Blog Business + Marketing Client Work

Understanding the Most Popular Genres of Voiceover and What They Pay

Did you know there are 11 main genres of voiceover? And that doesn’t include the sub genres under each of those. You may be familiar with TV commercials and radio ads, but you may not be familiar with the other genres of voiceover that Voice Actors get paid to work on every day. 

Today I want to help you understand the seven most popular genres of voiceover and what Voice Actors can possibly get paid for each one. 

Note: All rates are based on the GVAA Rate Guide.

1. TV Broadcast

TV commercials or ads that are broadcast include local, regional, and national commercials. Everything from your local hardware store’s ad to the national ads you see for McDonald’s are considered TV broadcast because they are being broadcast, or aired, on regular TV. 

Depending on the market, one broadcast TV spot could pay anywhere from $400 for a three month run time for a local ad, to $3500 for a year run time for a national ad. There is a lot more money in TV ads both for Voice Actors and (potentially) the companies that run them, so that’s one reason the payout for these jobs is quite a bit higher than most other genres.

2. Non-broadcast

Unlike TV broadcast, non-broadcast spots are exactly what they sound like – videos that are not broadcast or aired to the general population. These include…

Corporate & Industrial narrations are voiceover projects for corporate and industrial purposes like corporate training or internal videos a company uses to talk about the company, train employees, etc. and the payout for these kinds of videos is anywhere from $350 for 1-2 minutes of audio to $2350 for up to an hour of audio.

Explainer videos are usually no more than 90 seconds long and are used to educate viewers on a product, service, company, etc. These can be animated with cartoon-like characters and scenery, or include stock footage of people and places. The payout for these videos ranges from $300-525 per video. 

Medical narrations are voiceovers that explain medical specific topics. These can be for hospitals, a pharmaceutical drug or company, etc. The payout for these videos ranges anywhere from $400 for 1-2 minutes of audio to $2400 for up to an hour of audio. Notice how these narrations are slightly more expensive than the average explainer video? That’s because medical narrations often have complicated language outside of the layman’s normal vocabulary, and yes, that means the Voice Actor gets paid more. Win!

3. Video games, toys and games

A popular genre to say the least, video games, voices for toys and any kind of at home game that requires a voice are a genre in and of themselves in voiceover. 

Video games are by far the most popular genre outside of animation. Not only for a lot of Voice Actors but for consumers as well. Though popular, they don’t pay as much as say, commercials. The average video game job ranges from $200-400/hour for non-union Voice Actors. 

Voiceovers for toys and games, depending on the type of toy or game, pay anywhere from $500-$750 for a 2 hour recording session.

4. Radio Broadcast

Radio broadcast voiceover is similar to TV broadcast but rates for these jobs are much smaller. The average radio broadcast job ranges anywhere from $250 for a three month run time to $1700 for a national ad on a year run time.

5. E-learning

E-learning, or electronic learning, means that educational material is utilizing electronic means, i.e. the internet, to share educational information. So voiceovers for e-learning projects are simply adding voiceovers on top of educational material. This is similar to what we talked about for corporate and industrial voiceover recordings. If the material is strictly educational, it is considered e-learning.

Payouts for these jobs range anywhere from $600 an hour for RAW audio to $3300 an hour for edited audio, depending on how technical the language of the project is.

6. Web Usage/Internet Videos (broadcast & non-broadcast)

Think of any and all videos you’ve seen on the internet – both advertisements and general website info. These jobs are under the genre web usage and can include broadcast paid placement for social media, broadcast paid placement on the internet like YouTube and streaming services, and internet radio like Pandora or Spotify. This genre also includes non-broadcast web videos that outline general information about a company, explainer videos, as we discussed before, podcasts, YouTube content, and digital greeting cards. 

The broadcast jobs start at $400 for a three month run time in a local market and up to $4000 for a one year run time in a national market, depending on the particular type of broadcast media.

The non-broadcast spots vary widely in price. To learn more visit the GVAA rate guide.

7. Animation 

Animation is exactly what you’re thinking – any voices for characters in a Pixar film  you’ve seen or an adaptation of your favorite manga, animation is a super popular genre for Voice Actors and the world at large. Animation refers to Feature Film, Animation, Animated Series, and Direct to DVD. 

These jobs pay about $1000 per session for an 11-22 minute episode on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. And if you’ve been hired to dub an animation, you could get paid $75-200/hr, depending on the platform on which the animation will be placed. 

To Wrap Up

The world of voiceover is HUGE. It includes any type of job you can think of that requires a voice to share a message. Everything from the training you have to take at work to the voice that comes on the overhead speaker at Home Depot talking about how much they value you as a customer – it’s all voiceover, and usually these are jobs that hire out professionals. 

The genres we talked about today in no way encompass the entire industry, but they’ll provide you with a good idea of the kind of work Voice Actors do on a normal basis and will hopefully give you some inspiration if this is a career you’re interested in pursuing.

Blog Business + Marketing Mindset

5 Tips for Mastering Any Audition Confidently (a Voice Actor’s Guide)

Auditioning is stressful. There’s no getting around it. But that doesn’t mean auditioning is bad! On the contrary, auditioning presents us actors with the type of stress that’s actually kind of good for us – it’s an invitation to think about the copy we’re presented more deeply to deliver a product that’s more effective to become better versions of the artists (and business owners) we’re wanting to be.

While it would be wonderful to be hired for every single project we audition for, that’s just not realistic. So when auditioning, we each have to call upon our unique strengths, coaching, training, and insights to help us deliver the very best product we can for our potential clients. 

Here are a few tips for mastering any audition confidently (from a Voice Actor’s point of view).

1. Understand what the client is asking for. 

When we’re given the opportunity to audition for a project, the first step for any audition is to understand what is being asked of us as the talent. It’s nearly impossible to give a decent audition if we’re not sure what someone wants, which is why we’re usually given a project description and some notes. 

No matter if you’re auditioning on a casting site where project descriptions are usually pretty thorough or if a potential client reaches out to you directly via email, you will usually be given information about the project and some notes for what the client is looking for from you for the piece.

Take some time with the project description and read over the copy a few times with that direction in mind before you hit record. If you’re still unsure what’s expected of you, set up a phone call with your client or send them an email asking for clarification or examples. 

2. Be yourself.

Each time you record, be sure you’re offering up a sample of what you can actually deliver the client. If you try too hard to make yourself sound like what the client is asking for versus being able to naturally provide a certain type of voice, chances are you aren’t a good fit for the project they’re casting. And that is totally fine and normal and honestly, good. There is competition in this industry for a reason – diversity is good and needed. It’s our job to figure out which styles and tones we can best represent and show up with what’s in our wheelhouse when the time comes.

We each bring a unique take on a piece of copy, so be yourself and give them what you’ve got. 

3. Provide at least two takes. 

Options are always good and I’d say that’s even more true when you’re competing with multiple voices for the same spot.

As Voice Actors, we’re usually given an idea of what a client wants for a project but I find that sometimes the copy doesn’t always fit how I personally think the copy should be read. 

It’s not because I’m ‘right’ by any means, it’s just an indication to me that the client is thinking about the script in one way and I have an opportunity to give them a unique take in a different way. 

So my recommendation to any Voice Actor auditioning for any role is to give each potential client one take based on what is being asked in the project description and then a second take based on your individual interpretation of the copy and direction

This provides the client with options when reviewing multiple auditions and shows that you can provide variance for the read. This also provides a great opportunity for you to stand out against the other voices. 

4. Don’t assume anything. 

One thing I’ve learned in my voiceover career is that it’s never good to assume a client means or wants something they don’t outright ask for. 

That’s not your job. 

For an initial audition, it’s best to go off of what you’re told, and if a client likes the way you sound during your audition, they’ll reach out with any further wants or needs and you can ask specific questions at that time. 

Don’t assume they want a reassuring and professional tone if they straight up ask for a real and believable voice, even if the copy dictates so. Go back to the last tip and give them: 

– What they are directly asking for

and

– Your interpretation based on the copy

5. Audition as much as you can. 

This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s proven to be pivotal in my career. 

I recently heard an actor say, “Audition until it’s no longer special.” This has been very helpful for me each time I step into the booth. It doesn’t mean that I find my profession boring or that any single audition doesn’t mean something to me, it’s just the opposite: it means that if I want work and I enjoy what I do, I should be auditioning every day to the point where it is a normal part of my routine and not an exception to it.

When we feel too close to any one thing in our careers, it can be devastating when that one thing (that one gig) doesn’t pan out. So approach each audition as a new opportunity, be excited about it and glad for, and then move on. If you get hired, great! If you don’t get hired, great! 

To Wrap Up

Even though auditioning can be stressful and sometimes daunting, it’s the life blood of any actor’s career. Auditioning provides endless opportunities when we decide to keep putting ourselves, and our work, out into the world. It’s the chance to showcase our individual styles, interpretations, and creative processes. You truly never know what can come from any single audition!

Blog Business + Marketing

Want to Know How to Run a Fully Remote Voiceover Business? Here’s How.

Working remotely has become synonymous with Zoom meetings and wearing pajamas, but did you know you can run a fully remote voiceover business? 

While this year has been wild for life and work for people across the globe, I’m fortunate to have been working 100% remotely for over a year as a professional Voice Actor.

Voiceover started as a side hustle for me – something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. After some pretty decent success, I decided to pursue voiceover a little more intentionally. After about six months of working on my remote voiceover business with nothing more than a USB mic, a free DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and the internet, I decided to make my voiceover side gig my full-time gig. 

And after a little over a year in, I was running a successful, completely remote voiceover business. 

How can this be? Don’t I need a local studio I can go to for auditions and jobs? Well, my home studio is good but surely not good enough to land high paying clients? 

Actually, it is and I have. 

Over the course of my first year offering remote voiceover services, I’ve landed two national commercials, multiple regional and local TV spots, a televised documentary series, my first video game, a couple of VR simulations, radio spots, multiple corporate training gigs, explainer and promo videos for some of the world’s most well-known brands, and more. 

Here’s how I’ve managed to run a fully remote voiceover business.

1. Learn the ins and outs of the industry.

When you have zero experience, you have to start at ground one, level one. I didn’t know anything about voiceover outside of Hayao Miyazaki movies and old radio shows I’d listened to growing up, and there I was wanting to run an online voiceover business? From home, nonetheless! If I was going to take my new business seriously, I needed to know the who, what, how, and everything in between with this new industry I was jumping into. Otherwise, I was pretty much SOL.

So, for me, level one came in the form of taking a class all about the business of voiceover and another class focusing on improvisation.

I wanted exposure to the business side of what was a new industry for me, while remembering my theatrical roots with an improv class, which I highly recommend taking no matter your profession. I took both of these classes (one remote, one in person) during the same time period, which was a great decision in hindsight. This marriage of classes exposed me to both the practical and creative aspects of voiceover and helped me feel more prepared to dive into my business. 

2. Set up a professional home studio. 

Even before the pandemic, having a professional home studio setup should be the first checkbox on any professional Voice Actor’s list. What does a professional home studio entail? A good mic, usually an XLR mic, an audio interface, a professional DAW (think Audacity and Adobe Audition), and good to really good internet. 

Running a remote voiceover business takes savvy business sense to be sure, but just as important as running the business is showing up with appropriate tech and equipment to provide the best possible product for a client.

3. Practice anything and everything.

One of the most important elements of running my remote voiceover business has been to preserve my curiosity and focus on building my confidence and this has naturally happened for me in the form of auditioning for anything I can get my hands on. 

I not only want to get better at my craft but I want to continue to grow as a professional and a business owner and I can’t do either of those things without practice. Lots of practice! Remember the 10,000 hours rule? No matter your perspective on this, I believe that you can never have enough practice, and in voiceover, there’s no such thing as too many auditions. In my world, more auditions = more money = more opportunity to continue doing what I love. It’s a no brainer.

4. Connect with other industry professionals.

Connecting with other voice actors and industry professionals online has been invaluable in running my remote voiceover business. 

The internet is a fantastic tool and it’s allowed me to meet people from across the world working in the same industry. Both people I can learn from that are way more experienced than I, as well as beginner voice actors I’ve been able to speak into as they begin their own voiceover journey.

I spend a lot of time in Facebook groups and on LinkedIn, but Reddit, online forums, and podcasts also offer loads of opportunities to meet and connect with other industry professionals. 

5. Ask questions.

What’s interesting about a fully remote voiceover business isn’t that it’s literally a job I’ve done in my closet for over a year, but that it’s really just like any other job when you think about it. Even though I don’t physically leave my house, I go to work every day and have colleagues I work with on certain projects.

I say this because asking questions while working remotely as a voice actor is just as important as asking questions at any other job. We’re all learning in our own ways and at our own pace, and since I work for myself, relying on the expertise of other voice actors, coaches, directors, etc. has given me industry insights I would not have known without asking and has helped me to make better decisions in my business as a whole. 

To Wrap Up

Working remotely has its upsides and downsides, to be sure, but it’s 100% possible to run a successful, remote voiceover business just like any other online business. I’m living proof and I know many others who are as well.

No matter how you want to run your business, investing in education, getting a kick-butt home studio setup together (whatever that looks like for you), practicing, connecting with other professionals, and asking questions are just some of the ways to go about doing it. Other than that, creativity and openness go a long way in this (and any) industry as well.

Blog Business + Marketing

Why You Should Consider Using Pay-to-Play Sites to Grow Your Voiceover Business

In the voiceover space, there are a lot of opinions floating around when it comes to Pay to Play (P2P) sites. 

But why? And what do they even offer the solopreneur Voice Actor?

First, let’s talk about what a P2P site is. 

A Pay to Pay (P2P) site is exactly what it sounds like – a site where voice talent pay a membership fee (monthly or annually) to have access to a marketplace of auditions. 

A few of the most common P2P sites for voiceover are Voices.com, Voice123, and Bodalgo. Each site offers different membership price points, but they all provide current auditions that companies from around the world post on a daily basis. 

Here’s why you should consider using Pay-to-Play Sites to grow your voiceover business.

No past experience required.

One of the essential tools in any voiceover business is having a place to audition, and one of the main pros of P2P sites is that you don’t have to have any past experience to sign up and start auditioning (you just need a voiceover demo showcasing your abilities). This allows new talent the chance to audition for jobs they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. This is huge! Especially in an industry that used to be super exclusive. It just goes to show how wide the voiceover landscape is and how it’s ever-changing.

Provides the opportunity to practice everyday.

P2P sites act as marketplaces to connect media companies, studios, agencies, and individuals with voice talent from across the globe. 

Since a vast array of industries are looking to hire voice talent for all kinds of projects from training courses, to website promo videos, to the in-store voices you hear at Home Depot and Target, and even to the commercials you see in the Super Bowl, there are lots of opportunities available to voice talent on a daily basis from a variety of sources.

Showcases current industry trends.

One of the more overlooked pros of P2P sites is that talent are viewing and auditioning for jobs that are actively airing or being shared in their respective markets (i.e. TV, internet, websites, etc.). 

Meaning, these jobs give talent an inside look into what clients are looking for and what is currently selling or reaching a particular company’s audience. Trends change across time, so it’s a great opportunity for any talent to see what’s being hired for as well as the type of styles and tones they might want to include in their demos (hint, hint).

While P2P sites offer a uniquely modern opportunity for talent of all levels across the world access to jobs, it’s important to note that P2P sites shouldn’t be the end all be all for running a voiceover business. Why? Because if those sites ever go down, every Voice Actor whose entire business is run solely on these sites will be SOL and have to start from scratch.

Here are some tips for utilizing Pay to Play sites to your business’s advantage:

1. Audition as much as possible when possible. 

Get your name and voice out there with as many potential clients as you can. 

2. Ask if you can follow up with past clients for feedback and testimonials. 

I have turned clients from Voices.com into my own clients many times over due to follow up and good communication.

3. If clients give you permission to follow up, DO IT. 

This is its own tip because beginners don’t necessarily understand how valuable this is. Pay to Play sites provide you with potential client leads each and every day, which means that if you get to work with just one of them and they have a good experience with you, and they give you the chance to follow up with them (i.e. check in for more work later on) that one client could because an ongoing client time and time again outside of the platform.

4. Keep track of who’s hiring and reach out.

Again, Pay to Play sites offer an incredible amount of leads, so if you’ve auditioned for a job, down the line make a note of that person and their company info. Follow them on social, share their stuff, and maybe eventually connect on LinkedIn to see if they’re in need of your services.

To Wrap Up

If you Google ‘Pay to Play Sites’, you’ll find a ton of articles each with their own opinions on the subject, but as a Voice Actor, and especially as a business owner, you get to decide which tools you use in your business. 

A good rule of thumb is to utilize Pay to Play sites for finding work, getting paid, and adding jobs and clients to your portfolio, but Voice Actors should not rely solely on a them for their entire voiceover business (or any one avenue, for that matter). The saying ‘don’t’ put all your eggs in one basket’ applies here.

NOTE: Personally, I’ve been using Voices as a tool in my business since the beginning of my voiceover career, and it has been instrumental in growing my voiceover business since I don’t currently have an agent and am a one woman show. If you’re interested in checking out Voices in particular, you can use my promo code MELANIESINSIDER for $50 off your annual membership. 

Blog Business + Marketing

How to Run a Voice Acting Business in Modern Day

Do you remember when you were a kid and you heard adults talk about ‘the way it used to be’ or even ‘how things are done now?’ That’s because the world is constantly shifting and evolving and it’s the same for how we do business. 

After this year is FINALLY over, we’ll be left with the residue that comes out of such a time, and some of what’s leftover may feel odd or strange while some of it may feel motivating or energizing. 

When we talk about ‘the way things are done now’ that takes on a whole new meaning during a pandemic. Our personal and professional lives – everything about ‘how it used to be’ has changed. Do we fear it? Do we welcome it? These are the questions we’re forced to ask ourselves – the leftovers of a world forever having to change ‘business as usual.’ 

As a full-time Voice Actor who has worked from home for two years now, this year hasn’t really changed the way I do business per se, but it sure has changed how I show up for my clients and colleagues whose worlds have changed dramatically.

As Voice Actors, learning how to run a voiceover business in modern-day is crucial to current and future success. Without the kind of flexibility and resourcefulness needed to work in the voiceover space, it’ll be that much harder to grow a business.

So what can we do to ensure we’re on the right track to growing our businesses and showing up for our professional peers and our clients in the modern age?

Be more than a Voice Actor. 

With a year like we’ve had, it’s becoming more clear to those folks involved in the hiring process (directors, creative producers, project managers) that good voice talent is literally everywhere. And now the opportunity for Voice Actors to work with certain companies and studios that typically only hire talent from New York and LA is that much greater.  

However, ‘with great power comes great responsibility, Peter Parker’ and with the open gates of opportunity broadening the horizons of possibility, it’s up to us to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park. Mainly because we want to always showcase our very best to clients, but also to show that clients can hire remote voice talent and get professional results as they would with talent in a studio.

So, what does that look like? 

For starters, you need to get comfortable taking on different roles in your business.

1. Audio Editor/Producer. 

Knowing how to use your DAW to produce high quality audio is no longer a nice addition to your voiceover business – it’s essential. And since your entire career is based on your audio and what you can deliver, it’s in your best interest to get really good at this by practicing constantly and becoming a better audio professional.

2. Casting Manager. 

There are also times where you might need to act as an assisting casting manager when needed. Be ready to help out your clients if they need other voice talent options by keeping a roster of other Voice Actors that you’d recommend. This is where networking comes into play, which of course is probably why you’re on Stage32, right?

3. Voiceover Community Member. 

One of the best decisions I’ve made in my career so far is getting to know other Voice Actors. Some on a basic level and others a little more personally, but I’ve recommended those actors for jobs and learned a lot about the industry from each of their individual experiences. 

Acting in any or all of these additional roles when needed will put you above a lot of the  competition out there. The extra roles we bring to the table offer our clients a huge service they may not have expected before working with us. Your clients will be grateful for it and you’ll look like an even savvier business owner, which leads us into the next point.

Learn how to be a business owner.  

At the end of the day, you’re a business owner running a business, and as RB of Stage32 says, “You’re the CEO of you.” So with that in mind, you’ve got to know the basics of being a business owner and running your voiceover business. 

When we start anything, details like setting up a professional email or a website can hold us back from making gains in our business, but when we pass the beginner stage, we need to make an effort to do more than the bare minimum. And as remote Voice Actors, that means learning to show up as a business owner each and every day. 

So, what does that look like?

In my day to day, for example, 80% of my time is spent on direct marketing to clients on social media or via email and auditioning for jobs I seek out or that come into my inbox. And I set aside half of each Friday to go over the previous week. I make sure I’ve accounted for all my bookkeeping, since I do this myself, and make sure all files or emails from the week are organized appropriately.

Your process may look different but being a business owner means that you are, at the very least, measuring your efforts in some way, managing your time well, and maintaining an organized system that works for you. 

We don’t have a ton of control over whether a client hires us for a particular project, but we do have control over how we show up, which includes having a website or a designated online portfolio to display your demos and past work, being present and engaging in online social spaces like Facebook and LinkedIn, and being available when we’re needed for clients and even fellow voiceover colleagues. 

Over time, these skills become a talent in and of themselves. Clients will always remember how easy you were to work with, how communicative and accessible you were, and how your professionalism streamlined their ability to get the job done. And how do you do it? By being a badass business owner. 

  1. Be consistent and work off of a plan.

Consistency is key and we hear it all the time because it’s true for everything we do – self-care, physical health, our diets – and it’s also true when you’re running a voiceover business. 

As we briefly talked about in the last point, keeping track of what we do in the present helps to inform us of what we should do in the future. How will we know what is working if we don’t measure and track our work? We won’t. It’s pretty much impossible. Running a business is not about doing everything all the time, it’s about doing a few small things over a longer period of time.

So, what does that look like?

We first need a place to log what we’re doing. I personally use Google Sheets for keeping track of all my client leads and other relevant company info like their websites, social channels, emails, etc. CRMs also do this and are super helpful.

Consistency is also key when it comes to the content you produce for your business. For example, if you have a podcast, it’s a good idea to publish episodes on a regular schedule so you are continuously putting out new and relevant content to build your brand. If you send out a newsletter, touching base with your list weekly, monthly, etc. is important for keeping your list ‘warm’ and ready when you go to sell or promote a product.

Remember the kids’ story, The Tortoise and the Hare? You know who wins the race every time? The tortoise. The slowest opponent. Have you ever thought about why that is? It’s because he is consistent. He doesn’t let the perceived speed of the hare slow him down or deter him from finishing well. The tortoise, having paced himself the whole way through, wins the race. 

When we take the time needed to set our individual business goals, put a plan in place, and execute that plan, over time we begin to see results, we start to see the finish line with no hare in sight because we’re not trying to compare ourselves to the hare – we just want to create and build something that works and is sustainable. 

Once we have that momentum, we start building on other characteristics that help us in our businesses as well like confidence, motivation, and enthusiasm. But we have to start, be consistent, and end well. Slow and steady pays off every time.

  1. Be human.

Though it can feel chaotic and confusing in the online space, this one is a biggie. Why? Because humans want to be treated like and talked to like humans. 

I’m a part of a mastermind group and last week our coach said, “honesty is a strategy,” and that stuck with me. People just want to know that you know that they are people and you’re a person, too. It seems odd, but think about this in your own life. We spend energy and time blocking bots and email spam and robo calls, because why? Because they’re unnatural and we crave natural interactions no matter where we are.

So, what does that look like?

We are all looking and reading and listening to learn more of what we want to know about ourselves, the world, and our businesses, and when we take the time or energy to interact with each other, we want to know the person on the other end has a beating heart and is trying to figure all of this out just like we are. That is how we learn from each other and get better at what we do. 

To Wrap Up

We live in interesting times, as our parents and grandparents have said before us, but thinking about the way we do business and how it’s changing matters when we think about the way we want to grow our businesses and show up for our clients and communities. 

There are so many tips I could add to this article, but the points listed provide a great place to start and can hopefully act as an anchor point for decision making as you move forward in your business. 

The Business of Work From Home Voice Acting for Beginners Course

Blog Business + Marketing Client Work

5 Tips for Running Successful Live Directed Sessions with Clients

One of the most stressful aspects of voice acting, in my opinion, are live directed sessions. It seems that no matter how many sessions I have under my belt, I always get a little stage fright before a session. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it is about live sessions that put me on edge, and even with a lot of theatre experience and improv training, it’s the feeling of performing and the idea that ‘all eyes are on you.’

As an artist, and a Voice Actor, at that, it can seem silly to think there is any reason to be nervous when performing, but ‘mic fright’ is very real and we’re going to talk about my five tips for successful live directed sessions with clients.

1. Warm up.

There is nothing worse than standing up to the mic and realizing your vocal cords are a little… stiff. Take 5-10 minutes to warm up. I personally like this technique from Bill Dewees. Simply doing a few tongue twisters or some vocal warmups like you did back in your musical theatre days will get your voice ready for the lights, camera, action moment during a session.

2. Know the copy/script, if you have it.

Now this isn’t always an option, but if you have a script, go over it again and again. One thing I like to do if I have even a few minutes with a script before a session is get in the booth and record myself reading the script (or a part of the script if it’s a bit long). This allows me to

1. Check my sound settings and

2. Hear myself and be sure I’m matching whatever tone or style I’ve been told to perform. 

What do you do if you don’t have a script until right before a session? This has happened to me many times, actually, and if this happens don’t stress. The client knows you haven’t had the script long so it’s not a secret. The best approach to this is to outright ask the client what they’re wanting. Sessions give the client a chance to get all different kinds of possible reads from you so they have everything they need and more so most likely the client will walk you through the entire session with what they want anyway.

3. Be yourself. 

This is probably the best tip when it comes to managing stress. If you approach a session exactly as you are, it will make the session that much easier. Sessions are inherently nerve wracking, but I find that when I show up as Melanie, all I can do is be me and interact as me. And usually, I have a ton of fun with my clients.

4. Be professional, but have fun. 

The last tip is a great segue into this one – being professional is obviously important, but when you’re in a session be you and have a good time. Everyone wants to get the script recorded and out into the world so make the experience a good one for both you and the client. The experience they have with you will help them determine if they want to work with you again, so do your best to do everything you can to make the session successful on your end.

5. Be prepared for technical difficulties.

Which brings us to our last tip. Part of being professional in a session means that you have done your due diligence before the session starts. The client wants your voice but they really want the finished files at the end of the session. Meaning, if something goes wrong during the session, (For example, Adobe Audition crapped out on me during a couple of sessions before I realized I needed to have it going before anyone else got on the call and I had to restart my computer after everyone was already on the call… totally embarrassing). And people get that things happen, of course, especially with everyone working from home, but if you show  up as a pro not only in your vocal ability, attitude, and general know how… you’re a triple threat that clients can’t help but want to work with again and again. 

To Wrap Up

A bit of stage fright isn’t necessarily a bad thing and we can’t be 100% prepared all of the time, but hopefully these tips will help take your live session game to the next level. 

Blog Business + Marketing Tech + Equipment

5 Essential Tools Every Beginner Voice Actor Needs to Build a Voiceover Business

When it comes to building a voiceover business, there are so many different tools out in the world (and on the Internet). But you really only need about five of them to get started. 

Everyone everywhere has an opinion on what you need to begin your career as a beginner Voice Actor and how much money you need to spend to be considered a professional in this industry, but I’ve come to learn that most of that information is outdated and not always helpful. 

So here’s my list of the five essential tools you need to build a voiceover business. 

1. Tech/Equipment/Software

First and foremost, you need to decide on what equipment you’ll use for recording and editing. This includes a mic, an interface (if you’re using an XLR mic) a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation like Audacity or Adobe Audition), and a treated space for recording. 

Every single piece of tech will vary in price and quality, which is why it’s important to experiment with what works for you and your voiceovers. Just know that there is not one particular mic or interface or DAW that is far and away the best – it comes down to personal experience, time in the field, and your personal budget for each item.

For example, I started out with an AT2020 USB mic (plug and play) and my super old Macbook Pro laptop. I used that set up for almost six months before my husband built me a new PC. I also started out by using the free DAW, Audacity, and about seven months into my business, I bought a course about how to use Adobe Audition and started using Audition for all my voiceover recording and editing. 

2. At least one demo.

Why at least one demo? Well, because if you plan to get your voice out there right away, you’ll need to utilize a Pay to Play sites for auditions and practice. And these sites require talent to have at least one demo in order to set up a profile. 

However, it’s worth noting that this demo doesn’t and shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars when you get started. Do you have a friend who’s an audio professional? Seek out their help on your first one. Better yet, do you have an audio production background of any kind? Learn the ins and outs of your DAW and try your hand at making your own. I’m serious. At this point in the process, all you need is a demo to set up an online profile. From there, you can audition and work toward making more money for a new mic, coaching, or even a demo, but I never recommend getting an expensive professionally produced demo to new talent. 

3. Somewhere to audition.

Once you have a demo, it’s time to source out a place where you can audition regularly. Like any conversation about demos, people across the voiceover space have various opinions about Pay to Play (P2P) sites like Voices.com (Use my promo code MELANIESINSIDER for $50 off your annual subscription), Voice123, and Bodalgo, to name a few.

The best advice about P2Ps I’ve ever come across is from Voice Actor, Joe Zieja, who is one of the top voice talent names in the video game world. Joe visited a voiceover class I took years ago as a guest speaker and his idea is that everything in our business should be seen as a tool to help us grow our businesses. We run the risk of missing out on career-altering opportunities when we aren’t open to how and where we get work in the first place, especially in the beginning, and P2Ps are simply marketplaces to find regular work. I actually refer to this idea of auditioning as much as possible anywhere I can as “The Joe Z Method.” It has served as a reminder that our business utilizes a collection of tools that we choose for our individual business toolkits.

Other places to find auditions: Twitter, Backstage, agents, client rosters.

4. A place to get paid. 

Ok, so you’ve found a place or two to submit auditions and have been hired for a couple of gigs. Awesome! Well, you need a place to get paid.

If you’re on a P2P site (casting site), they usually have integrations with payment software like PayPal and have that all set up on the backend for you – you just need to set up a PayPal (or other) software account to be sure you can get paid when the time is right. 

If you’re looking to branch out and begin the journey of direct marketing and creating your own client roster, you have some options when it comes to getting paid. I’ve used PayPal, Wave, Freshbooks, and QuickBooks Self-Employed.

PayPal and Wave are both free and easy to set up, but once you begin to grow you may need to seek out more advanced accounting/invoicing software. I now exclusively use Quickbooks Self-Employed to help me keep up with not only my income but my expenses and quarterly and federal taxes. 

5. An online presence. 

As you grow your voiceover business, it’s important to have a ‘one-stop shop’ where potential clients can find more about you, listen to your demos, and reach out to you if you’re a good fit for what they’re working on.

Here are the two main ways you can go about this: 

One: Set up and deck out your LinkedIn profile. It’s FREE and you have access to other creative professionals in every industry imaginable. Connect and learn from others while also sharing what you know and expand your network. If you’re struggling with what to include on your LinkedIn profile, check out my conversation on the podcast with Tracy Lindley.

Two: Create and publish a website. These days, it’s easier than ever to set up a basic website. Websites offer you the benefit of owning your name as a domain and getting in on all that good SEO that helps people find you when they’re searching for certain terms online. 

The takeaway here is to keep it simple and be sure there’s a way to contact you. Potential clients are usually looking for your demos to see if you’d be a good fit for their projects, but be sure to include a way for someone to get in touch with you as well. After all, that’s the main goal of all of this anyway, right?

To Wrap Up

As a Voice Actor, there are literally hundreds of tools you could possibly use in your business, but you only really need a few to start.

Remember that your technical skills and abilities are always changing, whether it’s through coaching or practical experience, you are getting better every single day. So it only makes sense that the tools you utilize for your business evolve and get better over time as well. But in the beginning, we’ve all gotta start somewhere, and in my business I always say, work with what you have, until you have more to work with.

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