Revised: August 2021
So you’ve been told you have a superb voice and you want to know how to use it?
The great news is that you can actually use your voice for work and earn a healthy second income. Enjoy a few jobs here and there and make some extra cash from a new found hobby, or market yourself right and you could even make a career out of it!
Voice over is a flexible way to make an income, and that’s the beauty of it.
The news you might not want to hear; having a great voice simply isn’t enough. You won’t understand this until you try it for the first time.
I experienced this first hand when I decided to give it a go myself and read a script aloud last week. I was honestly surprised at how shockingly bad I was! I actually made myself laugh as I sounded like a patronising primary school teacher EVERY TIME. I definitely have a new found respect for voice artists.
So voice over work is not for me and I’ll happily stick to marketing for now but the question is what does make for a great voice over artist and is it for YOU?
A unique voice
Having a unique and distinctive voice is helpful – it’s a competitive market and it may help you to stand out. But if you don’t have a distinctive voice, it’s not necessarily a bad thing either. In fact many marketers are looking for ‘everyday’ and conversational style voices to better connect with their audience.
Voice work is like the fashion business in many respects, and different styles of voice-over go in and out of vogue just like clothing. And the other good thing about VO work – there is no age limit. Some projects will require older voices and others younger voices.
Clear, neutral, and authoritative voices are perfect for things like explainer videos and IVR prompts, whereas charismatic and animated voices are more suited for cartoons and character voices.
So, if you think your voice doesn’t “stand out”, then it doesn’t mean that a voiceover career is off the cards. Despite the importance of having a good voice, there are other aspects that are just as key.
Voice over training
We get a lot of actors looking for extra voice over work which is fantastic but they are both completely different abilities. All the emotion, tone, feeling, personality and intonation have to come from the voice only – no facial expression, no body language, and no props.
It requires a new set of skills and we know a thing or two about the tricks of the trade. We introduced voice over workshops, one Saturday per month, in our professional voice over agency in Reading. They are all led by André, an experienced voice acting professional, and come complete with a free voice reel demo. We have had tremendous feedback so far and we are so glad that everyone has enjoyed themselves. Places are limited though so sign up fast to avoid disappointment!
Yes, you may have a great voice but if you are difficult to work with or take too long to respond then you could be missing out on fantastic opportunities. Set your phone up with email notifications as the wheels in this industry turn very fast and chances are, if you don’t get back to an agent the same day, the gig will go to someone else.
Another good tip is to inform any agencies you are registered with if you change any important details like your phone number and especially your costs. Account managers are less likely to put voice artists forward when they are changing their prices every week without notice as the rate cannot be guaranteed to the client.
Record a quality showreel
Recording a quality showreel is essential and a solid investment if you are serious about voice over work. Check out recording studios in your area that have an understanding of the voice over industry so they can tailor your reel. Of course, you want to flaunt your best bits but the best tip would be to be put the most natural sounding recording first.
If you are new to the industry then all you need is a few, well rehearsed reads and an audio engineer to mix them with library music. Be sure to check if the studio’s engineers also work on the post production of your showreel; editing & cleaning the audio for a more professional finish.
Advice from a voice artist – Andrew
“In London, come rain or shine I get myself around the city on my bike. I live about six miles from the city centre so that gives me lots of time to just talk out loud to myself. To practise accents, to make up silly voices, to hone those impressions. I have had to endure the odd look or two from passing motorists and I tend to forget I’m doing it when stopped at traffic lights, but nothing makes other road users give a cyclist a wide birth than a hearing a loud and demonic laugh in the voice of Kenneth Williams”.
Getting your voice heard
Find out where your potential customers are hanging out and target them there, if you want to voice health and fitness products then think about what digital platform you could discover them on and meet them there. If you want to work with larger companies then your best bet is to contact voice over agencies in your local area.
Also, ask agencies if there is anything you can do to get more exposure. I have collaborated with a few voice artists in the past to create interview style blogs. It works well, giving the voice artist more exposure, and showing the more of the personality and character behind the voice, making them more relatable to producers.
The right price
Now you have a valued skill which deserves credit but where do you price yourself? Too high – could result in fewer job offers unless you have an exceptionally unique voice. Too low – you may not be able to take on the workload and the pressure may cause your quality to drop which will affect your reputation.
Some agencies have agreed rates, others are flexible and others use a mixture of both. The idea is to get a balance between the amount of work and delivering a quality that you and your client will be happy with. We could write a whole separate blog on pricing alone, it’s a hot and often controversial topic of discussion. If you’re happy, who are others to criticise?
What kind of work can voice artists do?
Basically, anywhere a voice is needed someone has to record it so you can imagine the variety of projects there are. We work across all industries here including: corporate video, commercials, explainer videos, animations, eLearning, audiobooks, games and toys, documentary narrations, IVR and more.
To get started as a voice over actor all you need is the right set up, a little guidance and a push in the right direction. As a voice over agency we know a lot about the ins and outs of what clients will and won’t pay for and which voices are likely to make the cut.
To cut it short
If you think you’ve got a voice to share and presenting yourself professionally comes easily to you then you might have just met your new found vocation.
Voice over training and showreels are investments in your business and shouldn’t be overlooked. Even a refresher showreel or a specified reel for a particular style can bring you fantastic new opportunities.
Marketing and pricing yourself are also key to success. Don’t be afraid to ask professionals or agencies for advice as they can pass on some really helpful tips.
So, there you have it, our top tips for being successful in the voiceover industry. Whether you’re considering a career in voice artistry, or just looking for a little guidance, hopefully we’ve managed to answer a few questions.
For those of you signed up for our voice over workshops, don’t hesitate to prepare any questions for André, he will be delighted to help you out with any doubts. If you don’t have money or time for expert training or coaching, you could try joining local meet ups or social media groups to get started.
If you have decided that it is time for a new adventure then I wish you good luck!
Here at Matinée, we’re proud of our impressive roster of voice talent, with speakers covering over 80 languages. We have over 30 years’ experience of recording all sorts of voice over, from audiobooks, to advert narration, to IVR prompts. Whatever it is you’re looking to record, we’ll no doubt be able to help you.
Why not get in touch with us today to find out more?
Call us on +44 (0) 118 958 4934
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org