Today is Pride, Pride in the time of Covid that is and so we’re having to find alternative ways to celebrate it this year. Me? I’m isolated in my makeshift vocal booth wearing my beautiful new ADIDAS Pride 2020 Superstars and thinking back over what an incredible adventure it’s been since I started building my Voiceover Business 5 weeks ago.
I’m new to self recording voiceover work, the software and the editing, soundproofing, marketing … basically everything involved with building this business, except, the performance side of things. I’ve been a professional actor for over 15 years and have done studio voiceovers for corporate jobs and video games as well plenty of ADR in that time. I had some demo reels and I know how to connect with my audience and sell the message or story, so I decided I should start with the things I know nothing about. As I’ve been plodding along I’ve been inundated with questions from other newbies trying to figure out if voiceover might be for them, so I’m going to share everything I’ve done so far and I’ll be sharing as much as I can going forward.
Why? Well that’s a good question. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there on how to go about this business of Voiceover and this has pros and cons. The pros are, the right information is out there, but on the cons side, how does an inexperienced baby VO wannabe differentiate the good advice from the bad? Also there are a lot of people who have been doing this for years with some great advice, however the landscape when they started has changed radically and their tips on what to do at first are, perhaps, not as relevant today.
I have no idea what the right way to do things is, all I know is you have to find YOUR way. I come from a collaborative theatre making background where we share resources, knowledge and skills and where the best idea in the room wins, so I’m going to share my path and what I think are the best ideas in the hope that it helps, in some small way, guide you to your path and maybe helps save you from making the same mistakes I do. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to hit me up with some tips too, I am very open to that!
As I mentioned in my first video I had a chat with the awesome Christopher Tester at NATURALLY RP a couple of years ago and he gave me a great start in terms of advice on kit and where to start looking for work. If you’re serious about doing this you should really check out his website to see how it’s done, I cannot recommend his blog strongly enough and if you’re debating whether this career is right for you, his post about “Getting Started in Voiceovers” is a must read.
My friend Mike Walker, Olivier Award wining sound designer over at LO HUMM AUDIO, also gave me some great tips on kit and editing software. In the end I went for the following:
- Rode NT1-A Mic with Shock Mount & Pop Shield
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface
- Yamaha HPH-MT8 Studio Monitor Headphones
I got all my equipment from JIGSAW 24 back in the day as they were the most competitive at the time, but I have also ordered a number of things since from STUDIO SPARES, both are fast and the customer service is great.
I also bought a sound proof blanket which works as a temporary measure in my “booth” for now. This is an area in which I am still learning loads so I’m not best placed to advise on this. You’ll need someone who knows their stuff to help you, which means you need a good support network.
After chatting to Chris and Mike I could tell how important it was going to be to have a good network around me, there were going to be so many questions I needed to ask about technical aspects, technique, contracts … the list goes on and on and I couldn’t bug them every time I needed help. So what did I do? Well helpfully there is THE VOICEOVER NETWORK so I joined that.
Technically I’ve been a member for 2 years now but I only really started making use of it 5 weeks ago and it’s worth every penny of the membership fee. There is a live webinar every week, covering all aspects of the business from the technical to the different genres of voiceover work and you get access to the back catalogue of all the previous webinars. There’s the Buzz magazine, industry events, special offers on courses and training, membership discounts on equipment, and access to one of the most welcoming and supportive networks I have ever come across.
This week there was the #VONTogether Challenge where the network came together on social media to share and give feedback on each others websites, voicereels and booth selfies. I made contact with some brilliantly talented VO’s and got some invaluable feedback. It was also just so lovely to feel connected, it can get very lonely in the vocal booth. Here’s a little insight into the challenge:
IDENTIFY YOUR VOICE & START TO RECORD
If you’re going to sell your voice you’re going to need to know how to describe what you’re selling and where to sell it. There are a lot of options out there for places you can do this. You can work with a private coach or you can sign up to various sites and programmes.
Two years ago I completed Guy Michael’s VOICEOVER KICKSTART programme which got me recording some natural dialogue and some sample scripts that were critiqued and commented on by other people on the course. I started to understand what people were hearing and how they thought of me based on my voice which gave me invaluable insights for understanding my casting and writing my biog.
VOICEOVER KICKSTART is a membership based site that gives you a profile, access to all sorts of training modules, a lounge where you can network and ask questions of other VO’s as well as bespoke voice demo production. Right now they are running a 7 day free programme, you can find out more here.
The resources on Voiceover Kickstart were instrumental in getting me started two years ago and I have used a lot of what I learned back then in the last five weeks. I haven’t dived back into to this resource much recently as I’m a bit overwhelmed with everything I’m learning elsewhere but I will be doing so very soon.
There is also GRAVY FOR THE BRAIN who I hear excellent things about. I haven’t signed up to them for the same reason I haven’t yet dived back into VOICEOVER KICKSTART, I have so much to process already but they are very much on my radar for the future. My advice is to sign up for all the free trails you can and find the one that’s right for you
We’re now starting to get into the side of things that terrified me the most and is part of the reason I stopped two years ago after I had purchased all the gear. I knew nothing about editing and I was scared of it, looking back, that seems so silly because it turned out all I needed was the right course.
I started with REAPER and just could not get my head around it at all, I know a lot of VO’s that love it and it can do everything you need, it just wasn’t right for me and it knocked my already frayed confidence in this area. When I was getting going again I was talking to my friend, the brilliant music director Joe Atkin-Reeves, who suggested I give LOGIC PRO X a try and offered to help me if I needed it. They currently have a 90 day free trial on so I went for it and then I found Jonathan Slatter’s course “Voiceover Recording and Editing on Logic Pro X” on macprovideo.com
I can’t recommend this course enough, it’s so clear and gives you a template that makes recording and editing voiceovers on LOGIC super simple. Dare I say it, I’m even starting to have fun with this. The course is just 2hrs 15mins so even if you complete it over a couple of days you only need a one month library pass to the site for $12.00, but they also have a bunch of other Logic Pro X courses if you want to take your knowledge adventure even further.
This is the big learning curve I’m on right now. You may be wondering why I haven’t talked about where to find voiceover work yet. That depends on the kind of work you want to do, but also I’m only at the stage of doing the odd job here and there. I’m in the booth for practise right now and using the time to learn as much as I can about marketing. I want to build a solid buisness, I’m in it for the long game and there is a lot to learn. If I’m going to approach prospective clients and convince them to work with me I felt that I needed somewhere to be able to point them to see what I can do and tell them a bit about me. I’ve given myself the month of June to rebuild and rebrand my website and overhaul all my social media channels as well as populate a list of clients I want to approach.
I’ve been taking THE VOICEOVER NETWORK’S course THE VOICEOVER BUSINESS SUPERBOOST with VON’s founder and all-round inspirational wonder woman Rachael Naylor and it has been brilliant. I’ve overhauled the way I work, I’m setting goals and I’ve never been more productive.
I’ve also been listening to and reading everything I can find by personal brand strategist Jonathan Tilley. THE JONATHAN TILLEY PODCAST is nuggets of gold!!
I’ve also been hitting SKILLSHARE hard for their brilliant courses. Over the past 5 weeks I’ve been learning how to edit photos with Lightroom to up my Instagram game, how to build a cohesive Instagram feed, how to build a wordpress website using the DIVI theme and how to design logos for that website to name just a few. At the moment they are offering a two month free trial of SKILLSHARE PREMIUM if you are referred by an existing member so if you’d like to give it a go drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll refer you.
So that’s me, everything I’ve done, everything I’m doing and everything I’m fighting for. Next week is a big one as I now have to start balancing all this learning with building my brand, being in the booth, chasing those jobs and reaching out to potential clients. It’s going to be busy. I’ll be back next week to let you know how I got on.
Wish me luck! I wish the same to you.
I am not affiliated to any of the products or courses mentioned in this post, these are just the resources I have been using to navigate the business. There are plenty of other options out there. if these are not the right ones for you.