People ask me all the time how to get started in VoiceOver. But then that inevitably crosses over into how to get started in AirBnb, Lyft, pet sitting, doggy walking…and all the different adventures I’m into that help create my work from home full time. And I finally realized…the process was the same throughout each one.
When I first got into VoiceOver, I was working at a TV station at a local station. I had gotten in as a temp, and had so much fun that I think it must have been catching because the station bought me out from the temp agency and I ended up being there two years. Incredibly people. But I imagine I was a difficult employee at times because I desperately wanted full time, which wasn’t something they could offer at the time…and I got bored easily because I couldn’t sit still. So I would actually get through my work fairly quickly since I was a tasker and go asking for anything additional to add to my plate. Anything to get up from my desk. And they were WONDERFUL about giving me a variety of things.
One day a sales person came back to my desk and said HEY! Can you read this script over here in the booth for me, push these buttons and save it in this folder when you’re done? I thought hell yeah! Anything to get up from the desk. And that’s what I did without even thinking about the process for most of the time I was there. But when I was offered full time with benefits at another place, I really had to look at what I enjoyed at the station and realized I didn’t want to stop voicing. And that meant I had to figure out how to do what I was doing there…and recreate it at home.
So I started looking up and following on social media the top ten people that were making a living selling their voice. I watched every video they posted, read every article, and researched the equipment and terms they used. I searched on FB every VoiceOver group that had more than 500 members and joined it…and did the same thing. I followed top posters, watched their videos, and more importantly I visited every site they talked about selling their voice on. This took months. Which was ok because I still needed to buy equipment. I was still voicing for the station and decided I needed some extra money that I could use to purchase equipment while I learned through watching. Total cost looked to be about 3k to insulate and purchase starter equipment down to the laptop.
I’m a very hands on person. Best way to learn, for me, is to do it. So NATURALLY I started sending out auditions since I could just record them at a local friends music studio. Most were no more than 30 seconds and I was in and out. I searched Facebook, Google, Craigslist, Twitter, and LinkedIn for auditions almost every other day for several months. If there was an audition, I sent a raw demo that I recorded in that moment.
I had a LOT of no’s…but I also began getting yes’s. The money from those I rolled right into my wishlist of equipment that I had formed from Sweetwater from the sweetheart of a senior salesman I went on a few dates with and helped me fine tune the list of what I had seen from the VO’s I was following on social media. And I purchased that equipment one piece at a time over the course of a year, all while watching and learning from the people and groups I was following.
When my studio was completed and built inside my house, I began auditioning every day. I would get up early, warm up my voice and do my searches until I found at least one audition to send a cold read to. I would follow up to previous ones I hadn’t heard from and then turn around and complete orders I had received within the hour when they contacted me back. But my real learning curve happened on one of the audition platforms for voices called VoiceBunny. I had seen the name more than several times in VO groups, and the talk wasn’t typically positive. But one thing they all agreed on…was that the process to actually get auditions was hard but that the work was plenty and the rates were low.
That was where I wanted to be because I wasn’t a professional. High standards for pennies is where an entrepreneur lives in the beginning. That’s where I found I could hammer out my process on an insane high standard for low enough rates that I could make mistakes in learning that wouldn’t burn bridges. So for probably a year and a half I read rejection after rejection after rejection on my studio quality which gave me enough raw audio to use as sort of demo’s. The no’s I received on that platform came with at least a yes in every 10 I did which taught me several things:
-be quick in your turnaround. The faster artist gets the job
-the more your client has to listen to the better chances you have of being booked
-constantly look and listen to your studio. One clients no will be another clients yes
-constantly getting rejected will give you a thick skin and develop grace and humor which you desperately need if you’re going to run a business
-rejection doesn’t always mean something is wrong but that you may not be the right fit
-practice makes perfect
I was blessed enough to get a contract working on the back end of this same company. I got to see the algorithm that works behind the scenes of online casting sites and the number of hands that touch what is uploaded just to make sure the perfection is there for each and every client. I got to see what made for good and bad artists and what made for good and bad clients. I learned that sometimes as an artist you need to let clients go when you’ve outgrown them or they’ve outgrown you.
The only thing left to do with what I had worked toward was to look at designing my own continuing education. Look into voice coaching and decide if it was right for me. Look into a professional demo. Listening to podcasts. Understanding small business. All those things that are part of bettering myself as a business.
And no matter what it is that you are hoping to delve into…this process is really the same. Educate yourself. Find peers and mentors and watch who, what, and how they are talking. Get interested in those things and understand them. Get your equipment together. And jump in. Understand you’re a business and develop your customer service and business side. Get an accountant. Get social media together. Surround yourself with people who can help you.
Good luck <3