People often ask me: “How do I get into voice-over?” Voice-over is a competitive field. You can’t assume immediate success because Quinn from accounting once said you have a nice voice. On the other hand, even the most successful voice-over actors had to start somewhere, right? So how do you get started? For what it’s worth, here is my (professional but certainly opinionated) opinion about how to jump-start your own voice-over career:
1. Get some training
You wouldn’t start hacking away at people’s hair without attending cosmetology school (I hope). And you can’t start recording voice-over without training. Even if you are an experienced actor, voice-over is a different kettle of fish altogether. So take some classes! A quick Google search will show you what’s near you, or there are plenty of online classes available from anywhere. Once you have some general voice-over training, take note of what you have a proclivity for and then get some specialized training (Corporate videos or medical copy? Audiobooks or animation? Video games or voicemails? They all require different techniques and it takes a few years to get those in your wheelhouse.) DON'T let anyone convince you to record a demo at this point. You're too new; your demo will be sub-par. Also demos can be very expensive. Wait till you get some experience before making a demo.
2. Purchase some equipment
To continue the “hair” analogy: you wouldn’t cut hair with your kitchen scissors (although that is how I trim my son’s fringe). And you can't record decent voice-overs without purchasing some basic audio equipment. To start, you need some low-cost but not-too-cheap equipment. Get in touch with a place like Sweetwater sound (www.sweetwater.com) and tell them you’re just starting out as a voice-over artist. They should recommend a starter microphone that will run you around $250 (I'd go with a shotgun mic like a RODE NT2 to cut down on ambient noise, but I'm no mic expert). You also need an audio interface which basically gets the mic signal into your computer. And then get some soundproofing, like a low-cost free-standing booth. You can't record without it - your room will echo and the sound will be crappy. And finally, buy or download some audio editing software so that you can edit your recordings. The industry gold standard is Pro Tools, and sometimes Reaper for audiobooks, but I've always used (and love) Sony Vegas Pro, and it's fine when you're just beginning to start out with something free or low cost like Audacity.
3. Audition, audition, audition
New hairdressers (I am definitely pushing this analogy too far but I’m sticking with it on principle) practice their technique on volunteers and low-cost jobs before they start working full-time in a fancy salon. And you need to get some practice before auditioning for bigger and better roles. To do this, join one or two of the mega-sites for voice-overs and start auditioning. Voices.com, voice123.com, VoiceBunny.com, etcetera. Use your new equipment to record some basic demos. Be honest in your profile. Say you're new, say you're training, say you're looking to acquire experience, and audition for pro-bono and low-budget jobs. The goal here is to get your toe in the water, not to get a Toyota commercial.
4. Rinse & Repeat
Repeat 1, 2, and 3 at more and more advanced levels ad nauseam. Seriously. I just upgraded my studio equipment this year. I hire voice-over coaches as-needed to brush up on my skills (animation and commercial are what I’m working on this month). And I audition for zillions of jobs a month. Zillions! As a voice-over professional, that's actually where a lot of your time goes.
If you think you’ve got what it takes, you should give it a try. And these pointers are just my honest opinion on how to begin. I hope it’s helpful. Now go get ‘em!