Top 10 Tips to become a Voiceover Artist

Budding voiceover artists, this is for you…

1. The voice is everything!

Can you stand the tone of your own voice or more to the point can others cope with your dulcet tones? If you’re chatting to your friends in a bar and all of a sudden your standing on your own and your mates are running out of the building screaming, then you may need to think again (unless it’s a voiceover for a horror movie!).

In general there is no right or wrong voice for any job. It is what the client chooses from the selection they are presented with, and you could be the lucky one.

2. Reading Ability

You have to be a fluent reader and be able to read the voiceover in the style of the brief. The VO could be for a radio or TV commercial, website audio, corporate video or anything. You need light and shade in your voice to engage the listener. Technical business voiceovers may require you to read some very tricky words. There is always the odd tongue twister to trip you up.

Think about it – the style of a radio jingle is bubbly and excitable where a corporate voiceover for a website or YouTube can be formal and informative.

3. Experience

A good place to gain experience, delivering voiceovers, is your local community or hospital radio station. If they think you show promise they could train you and give you your own radio show.  It gets you used to speaking into a microphone and working a mixing desk with knobs, sliders and buttons… Great fun. This is voluntary work, but the experience is extremely valuable.

4. Voiceover Styles – are you a one-trick-pony?

Can you only speak with your natural voice or are you able to produce voiceovers with accents or character voices. For example if you are from London and your natural voice is ‘posh southerner’ can you adapt and do a Yorkshire voiceover or Geordie or Liverpudlian accent. Can you adapt your voice and become a small dog, mouse or giant elephant.

5. Your Voiceover Showreel

Before you invest your hard earned money on equipment, you have to produce a quality showreel. This is where your experience at the community radio station comes in handy. Ask them nicely if you can use their equipment to record with. Then decide what type of voiceovers (your chosen market) need to go on the showreel. Radio or TV commercials, website or corporate audio.

Find examples and write something similar then record them. Do not brand the commercials make them neutral (reword the text so you don’t need to mention a company name: McDonalds, Asda etc. Once you have your completed showreel, you need to email an MP3 version of it potential customers.

6. Home Recording Studio

So, you have gained experience at your local radio station and have the confidence speaking into a microphone and the people at the station have praised your work with them. And you’ve received positive feedback from your showreel. Right, you’re ready to bite the bullet and invest in your own recording studio. So where do you begin.

The most important part of your kit is a Condenser Microphone (£200 ish, if you have money then a Valve microphone will add warmth to your voice), Then sound proof your recording studio by putting acoustic tiles on the walls to deaden the sound. If you click your fingers there should not be an echo.

You will need (or already have) a computer, PC or Mac and recording software. ‘Audacity’ is Free, ‘Garage Band’ on a Mac is Free, and then there are industry standard recording software like ‘Pro Tools’. Oh, and you will need an audio interface to connect your Microphone to your computer (sounds simple doesn’t it!)

7. The Competition

Checkout your competitors websites and see how they sell their voiceover services and have a listen to their showreels.

8. It Pays to Advertise

There are several ways you can generate new business for your voiceover company.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend networking meetings and show off your wares. It’s a captive audience and it gives you experience talking to people, ‘selling to people’.  Does their telephone system require on hold messages. On hold marketing is big business, companies have learned that they can sell to customer by letting them know about special offers and services while their caller is on hold.

9. Location, location, location

The majority of your voiceovers may be recorded at home (and this is great because you can keep control of the costs). You may be asked to deliver your voiceover in a recording studio in a specific location, that could take you 2 or 3 hours to bet there and travelling expenses may or may not be included in your fee. A production manager and client could be giving you instruction on how to read the script and you need to listen to them, understand what they want and deliver the voice over with a smile.

10. Audition Voiceover Websites

There are free websites but the top ones you have to pay, and they’re not cheap! Before you subscribe to a website make sure that you have positive feedback from everyone that listens to your showreel. Be selective, only audition for voiceover jobs that you both understand and fit the brief. Don’t waste your time auditioning for a job that requires a male voice and you are a woman. You’re not going to get it!

Also be prepared to produce 200 auditions before you get one job. You should also look at the fee quoted for a job; it might not be worth turning on your microphone for. NEVER UNDER PRICE YOUR SERVICES, delivering a voiceover is a talent that not everyone can do.

There are some voiceover artist producing a voiceover for £5 and it completely undervalues the industry, Don’t Do It! Charge a professional rate for a professional job.
So there you have it, my top ten tips to becoming a voiceover.

And remember: Find yourself a niche market and concentrate on that, Build Contacts and Network. Stay focused, blinkered, single minded. Whenever you have quiet patch, email voiceover companies and production companies and register with them.