To Shaun:  

My name is Tom ******* and I am inquiring about voiceover work. I have never done anything like this before, with the exception of a podcast for the company I currently work for. We use it for promotion of the store, since the owner was looking to franchise the business.

I have been trained as a fine artist, and have over ten year’s experience in freelance photography and design. I am aware this is a completely different industry from that. However, I am curious if this is something that others can benefit from, since many have complimented me about how good a voice I do have. Some even have suggested I do audio books or radio. Maybe they are just being kind, but the compliment happens a lot.

I am a newbie and have no idea where to get started. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you for your time, I look forward to your response.

Tom ********

Hey Tom,

Thanks for the email.  Getting started is most certainly the hardest part. I think your first steps are asking yourself how seriously you wish to take it, and how much, if anything you want to invest in making voice work happen,  It can be a very fun and rewarding industry, but it can take a lot of time, professional training and practice

For me – I started working in radio after attending Broadcast Center in St. Louis (www.broadcastcenterinfo.com).  They are a fine school (that I actually had an ownership stake in for a time recently)  It was my training there that launched my radio career, and in turn – my voice over work.    Can voice overwork be done without formal training?  Yes, but it can be difficult – unless you’re simply a natural!

Regardless of whether you plan to seek formal training or just want to give it a shot without it, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a demo of your voice over abilities.   If you do a web search for demo commercial scripts or even just listen to the radio and try to transcribe some commercials for you to read – I would start with that.

To record your voice – you’ll need two things :

1.  A good microphone.  I use a traditional condenser microphone with XLR connection, hooked up to a phantom power source, into a processor and then into a small mixing board.   Altogether, a rather expensive set-up.   If you’re just getting started, there are several USB condenser microphones that aren’t way too expensive but still give you a good audio quality.  I would do a google search for “USB condenser microphones for voice over work”  or something of that nature and see what options there are.

You’ll also need recording software – most pros I’ve found seem to use Adobe Audition or ProTools – but there is a free software called Audacity that would be a good choice for the beginner.  You can download it off the net by doing a simple google search.

Hook up your mic to your computer, start your recording software and start reading demo commercial scripts.  Watch some online youtube videos of how to edit your voice, edit breaths out, mistakes, enhance your vocals etc.

You’ll also want to make sure wherever you set up your recording computer and microphone that is has good acoustics.  While having a room/large closet professionally sound proofed and dampened is the ideal way to go, often that’s simply not an option for the beginner voice talent.  See my other blog post HERE to find some good, cheap tricks for the beginner.

Then just start getting out there – reach out to radio stations, businesses, etc and let them know you’re interested in doing voice overs – send them your demo and see what happens.  Ask for feedback (and dont be afraid to be given some harsh feedback at first)  it takes time, practice and dedication to make it happen – I have been building my voice over client base for 10+ years and it is still a small fraction of what most voice over professionals have.

Good luck and please let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions!
Shaun Streeter

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