Becoming a Voice Actor - Part 1, "Anyone can be a voice actor!"
Updated: Dec 15, 2018
Hello reader! Welcome to my blog.
This is the first in a series of weekly posts I have planned on the realities of becoming a voice actor. Voice acting can be a great experience if you have the right information and expectations. Unfortunately, some of the information on the internet is flat out wrong or just incomplete. This can create unrealistic expectations - both positive and negative.
My goal is to address 1 common assumption about the VO industry every Friday. I will be focusing on giving you the whole truth about each assumption. In doing so I hope I can help you to fully understand the reality of getting started in the industry, and to avoid common pitfalls.
Let’s get started!
PART 1: “Anyone can be a voice actor!”
In the past, becoming a successful voice actor meant having a deep, booming, commanding voice. You would be hired to bark orders at consumers about the next action they should be taking with their life, such as “COME DOWN THIS WEEKEND AND BUY ALL OF THE FURNITURE!!!!!”
In this day and age consumers are over it, and businesses understand this. Now, in order to generate demand for the supply you have to make your consumer feel something. This has lead to a shift in the industry toward the “real person” read.
The good news for aspiring voice actors is that “real people” includes YOU! Now a successful voice actor can have a voice that is deep, high, raspy, nasal, male, female, young, old…whatever! In fact, many auditions you come across now specifically state “NO ANNOUNCERS!”
So, if you’re concerned about the sound of your voice, don’t be! BUT…before you jump into this industry, there is more that you should know.
THE WHOLE TRUTH…
Anyone can become a voice actor, but the truth is that many who try won’t succeed. This is not because they lack talent or a great voice, but is more often for another reason. I’ve found the following 3 to reasons be some of the most common:
VO is not a “get rich quick” scheme: Some people jump into VO with dreams of going from national TV/Radio commercial to national TV/Radio commercial, netting $5-10k+ per gig. The reality is that for most people this isn’t going to be how it works, and if it does it won’t be overnight. What is more likely is that you will build your business by cultivating many recurring clients for less known work. When the reality of the long haul that is VO sets in it can discourage some to the point of quitting.
A great example of a successful voice actor is Bill Dewees. Bill is a multi-6-figure annual earner in the VO world. In a recent video Bill explained that, over time, he has cultivated a lot of recurring work, and often completes 5-6 “smaller” jobs in the $200 range each day. While this is not all that he does, if this was the only thing you did, you would be averaging $1-1.2k per day. Not too shabby! If you can stick with it, there is a great potential in this type of work.
Can’t handle rejection: VO is an artistic field. We’re working with the range of human emotions and complex individual thought. This means nothing is absolute. Your voice may cause dead flowers to spring to life when you whisper over them, but the reality is you just won’t always be the best fit for every project.
If you need the approval of others to make your world turn, this may not be the right industry for you. It's not uncommon for more of your auditions to be rejected than chosen. I once heard successful VO talent and award winning demo producer J. Michael Collins give an excellent reminder during a podcast. As I write this I don't have the verbatim quote handy, but it went something like this -
“You may be the best steak in the world…but most people coming into the restaurant don’t want steak.”
If you find rejection - and really, it's not an active rejection as much as the client simply going in a different artistic direction - difficult, I would encourage you to examine this closely before considering VO as a vocation.
Can’t or don’t want to run their own business: This is a BIG one. To become a voice actor is to become a business owner. You have to generate your own opportunities for income, and then you have to execute. You have to market yourself, manage yourself, and sometimes even say NO when you want to say YES.
For many “creatives,” who are frequently attracted to voice acting, this can be tough. Marketing can feel like a daunting task. Bookkeeping can be boring. I would personally love to be recording new projects all day long, but the truth is I spend a good portion of my week generating new leads. Before you consider taking the plunge, you need to think long and hard about whether this is something you want to take on.
Thank you for reading! I hope this blog post gave you something substantial to chew on as you enter this industry. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And stay tuned for more, every Friday!
Up Next Week: Part II, "You can get started with little investment!"
Voice Acting, Getting Started, Becoming a Voice Actor