• Rob Marley

Starting in Voiceover: A Solid Foundation

When building a house, the foundation that the house is built on will determine how strong the structure is. If the foundation is shoddy, the ability for the house to remain standing will be compromised. Before long, cracks start appearing and if not taken care of, the entire house can completely fall apart.

The voiceover business is highly competitive. RIDICULOUSLY competitive! Because of this, every starving student with a laptop and a USB mic thinks they can be a voice over artist. And they will work for slave wages to do the job that should be/ used-to-be paid handsomely for.

But not to fear! This industry continues to grow and the demand for voice talent still far outweighs the supply. In other words, there's enough work for everyone.

But if you want to be successful, not just get work, here are the two things you should do that will help form a solid foundation for your entire voiceover career.

Take classes

A VO class would show you that this is way too close to be talking into a mic, unless you were going for a specific effect.

Yeah, I know: this is not something people starting out want to hear. They want to get rich quick. Well too bad, Sparky. If you want to succeed in this business, you need to know what you're doing. And to know what you're doing requires getting educated. There's just no way around it.

If you want to do this as a career, the way to not just tread water, but actually SWIM in the VO pool is by being better than your competition. And to do that means taking classes.

Taking classes will teach you key principals of voiceover faster than by learning on your own. Things like: Knowing how to read a script and figuring out when you can take a breath - knowing how to breathe so you have enough air to make it to the end of the sentence. Knowing how to project your voice without hurting it. Knowing how to make something sound like it's not being read from a script. Knowing how to manage the finances of your career so that you don't get screwed by the IRS. Knowing how to get clients to find YOU, rather than you having to go find THEM. All of these things and a whole lot more can be found by taking classes that can help your voiceover career.

Take acting classes, voice over classes, improvisational comedy classes, singing classes, public speaking classes. A few business or marketing classes wouldn't hurt either.

Tip: Be a sponge

To be successful, you have to absorb as much as possible about this business as fast as possible. That means reading books, watching videos, reading forums, and taking classes. You want to eat, sleep and breathe the VO business when you're first starting out. There is much to learn and the faster you can ingest this information, the quicker you can get going on being a successful voiceover artist.

Get professional Training

Second to taking classes is getting specialized training from a qualified voice over coach.

Just about anyone can knock a golf ball off a tee without too much effort. After all, you've probably seen someone do it on TV before, right? Maybe you've played some miniature golf with friends It's not that difficult, right?

Consider this: Tiger Woods has five coaches that work with him to improve his game. FIVE COACHES! If one of the most successful golfers of all time has five different people helping him to be a better golfer, do you really think you could win the Masters having never picked up a club and without any professional training?

If the answer is "no," then what makes you think you're ready to be a voice artist for a multi-million (or billion) dollar company by just walking up to the microphone and reading the script?

Getting professional training will shape your voice and teach you not just how to say the same sentence four different ways, but WHY to say it four different ways. They can tell you what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong and what you can be doing better. In short, they can take that blob of loosely connected skills and ideas and mold you into a voiceover powerhouse that has clients beating a path to your door. A voice coach is a strong tool to help you succeed in this business.

Alternatives to a Professional Coach

A professional voice coach is a pretty significant investment. It means you're serious about getting into the business and is the fastest way to get the kind of training you need to succeed.

There are a ton of resources online that you can access to learn more about voiceover. I moderate two groups on Reddit for learning about voiceover (r/voicevoer and r/voiceacting ) are great for reading the latest blog posts and articles about the craft. Facebook has some great groups that you can join and learn more. If you're reading this, you're probably already a member of Voiceover Camp - but there are other groups worth investigating as well. And you can find a ton of advice on YouTube. HOWEVER, be warned that not all the information presented may be correct or accurate or worthwhile. Its tough to separate the wheat from the chaff sometimes. That's where a voiceover coach really comes in handy. If you want to work in Voiceover, you have to commit to learning the industry and the techniques and develop the skills needed to succeed. I always say "be a sponge" - absorb as much as possible from every resource you can get your hands on. This forms the foundation from which you can build your business.


About Rob Marley -

A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin Texas.