the four ingredients. Your voiceover community is where you will turn for information, inspiration, and camaraderie. Even though you will often work alone in the safe confines of your own little nook in your home, your chances of success will be limited if you do not have a community. It really does take a village. I speak from experience here. See Part 2 for some resources.
Thanks for staying with me. Read Part 2 for a list of resources. Here’s to your success!