Voice Acting is Easy Right? Only if you find marathons easy! PART 1
So, you are thinking about giving voice acting a go? That’s great!! I know that it has been one of the best decisions of my life and it’s all I want to do for a career for as long as I draw breath. But this isn’t a tale about me and how I got started or my journey. If you want to learn a bit more about that explore my site, go to my about page, or follow me on the socials (see links at the bottom of the webpage).
This is about you and voice acting; your perception of what it is, and what it really is. I’ve given a run-down of the type of work voice actors do on a previous blog. Now let’s look at what it takes to get started in this field.
I get it, your friends and family tell you that you have a great voice and that you should be on the radio or in cartoons. And maybe you should, but, like most things, it’s not that simple. And things are very different now than they were even two years ago, pre Covid. In some ways, it is much easier to get started, and in others, much more challenging. And there is no one path. So I’m going to lay down some pointers, helpful tips if you want to get the ball rolling, but know that this blog is not a tablet of Moses. Depending on how far post publishing you are reading this, a lot may be different yet again. I also may leave out a lot because, well, despite my appearance of superb intelligence, I do not know everything. So let’s get our toes wet.
I am as guilty as anyone of getting exciting about shiny new toys, but hold off on the expensive gear for a moment. Do these four things first. As a matter of fact, don’t spend a penny until you have done #1!
1. Start attending the plethora of free webinars, clubhouse rooms, and zoomcasts that are offered by established professionals in the industry. Learn the genres and what interests you and some of the ins and outs. I will do a second post full of links to various resources, but SOVAS, VON, and Gravy for the Brain are the top three that come to mind. For podcasts I highly recommend Marc Scott’s VOpreneur, Nic Redman’s Voice Coach Podcast, and Real Talking Tips with Elaine Clark. Again, there are LOADS more, check the resource list if you’re interested. I do not recommend joining Facebook groups just yet because they are saturated with both great information and “know it alls” and can be very overwhelming. BUT do follow any of the organizations/people listed about on social media and also Marc Guss. He is the owner of an agency and if he is posting about someone or something, it is gold! A phenomenal blog to follow is the nethervoice. And READ! Not only are there websites full of free information, but there are voice acting books out there full of wonderful knowledge. And yet again, you still can do this without spending anything but your time if you checkout your local library. Both tactile and digital copies of voiceover books exist at libraries totally free for your perusal.
2. If you’re enjoying the free content and still feeling like this is the thing for you, find a space in your home where you can set up your laptop or computer and hang some blankets to create as quiet a space as possible. A closet works just fine or if you already have an office just pin some blankets to the walls for now. Don’t worry about becoming an expert in acoustics or sound proofing just yet. Just find that quiet space where you can record without sound bouncing all over the place.
3. Get a USB mic. A Blue Yeti or AT2020 are great options, BUT shop around! I am intentionally not including links in this post. There will be an entire post dedicated to link and, YOU NEED TO LEARN TO RESEARCH!! Like any field, you need to get an education. You can’t just walk up to an agent and say “bring me the work!” Part of that education is being able to discern credible resources from self-proclaimed credible resources. USB microphones is a good area to practice this. I will say, if you are spending more than $150 on a starter USB mic you are doing too much.
4. Get a coach. So many people dive into this industry without any knowledge of how things work. Or jump on some money stealing “Make 6 figures doing voiceovers after this course!” program. THIS IS NOT HOW TO SUCCEED! There are TONS of amazing coaches out there who genuinely LOVE this industry and want to help people succeed in it. There are also “coaches” out there who are all about the money and do not care if you are successful or not, so long as they keep reeling the clients in. So how do you know if a coach is legitimate or not?
a. A good coach will NEVER tell you it is easy to make a ton of money in this field quickly. Yes, you can make a living in this field, through hard work, training, more hard work, and more training.
b. A good coach will NEVER have a program that includes a demo after a preset number of classes. Yes, you may be demo ready after only four classes, but it is impossible for them to know that when they have never worked with you.
c. A good coach will have lots of recommendations from other established professionals in the field. You will hear their name often and with high praise.
d. A good coach will not be a yes man! You may already be super talented and that is fantastic! But did you know that even the best of the best still take classes and get coaching? And it’s not to stroke their ego, it’s to hone in on areas that they aren’t as strong in, learn new skills, learn new trends. If a coach ever tells you you’re perfect, sorry, they’re lying. Stop giving them money. Now, just to be clear, a coach may say your READ was perfect, you nailed it, great job! But if they are never giving you any adjustments or things to practice improving upon, they are likely just in it for the money.
e. A good coach will not be a drill sergeant. This is not the military. We are not conducting brain surgery or going to war (though some of the characters you play might!). If a coach is yelling at you, belittling you, saying hurtful things, move on from them. Again, this doesn’t mean “that coach said I really need to work on my reads, that I sound stiff and robotic, HOW RUDE!” That’s an honest coach, you want that. If you can’t handle someone telling you that you have weakness that need to be worked on, this is not the industry for you. But there is a massive difference between constructive criticism and criticism.
And I think that’s more than enough information for anyone to get the ball rolling! Next week I will post a resources page for anyone who wants it. That will give you a week to explore and do research on your own.
One last bit of advice, this field is a marathon, not a sprint. I say it again, VOICE ACTING IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT. If you want to get rich quick, perhaps look into stocks or something. You will have to train, build a brand, market yourself, network, train, market more, and get comfortable with the radio silence that is a no. I say this not to scare you off, I love this job and if it will bring you the same joy that it brings me, YOU NEED TO PURSUE IT!! I tell you these things because I believe honesty is the best policy and the path to preparedness, which is the path to success.
Now go take that next step into the pool! What are you going to do first?