Voiceovers for a living – Actually Making Money!
I see a lot of posts about making a living from voiceover work and I’m inclined to think these people have never done it. They paint this rosy picture about the need to have a good voice and making a motza by doing voiceovers for cartoons and the like. Well for the majority it has nothing to do with your voice and a lot to do with your willingness to work and invest in yourself. I break it down into five steps and keep it simple. I promise you that if you follow these simple steps you will have a good foundation in the industry and I speak from experience having made over $100,000.00 from voice work every year for the last 20 years.
Step 1. Get a realistic view of the industry.
It’s not about good voices its about people with average voices doing good reads! Be a good reader not a pretty voice. I can introduce you to a lot of people with good voices who barely make any money in this industry. Its not about being offered a gig doing a voice for the Simpsons, it’s about selling yourself to producers who need a VO for a corporate presentation or someones message on hold job. When you have created your showreel its a big job getting it out there. The competition is fierce and the time spent prospecting will directly reflect your earnings. If you are serious about putting food on the table by doing voice work be prepared to allocate one day a week EVERY week to talking to producers.
Be prepared to TALK to them not just a quick email with your showreel attached. Prospect, Prospect, Prospect.
Step 2. Invest in some good equipment.
I get calls from potential VO people every week and when I suggest they invest in some gear they tend to get a little upset. “Can’t I use my iPhone with a free recording App?” No. and you’ll need to set up a room in your home for a sound studio. Get some advice from someone who has done it to fix the acoustics of the room and buy a good PC or Mac and PAY for some good software and a good microphone. This is not a big investment as years ago it would have taken hundreds of thousands whereas nowadays its under $10,000. Your final product is a combination of your voice and the quality of the recording. The last thing a producer wants to hear is your dog barking in the front yard over the top of his soft romantic read. Interestingly one of my favourite VO ladies has her sound booth in her walk in wardrobe. Seems the clothing and all the junk in there creates a nice dead room. Adobe Auditionis a great piece of software and they let you rent it. C’mon your mechanic has a tool kit you should too.
Step 3. Hone your skills.
Ring charities and offer to do free stuff for them. Make on hold messages for any member of the family who has a business or offer to record their voicemail message on their phone. Offer the local blind society free on hold messages. Do some community service announcement for the local radio station. There is a 10000 hour rule that says you won’t get good till you have knocked up the hours. Do the hours and let someone benefit from them. You will get benefit in the long run.
Step 4. Register on ALL the Voiceover sites.
I copped a lot of flack when I first joined fiver to do voiceovers. My compatriots in the VO industry (because of their complete ignorance) thought I was selling out doing $5 voiceovers. Nothing could be further from the truth. I actually earn better dollars per second on fiver than I do at a lot of other places. Sure the site is full of “also ran” voices charging $5 but people pay good money for good reads. Unfortunately the premium voices in our industry shunned fiver and now it is full of cheap voices. What they should have done is gone in early and made it a premium outlet. But that is their loss.
Step 5. Get a website to sell your voiceovers.
There is no excuse not to have one. With places like squarespace and wix out there the cost is low and the benefits high. Its your shopfront. Have a link to your email and your phone number and if you are a member of something like voices.com.aumake sure you have a link on your email signature to the site so people don’t have to chase you for your showreel.
It’s a great industry and it has been kind to me because I was respectful to it. I invested and prospected and registered everywhere. I put in the hours and made the friends. Its not easy but it is simple. You can do the same. Happy VOXING!