So what does it take to become a voiceover artist? And can anyone do it?
Being a successful voiceover artist is a skill and a craft, it’s not a ‘quick buck’ career, but if you work hard at it, it can be very rewarding. It takes time, hard work, training and there are many frustrations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant job and I absolutely love it, but it’s not the way to make easy money.
The truth is, if you ask any voiceover artist how they got into the industry, they will all tell you different stories of how they got into the business, because there is no one direct route. Most will tell you, in fact, ALL working voiceover artists will tell you that it takes years of hard work, training, a lot of investment of time and money, learning to take rejection, building up a tough skin and persistence. Some of us, like me, have come into the industry through the acting route, some are radio DJ’s, sound engineers or producers. Whatever your background, I’m a firm believer that if you do decide this is the right path for you and you are willing to put in a lot of dedication, focus, hard work, effort and time, you too can start a voiceover career, but like all things, there are of course no guarantees. For those of you wanting to get into the industry for the money, just remember – you can have one incredibly busy month and then months of nothing. So, like most careers and businesses, success takes time and you have to be in it for more than just the money, you need have passion too.
What does it take to be a voiceover artist?
Ultimately becoming a voiceover artist is like starting your own business, so you need to learn as much as you can about the industry before you decide that it’s for you. There is the 20-80 rule, you spend about 20% of your time actually voicing and then the rest of the 80% of your time is working behind the scenes – training, networking, looking for work, invoicing, marketing etc.
You need to know how to use your voice and understand pitch and tone, this is why some of the best voiceover artists I know have some sort of musical background, whether it’s playing an instrument or being a singer. You need to be able to read to time, e.g. you may be given a script and you have to read it within a certain time frame, the director might then say slow down to add in a couple of seconds or speed up to shave off 5 seconds but it needs to sound natural and not rushed. You need excellent sight reading skills, the ability to take direction, be a strong multitasker and be a fast learner, for instance – when you are given lots of different directions to change the read of a script you need to take all the information in quickly, digest it and then deliver. Confidence and knowing your skills, is important too.
There are lots of brilliant sides to being a voiceover artist, like the spontaneity of jobs and getting to be different characters, with different accents and tones, as well the excitement of getting that call that you’ve been booked for a job you really wanted, (as well as never knowing what jobs will be coming in next.) This is also a massive negative as you never know what or if a job is coming in next. A lot of voiceover work is booked last minute so it can be quite an anxious, up and down career. Plus, getting used to the rejection takes time and a lot of resilience – especially in the early days.
If I haven’t frightened you away, and you would still like to know what it takes to be a successful voiceover artist, I have listed some useful articles below. It also goes without saying, that if you ever feel you need some guidance or some advice, you are always welcome to contact us at The VoiceOver Network – we really want to encourage and assist new talent to the industry, as with the right skills and training you will only help to make this industry stronger, more talented and more durable.
*I have written an article ‘Top 10 must do’s to becoming a voiceover artist’ – Click here to access it.
*There is also another useful article called ‘The Voiceover entrance exam’ written by Peter K O’Connell which is here – The Voiceover Entrance Exam
*Recently I was in the press talking about being a voiceover artist and setting up and running The VoiceOver Network. Here’s the article – Meet the voiceover stars – What I hope you take away from this article, is that – although there is a lot of preparation, self investment and time needed to succeed, you don’t need to spend a fortune on your equipment when starting out. You really can start with a simple home studio that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and will be more than enough for you to practice with, get some training and experience behind the mic until you know this is really want you want to do. Then you can invest in your business and upgrade your equipment so that it’s the best it can be. Remember, most importantly to do your research and training first – and if you feel lost and overwhelmed, this really is an industry full of encouraging and supporting people.
Recommended places to go for training
The VoiceOver Network
Rachael is the founder of The VoiceOver Network as well as being a voiceover artist and actress. She is also an award winning entrepreneur and loves to help others in the industry, which is how The VoiceOver Network started. She’s been a working voiceover artists for over 13 years and in that time has worked with a huge range of clients.