A voice-over actor specializes in the art of “voicing” over or narrating, movies and TV shows. In this sense, they are similar to on-camera actors who appear as characters in films and television shows. However, a voice talent has no physical appearance or presence on camera during recording sessions. Instead, he or she performs their lines through a microphone while wearing headphones and listening to a previously recorded audio track of the scene. This allows them to record multiple takes quickly with minimal interference from other performers on set.
What Does a Voice Actor Do?
Voice-over actors specialize in performing voice characters for animated films, commercials and television shows. They may also be hired to provide narration for documentaries or audiobooks. Some voice-over actors even work as ad writers and corporate producers. As a side job, some actors may perform voices at theme parks or dub foreign-language movies into English. However, the majority of voice artists use their talent as a primary source of income by working full-time at private studios with varying professional work schedules.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Voice Actor?
Becoming a voice actor is a great, fun way to earn extra money from home. You get to meet new people and spend time around other artists. And you can work from the comfort of your own home studio with your family by your side!
What Are the Disadvantages of Being a Voice Actor?
You’re not always working. The financial rewards for voice acting may vary from one project to another, and there are times when you won’t get many jobs. You should also keep in mind that many studios will expect you to use your equipment or their equipment if they send you a job. They may even require you to be ready at a moment’s notice in case the client needs some re-recording done on short notice. It is crucial to have high-quality recording equipment and software, as well as extra hard drives with extra memory available before accepting any voiceover gig.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make?
The average salary for a voice actor is $40 per hour. Most professionals can earn that rate after just one to five years in the field, according to Voices.com (www.voices.com), a website that helps voice actors find work. Most beginning talent earns between $10 and $20 per hour, while those who have been working in the industry for more than 10 years earn between $30 and $50 per hour. Top-earning professionals make over $100 an hour, but they are few and far between.
How Do You Become a Voice Actor?
To become a voice actor, you must perfect your acting skills by participating in community theater or improv groups to build your audition repertoire. While it’s important to be able to memorize scripts quickly, good improvisational skills will benefit you because most cartoons are performed ad-lib style without any backstory or character descriptions from the writers. Good microphone technique is also necessary.
If you are already working as a voice actor, keep in touch with your contacts at these companies to stay aware of opportunities for advancement. If you aren’t yet performing regularly, take some classes and study the work of others in your field. To begin networking for new job opportunities, join an online forum such as Actors Access (www.actorsaccess.com) or Voice123 (www.voice123.com).
How to Start Voice Acting: Making a Career Choice in 2021. Best Tips for Landing a Job
The voice-over actor (or just “voice actor”) is the human being behind all those do-it-all voices you hear everywhere. You never actually see them in cartoons or commercials, but you know their work the second you hear it. Voice talent may sound like a pretend person for hire on your favorite video game and maybe even act as a cartoon character in film. Many times, they’ve provided voice over narration for documentaries or educational programs. In this day and age of cutback budgets when every dollar matters, hiring a professional narrator has become more important than ever – so it’s an excellent career choice!
The voice actor has a distinctive voice that brings life to the words of others. They are usually hired by producers or advertising agencies when a script is not available and have begun speaking in their own words because it makes them sound more natural, so as not to distract from the product. The job may be part-time, full-time, freelance or done on an hourly basis.
In order to become a successful voice talent you will need: 1) Voice acting experience 2) A home studio 3) Confidence 4) Great demo recordings 5) Good equipment 6) Business skills 7) Multiple income streams
1 – Voice Acting Experience
How do you get your first VO gig? Begin by delivering an audition for your favorite company. There are many websites that will allow you to demo your voice over skills for free. You need to be able to supply high-quality, professional-rate recordings of yourself reading in character and/or with passion whatever script they’ve given you.
You never know when or where a big gig will come from! The trick is to get different types of voices on as many sites as possible so that the agents and producers can pull them up whenever they’re looking for new talent… which means more work for you! This video shows how much fun voice acting can be:
2 – Voice Acting Equipment
Home recording studios usually consist of microphones, cables, preamps & audio interfaces, headphones/earphones & studio monitors, etc. The microphone and headphones are the most crucial elements if you want to record good-quality voiceover demo recordings. Depending on your budget, there is a variety of microphones that offer different features, such as condenser, dynamic, boundary or USB microphones. You may get away with using just headphones & a PC microphone if your room doesn’t already have great sound acoustics in it – but remember: This is not going to make for as professional sound quality as having an external mic plugged into your computer!
External USB mics can cost from $20-$250+ depending on brand (Blue Microphones) and compare favorably with standard large diaphragm studio mics costing in the thousands. Using these will enable you to record directly onto your computer with ease. What’s great about USB mics is that they use no batteries, and require just a simple USB connection to your PC – so you always have recording capabilities available on any compatible device!
3 – Confidence
Confidence is crucial to voice acting and in order to sound confident when auditioning for work you need to feel it. By listening to other actors’ demos full of confidence, you will begin to build yours. Keep practicing until you’re sure before booking yourself for paid gigs or making an investment into your business. If you don’t deliver quality recordings in a timely manner, or are not easy to work with, you won’t get callbacks even if the project gets picked up! Make sure that you can give the client what they want or work with them to get it. Once you have a few paid gigs under your belt you will feel more confident each time.
Here is an example of an actor who had zero voice acting experience, but had a great demo; he booked his first project within 15 minutes at only $50!
4 – Great Demo Recordings
You must have professional demos in order to land that first audition. Getting up on casting websites like Voice123 and using your demos for auditions through Voices.com are great ways to make yourself marketable. Like with any marketing, the better your product is, the more success you’ll have selling it! Your demos don’t necessarily need to include sound effects and music, but they should feature a variety of voices with good quality sound. Make sure you have permission to use any of the audio in your demo from other sources!
Your demo is your calling card; if it doesn’t sound professional you won’t be taken seriously even if you are as effective at voice acting as Nolan North! The best way to find out what agents want is to call them and talk, or email/chat through their website.
5 – Good Equipment + Business Skills = Multiple Income Streams
Many voice over actors make a living doing commercial work for clients overseas. These large corporations require American accents so many foreign companies will employ Americans on Voice123 because they can get them for much cheaper than hiring an American actor in the US. The most common income models for voice actors are:
a – Direct Employed, where you find work yourself and get paid by the hour/project (rare)
b – Voice123 or Voices.com, which are casting websites that charge 15% commission from client to VO talent on projects booked through them c- Fiverr.com , which pays very low but is helpful if you’re just starting out and need exposure d – Doing commercials for local businesses using your own equipment and getting paid $100-$300 per gig e-Voice Acting For Video Games and Apps, which can get you between $2k-$30k+ per project depending on experience level f-Permissions Based Income, which involves selling the right to use your voice in a project or series of projects. This ranges from $50-$5000 depending on usage level and product being sold
6 – Networking Skills
Networking is crucial for any business, let alone voice over acting. Having connections that can help you with marketing or getting gigs is so important because it allows you to spend more time doing the most important part of voice acting: advertising! If you don’t network, you will be wasting valuable time sending out cold emails & auditioning when there are other ways to build clientele such as going through casting websites like Voice123, Voices.com , etc. Some clients will also book you without an audition if they see that your availability matches their project’s deadline.
Always be on the lookout for ways to meet people in this industry! Associations like Voice Actors NISA or VO Atlanta can help you get plugged in with other voice actors and agents who are constantly looking for talent.
7 – Website Site Tour with Vlogs, Blogs, And Casting Pages
If you’re serious about getting into the business it is absolutely essential that your website demonstrates that you have a clear vision & strategy of how to succeed. I recommend doing a site tour video (show off your room, equipment, etc), then either a “casting calls” page where you post jobs and invite clients to audition for them or a blog where you write articles that create interest in who you are as a voice actor.
Additionally, if you’re going to sell products on your website it’s just as important that you have an e-commerce platform/website like Shopify so people can purchase your services from your own website. (For information on that, check out this article).
8 – Tumblr and Twitter
Creating accounts on these social media sites is very time consuming and not really worth it unless you’re getting paid for advertising or working to develop a fan base. The best way to utilize tumblr is by taking interesting photos of yourself in various “acting poses” like kissing the camera, talking with passion etc then posting them onto your blog with links back to it from your site tour video so people cannot only get to know you better, but book you for a voice over job if they like your personality.
Twitter can be used to drive traffic to your website and blog, as well as sell products on your site via e-commerce. Twitter is so easy to set up that anyone with no business skills should definitely have one!
9 – This Business Is Ridiculously Competitive
This is what we all want to hear, right? This industry has SO many people competing for the same jobs that it’s actually been proven in multiple studies that you are 3x more likely to get into Harvard than land a acting gig through casting websites like Voice123 and Voices.com ! So how do you deal with this? Well, first of all realize that if you’re like me then the probability of you getting an acting job admittedly can be depressing. If that’s such a high ratio, what are your chances? But don’t fret! Just because these large websites statistically have a 1 in 300 chance of landing a gig doesn’t mean that it’s all bad news. These sites are great for exposure and building contacts for free business development or even more lucrative opportunities (see point #5).
10 – DO NOT Book Yourself Poorly!
Another mistake is to book jobs that aren’t suited to your voice type. Recent article on Forbes highlights how important casting directors think it is that actors do not play against their natural accents and give auditions with the wrong voice type in order to get a higher number of auditions. For example, they say that booking jobs for characters with thick southern accents when you’re from Alaska is just bad business!
11 – DO NOT Be Afraid to Charge More! (but don’t start out charging too much or no one will hire you)
This industry is competitive and there are many talented voice over artists who want work but won’t settle for smaller jobs like yours. So if you book a job for $50 (for example), the client may ask themselves “what’s so special about him? I could go on Voice123 or wherever and get 10 people that sound just as good!” If you send an audition in for a $500 project though, then it’s clear that you have a level of talent that can be trusted.
The thing to keep in mind though is not to start out too high or you’ll alienate clients in this economy! Starting at $50-$100 per job will get you the most jobs and exposure for your money than anything higher.
12 – You Will Lose Jobs… A Lot! (get used it, don’t take it personally)
It’s just like getting into Harvard, only 3x worse: You will compete against 300 people for every job and lose more than you win. I have seen some aspiring voice actors choose their auditions very carefully then end up recording them with their iPhone speakers from across the room causing them to sound muffled and distorted. When you’re new, it takes a lot of work to build up your voice over demo so if you book an audition for $50 ($100 tops) then go make that audition sound amazing. It’s worth the cost!
13 – The Business Side is Just as Important… If Not More Important Than Your Voice Acting Ability
Your voice acting ability alone gets you nowhere in this business. You have to hustle and do lots of marketing if you want the big jobs. For my money though (no pun intended), I would say that you need both skills equally just like an actor or model needs both talent and personality-plus to be successful in their field. Having said that, here are ways that actors can market themselves without spending a dime:
Start a voice over blog to showcase your portfolio and provide valuable content on the subject.
Get involved with social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever you’re comfortable with. Just be sure not to use it for promotion…. yet! We’ll get into that later.
Join an awesome forum like Voice123 where you can network and build relationships with other VAs. This one is my favorite because I was able to book amazing paying gigs before I even had my demo done! http://voice123forum.com/Voice-Over-Activities/
14 – Talking Points – Do You Know What You Want? (Or are you just going after a paycheck?)
Do your homework before you pursue a job. A pick-up artist once told me that he could get anyone in bed if they were attracted to him but that it’s much better to find out what their interests are so that it makes the seduction process all the more engaging and fun for both parties (the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is going skydiving).
Find out as much as you can about the client before making an alliance with them. If they have a blog, subscribe to it! Also look at their social media to see what kind of voice they like. For example, do they prefer professional sounding voices or quirky ones? You might even call up references that you can find on Voice123 or by searching Google , Facebook, and Twitter. Just be sure to do this before sending them an audition.
15 – Accept That You Are Not the Right Choice Every Time… And That’s OK!
This one can be very hard for voice actors to accept especially when they spend all day on their home studio set up giving it their all in the booth only to hear that they are not getting the job. It’s important to understand however that you will never land every job out there no matter how good you are at your craft. No Voice123 actor or VAs should go into a project expecting otherwise because then they’re setting themselves up for failure and disappointment as well as lowering their rates (which I’ll get into next).
Free Online Voice Over Classes
This free course will give you a solid foundation in the voice over basics and walk you through the process of creating and uploading your own demo. It’s perfect for those who are just starting or an experienced pro ready to make their first branded recording. Here’s what to expect from this class:
A brief history of the voice-over industry, from radio and TV commercials to cartoons and video games. A step-by-step look at everything behind the scenes after receiving a job offer – from home studio equipment to marketing yourself as an artist. The right way to “warm up” before hitting record, along with specific techniques used by top talent to prepare for any job. An honest breakdown of how much you can earn, how to set fair rates for yourself and the different types of gigs you may encounter. Plus… a downloadable demo script with professionally recorded audio so that you can practice along (no acting experience needed)!