How To Create A Successful Voice Over Career

If you want to create a successful voice over career, you must have a passion for it.

Working voice actors know how much dedication, tenacity and good planning it takes to build their career.

If you’re just starting out in voice over and booking jobs, you’ll have discovered how much marketing you need to do, so your work gets heard by the right people.

And if you’re still trying to crack that elusive first booking, you’ll know how hard it can be to build a career or a second income from doing what you love.

But no matter what stage you’re at, you need to keep a hold of the passion that launched you on this journey in the first place. 

You need to be like a dog with a bone, never letting go of the drive and desire to achieve your dream.

In voice over, success rarely comes quickly and it never comes to those who aren’t completely engaged in what being a voice over artist means.

You need to be prepared to keep making a study of:

  • What kind of voice over work you’re suited to,
  • The techniques needed to work as a pro,
  • What’s out there on air and online,
  • Trends in voice over,
  • The players in your landscape,
  • Other voice over artists and their work, and
  • How to create a demo that represents who you are to those who are looking.

If you were to focus on at least one of these areas each day, you’ll be able to build your knowledge of the myriad ways voice over exists in our world. And then you can work out what you’d be best suited to.

An essential part of building a voice over income is to have an understanding of your voice style or styles and perfecting them for the area that you could work in.

To make sure you’re ready to do the work when it appears for you, here are some tips for three different areas of voice over.


1 Character voices and animation

If you want to work in voice over because you’re really good at creating character voices, or love animation or gaming, there’s one thing you need to make sure you’re equally good at.

You need to make sure your sight-reading skills are brilliant – because we always work with a script.

If you’re not used to reading from a script, then make a daily practice of reading aloud and begin to develop an ear for how you sound. 

You can use any written material you like, but I think a great way to improve is to get your hands on some children’s titles, where there is both a narrator and a range of other characters using dialogue.

Practice reading the material in several different ways. This will help you get used to the fact that when you’re working, a director or producer will often want to hear different versions. Record yourself and attempt to create voices and rhythms that don’t sound like you.

The better you are at disguising your natural voice through changing pace, pitch, volume and rhythms, the more interesting you’ll be to those who are casting.


2 Narration

If you love audio books or anything long-form (and that can include corporate reads) you need to make a study of how successful narrators work.

To be considered for narration work, you must be an incredibly accomplished sight-reader. 

You must have an intrinsic knowledge of the material (or at least be able to read the material and sound like you do) as you could be reading a work of fiction or an engine-building manual.

A good narrator has these skills in abundance:

  • A broad vocabulary and understand variations in pronunciation and how to apply them, and
  • Excellent comprehension skills where they’re able to understand quickly the style of the script and then make a balanced judgement on pace, attitude, mood and emotion.

One of the most important things to remember when you’re reading anything long-form is to take your time between different thoughts, ideas or messages. 

There’s nothing worse than listening to a read that’s just going too fast!


3 TV & Radio Commercials

Advertising is a wonderful game – I’ve always called it the game of seduction and manipulation.

I love the way advertising uses language to convince us to do what they want us to do, and I love my role as a voice artist, to convert that language into compelling and meaningful messages.

If this is the area you see yourself working in, then there are so many things you need to master:

  • You need to know that every message is driven by the advertiser and targeted to a specific audience or person,
  • You need to know that every script is different and requires you to create a persona for that script that’s authentic and original, and
  • You need to listen, listen, listen, to as much on-air and online line advertising as you can! Listen for what others do, how they understand where the key words and phrases are and how to make that language meaningful.

The more you know about what you’re doing, the closer you’ll be to the dream.

Voiceover is a wonderful business, amazingly creative and great fun.

But I want you to remember this – there are no short cuts to voiceover success. 

There’s only persistent dedication, solid research and passion.

Happy Voiceovering!