Welcome to the “I want to get started in Voice Acting” page. Glad you’re here!
Hard words first: you probably won’t make real money for a couple of years. This is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. And it’s a real job, and takes real work. It involves a LOT more than ‘just talking into a mic.”
One suggestion to see if you’re serious, is for you to grab a book you like from the shelf, go into your closet with a chair and a music stand and a small light, and read aloud from the book for an hour a day for a couple of weeks. If you don’t go nuts, this may be a legit side gig or career for you.
“It is the tale, not he who tells it.” -Stephan King
Your voice: your mom may have told you that you have a nice voice. That’s great! But it won’t take you very far. It’s good, sure ! It’s like being good-looking in Hollywood – you’ll get the audtion, but to land the role you need to be able to ACT. Why? The script-writer has a goal: he wants the listener to have a certain emotional response after hearing your recording. YOUR job is to take the words and create that emotional response in the listener. The goal is NOT for them to think, “gosh, what a nice voice that person had” but rather, “I must buy that TV set or my life will be incomplete.”
My Expertise: ain’t there, man. Sorry. I am new to this business – asking me for advice is like asking the stock boy for CEO-level analysis. The stock boy MAY be able to give you good advice about being a good stock boy (I will do my best). But good advice should be sought from people who have a decade or more of full-time success in the business. I have been doing well, yes… but I am not qualified to coach or to guide you with information on industry trends and such. I *do* know a few things (find ’em at the bottom of the page). But here are some resources from people I respect:
Starting from Zero (links):
I Want To Be A Voice Actor Recommended by a LOT of folks as a good place to start.
FunnyGuyTimmy (Different Timmy) This guy does a lot of character work, and has a lot of other useful YouTube stuff to check out.
Facebook forums to join:
One thing to remember is that you need to do your homework before demanding that others jump to answer questions which you really should have sussed out yourself. Use the search function and make sure you’re not asking a question that gets asked every few days. Here’s a great comment by Kim Robinson (thanks!) that you should think about before posting on forums:
I remember being a baby VO’er and rushing to this group with my newbie questions and wondering why the “old guard” would answer questions with such piss and vinegar within their replies. But, now that I’m a toddler VO’er, and I’ve watched the “I have done a dimes worth of research about taking on this art form, now I demand that this group fill in everything else that I need to know…”I now get it. I fully friggin get it.I’ve reached “GET OFF MY LAWN” status.
The VoiceOver Community Big group, can be prickly – use the search function!
The VO Life I have a lot of respect for the leader of this group, Troy Holden.
The Gig Doctor Dean Scott Udenberg helps people tighten up their Fiverr gigs.
Voice-Over Artist and Sound Booth Building Warning! Extremely technical, but beats the heck out of guessing wrong and wasting time and money on something that won’t work.
YouTube Channels: spend a month or two on these!
Dane Scott EVERYTHING by Dane is good – and remember his Gig Doctor service to tweak your Fiverr gigs – well worth it!
Bill DeWees His coaching is very expensive; has over 900 valuable recordings up.
Anthony Pica/A VO’s Journey) Really down to earth and supportive.
Marc Preston Especially his Voiceover Cabana – the first ones are foundational. Also, he has a series of VO Coach Notes that have a lot of meat in ’em – they are part of The VoiceOver Community Facebook group noted above.
Grant Holmes – 96 episodes
Mike Delgaudio/Booth Junkie) Gear – and listen to his audio quality (lack of reverb)
Also See: responses when I asked, “Where should I send folks?”)
Gravy for the Brain
VO school podcast
https://justaskjimvo.studio/articles-posts/ Weekly posts here – Voiceover Studio Tech Tips, workflow refinement, a bit of mindset stuff now and again.
And someone else said, “”I don’t think there’s any substitute for actual training, but these YouTube channels have been helpful to me as a supplement” and referenced these three YouTube channels:
https://www.youtube.com/@TheGigDoctor (ALL of Dane’s stuff is great – and remember his Gig Doctor services to tweak your Fiverr gig)
Remember that this works well with MY voice – you may profit from different gear. And remember to give your wallet to your wife and start small: it’s room acoustics that you need to deal with LONG before you get that good mic. And start with a Fifine k670 ($32, Amazon)
Microphone: TechZone AudioProducts Stellar X2 ($200, Amazon)
Interface: Presonus Revelator io24 ($150 for now, Sweetwater)
Computer: The one you have will probably work fine. I asked David Pemberton (a computer guru who goes to Trinity) to build me a low-end gaming machine with EXTREMELY quiet fans, and threw $700 at him.)
Digital Audio Workstation: Studio One 6 Artist ($100, Sweetwater) – I started with Audacity (free)
Digital Audio Workstation TRAINING: Don Baarnes wrote the book on Studio One and I highly recommend his Jumpstart course. ($197, www.VOjumpstart.com/S1 I tell people it ranks third for me in all-time value, after my bible and my wedding license.)
Headphones: used Sennheiser HD-428 closed-back headphones ($30 or so, eBay)
Mobile rig: Zoom H4n Pro Field Recorder ($140 or so, eBay)
Shotgun mic: Synco Mic D2 ($170 or so, eBay)
What I *do* know
“Soundproofing” is not for mere mortals. You want “Acoustic Conditioning” – you want to knock out all sound that bounces from your lips to the walls and back to your mic. You want NO reflected sound. A walk-in closet works great (leave the clothes in it); others build a framework (PVC, wire shelf holder-uppers, 2x2s, etc.) and hang moving blankets on it. Or comforters, sleeping bags and the like. “Drape” them if you can (so their footprint looks like ribbon candy rather than a straight line). Clap your hands together inside your space: you should hear the clap but should NOT hear any ringing from reflected sounds (try this in the bathroom for a comparison). You MUST have a good recording space! And if you bought the world’s best microphone, it would sound terrible if you had a rotten recording space. My first work was done with a $25 mic and a sleeping bag over my head, and it fooled a college voiceover professor.
Spend a couple of months of every free moment looking into what you can find on voice acting (start with the links above). Remember that there are TONS of different TYPES of voice work – most of which you may not have even considered. Commercials, cartoons, anime, video games, YouTube videos of all sorts, audiobooks, intros and trailers for videos, book promos, corporate training (HR’s ‘how to use pronoun’ training – sigh), museum walkthroughs (the headphone voice), elevator and train station commentary, WalMart Radio and its cousins, radio teasers, halftime show narration, promos for schools, nonprofits, and companies, product how-to instructions, corporate website blurbs, political ads (and hit pieces), government and corporate PR campaign videos, testimonials, explainer videos, eLearning, real estate come-ons… all sorts of stuff.
When you’re done enough investigation so you think you may want to proceed, get a Fifine k670 USB microphone. It will cost you $32 from Amazon (link). It is a great student mic and, with your blanket fort (or closet), find yourself a coach you can work with. Ask the gang on one of the Facebook forums for recommendations: you do NOT want a ‘we’ll-make-a-demo-for-you-after-a-weekend-of-coaching’ outfit! Find a working voice actor who has been doing it for a decade or two! And expect to pay $150 an hour. It will be money VERY well spent! Get him or her to give you straight feedback on where you are in the process (“You need a lot of work, kid” is uncomfortable to hear, but it DOES provide direction). And find out what you need to do next. Let him or her guide you from there: I am not qualified to do this.
You will need a demo at some point. You can make your own with a bit of help, but it’s only really good for entry-level stuff: you’ll want to hire someone to help you with this as soon as you are earning SOME money at this. See this YouTube presentation.
I am available to chat with any of you about this stuff – find me on Facebook (message me) or phone me at 208 596-4480 after noon and until at least 11 PM. If you’re not in a hurry, email me at email@example.com.