Has anyone ever told you that you have a professional voice meant for radio? Are you someone who can sing or has always been known to reach an array of octaves?
If so, it may be time for you to put your voice talent to good use and start making some money. Voice-over jobs can provide you with a steady stream of earnings. Curious about what it takes to make it as a voice actor? Here, you’ll find a complete guide to this unique profession.
What Is Voice Acting?
Have you ever seen an advertisement on TV and thought to yourself that the narrator had a good voice? Perhaps you’ve been in a theater and noticed the dramatic voice of the person reading the movie trailer during the previews. If so, you’ve noticed people who are voice actors.
Voice acting involves reading a script or a prompt professionally. Companies will use voice-over actors for an array of projects, including:
- Singing jingles
- Announcing live broadcasts
- Narrating audiobooks
- Narrating advertisements and explainer videos
- Narrating video games
Pros and Cons of Voice Acting
If you decide to use your gift of having a professional voice, much of your time will be spent scouring job postings for voice-over projects and auditioning for gigs with casting directors. Establishing yourself as a voice-over actor takes time, but doing so could reap benefits.
Pros of Voice Acting
One of the most significant benefits of voice acting is that you can do it from anywhere. Thanks to modern technology and the ability to do things like sending an MP3 over email, you can conduct voice-over auditions whether you’re in the United States or abroad. Many professionals set up a quiet home studio where they can routinely audition for and complete roles.
Another benefit is that voice-over jobs don’t require you to have a college degree. As in any industry, professional training is worthwhile, but it’s not always necessary — we’ll touch on that more in a bit.
Voice-over artists also benefit from the flexibility that these roles offer. Typically, a voice actor will receive a project with a deadline of a couple of days. Artists can then head into the recording studio when it’s most convenient for them to complete the job.
Lastly, a primary benefit of voice-over jobs is that you don’t need much to get started — all you really need is the exceptional voice-over talent you were born with.
As you become more familiar with the industry, you’ll likely invest in high-quality recording equipment. The equipment will end up serving as a business expense that you can write off on your taxes.
Cons of Voice Acting
Although there are many benefits to voice acting, there are a few negatives that you should consider when determining if this career or side hustle is right for you.
One of the biggest downfalls is that work is never guaranteed. This tends to be the case with any freelance gig, but it’s especially true in voice acting. Competition for voice-over jobs can be intense — you’ll have to actively seek potential clients. You’ll likely spend hundreds of hours recording and sending professional voice-over scripts in hopes of finding a gig.
However, as you establish yourself with clients, there’s a good chance of renewals in the future. But you’ll need to put in a lot of legwork up front to get your career going.
Another “con” of voice-over acting is that it’s location-dependent. Those who live near substantial media and entertainment hubs, like Los Angeles and New York, will likely find it easier to get work than those who live in remote areas. It’s entirely possible to have a remote voice-over career, but you may find it more challenging to get started.
Lastly, you may find that this job can be quite lonely or isolating. There’s not much interaction with others except for sound engineers. You’ll spend most of your days in a recording studio listening to yourself talk. If you’re someone who enjoys collaborating with co-workers in an office setting, this may not be the career for you.
How Much Do Voice-Over Jobs Pay?
The good news is that if you establish a successful voice-over career, you’ll surely reap the rewards. Money Magazine recently identified “voice-over artist” as the second-most lucrative work-from-home job, second only to “patent lawyer.” The survey found that on average, voice acting roles pay $72 per hour.
It’s important to note that you’ll likely set your own rates as a voice-over artist. That means you’ll be bidding against other artists who may underbid you, and companies may deem those actors’ work “good enough” to justify the savings.
But once you get the hang of the industry and secure the know-how to find clients, it’s possible to establish a lucrative voice-over business.
Voice-Over Acting Training
As mentioned, you don’t need a college degree to get started as a voice-over actor. However, it’s probably in your best interest to invest in a training program. Voice-over training programs will likely be your most considerable business expense, but they will pay dividends for your career.
There are tons of coaches who can help you hone your craft. Before choosing a coach, you should determine what type of industry you prefer. For instance, would you like to read audiobooks? Or would you rather provide the voice for animated characters? Different coaches exist for each industry. Choosing an industry-specific coach can provide you with the tips and tricks necessary to succeed.
When choosing a trainer, you should start by sending your voice-over demo to a few different coaches. As voice actor Jamie Muffett describes in Backstage Magazine, many coaches offer a free consultation session, which you should take advantage of. The feedback you receive from the coaches during this time should be somewhat consistent.
If you find that one coach provides you with feedback that’s drastically different from the others, you’ll want to avoid this person’s services. If they are overly complimentary of your work, it’s likely because they’re simply looking for clients. And if they’re too critical — especially when compared to the other feedback you’ve received — they might be trying to make themselves appear more legitimate.
Remember that you don’t necessarily need a coach in your local area. Don’t be afraid to conduct a nationwide search for coaches who are well-connected in the industry.
Are All Voice-Over Artists the Same?
No, not all voice-over artists are the same. Everyone’s voice is different. Investing in professional training could help you improve things such as varying your pitch or the speed at which you read. However, there are some things you cannot control that could end up working in your favor. For instance, production companies may look for those who:
- Have a female voice
- Can speak in a cartoon voice
- Are native Spanish speakers
Before beginning a voice-over job, try to identify qualities that could set you apart. Do you have any of the above specialties? Can you sing? Is there an impersonation that you do well? Unique talents can help you stand out from the competition.
Other Tips for Voice-Over Success
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind if you are going to jump into a career as a full-time voice actor. First and foremost, you need to start listening. Listen to everything you can, from TV commercials to radio ads. Pay careful attention to how these artists speak. Where do they slow their voice? What type of dialect are they using? Paying attention to these small nuances will make you more successful.
Second, be sure to check out voices.com, a site geared specifically to professional voice actors. Here, you can connect with voice-over agents and browse thousands of jobs. If you’re looking to build your connections within the voice-over industry, this site is an excellent place to do so.
Looking to Establish a Side Hustle?
Whether you’re looking to become a part-time voice actor or are interested in finding other ways to start a side hustle, now’s the perfect time to get started on your search.