An exciting option for speakers and authors is lending your voice to commercials, cartoons, and other ‘announcer-type’ vocal opportunities. But just buying a $75 microphone and plugging it into your computer does not a pro announcer make.
When I first started doing professional voiceovers, you had to find a studio. Radio stations and commercial studios where about the only options, and you couldn’t just email the script and attach a file. Even if you’ve been told, “You should be in radio – or doing audio books” because of your deep or professional delivery, you need to know the facts.
With the ability to own their own professional audio software and equipment that was once locked in studios, more and more people with broadcasting and acting backgrounds have decided to put themselves in business on the internet. Competition is fierce with so many in my own broadcasting industry looking to make extra money. Websites like Fiverr, Voice 123, and others allow people to post samples and offer their services at a huge discount.
If you’re going to accept money to do professional voice work, you need to have the ‘thing’ that sets you apart from others. I stopped chasing voiceover work because of the very low rates being paid when trying to compete with thousands and thousands at the end of a computer around the world. I still encourage you to explore the experience, but be realistic about what the market pays. Most major voice over work is done by actors because it’s so easy to complete the work and it pays well at that level. Most authors will record their own works for audio books. Just a handful of working voice professionals are set up to do the sheer amount of work necessary from home studios to make a successful living at it.
That said, if your dream still burns brightly and you want to jump into the voice-over arena, here’s what you need to get started:
1. Send demo files of your previous work to send to prospective clients. This demo needs to highlight your abilities in less than two minutes, with a sample of styles of what you can do (or have done) with your voice.
2. Unless you’ve been a professional announcer before, don’t use a ‘radio’ or put on amplified voice. Today, very few people want a ‘Game Show’ type announcer delivery. Be you – and amplify who you really are.
3. Being a professional speaker doesn’t automatically translate into being a voice artist. Many of the same rules about vocal variety still apply, but no one can see you. Acting is more in line with what you will need to do to paint the picture or convey the emotions from the copy you read.
4. Put your samples on various websites that showcase talent for hire (google search it) and your own site.
5. Send your samples to local production houses and studios. Radio and television groups seldom use outside talent and can share staff from many locations, it isn’t a priority to reach out to them.
And if you’ve already done some voice-over and want to do more:
1. Update your demo to include areas of expertise. Character voices, accents, vocal quality, and age range. Often my demo will get a follow-up to include more of what the client is looking for as in high energy, smooth, upbeat, and youth or adult delivery.
2. Offer to lend your voice to other collaborators in the speaking industry to let it be known you’re interested and able to do voice-over and narration as a service.
3. Look for an agent who will add you to their stable of voice demos. I sent out hundreds of demos and sure enough, one landed on the desk of a casting agent. I ended up working with Barney, the dinosaur, because of it!
Samples of some of my current work with local advertisers and the “Voice” of the National Speakers Association show “Voices of Experience” can be heard on my website. http://www.samvoiceman.com/broadcaster.html
Sam Newton is a professional broadcaster, voice artist, sales leader, and public speaker. He’s the content director and a radio personality for one of the nation’s largest media companies. He sold $4.5 million in luxury vehicles in only three years in the automotive industry and acted on the ‘Bedtime Barney’ syndicated radio show. Sam holds workshops on how to use all forms of media and developing your personal story.