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“How do I become a voice over?” I’m asked this a lot. Chances are, you’ve been told you have a lovely voice and you should be a voice over. What the heck do you do with that information? What’s your next step? These are questions I’m asked often, so I thought I’d put my answers in a blog.

sara starling voice over in voice over booth

Keeping it Real.

OK, let’s start with a reality check.

1.) It’s great that you have a ‘nice voice’. However, that’s not enough. It’s what you do with it that matters.

2.) How hungry are you for this work? Because your appetite has to be voracious if you’re gonna succeed.

3.) Be under no illusions, this is a very competitive industry and it’s saturated.

4.) AI is here. It’s beginning to have an impact. Where it will go, who knows?

5.) It’s not just about being a voice over artist. Let me ask another question:

6.) How are you with marketing, accounting, sales, negotiation and contracts? This is a large part of the job.

7.) Are you motivated and disciplined enough to work on your own – a lot?

8.) How are your technical skills when it comes to recording and editing?

You’ll need exceptional talent, guts, determination, creativity, passion and tenacity, not to mention a good business head if you’re going to stand a chance of succeeding in this industry. Whilst it’s great to have a lovely voice, you have to be able to talk to the second at the drop of a hat. Change the pace, intonation, pitch and tone according to the direction. And you need to be ok with numerous people listening in as you do it. At least sometimes. It’s essential that you’re resilient enough to handle rejection gracefully, because it’s a part of the job. I’m not trying to put you off, I’m just being honest. Oh, and a dog can really help, too! But I’m biased, obviously. Are you as hungry for this as Neville Longbottom the studio dog is for his treats?

So you want to be a voice over artist - Neville Longbottom the studio dog, by Lauren of Woof club.

Still here? OK, next steps…

Right, once you’ve thought about all that, here’s what you do next.

1.) Research. There are loads of really useful voice over Facebook groups you can join. Use the search function and you’ll find all the information you need for free! You won’t have to bother a soul. At least not at this stage. There are podcasts, too, not to mention books – I’ve written a chapter in one of them 😉

2.) Listen to the reels of established vo professionals.

3.) When you’ve listened and listened some more, work out where you sit in the market. What’s your USP? Is there a you-shaped gap?

4.) Which genres do you want to focus on?

5.) Play. Track down some scripts, record them however you can. Leave it a while, then listen back. What do you think? Be honest with yourself.

Check in with yourself. How’s this voice over lark going so far? Be honest.

If you’re happy that the life of a voice actor is definitely your jam and you’re still raring to go, read on!

1.) Consider whether some training would be helpful. Again, do your research. Seek out reliable, proven recommendations. If commercials are your jam, Nancy Wolfson is your woman. Tell her I sent you.

2.) When you’re ready, and not before, it’s time for more research. Find the right person to help you record a demo reel. Someone steeped in the industry who’ll be honest with you. A person who knows what’s wanted today, not yesterday or tomorrow. See how it goes.

3.) If it’s all good, in order to give yourself the best possible chance, you’ll need to build a studio. Yes, more research and a significant outlay, so you really want to be sure you’re going to get a good return on your investment.

You’ve done your training and built your voice over studio, what now?

1.) Make sure you’re informed about voice talent rates. Consider joining Equity if you’re in the UK, or the relevant union in your country. They’ll have guidelines. If in doubt, put your head above the parapet in one of those voice over forums and ask. Colleagues will be keen to help, because it’s in all our interests that we maintain a fair rate for the job.

2.) Have a good, solid contract template ready to roll with an AI rider, along with t’s and c’s. Equity and other unions can help with this.

3.) Start contacting potential clients. Get some work under your belt.

4.) Further down the line, you may want to send your reel to voice over agents. Again, do your research. Who has room for a you-shaped voice? Bear in mind that most of the work you’ll have to find for yourself, agents will bring in the occasional cherry for the top of that little cupcake you’re nurturing.

5.) Be polite, always. I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve asked me for advice, and when I’ve given it, haven’t even taken the time to say thank you. That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing this blog. And whatever you do, don’t be one of those people.

When you’re a self-employed voice over, the work never ends.

This is a journey. Cliched, but true. When you’re self-employed, there are endless things to do, to learn, to keep on top of. Systems, software, socials ad infinitum. You’ll find a little glimpse of all that in this blog. So, you need to look after yourself, keep it real and remember, that this is a service industry. It isn’t about you, it’s about your clients.

Crunch time.

If, after reading this and doing the research, you decide the world of the voice over is not for you, well done. Because it always feels better when you’ve made an informed decision, doesn’t it? And it isn’t for everyone.

If you decide it is for you? Mr Neville Longbottom the studio dog and I wish you all the very best of luck! May the treats flow freely.

Let’s work together

Like what you’ve heard and think you might want to work with me? Get in touch. I’d be happy to provide a short, free, bespoke demo to show you how I can bring your story to life

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