If you’re a fan of cartoons and animated films, then you might already know that the voices of your favorite digital characters come from voiceover artists. These are individuals who say the words that the people in the film say without actually appearing in the movie.
Now, if that sounds like fun to you, you might want to consider a career as a voiceover artist. The question is, how do you break into the field and get started?
This guide breaks down how to become a voice-over artist, including what requirements you’ll need to meet, what steps to take, and more. Plus, I’ll cover a couple of tips to help you land a job in this field.
What is a Voiceover Artist?
Before we dive into how to become a voiceover artist, let’s take a second to define what these individuals are.
A voiceover artist, also known as a voice actor, is a professional actor who brings life to scripts and characters using just their voice. They are invisible performers, hidden behind a microphone and unseen by the audience, but are the key to conveying emotion and context in various forms of media.
Work as a voiceover artist spans diverse industries. You’ll hear their expressive voices booming in movie trailers, adding context in documentaries, enriching characters in animated movies, guiding users in instructional videos, and persuading listeners in commercials.
The role of voiceover artists is to bring the words of a script to life, constructing a realm of imagination for listeners and impacting emotions in a way that connects them with the story. For instance, by simply changing the tone and pace of speech, we have the power to transform a child’s bedtime story into an adventurous journey or a soothing lullaby.
In essence, being a voiceover artist means being a storyteller, instructor, persuader, and conversationalist all at once. Despite the challenges, there’s a certain magic that lies in the power of the voice. I look forward to guiding you on how you can find your own voice and make a mark in this fascinating profession.
Types of Voiceover Work
Now that you know what a voiceover artist is let me explain that there are actually several different types of these actors. That means that you can choose your career path based on what interests you most.
Here are a few different examples of the types of work a voiceover actor does.
Remember, these are just a handful of examples; the realm of voiceover work extends far beyond these categories. As you start to understand the voiceover landscape, you can begin to hone in on the fields that resonate most with your own unique vocal talents and interests.
Think about those enticing ads you hear on the radio, watch on TV, or even scroll by on social media. That persuasive voice telling you about a product or service? That’s commercial voiceover work. It’s a vast field and quite possibly the best-known in the voiceover industry.
Whether it’s documentaries, corporate presentations, or e-learning modules, narration work gives you the chance to be the authoritative voice that guides the listener through the content. This type of voiceover requires a clear, engaging, and precise vocal delivery.
Audiobook sales have surged in recent years, making this a particularly promising avenue to explore. As an audiobook narrator, you get to bring an entire book to life – characters, scenes, and emotions – solely with the power of your voice.
Animation and Video Games
From Saturday morning cartoons to the latest epic video games, these roles require voice actors to create character voices that can range from the realistic to the fantastic. This type of work can be incredibly fun and creative but also demanding due to the broad range of vocal expressions and emotions needed.
In our increasingly globalized world, there’s a high demand for skilled artists who can lend their voices to dub films, TV shows, and animations into different languages.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
You know that friendly voice that greets you when you call customer service or guides you through automated phone menus? That’s IVR voiceover work. It requires a warm and welcoming tone that can make interactions pleasant for callers.
Requirements for Becoming a Successful Voiceover Artist
If you want to be a successful voiceover artist, there are a couple of requirements you’ll have to meet first. Some of these are hard skills, such as getting technical training, while others are soft skills such as articulation.
Let’s take a look at a few of these requirements in more detail:
- A Clear and Articulate Voice: This is the cornerstone of a career as a voiceover artist. The industry often seeks authentic, relatable voices over “perfect” ones.
- Education: There are no hard and fast educational qualifications required to break into this field. However, some form of acting training or workshops can greatly enhance your chances of landing gigs.
- Training: Regular voice coaching is vital to keep your skills sharp. Training with a professional coach provides invaluable guidance and feedback, enabling you to identify and improve upon your vocal weaknesses.
- Equipment: A high-quality microphone, headphones, pop filter, and a computer with recording software are key to producing professional-grade voiceover work.
- Demos: Your demo is your business card in this industry. It shows potential clients what you can do and gives them a taste of your range.
- Professionalism: The voiceover industry, like any other, expects a high degree of professionalism. Be sure to always show up on time (or early), be courteous and adaptable, and always be prepared.
These requirements, when taken seriously and continually worked upon, can truly shape and solidify your career as a voiceover artist. The key is to remain consistent, patient, and persistent. Trust me, resilience comes high on the unspoken list of requirements in this field.
Steps to Becoming a Voiceover Artist
Becoming a successful voiceover artist doesn’t simply happen overnight. It requires careful planning and disciplined execution. Besides meeting the requirements we’ve already discussed, you’ll also need to take a few other steps.
Let’s go over what you’ll need to do to become a voiceover actor.
Step 1: Conduct a Self-Evaluation
This step requires honesty and introspection. When you start, you have to ask yourself questions like:
- Do I enjoy reading out loud?
- Do I like acting or performing?
- Do I have a unique voice or a commanding vocal presence?
In essence, make sure becoming a voiceover artist genuinely aligns with your interests, talents, and career goals.
Step 2: Undergo Training
After identifying your potential and desire, the next step is to seek training. You could take acting classes and learn different techniques to change the tone, pitch, and speed of your voice. It’s crucial to find a good voice coach or take voiceover classes available online or in person.
Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice
Regular practice is the key to improving your skills. You may spend countless hours rehearsing scripts and playing back your recordings to spot errors and perfect your skills. Afterward, you can record again, comparing the new attempts to the last.
Step 4: Create a Demo Reel
This is a compilation of your best voice-over pieces. This helps you to showcase your range and talent to potential employers. Make sure your demo reel is professionally produced and represents a variety of styles and voices.
Step 5: Market Yourself
You can start marketing yourself by creating a professional website, sharing your demo reel, and joining online platforms dedicated to voiceover work. Remember, visibility increases your chances of getting hired.
Step 6: Network
Networking is vital in creating meaningful connections and working relationships in the industry. Attend industry conferences, join local voiceover groups, and connect with fellow artists and potential employers online.
Step 7: Find an Agent
Find a dedicated agent who recognizes your potential and represents your interests. Agents have industry connections and can help you land higher-paying gigs.
Step 8: Audition Regularly
Lastly, continually audition for roles that meet your skills. The more chances you take, the more opportunities you can find. Treat each audition as a learning experience.
Training and Coaching Options
One of the points I’ve tried to hit home is that if you want to become a voiceover artist, getting some training is a must.
Voice acting is much more than having a unique or appealing voice. It’s an art, a craft that must be constantly honed and refined. And this is where training and coaching come into the picture.
Collectively, these training and coaching options can create a strong foundation for your voice-acting skills. They can help you to develop various techniques, understand your unique voice, learn how to adapt to different scripts and improve your timing, rhythm, and pacing.
Let’s take a look at a couple of different training and coaching options available if you want to become a voiceover artist.
Local Acting Classes and Workshops
Voice acting training takes various forms. You may start your training by attending local acting classes and workshops.
While voice acting focuses on the voice, it’s still acting, and traditional acting classes are a great place to start. They provide foundational skills like understanding character motivation and how to perform dialogue naturally.
Specialized Voice Acting Classes
There are also acting classes specifically for voice acting. Gravy For the Brain is an online platform that offers courses specifically geared towards voiceover work. They cover a broad range of topics, from getting started in the industry to advanced voiceover techniques.
Working one-on-one with a voiceover coach can be an incredibly rewarding experience. During your coaching sessions, you can receive personalized feedback on your performances and tailored exercises to improve your strengths and address your weaknesses.
Some prominent voice acting coaches that you may find helpful include Nancy Wolfson, who offers a rigorous coaching program that concentrates on the business side of voice acting and interpretation of copy, and Bill DeWees, whose coaching program focuses on the marketing side of voiceover work.
Important Skills for a Voiceover Artist
Being a successful voiceover artist requires more than just a pleasant voice; there’s an array of skills that are fundamental to mastering this profession. Here’s a breakdown of the most critical ones:
- Voice control: The ability to command your voice to the specific needs of the script, to vary pitch, tone, pace, and volume is vital.
- Acting ability: Believe it or not, voiceover work requires solid acting chops! You’re playing a character, telling a story, or selling a product all through your voice.
- Accents and dialects: Depending on the scope and diversity of your work, being able to perform different accents and dialects can be highly beneficial. It greatly increases the range of roles you can perform.
- Reading and comprehension: Strong reading skills are a must, including the ability to comprehend and interpret a script quickly and correctly, picking up on nuances and thematic contours.
- Technical savviness: A fundamental knowledge of recording technologies and software is crucial. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing your way around a soundboard or editing software can make your work much smoother.
- Patience and persistence: Voiceover work can be challenging. You may have to do take after take to get a sentence just right. Sometimes, the opportunities seem scarce and competition stiff, but stay patient and persistent.
- Business acumen: Voiceover work is essentially running your own business, so skills in marketing, networking, and basic entrepreneurial know-how are necessary for the sustainability and growth of your career.
Remember that skills can always be honed and improved, so don’t feel defeated if you’re stronger in some areas than others.
Tips for Becoming a Voiceover Artist
Embarking on a voiceover career is undoubtedly thrilling but also fraught with challenges. So, to help you gain your footing in this exciting industry, here are a couple of tips you can employ.
Tip #1. Understand Your Voice
Listen to your recordings carefully to pick up on your natural tone, cadence, range, and distinct characteristics. Don’t try to mimic someone else because your authentic voice is what will make you stand out.
Tip #2. Constant Practice
Like any craft, voice acting improves with practice. Set aside time every day to read out loud and experiment with different voices, genres, and tones. Record and playback your performances, looking for areas to improve.
Tip #3. Take Care of Your Voice
Your voice is your primary tool, so take diligent care of it. Stay hydrated, avoid foods or behaviors that could harm your vocal cords, and warm up before any recording session.
Tip #4. Develop Acting Skills
Remember, voiceover work is less about having a great voice and more about delivering lines convincingly. Join acting classes, theater groups, or improv workshops to develop your acting abilities.
Tip #5. Learn Audio Editing
Although not always required, having basic audio editing skills can give you an edge. This will enable you to clean up your own auditions and potentially offer additional services to your clients.
Tip #6. Stay Patient and Persevere
Success won’t come overnight. You’ll have to audition often and face plenty of rejection. Persevere and stay patient. Every audition, whether you land the job or not, is an opportunity to improve.
Pros and Cons of Being a Voiceover Artist
Choosing to become a voiceover artist comes with a host of benefits that may not only enhance your professional life but also enrich your day-to-day living.
A couple of these advantages include:
- Flexibility: Many times, voiceover artists are able to make their own schedule, giving them more time to spend with family, pursue hobbies, or concentrate on self-care.
- Variety: Every project is unique and requires a different aspect of your vocal abilities. This not only keeps things interesting but also offers a chance to continually learn and grow as an artist.
- Artistic challenges: Crafting an engaging narrative or producing interesting characters using only your voice can be a wonderful artistic challenge.
- Ability to work remotely: With the appropriate equipment and software, your home office can serve as a fully functional recording studio. This eliminates commuting stress and creates a workspace that is truly your own.
Now, while these are some great advantages to becoming a voiceover artist, there are also several downsides to be aware of. These include:
- Lots of competition: With the advent of technology, the industry has expanded exponentially, meaning that more people are now equipped and ready to offer their unique voices to clients worldwide.
- Inconsistency in work: You may land several jobs one month and then struggle to find even one the next month. This kind of flux can be a real stress factor, especially for those who thrive on routine and regularity.
- Rejection: Like any other profession in the arts, rejection is part and parcel of voiceover work. You might have had your heart set on a particular role, perfected your audition, and still you’re not chosen.
- Isolation: Much of a voice artist’s time is spent in their home studios, alone, focusing on the script and the character they’re trying to bring to life. This solitude, coupled with the absence of immediate approval or critique, can be tough.
Tips for Getting Jobs and Gigs
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and still have your heart set on becoming a voiceover artist, good for you! To help you land your first gig or job, let’s take a look at a couple of tips.
Applying these tips strategically can create a growing wave of job opportunities in voiceover. Remember, success rarely happens overnight. Stay patient and consistent, and your efforts will pay dividends in this rewarding field.
Make it a point to audition as much as you can. Utilize online platforms like Voices.com and Voice123, which are great starting points. Remember, auditions are not just about bagging jobs but also about gaining experience and refining techniques.
This business thrives on relationships. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and other networking events, either in-person or virtually.
Educate Yourself Continually
Never stop learning. Take part in webinars, workshops, or online classes that cover the latest industry trends and techniques. Each new skill you acquire increases your casting opportunities.
Create a Professional Persona
How you present yourself matters. A professional website with demos and samples of your work can make a great first impression. Consider professionally designed business cards for in-person networking events.
Be Respectful and Polite
This may seem basic, but it’s often overlooked. A good motto to have is to be someone that others want to work with. This means meeting deadlines, being polite in communication, and respecting clients’ and colleagues’ time. People remember good manners, and it often leads to repeat business.
Master the Art of Cold Reading
A huge part of the audition process requires cold reading. Spend time learning to interpret scripts quickly and effectively. This extra effort stands out to casting directors and can put you ahead of the competition.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Voice acting is incredibly diverse. There are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of voices similar to yours. What sets you apart? One example is versatility of character voices. Use your USP to market yourself to potential clients.
Keep track of your auditions, and don’t hesitate to follow up. A simple “Just checking in to see if you need anything further from me” can keep you at the front of the client’s mind. But remember to respect their timelines and processes.
Land a Job as a Voiceover Arist
The road to becoming a successful voiceover artist isn’t straightforward, but it is indeed rewarding. Just like any other profession, it requires determination, ongoing effort, adaptation, and, most importantly, a love for what you do.
Remember, just as every voice is unique, everyone’s journey is wonderfully individual. You’ll create your own path based on your unique skills, experiences, and your personal vision for success. Don’t shy away from celebrating your individuality; it’s your strength, your superpower.
With that said, if you’re ready to launch a career as a voiceover artist but still need some job-seeking tips, we can help. Check out our other articles for more advice on how to dive into this career!