So you wanna be in voice overs? Yes. Well, read up, person with that lovely voice. Just check the archives at voiceoverXtra, Edge Studio, or any of the number of fab VO blogs out there, and you’ll get the truth: becoming a professional voice over talent takes lots of training, hard work, marketing,creating business goals, scheduling action steps, investments of time and money, and an effort to always think ahead.
When I teach Investigate Voice Over classes for Edge Studio, or in answering the inevitable cocktail party “so how can I get into VO?” question, I make the hard work clear: Voiceover is a business. I don’t care if you have an agent or not – it is still a small business you must run yourself – as talent, salesperson, marketing team, accountant, perpetual student, networker, and often editor and producer.
So – why do we do it? What’s the payoff? The other side of the coin?
Like in any relationship that needs work, sometimes we need to be reminded of why we fell in love in the first place. So, dear newbie or pro, here’s my love list.
Why I Love being a Voice Over Talent:
1. Fun! This morning I got to play a baby owl (who spoke English – yeah, animation), this afternoon a16-year-old girl for an audiobook, and then a medical expert who could explain fibromyalgia. That is a blast.
2. Comfort. Yeah. I love sweatpants, old comfy sweaters, bare feet. I can wear what I want, as long as it’s not noisy. (OK, for sessions out in the real world I do make an effort. Leggings or jeans, actual shoes, maybe some make-up too.)
3. Challenge. I love the process of bringing words to life- off the page, communicating the meaning for the listener’s benefit. Who am I? Who is listening? What do the words mean? Why do I keep talking? Those questions help immensely.
4. Ego. OK, I admit it. It’s kinda cool when I hear a commercial on TV or radio that I voiced, or when I call my daughter at work and it’s my own voice on the telephone system. Or when my friends return from their honeymoon and tell me that my voice welcomed them into their room, as the VO for the Hotel Channel at the resort. It’s like my own secret, silent, piece of fame.
5. Flexibility. 9 to 5 in one place seldom works well for me. My husband and kids still need me, for a variety of practical and emotional reasons. I travel sometimes to promote my book – or for fun. Life happens. And – most of the time – I can take my voice-over work with me, or arrange it so I am free to handle life’s little interruptions.
6. Variety. In the course of one week, this business may call for me to write, market, voice, edit, schmooze, meet new people, thank regular customers, and blog. This business uses everything I ever learned, it seems. The day goes fast!
7. Money. So I’m not a purist. I love being paid well for the skills I’ve spent a lifetime developing. In one hour this morning I earned more than the entire week’s paycheck for the last theatre production I was in. Voiceovers allow me to indulge my love for theatre work, which one casting director told me is a “rich man’s hobby.” (sigh..)
8. Excitement. If you love to learn, this is the business for you. There’s always more to learn, skills to improve, techniques to discover – from performance to marketing to technical savvy – and embracing that feeds curiosity and eagerness to explore new possibilities.
9. Laughter. Gotta tell you, the voiceover community is the best. Whenever we are able to work together – preferably in person, but virtually works too – I laugh more than with almost any other group of people I know.
10. Community. VO talents are the most generous I have ever met – with their time, their knowledge, their talents. Maybe it’s because many of us work solo so much of the time, but when we get to gather it’s a total blast. VO groups and forums (facebook, LinkedIn, VO-BB, etc.), tutorials (YouTube – a wealth of free knowledge), webinars, and (best) in person (recording sessions, classes, seminars, gatherings like Faffcon and Voice 2012)…this is a community like no other. Giving back, sharing tips, adding humor to the world. If you’ve earned your way in – welcome! If you’ve trying to – it is worth it.
What’s your favorite thing about being a voice over artist?