How to get Started as a Voiceover Artist

When I tell people that I’m a fulltime voiceover artist, the response is usually one of three things.

  1. “Have I heard you in anything that I’d know?”
  2. “Will you do a voice for me!???!”
  3. “How do you get started as a voiceover artist?”

To which I respond:

  1. “Yes! Like this ad for Publix or this ad for HGTV!
  2. “Ummm, I’m busy eating this hamburger right now.”
  3. “Well, let me tell you the seven things I wish I’d known when I got started!”

7 tips to get started as a voiceover artist

1. Be consistent

So, you’re gung-ho about voiceover work and you love the idea of being paid to talk. You may have taken a class, listened to some podcasts, or even done some recording behind the mic. But then you get distracted or discouraged and pretty soon it’s been months since you’ve done anything related to voiceover work.

Whether you’ve booked a voiceover job or not, you need to consistently devote time to your voiceover work, education, and practice.

Read magazine ads out loud. Heck, read the entire magazine out loud! (My first agent suggested I read the entire NY Times aloud to get even more comfortable speaking.) DVR commercials and play them back. Listen to what you’re hearing with your eyes closed.

2. Treat your voiceover business like a business

Even if you haven’t booked any jobs yet you need to take yourself, your talent, and your business seriously. Set aside time each day to focus on becoming better as a talent and as a business owner.

To me, this means:

  • Find a good voiceover coach
  • Practice daily
  • Take care of your voice – use a humidifier, don’t smoke, stay hydrated
  • Stay up to date on new jobs and news in the voiceover industry (the blog on Voices.com is great!)
  • Update your LinkedIn profile
  • Make sure you’re on at least one social media platform
  • Get a website – even if it’s just an about me page!
  • Have business cards printed
  • Attend networking events
  • Get time behind the mic
  • Tell the people in your life what you’re doing and that you’re available for voiceover work – you never know who’ll need your help! (This is a great, free collection of email templates to reach out to people and tell them about your new professional endeavor.)
  • Volunteer your vocal services for free in exchange for portfolio fodder

3. Trust your voice

Each of our voices is unique. You’ll book more jobs and enjoy your work more if you allow your true voice to shine.

Many people get behind the mic and – all of a sudden – they turn on their Voiceover Voice and they sound nothing like themselves! Unless you’re doing character reads, stick with your own, God-given voice.

4. Learn to read copy

You’ll feel more at ease using your own voice when you connect with the copy. You can’t connect with the copy unless you can understand and analyze it. When you understand it, you can choose how you want to communicate the message in the copy.

“I’ll really make this sentence feel warm and inviting.”
“I want to show excitement here!”
“I can smile when I say this so the listeners can hear my happiness.”

Most commercial copy opens with a problem, then shifts to showing how the product being advertising will solve the problem. Yep, it’s that basic. Now that you know that, how can you tell that story with your voice?

5. Get some training

No matter where you are in you voiceover career, it’s a good idea to work with a coach. Yes, even if you’re a fulltime voiceover artist like me.

Think about it, all the pro golfers on the PGA tour have coaches. Even Celine Dion still works with a voice coach! It’s no different with voiceover artists. Whether you’re a newbie who needs help with the basics or a working artist who needs to tweak a few things, coaching is an investment that benefits everyone.

6. Wait at least three months before cutting a demo

When we start anything new and exciting, most of us want to get where we’re going as fast as possible. Wait. Take a deep breath. S-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

You need to practice daily, find your voice, and learn how to connect with the copy – this takes time! So before you spend you hard-earned dollars on a professionally cut demo, be sure you’re ready. Remember, your demo is your calling card; make it the best it can be.

7. Wait six months before pursuing an agent

Learn from my mistakes here. I was very lucky and after cutting my demo I was signed by an agent … but then I spent an entire year auditioning and booking nothing. This strained my relationship with my agent and put my confidence in the tank.

Before pitching yourself to an agent, get prepared. Do your research: listen to commercials, explainer videos, e-learning demos. What types of reads do you hear on the air? Is it the booming announcer voice or a laidback conversational tone? When you know what’s selling and booking, you can make yourself more marketable.

So what are you waiting for? Get training! Take classes, work with a coach, give yourself this time to hone your craft. When you’re properly prepared, you can come out of the gates and crush it. Remember, first impressions go a long way!

P.S. Interested in workig with me as a voiceover coach? I work with five students each year; click here to learn more about my coaching practice

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