Essential Steps to VoiceOver Success
Once you’ve determined that voiceover success and the exciting, creative and sometimes challenging world of voiceover is for you and you’ve worked with a coach to find out:
- What skills you have
- What skills you need to refine
- What type of voice or voices you have
- What kind of work that voice/those voices would be suited to, and
- How to approach the scripts you’d be cast for
…then you’re ready for the next step to voiceover success!
Marketing your talents to the industry
No matter how good your voice is, or how amazing your work on either your demo or your samples is, you must find a way to let everyone know what you have and how to reach you.
I’m amazing at how many people start out hoping for a career, or work, in voiceover unready for the reality of how you get the work.
So let’s look at how you need to prepare yourself.
If you’ve been working with a coach, then the likelihood is they’ve been able to source the right kind of scripts for you, help you put together a great demo or create sample tracks that represent work you do best and that you would be cast for.
It’s essential that your samples or your demo sounds professional, which is why a great coach or a voiceover producer is invaluable.
Don‘t make the mistake of thinking that you can just throw something together yourself or even with a friend who has a studio.
Unless your friend is a professional voiceover sound engineer, then this could sound unprofessional, positioning you as an amateur.
That’s probably not the best route to voiceover success and potentially, a wasted effort.
Demos or samples don’t need to have all the bells and whistles that professional production (that’s music, sound bed or sound effects) can sometimes give them. In fact doing too much production can sometimes detract from the read.
It’s quite acceptable to have a ‘cold read’ (that’s something without any production) but it still needs to be a quality, broadcast-standard sample.
Don’t forget, even if you’re just starting out, you want to give the upfront impression that you know what you’re doing. Getting the read style spot-on needs to be matched with the right sound quality.
Here are some ways we creating demos:
- Make a compilation demo that presents a variety of different reads (that you’re brilliant at of course)
- Make a specifically targeted demo for character voices, narration, or promo for instance
- Create single tracks that can feature on your website
- Utilise single tracks to send to studios, production houses, or companies who may be looking for your talents as a marketing exercise.
Okay, so you know who you are as a v/o and what it is about your voice that someone will want, or be looking for. You have a great little demo (or targeted demos) and now you need to get it in front of the people who will hire you.
Well get ready for this piece of news. This is where most voiceover artists fail completely, fall down miserably or throw it all in as too hard. Why?
- don’t do their research and build a list of contacts
- hate cold calling, so they don’t, won’t or are really bad at it
- lack confidence in their abilities, even when they have them in spades
- can’t bear the possibility that it’s a ‘no thanks’
Well guys, this won’t be the first or last time you hear this.
It’s not easy to get into voiceover!
So, you’re just going to have to build a bridge and get skilled up at how to do those things. They are essential to your success.
Even though for a while it may feel as though you are trawling through mud, not getting much attention or response, let alone jobs, you need to make a commitment to to your own voiceover success and decide to be in it for the long haul.
I’ve coached people whose marketing skills were actually better than their talent. They took on the marketing and they are now getting regular work as voiceover artists and have worked hard to improve their skills.
They were prepared to do the hard yards and it’s paid off.
Here are some things that you might like to consider as you prepare yourself to jump.
Create a personal website.
It really doesn’t need to be more than one page, as long as it presents your best work and is Search Engine Optimised in the right way.
Unless you understand how to do SEO, find a professional who can do some key-word research with you. For this you need to know the key words or phrases that potential searchers are putting into Google when they’re looking for a voice actor who has your talents.
A couple of examples are ‘Australian female voiceover for medical reads’. It may be ‘mature US male for promo voiceover’. If you have a talent that’s more niche’, like mimicking (and it better be good) speaking in, or translating, another language or any other quirks, then make sure that’s included.
Create a LinkedIn account.
If your skills are in the non-broadcast area, this can be a great way to make contact with companies who may be looking for voice talent. It’ll mean cold calling online.
Create a great, but short, in-mail about your abilities, include a link or links to your work and make sure your subject line has the word ‘voiceover’ in it. Such as ‘Need a professional male voiceover for your next project?’
Create a list of contacts.
Call sound studios, radio stations and video production houses. Tell them who you are and what kind of voice actor you are. Ask them for a person’s name and an email address to send a demo. Keep notes. Good notes!
Whenever you speak to someone about your talents and availability, or you get booked for a job, it’s an opportunity to begin building a relationship.
Do this carefully and with a strategy in place:
- Be authentic. Never pushy! As in, never all up a studio and ask if there’s any work. 🙁
- Avoid contacting people too often.
- Find a legitimate reason for contact, such as, ‘I did a job recently that I thought you might like to hear’.
- Remind those who seemed the most interested that you’re still available. Once a month to six weeks is probably about right.
Agent or Not?
This is a very reasonable question, because you don’t actually need an agent to have voiceover success. You just need that excellent demo and be able to really put time into the marketing aspects we discussed before.
When you’re established, have a good body of work, and have a few clients or studio producers to vouch for you, then you could approach an agent.
Agents rarely take someone on based on a voice demo alone.
They want to know that you’re good in the booth. That is, you know how to collaborate in the studio to create great work.
Or they’ll want to know that your sound equipment is broadcast quality and that you know enough about what you’re doing to self-produce.
Your Personal Check List
How are you? This can be a rather adrenalin fuelled experience and you need to be on top of your health game, so make sure you’re in good health, feeling on top of the world. If not, you need to do some work on that
Before a job, are you well and truly hydrated and is your energy good? Pull back on the drinking the night before and get to bed early. (Oh god, now I sound like your mother)
Do an emotional check. Am I solid enough to spend all week at this and get no work…only to bounce back the week after and do it again…without flagging?
Or am I feeling a bit fragile this week and perhaps need to work on building resolve…and reserves.
In this business we need to become very good at reading our own energy levels, general health and emotional wellbeing.
Keep learning; keep researching, training and adding to your repertoire. Voiceover success will likely follow!
If you’re in it, then you must be in it for the long haul.