By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 27, 2009
The voice over industry is growing very quickly, due much in part to affordable and generally more accessible technologies.
Many people who enter this field have already had other careers and find voice over later on when making a change, however, just because this is the most typical route at present doesn't mean that it is the only one.
Discover how you can make voice over your first career fresh out of school.
Decades ago, if you were to get into the business of voice acting, you either had to be born in a studio, raised behind a microphone, or had a relative in the business (that, or be very, very persistent, not unlike today).
Now, if you have the passion, knowledge, skill and dedication you can get started and begin your own line of work as a voice actor.
To do this, it is wise to make use of all of the resources available to you, and the great news is that the vast majority of them are free and easily found online.
Even if you are in grade school, it's never too early to make preparations and learn more about your chosen career path.
While there are a great number of books on the market for sale, you should also be able to find some voice over literature in your local library. Books about audio recording, acting and business are related topics that will serve you well and broaden your understanding of how to become a successful entrepreneur and start your own voice over business.
Blogs are another free resource and one of the beauties of subscribing to a blog is that you get fresh content whenever the author publishes new material. The blog you are reading right now (VOX Daily) updates once per day, while other blogs may update less frequently or even more often. You can receive updates by email and RSS using Google Reader and the like. Being part of an audience also permits you to take part in the conversation and leave comments. This is a good way to introduce yourself and make inroads with others who may be able to help, inspire or mentor you.
Podcasts are a valuable resource because not only are you learning about the art of voice acting in the podcast, you are also hearing from someone who is performing a voice over through their podcast. This kind of experience affords you the ability to observe stylistic vocal traits, different types of voices and how each voice, though unique, fits into the global fabric of professional voice over artists.
Want to keep your finger on the pulse of the voice over industry but don't have the time to search for results? You could setup a series of keyword alerts through Google for keywords such as "voice overs," "voice acting," "voice actors," "voice talent," and so on and receiving alerts to your email box on a daily basis. You can also subscribe to Voice Over Times to receive news related items pertaining specifically to voice overs.
There are a good number of places you can go online to participate in the greater voice over community. You might consider joining a forum, a the Voices.com page on Facebook, participating on a social network or contributing to a community around a blog or podcast.
There's no shortage of good stuff out there for people who are interested in starting their own business. Voice acting really is a business and you'll need to treat it as such including all of the fundamental business processes such as accounting, billing, marketing, sales, operations, management and so on. You don't have to be an expert in every area but it does help to understand how each aspect of your business will work. Perhaps in the future you'll be in a position to delegate certain tasks and focus only on what you do best. Until then, you'll need to be prepared to manage everything. Here's a good place to start specific to voice over and here's another good list to reference for business in general.
Read everything you can find and interpret it in various ways. Finding material or scripts could be as easy as picking up a magazine and narrating an article, reading the back of a cereal box or leafing through your favorite book and focusing in on a particular passage. You can record yourself doing this and then listen afterward to hear your performance. What did you like? What could you do better? How would you have phrased or said something differently if given the chance? There's a lot of room for experimentation and I hope you are reading aloud everyday to keep your skills sharp!
If your friends have also been bitten by the voice acting bug, consider forming a group that meets regularly to talk about voice over and even record your own audio dramas. This would be great fun (and practice) as well as an excellent opportunity to start honing your audio editing skills. Libraries are magnificent sources for this kind of material. You should be able to find theatrical scripts by the dozens if your library is well-stocked.
There's nothing quite like seeing something, is there? Watch real voice actors in action courtesy of YouTube. We've got a great video blog at Voices.com that features select voice acting videos of all kinds, including Sessions, Interviews, Commercials, and Funny footage. The videos are all family friendly.
Voice over is so ubiquitous, that is, voice over is everywhere! You hear voice overs on the radio, television, in video games, in shopping centers, on telephones, at the gas station while pumping gas, when listening to audiobooks, on websites and more. Be sure that you are not idly letting them pass you by but are analyzing the voice overs and taking note of how people around you respond to them. Some of the lowest hanging fruit can be found when listening to television commercials. Listen carefully to any voice over you hear, whether in public or private. Ask yourself "Which voice overs are most effective?", "What makes people stop and listen?" and "Was that voice over believable? Why or why not?"
Bonus Tip #1: Remember to take care of your voice. This will be the means of your livelihood! Don't smoke, keep your voice safe whenever possible (no yelling, screaming, etc.) and respect your instrument. Care of the voice is paramount as is understanding how the vocal mechanism works. Enunciate well and watch your diction!
Bonus Tip #2: Take advantage of what your school has to offer by way of drama classes, debating clubs, musical ensembles and so on. Learn how to act and also how to improvise. This business keeps you on your toes and you need to be ready for just about anything.
Bonus Tip #3: Start looking into voice acting programs at schools or studying with a private voice over coach. Another avenue to think about is volunteering at recording studios or apprenticing.
Bonus Tip #4: Save up for professional audio recording equipment, a computer and envision your future studio. While costs have dropped significantly for equipment, that doesn't mean that you are guaranteed to find bargain prices for quality gear. See this as an investment in your future career that will help you to make money for years to come.
Bonus Tip #5: Don't touch the microphone in a studio session unless the engineer permits you to. Some are more particular than others so best to be on the safe side :)
If you could have started as a voice actor fresh out of high school, what would you have done then with the knowledge you have now?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
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Becoming a voice actor, working from your own home recording studio and auditioning for voice-over jobs is within your reach!