Part of becoming a new voice actor is the absolute onslaught of information that you never knew existed, but is now mission critical to your life. You don’t know what information is valuable versus what’s pure bunk.
You hear names of voiceover greats and you have no idea who they are or why they’re great. You may be asked what your recording settings are or what you normalized your files to and your eyes cross and your brain starts to melt.
It’s now become a race as to how quickly you can pick up the jargon, build out a booth, and record a demo. Oh, and you need to treat all this like a business.
So...no pressure, right?
In an attempt to calm the chaos, here are 5 bases to have covered when jumping into voiceover
Taking classes and getting coaching is a non-negotiable for new and long-time voice actors. Even if you’re the most outstanding natural talent the world has ever seen… education is still important.
No one comes in knowing all the things. Try various coaches and schools as all the pros have something great and unique to offer.
But education isn't JUST around the craft.
We now have to have our own home studios and equipment, so technical understanding is essential. We have to edit our own auditions, and often our gigs, so we must know how to use specialized software.
There are ALWAYS new things to learn in this industry. Honing our craft is a consistent and ongoing effort. Tech is always improving. New folks are entering the industry. So we should never be bored when it comes to educating ourselves.
Isolated and treated voiceover studio
In today’s world, you cannot make it in the voiceover industry with out a home booth.
Well, I suppose you could if you have the unlimited funds to rent your studio space as needed.)You will be recording all your auditions, most gigs, and maybe a demo or two from your booth.
With all that recording, you have to have a stellar sound treated space. If there are buzzing noises, pops, loud cars, leaf blowers,(and these ALWAYS start at the worst time, in your recording, you’ll be put in the “no way” pile after about 3 seconds.
you may think, “Well, I’ll just get a really good mic.” Yeah, that’s going to be an ever bigger problem, because those top notch mics are crazy sensitive and will pick up way more ambient noise than a garbage mic.
A coach of mine always says, “Your mic is only as good as the room it's in”... and he’s so right. Get the studio quality and treatment right FIRST, and then invest in a mic.
Having an outstandingly treated studio doesn’t mean you can go super cheap on equipment. You are a professional, and as a professional, you need quality equipment.
You don’t want to pay someone outrageous sums of money for taking your wedding photos with a drugstore disposable camera, and production houses don’t want to pay for services with Walmart's newest toy mic.
that doesn’t mean you have to purchase super top quality equipment at the highest prices that only the best studios would have. There is a middle ground. BTW, price does not equal quality.
Read reviews, ask professionals what they are using, and test some stuff out. Here’s the basics of what you need:
XLR mic - Yep, I said XLR. Why? Isn’t USB good enough? I will say that there are some pretty good quality USB mics out there nowadays, but I still say to go with an XLR. And here are some pretty good reasons:
More access to higher resolution audio (aka better sound quality) especially in the higher and lower range frequencies
Not tied to a computer so flexible equipment placement is an option (mics WILL pick up the noise from fans in computers)
Interface - If you’re using an XLR mic, you’ll need an interface. An interface converts your voice sounds into a format your computer and software understand. It also routes sound from your computer to your headphones. The sound is higher quality audio than hearing it out of the computer headphone jack.
Headphones - Professional studio headphones (with closed or semi-closed backs) are preferred. Studio headphones (vs regular consumer headphones) allow you to hear a larger range of frequencies, so that you can better hear imperfections in the sound quality and be able to better edit your files.
Editing software - There are great options (both free and paid) out there. Do your research and choose what’s best for you. Just know that they all come with a learning curve, so be sure to get some education around how to properly edit your files.
Computer - You don’t need anything over the top fancy. Just something that can handle the software and equipment you’ve chosen.
What a gigantic and broad category. There are lots of aspects to running a business, and this is where Daytime Hero can help. Here are a few areas of focus:
Invoicing/managing finances - What are your rates? How are you getting paid? And are you making more than what you’re spending?
Marketing - How will potential customers know you exist? Do you have a plan to market your business?
Branding - What story are you trying to tell with who you are and what you do?
Client management - Everything from networking to creating a loyal, repeat customer base.
Strategy - How do you plan to go about growing your business?
LOTS of things to talk about with business, which I’m not going to break down here because this is a blog, not a series of novels. Just know that Daytime Hero has resources to help you to manage and grow your business. Here are some options:
I love accountability groups for multiple reasons.
First, they keep you accountable! Let’s not kid ourselves, if we were left to our own devices, we wouldn’t do half the things we probably should to grow our VO business. BUT, with an accountability group, you’re on the hook for saying what you’d like to accomplish in your business. You have to report back! And you have a team of folks cheering you on and helping to push you toward your goals.
Second, VO can be an extremely isolated path, so having a group to connect with is great for our mental and emotional well being. There’s something to be said about having valuable relationships in your life - especially when those folks also understand the business.
Third, accountability groups are great for bouncing ideas and getting feedback. Whether it’s through practicing scripts, help with customers, ideas for marketing… you have a group of people you trust that understand the industry and its demands, so you’re likely to get some high quality contributions.
Lastly, accountability groups are great to boost creativity and innovation. And as a working creative, we need the mojo to create some great auditions!
Hopefully, this list helped a bit to calm the crazy of what is learning a new industry. As you learn, asking lots of questions will get you farther down the path. And from those answers, “chew the meat and spit out the bones” meaning, take to heart (and implement) what works well for your business. The rest? Meh.
Daytime Hero is always here to help answer any questions you may have. Feel free to email or reach out via social media.