The voiceover business is not rocket surgery and keeping it simple and low cost can make it a much more enjoyable and a profitable gig.
Once upon a time we travelled to expensive studios with expensive gear in places with expensive parking to do our voiceovers. A simple 30 sec TVC took a couple of hours when you took into account travelling and waiting at studios. Nowadays you walk into your home studio and knock out the track and email it to the client be they a studio or direct business to business client. That does two things. 1. makes life easier for you. 2. Makes voiceovers a cheaper item to produce. Technology does that. it’s also democratised the industry and enabled more people to join in and set up a side gig. But there are a few things you still need to do.
Every day I hear stories from clever operators who have repurposed something to create a great little studio. My favourite is one of the most familiar voices you hear on radio and TV who records all her spots as a working mum from her walk in wardrobe. All those shelves and hanging clothes ensure that little room has no “roominess” or reverb. I love it. My studio is a repurposed nursery in our house and to fight the echo and reverb I simply filled it with furniture (desk, cabinets etcz0 and made sure nothing was square to the wall. A few pieces of acoustic foam on the walls and it works a treat. I did have a little problem with the ceiling though but this was fixed by hanging a rectangular frame covered with acoustic material and filled with foam (see the picture) . By hanging it at an angle I had another out of square panel in the room. Remember the best radio studios are “out of square” and thats the secret to removing roomy sounds. So when building your studio remember you don’t have to spend a lot just make everything out of square.
Gear snobs can cloud the air when it comes to choosing gear. But again simple is best. From a good quality USB microphone (Rode and Audio Technics both make good ones) to dedicated break out boxes like at the Apogee Duet, Rode Rodecaster Pro it all comes down to the type of work you are doing. Remember most of the work the average bigger will do is for telephone systems or for e-learning that will come out of tiny computer speakers or cheap headphones. I am a fan of AKG headphones but there are lots of headphones on the market that will do the trick. For a recording package for the computer I see lots using Adobe Audition which I rent from the company via their website. Good simple and professional. There are cheaper and free programs on the market if your budget does not stretch that far. Again remember who you are selling too.
Getting work is the hard part. I know a lot of good voices with great gear who have cob-webs on their stuff from lack of use. This is the hardest part of the business. Get your name out there. Don’t take any notice of the “voiceover snobs” who bag places like fiverr. Just get on there and all of the other voiceover web sites and set up a profile. You might not earn big dollars at first but trust me if you persist you will. There are a host of others too. Voice Bunny, Freelancer, voices.com.au (the one I own) and more. Once you have your profile set up share it on you social media. You can’t sell a secret. Get on the phone and call the producers and production houses. Make sure they know your name and have your demo.
Your web site
This is a pet peeve of mine. Websites that no-one sees that are nothing but glorified business cards that no-one gets. When you set up your site do the following. 1. Get a good domain name preferably your own name i.e. ashleigh mac.com or ashleigh mac.com.au (they are both mine). Then either build a site with your demos on display and include a good quoting form and include an e-commerce backend. A simple PayPal point to charge and pay is good. If you don’t want to go to that bother link to (frame forward) to your fiver or voices.com.au page. I have done that with my personal domains. Then put that domain EVERYWHERE. On your facebook, on your instagram, tattoo it on your mothers forehead but get it out there.
The most important thing about the voice is not the tone. It’s your ability to use it. That comes with practice. I promise you that if you consistently use it and learn to control it you will get good at it. It’s not an overnight thing though. Be prepared for knock-backs and rejections but don’t give up.
Feel free to drop by voices.com.au and to send me an email at email@example.com.
Author: Ashleigh Mac – Owner of Voices.com.au and professional voiceover artist for 30 years.