How do I become a voice talent? (An Easy-to-Use Answer)

  • 6632470867_ba032a9bf2_o“How does one get started getting work as a person doing voiceovers?”
  • “I have received comments throughout my life about my voice and how it would be great on the radio or TV.”
  • “I’m curious to find out more about what doing voiceovers actually entails.”
  • “Any words of wisdom about voice work for one such as myself?”
  • “I am a theater actress interested in pursuing a career in voice over and was impressed by your credentials and education and thought I’d shoot you an email.”

And so it begins.

Every week, I receive at least one request for information on how to bust into the business of voiceover. Maybe you do too.  So, what is the best way to respond?

I’ve posted my thoughts to many forums -suggesting how to proceed, so I’m pretty sure my name has come up in a Google search. I’m honored! I don’t have a problem with people contacting me for info for a couple of reasons:

  1. Many established voiceover talents received questions from me when I was investigating VO. I got some amazing, helpful answers and guidance. So, I’m paying it forward.
  2. The person asking me for guidance is willing to do some ground work before moving forward. I respect that.

Instead of handcrafting a personalized response every time I’m asked the question, I’ve written what I think is something every person considering a career in voice work should read. I’m so convinced of its usefulness, that I’m sharing it with you today.

Social media has made people who once read in to scanners and verbose content is quickly passed over as too wordy. I deliberately kept my letter brief and to the point so the VO-curious can quickly be on their way.

Please, don’t hesitate to copy and paste verbatim what I’ve written into an e-mail or social media conduit. Or, change it as you see fit. And feel free to link back to my website, JChristopherDunn.com.

The Letter

Re: How do I become a voice talent?

Hello,

There is a well written e-book, YouTube videos and a number of blogs that cover getting (back) into voice work, which should answer a number of your questions. My top-level advice is to research the business, talk with many voice talents and keep your day job.

With that said, start with the free e-book, “Voices of Experience,” written by working unnouncer Doug Turkel.

Next, check out Peter K. O’Connell’sThe Voiceover Entrance Exam.”

Professional Voice Talent Paul Strikwerda has made a career in voiceover for over 20-years. His YouTube video, “The Troublesome Truth about a Voice-Over Career” provides educational insight for anybody considering creating voiceovers for a living.

After you’ve read and watched the above and are still set on making voiceover your choice for earning money, read Rachel Fulginiti’sThinking Of A Career In Voice Over? 10 Key Questions To Evaluate Your Potential.”

Audiobooks are a popular segment for many voice talents. If this area interests you, watch narrator Sean Pratt’s video, “So… You Want to Be an Audiobook Narrator?

And then take a look at the following posts, blogs and websites…

Finally, do a Google search on voice-overs, voiceover, “voice over”.

I’m sure you’ll have questions as you read so feel free to contact the article writers for answers or suggestions.

Good luck with your future endeavors and remember, KEEP YOUR DAY JOB!!!

All the best,
J. Christopher Dunn

Does it work?

Specific. Informational. Relevant. This will get them on their way to more research and will have them making their own choices about whether the voiceover universe has room for them.

What do you think? Is this the right message to send to hopefuls? What would you add or change? Please share your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

A Fish Story and Your Studio

Lake Quinalt Lodge
Lake Quinalt Lodge

A few weeks ago, Cameron and I traveled to the Olympic Peninsula to spend a few days at the beautiful, historic Lake Quinault Lodge. The weather was unseasonably perfect with sunshine and comfortable temperatures. It was a perfect getaway.

Before we made it to the lodge, we took a detour to Neah Bay to enjoy the Makah Museum and grab some smoked salmon Cam read about in Yelp. The museum was spectacular with many Native Makah artifacts and loads of historical references and information about the Makahs. It was well worth the drive.

TakeHomeFish
Take Home Fish Co.

Our other destination, Take Home Fish Company, was quite a surprise. When Cameron told me about it, I imagined a well-lit store with a refrigerator case packed with smoked salmon and other delicious Pacific Northwest treats. To my shock, my imagined fish shop was nothing more than a garage, slightly modified to be used as a fish shack.

Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts.

We walked in feeling skeptical about the offerings. Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts. The guy behind the small counter presented us with a number of options, which were neatly vacuum packed and ready for immediate sale.

This was it? I admit, I hadn’t taken the time to check out Yelp to see what this place was about. I was close to walking out without spending a dime. Cameron was a more willing customer and decided on two vac-packs of smoked fish, one salmon the other deep sea black cod.

Makah Bay
Makah Bay

As we drove away from Neah Bay with our purchase, I started thinking about the many voice talents starting out who create their magic from a closet, spare bedroom and other home areas that don’t resemble a studio, even remotely. If an area can be treated and used to record and the result is flawless fidelity, what does it matter?

I’ve read studio descriptions from established talent who don’t record in a closet or bedroom but have an acoustically designed booth of some sort. I congratulate them for making the financial decision to invest in their recording area. But, it’s uncool to trash talk those who work out of something less and still deliver amazing audio.

Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good.

The deliverable is what the client is most interested about. I’m pretty sure they care 1% or less how or where their ready-to-use sound was created. They know what sounds good for their project. I’ve read about jobs being done in hotel rooms with comforters, blankets and pillows used to create a satisfactory recording environment. Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good. It they did care where it was recorded few people, if any, would record on the road.

Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault

And, as for the smoked fish? Best. Smoked. Fish. EVAR! It was tasty and the perfect first meal at the Quinault Lodge. We gobbled down the fish along with some cheddar cheese, sourdough bread and a few glasses of port. Kimm, the owner of Take Home Fish Co. didn’t need a fancy store or state of the art tools to create what will be tough to beat by anybody else smoking fish. He had talent and an understanding of how to best use his workspace.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!

MrGoogle2The Google search box begs me to type in a question whenever I pop open a browser. The code-smiths of Google have spent years creating and refining their cornerstone service. Of the search engines available, Google is by far the most robust and powerful answer retriever available.

Google made search non-geeky by allowing the use of simple phrases. That’s helpful to me when I’m working in my studio; I’d rather reserve my brain power for creativeness behind the mic. Here are a few tools I use regularly that you should try.

Say WHAT?!

Whenever I get a script that has a word I don’t know how to pronounce, my go to helper is Google. The results include entries from several sources including Forvo.com, howjsay.com and others. This comes in handy for audition scripts when the client isn’t available. And, it’s particularly helpful for audiobook production. In the search bar type in…

How do you pronounce [word I’d like pronounced]
(How do you pronounce discombobulated)

At the Tone, the Time is…

I’ve got clients all over the planet and the multiple time zones are difficult to keep straight. A quick way to check current time info is to ask Google. The current time, date, and time zone displays taking the guess work out of calling a client at an appropriate time. Type in…

What time is it in [City] [State] or [Zip Code]
(What time is it in Pie Town NM) 

City and State, Please.

When I’m crafting one-off marketing e-mail to clients, I like to check out what’s going on in their town so I can personalize my message. Google makes getting quick details a snap! I get the basics, including time and current weather, plus points of interest, upcoming events and more. Type in…

[City] [State]
(Poughkeepsie NY)

It’s How Far?

Got a gig at a studio in another town? When your travel expenses include mileage and you need a quick way to calculate the distance, Google is the undisputed source for speed. Type in…

[Starting point] to [Ending point]
(Left Hand WV to West Thumb WY)

Convert this!

With clients all over the globe, I occasionally have one that want’s to pay me in their local currency. Google has a mind for conversion and has no problem returning a value based on the current exchange rate. Type in…

[Amount] [Currency 1] to [Currency 2]
(1500 USD to GBP)

Let Me Google That for You

Could an answer be just a Google search away? You probably know somebody who asks questions that trigger you to think, “Why don’t you just Google it?” To help them see the laziness of their ways, use LMGTFY to create a search and send it for them to use.

This is my fav… http://lmgtfy.com/?q=How+do+I+become+a+voice+talent%3F

 

Those are the ones I use the most, and of course there are many more Google tips and tricks to discover. What is your favorite Google shortcut or tool—one you couldn’t get along without in your studio?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

10 Tips for a Healthy Studio

LittleSneezeI sat in a restaurant the other day and watched a grade-school sized child endure a massive coughing and sneezing fit. By massive, I mean a series of sneezes followed by a volley of gurgle filled coughs and then more sneezing. While I felt sorry for the tyke, all filled with snotty goo, I was happy to leave her behind as I walked out the door into fresh air.

According to Weather.com Cold and Flu Facts, cases increase during the fall and winter months, then taper off in March and April. Homes with children are more susceptible to these seasonal visitors and women have more colds than men. If you’re a 60-something, your chance of having a cold drops considerably, less than once a year on average.

If you work from home in your personal studio, your chances of coming into contact with a cold or flu carrier is lower, significantly lower if you live by yourself. And, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get ill if you live in a cave. Some caves have good ‘coustics!

However, if you are a parental unit with a spouse and kids, your chances are pretty good that you’re going to get exposed to somebody who is beta testing the latest strain of cold or flu. You’ll have what they’re having and you’ll pass it on to your studio.

Your studio is the money maker. Sure, you’ve got the pipes and sound super cool when you’re recording whatever it is that gets producers to write you a check. But, without your studio you’d be reduced to using string and cans or traveling to somebody else’s hood to record.

Think of your studio as a living being, one that you have a symbiotic relationship with. You both rely on each other for survival and just a bit of common sense will help keep your studio free from nasty cold and flu bugs.

With that in mind, here are some tips to keep your studio in healthy, usable shape through the season.

Maintain a Perimeter – Your studio is sacred and should only be accessible by the truly healthy. Reduce the potential of ill-inducing germs getting in your way by limiting or eliminating access to anybody who has symptoms. That includes you. If you’re sick and only working because you “feel” you should, don’t. Take time to repair, stay away from the sickos.

“…give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.”

Clean Equipment – Once a week, give your studio a cleaning. Clean you monitor, wipe down your keyboard and mouse. Use an electronics-friendly cleaner and a soft cloth on your other pieces of gear such as speakers, audio interface and control surfaces. Finally, give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.

“…when I get congested I sound like poo.”

Work Station – Dust makes me sneeze and when I sneeze I get congested and when I get congested I sound like poo. Use a clean cloth and surface cleaner to pick up the week’s accumulation of micro-particles. Your studio will appreciate your hands-on approach to keeping its surfaces clean.

“…stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.”

Studio Area – Stress is more than happy to give cold and flu a hand when it comes to plying their ickiness. Keep stress to a minimum whenever possible. Keeping your area organized and clutter free will reduce stress and even make you feel more on top of your game. With you studio in order, stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.

“…wash your hands first before heading into your studio.”

Wash Your Paws – During my early years in school at Belgrade Elementary, the teachers were constantly reminding me to wash my hands. Not just reminding me actually, but everybody. At the time I thought it was a dumb idea and a big time-waster. There were more interesting things to do.

OK, so, now I get it. Washing hands reduces germs. When you come in from the outside world (that’s any place that’s not your studio) wash your hands first before heading into your studio. If you find yourself hand washing a lot, use cooler water. Hot water strips away oils that keep your hands from getting chapped. Regardless of water temperature, make sure to use a hand soap you like. Maybe a nice vanilla almond or lavender.

“…their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high.”

Garbage Patrol – It’s like washing your hands. Nobody enjoys emptying the garbage can. It’s just one of those things that you have to do. Remember to keep your perimeter up and empty it yourself. While one of your child slaves might have the weekly duty, their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high. Don’t allow them to pollute your space.

“Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in.”

Be polite, Cover Your Pie-hole – You’ve done everything I’ve suggested in this list of paranoia and still managed to get sick. Now you’re taking it easy to recover so you can get back into your pristine studio. Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in. Do what you can to reduce that from happening. When spontaneous histamine triggered expelling occurs, do it into a fresh tissue and then toss the entire mess away. No tissue in  sight? Sneeze or cough into your shirt sleeve, at the crook of your elbow.

“…they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.”

Don’t Stick Your Fingers in Your Eyes, Mouth and Nose – This should be obvious. In case it’s not, your hands collect a lot of garbage, hence the hand washing. If you stick a finger or your small one sticks a finger in any of the above mention places, you’ve just released the hounds on your immune system and they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.

“When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important.”

Stay hydrated – Drinking several ounces of water a day is just part of what we do. It keeps our pipes in working fashion, reduces mouth clicks and keeps our thirst at bay. When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important. Your body uses the water for everything and when you’re sick, it uses more of it.

“Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.”

Feel Better – While you’re recovering, there are a few things you can do to feel better. Hot drinks with honey and lemon are a start. There are some home remedies that suggest adding a shot of your favorite spirits to a cuppa something. While it sounds good on the surface, alcohol is a dehydrator, which will work against your hydration process. I’m a fan of the herbal tea ThroatCoat or something a bit wilder like Bengal Spice or Orange Spice. And, your body will benefit nicely from extra rest and sleep. It’s working hard to get you back in the studio so give it a chance with some time. Also, keep warm and comfortable during recovery. Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.

Start counting down the days until warmer, more humid weather. Mark the first day of spring as the un-congested light at the end of the cold and flu tunnel. Then you and your studio can relax. Until then, can I offer you a vitamin C or zinc tablet?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Watch and Learn – 6 Video Series for Voice Talents

Are You A Watcher or A Listener?

It’s possible you prefer one over the other when learning or discovering new ideas and methods. I’m more of a watcher and appreciate professionals who take the time to produce enjoyable content.

In my three prior posts 12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss (Part 1, Part 2) and 5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss I gave you a number of podcast choices that related in some way to the business of voiceover. I received comments about several video selections that people enjoyed as well, and that is the subject of this post. Watch and learn.

 

VO_Buzz_WeeklyBy far, the watchable with the most recommendations was VO Buzz Weekly, hosted by Demo Producer/Director Chuck Duran and Voice Actor/TV host, Stacey J. Aswad. Each weekly episode features entertaining guests and deep-dive interviews. You’ll be fascinated with the backgrounds and journeys that many top voiceover professionals have made. Past shows include Townsend Coleman, the man behind the voice of TMNT Michelangelo; voiceover educator and active voice actor; Pat Fraley and voiceover coach Nancy Wolfson.
VO Buzz Weekly on YouTube

 

East West Audio Body ShopConsistent and unpredictable (in a good way!) best describes East West Audio Body Shop. Almost every Monday (6PT/9ET) The Home Studio Master, Dan Lenard and VO Studio Tech, George Whittam host a live 90-minute webcast that covers a wide range of interesting VO topics. From audio processing, hardware selection and mic technique to interviews with established audio and voice talent professionals. Recent shows covered demos, new voiceover awards and a fan roundtable. As an added feature, a chat room gives you instant access to the hosts where they can read your questions, comments and opinions.
East West Audio Body Shop on YouTube

 

2011-George_Whittam-headshot

When your voiceover appetite is leaning towards something more geeky and technology based, George Whittam has you covered with Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World. George is the go-to guy when it comes to the studio side of your voiceover business. Each week he discusses a specific topic in depth and provides real world advice and suggestions about how to get the most out of your personal studio. George is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Audio Technology, which makes him a welcome specialist.
Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World, on YouTube

 

AMY-WALKER-LOGO-AWOLfinal21

There are days when a voiceover pick-me-up is called for. Amy Walker delivers with a fun, sometimes quirky weekly video. She’s talented and has no hesitation going over the top with her brand of entertainment. Known for several videos featuring convincing accents, Amy is also a comedian, a singer, and a motivational spirit. Her latest submission is a Joan Rivers tribute and Amy does an amazing job of channeling the energy of the recently passed comedian. Her videos are like a good bag of chips without the nasty calories. Once you watch one, you want to watch another.
Amy Walker on YouTube

 

Bill DeWees

Could it be possible to know so much about the voiceover business that creating an ongoing, weekly without repeating content appears effortless? Check out Bill DeWees from Voice-Over-Training.org. Each week Bill reaches into his bag of experience and pulls from it an interesting observation on just about any aspect of a voiceover business. Suggestions on dropping the announcer sound in favor of creating a real sounding voice is one of his most popular videos, along with building a money saving home studio, and a tip about reducing narration mistakes. Many hours of voiceover education from the convenience of your computer screen. The second best part is it’s free.
Bill DeWees, The Voice Over Expert, on YouTube

 

music-radio-creative-radio

Do you use Adobe Audition? Would you like to dabble in production? Mike Russell will teach you how to get more out of Audition and encourage you to go beyond just recording your voice. The series of Music Radio Crative videos expertly covers many areas of Audition you may not have considered. Several episodes cover podcasting and production tips and tricks to use with your studio recordings. Make your voice sound better; general Adobe Tutorials, and adding effects to voiceovers are a few from the list of Mike’s most popular videos.
Music Radio Creative on YouTube

These are only a tiny number of mind expanding videos related to voiceover and I’m sure there’re more. What one video do you watch that’s been a huge help for your voiceover business? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know about your recommendations.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

podcast largeThe previous two posts (12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss Part 1 and Part 2) focused on podcasts I thought would be interesting for your voiceover business. Listenable, VO goodness easily enjoyed by strapping on a pair of earbuds.

Recommendations you left in the comment section of those posts and other social forums opened my eyes to new content. Most I’d not heard of, so I was eager to give them a listen. I was presently surprised.

Here are the recommendations readers provided, complete with a link to each podcast. I hope find one or two that’ll be perfect additions to your podcast list.

Andy Boyns, suggests The Person Behind the Voice. This podcast is a series of conversational interviews with voice artists and others involved in the voiceover industry. Conversations highlight the many different ways people have advanced in their chosen profession, and serve to remind us when challenging the demons within that others have probably had similar experiences. Andy is the producer of this entertaining series.

 

From Canada, Garnet Williams recommends the podcast he and fellow voice artists Dave McRae and Mike Pongracz produce, called The AmiVOs & Friends “Super-Funtastic-Happy-Hour VOdcast.” The 3 AmiVOs offer entertaining and educational episodes in a delivery that’s informative while laid back. Expect a smorgasbord of news, tips, interviews and humor. Each show offers a 3AmiVO’s Iceberg Tip or Fun Fact!

 

Mike Broderick thinks highly of the 3AmiVOs as well, saying their podcast is “hilarious!” He also highly recommends Love That VoiceOver with Rebecca Michaels. Reader, Justin, also suggests Love That VoiceOver, commenting, “Rebecca interviews folks from all parts of the industry, and I’ve found her interviews with agents and producers to be professionally informative, and her interviews with talent to be inspirational as well as entertaining.”

 

Trisha Beausaert, Voices.com Public Relations Manager, let me know about VoxTalk, which is back from a 5 year hiatus. This podcast is described as valuable programming for both aspiring and professional talents. Each multi-segment episode features guest contributors and covers business, news, technology and many other areas relative to the voiceover profession. The repository of previous episodes contains many gems and is worth investigating.

 

One of my new Facebook friends, Joseph Bevilacqua, produces The Voice Actor Show podcast, and he recommends that you check it out. In the most recent episode, Joe and his wife Lorie interviewed voice actor Fred Frees, and featured a number of clips of voice acting geniuses from the past several decades. Included in the mix are cuts from several popular radio drams and comedies.

 

It was fun to hear from so many readers who had comments about what I’d recommended and to hear about new podcasts I hadn’t considered. There was one other suggestion and I’m going to use it as the seed for an upcoming blog post.

If I’ve missed a podcast related to voiceover, directly or indirectly, I’d like to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Are You Available?

 

12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss (Pt 2)

Previously in part one of 12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss, I introduced you to six podcasts to educate and inspire you about voiceover. I’m amazed at the amount of FREE information available through podcasts and I always feel listening to them is time well spent. I can’t think of another way to get educated passively.

This post continues with the second half of my recommended list.

 

Voice Coaches

mza_6385187628270560378.170x170-75Sometimes this podcast is too short. Warren Garling and Chris Scharling find topics that could use more time. They’re that interesting. They entertain well together and discuss methods to improve your VO business. From insightful interviews with industry professionals to marketing tips, and professional suggestions, each episode is delivered with humor and openness. Make sure to listen to the entire podcast for hilarious outtakes.

 

The Producers Podcast – Voiceover and Radio / Audio Production

mza_8350867020232262915.170x170-75While Ryan Drean’s professional focus is Country Imaging services at TM Studios, 360 Country, he is one guy that has many audio interests. His podcast is a blast to listen to and his easy going approach with the professionals he interviews gets answers and stories seldom heard elsewhere. Ryan talks with producers, voice talent and other audio industry professionals.

 

VO Minute

ps.jqrxbgqm.170x170-75New to the voiceover biz? Been in it for a while? This podcast is just right for you. Host and Voice Actress Allison Moffett provides useful VO tips; suggestions for improving your studio business; tech info and personal experiences in bite sized episodes. Allison’s bubbly, upbeat delivery is fun to listen to and sure to be one of the most positive parts of your day.

 

Voice Acting Mastery: Become a Master Voice Actor in the World of Voice Over

Known for numerous video game credits, Voice Actor, Crispin Freeman is the go to guy when your interest is voice acting in animation and video games. He’s been in the business for close to three decades and has the expertise to answer your most pressing voice acting questions. Interviews with agents, voice actors, and producers are typical of what you’ll find in his biweekly podcast.

 

Voice Over Experts

One of the first podcasts I subscribed to is provided by the folks at Voices.com. I was looking for a repository of stories from industry professionals, people who were successful in what they do. I wasn’t disappointed and found each episode enlightening and educational. What happens when you have too much radio in your sound? Check out this podcast for the answer.

 

Voice Over Marketing Podcast

When your VO business could stand an injection of marketing know-how, John Melley delivers what you’ll be looking for. You love what you do otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it, right? Learn to make more money and REALLY love what you do. John has useful information specific to your business that’s easy to access and a pleasure to hear.

 

I’ve received a number of suggestions since I published part 1 of this two part post and will share them with you next time. If you have a favorite podcast that helps you with your voiceover business respond in the comments section with your suggestion.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Five Ways to be Remembered by Your Clients