Have you maybe been thinking about getting into some freelance work? Maybe you’d like something you can do from home, whether to supplement your current income or make a professional transition. Perhaps you’re looking to become a great voice actor and launch your voice over career. Maybe people often comment on your voice, telling you it would be fabulous for audiobooks, animation, or other voice-overs. Now you’re wondering how to become a great voice actor and what it takes.
Voice acting is an exciting, creative job that is guaranteed to keep you busy and challenged. But it works more than just your vocal cords. We know that you need to take excellent care of your voice to make it in this business. But you have to have more than just that great voice. Without warm-up exercises, daily practice, and gentle stretching, your voice won’t be able to keep up with hours in the recording studio. But if you’re really looking to get serious about voice over acting, you need to do more than simply pamper your voice and train your vocal cords.
Take care of your body and mind (and your voice)
Your voice is not the only part of yourself that will need looking after if you want to become a successful voice-over actor. Let’s be honest – being a voice actor is intense. It’s often stressful. It can get frustrating at times, especially if you are just starting out and struggling to find work. A dedication and burning passion for your craft are crucial, but you also have to take care of the rest of your body and your mind to stay healthy and in tip-top shape for this work. Voice-over acting requires you to be able to give a lot of yourself at once, and you won’t be able to do your best if you are feeling drained, exhausted, and anxious.
Yoga for the body and mind
No matter how little time you think you have, finding a spare half an hour for a refreshing workout, a relaxing yoga session, or a focused meditation is essential. As an aspiring voice actor, you probably know the feeling that you should be working non-stop if you want to break into the business. But ask those who have made it in the industry, and they will tell you that taking breaks is essential. This is true especially if you are still balancing voice over acting with a daytime job. Working out and stretching both your body and your mind will help you relax. Plus, learning effective breathing techniques will do wonders for your voice over work, too. What better reason do you need to get on your yoga mat?
Taking care of the voice
While we are talking about body and mind, let’s talk about that voice of yours. You’ve got to coddle it and care for it. For instance, as the weather is getting colder, don’t forget your scarf when you go outside. This may sound silly, but a scarf can keep your voice healthy and sounding great. Stay hydrated, too. Whether you live in dry air or somewhere moist and humid, make sure you drink lots of water and healthy fluids. That also means staying away from alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. All of these can be bad for the sound of your voice and your vocal cords.
But…maybe you had an indulgent evening or are recovering from a cold. There are some ways to get your voice back to sounding great, like drinking warm lemon water or chamomile tea with honey. You can also steam your way back to a good voice or use any of the other tricks found in this article.
The bottom line here is to take care of yourself. Your mind, your body, and your voice.
Take acting or voice acting classes (or watch some tutorials)
Books and online resources are great to learn the tricks of the trade, but nothing is better than real-life training. Depending on where you live, finding voice acting classes might be tricky, but that’s no reason to despair. Simply look for acting classes instead. Some skills you can acquire during a good acting class are things like speaking loudly and clearly, beefing up your confidence, reading and memorizing lines, and delivering a character like it’s second nature to you. These will all help you become a better voice actor, too. Acting classes can also help you learn how to transform yourself and bring a character to life.
Whether you are stuck inside due to the pandemic or can’t find a class nearby, don’t fret. There is always YouTube and other online ways to enhance your voice and acting skills. It’s amazing what you can find and what skill you can learn from the Internet! These classes and tutorials, whether geared toward acting or voice acting in particular, can teach so many skills. Here are just a few that this article shares:
- Voice control
- Recording skills
Join the voice actor community
Make some friends. Voice actor friends! You may think of them as the competition but turn that around to consider them support. You can learn so much from colleagues and peers. In fact, you’ll probably all have different skills and niches so you will all be able to learn so much from one another. Maybe from time to time, you’ll vie for the same role, but think of it as the best voice should get it. Even if it’s not yours. However, what you share apart from that is much more important – a passion for voice acting and a drive to become bigger and better at your job.
Voice-over acting is a stressful job. No one knows better what you’re going through than fellow voice talent. Don’t get intimidated by successful voice actors. Instead, be willing to learn from their experience. Join the community, whether that’s in person or online, lift each other up, and exchange ideas, tips, and resources. You will become a better voice actor if you make the effort and get involved. You’ll probably make some great friends along the way, too.
Learn the art of personal branding for a voice actor
Voice-over acting is a fun career to pursue, but if you’re serious about this, it needs to be more than just fun. As a freelance voice actor, your goal is to get hired. Essentially, you have just become a small business. Having an interesting and memorable voice is great, but marketing yourself as a reliable and original voice actor who never fails to deliver is better. Personal branding might be tough, but voice actors, like any other small business, can’t neglect its importance.
A great way to start is to build a website to promote yourself and your work. If you’re not a pro, there are plenty of services out there to help you craft a beautiful page with little tech know-how. Get yourself a domain, pick a theme via WordPress or Squarespace, and get to work. Sites like Canva can help you design just the look you want to showcase.
What do you want directors and agents to know? Craft a few paragraphs about yourself and your work, showcase your voice acting portfolio and include links to your social media presence. Make sure to include your contact details in an easy to see spot. If you want to take personal branding to the next level, consider starting a blog or using a blogging platform such as Medium to share your expertise. You can establish yourself as a reliable and experienced voice actor with plenty of advice to give. Remember that voice actor community we spoke of? You could end up creating one on a blog or social media page.
Loving voice-over acting is not enough by itself to make it in the industry. You’ve also got to learn how to sell yourself.
Go high-quality or go home
Selling yourself also includes the ability to produce great quality recordings of your voice that will wow agents and directors alike. In an increasingly digitalized market, a professional appearance and a high-quality recording are a must. Your voice reel can’t just be any old phone recording. Not even paid for recording apps should make the cut. You have a couple of choices here. You can invest in a high-quality recording session at a professional studio, or you can create a studio at home.
Sure the home studio may seem intimidating, but if this is what you want to do, some investment may be required. Here you can see that it may not be quite as intimidating as you think. You don’t need that soundproof room and super fancy technology. There are some essentials, though, that you’ve got to have for a successful demo. These are some of the basics that may not be so difficult to put together to create a great home studio:
- A Computer
- DAW/Audio Interface Combo
- Studio Monitors
- One or Two Microphones
- A Few Cables
- One Mic Stand
- A Pop Filter
- Ear Training Software
You’ll also need a quiet place to record, but make sure it isn’t full of hard surfaces. So while your bathroom may seem like a great spot, it’s not. Instead, maybe that small extra bedroom where you store a lot of boxes and furniture. Believe it or not, the soft items there will make the sound better.
Once you’ve got a recording space, whether it’s in your home or a studio for rent, it’s time to get to work. Put together a selection of voice-overs that show how flexible your talent is,. You’ll want o showcase your expertise in not only genres, like documentary-style recordings, commercials, or audiobooks, but you’ll also want to showcase different voices. If you excel in accents, showcase this, too!
This reel should really show the entire breadth of your work and convince people of your talent. Just like a model has a portfolio of fabulous photos covering different looks, you want a full representation of your voice talent.
You could even get professional help, whether it’s on the recording or editing end. It might be costly to go professional for your voice reel, but there’s no doubt that it will pay off in the end. Remember, sometimes you have to invest a little to make a great start.
It will take time to become a great voice actor
If someone tries to convince you that this process will be quick and easy, don’t listen. It’s rare that starting a new profession or following a dream is easy. Even with a great voice, it will take work, know-how, and some passion thrown in to be successful.
To become a great voice actor takes time, discipline, hustle, and lots of that burning passion. There may be many obstacles in the journey, but the glory of hearing your first job and receiving that first check will make you feel fantastic. Many successful people had a slow start on the road to greatness. People like Bill Gates and JK Rowling were rejected in the younger years, but they didn’t let those “no’s” stop them from getting to the point of hearing “yes.” You can be successful, too, but be patient and work hard.
Put it all together
So you know you have to refine your voice. You also have to continually take care of it and the rest of your body and mind. You have to network and find a group of voice actors to learn from and find support. You’ve got to make a great demo tape and find patience and perseverance. Finding your niche is important and so is branding yourself. And through all of this, you must continue to practice and keep working on your voice. The good thing about practicing is that your voice is always with you. Use your time in the car or the shower, and keep working on your voice. Turn a bedtime story into a fun voice practice or use a day to talk in a different accent.
If you want to be a great voice over artist, you need to know that the road to get there is long and winding. If you start your trek with the right attitude and an open mind, though, the journey will not only be much easier, but it will also be quite beautiful and rewarding along the way.