Okay, so due to the plethora of misinformation, contradictory advice and the sheer number of people who come directly to me asking the same questions, I felt it was time for me to tip more thought nuggets into the information landfill, that is the answer to the question: How do I get started in voiceover?
Well… I dunno. You probably won't ever ‘get started’, judging by the sheer amount of people who start and then putter out 6 months later.
So, the first point. If you read anything that suggests you can achieve a 6 figure income (whatever that means) within a couple of years, you are being hawked to. Please be aware that there is a whole industry devoted to making money from people wanting to start a voiceover career, so selling the dream is crucial to their success.
Please do not fall for this.
It is unfortunate that these predatory sharks (bastards) exist, because there are some wonderful teachers out there, but they are often less savvy about reaching those that could benefit from their advise.
We will get to voice coaches later. Let's tell a few more ‘its’ like it is…
You WILL have to learn how to record and edit your voice. Your recording environment WILL have to be quiet and sound treated.
Don't want to learn that stuff? Well, I'm sorry but you will have to. Don't have time? Get up earlier. Watch YouTube on your lunch break. Read Wikipedia on the toilet.
You will have to have a rudimentary knowledge of audio tech, acoustics, mic technique, audio formats, editing and processing. And If that intimidates you, well… pffff…. does a chef go to chef-iversity scared of learning how to cook a steak? Does she resent having to learn that stuff? Of course not, that would make her a plonker (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/120462/why-are-you-a-plonker).
Are you a plonker?
“I have a full time job, I don't have time to audition all the time!”
Fine, someone else will and they will book it. Give up.
Having a nice voice is about 5% importance on the voiceover importance-ometer. So if you think that is your ticket to a swimming pool full of U87’s, you are sadly mistaken.
Every now and again, someone comes along with a really unique voice, that voice happens to be in demand, and they stumble into a voice career. That is DEFINITELY not going to happen with you. Stop thinking it will, cos it won't… Not gonna happen…. Really!
So what is the key? Well sign up for my course and I will tell you! In only six weeks you can have a six figure income and eat as much Olive Garden as you can shove in your sexy face!
As ridiculous as that sounds, (PLEASE TELL ME THAT SOUNDS RIDICULOUS TO YOU!) it is not a million miles away from some of these ‘get rich quick’ buuuullshit “courses”.
The truth is, you need to become excellent at what you do, and that takes time, it takes a huge amount of effort, and yes it takes money, too! Money for quality training, quality equipment, and the time cost you WILL have to invest.
You need to become excellent at what you do. It's worth repeating, because THAT is the key. You need to be un-unemployable. You want people to be falling over themselves to work with you, because you are great. You have to be effing awesome at what you do.
THAT. DOESN’T. HAPPEN. QUICKLY.
But it can happen! And if you really want it, you can become a great actor, you can know the market, you can be a savvy business person, deliver beautifully clean and clear audio, be a joy to work with, take direction like a dream, and forge a career for yourself to boot!
Hold up, yeah that's great theoretical advice Jamie, but what does that actually look like?
Picture a Frenchman shrugging dismissively.
You're going to have to find that out for yourself. I don't know who you are, what you're good at, when you're reading this, where in the world you are, your goals, your fears. These all determine your path.
I could wildly dismiss Fiverr, or the Pay to Play sites (you don't know what they are? Have you even been on the internet recently? A trip to Google should be in your near future). I could say that getting an agent is the only way forward, or that joining the Union is a waste of time/best thing you can do for your career. But that would be completely meaningless, because there is no categorical ‘right way’ for any voice actor.
This is why constant research, falling on your face a few times (or many, if you take me as an example), finding a respected coach who genuinely cares, and customizes their teaching to you, and sheer bloody determination is what will result in you finding what works for you.
If all of that seems like a huge amount of work, an exercise in humility and not hugely financially rewarding for some time, well done, you correctly comprehended what I crudely articulated.
Best of luck!
British voiceover artist privileged to be working in New York City.