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What TO DO and WHAT NOT TO DO Starting Out as a Voice Over Actor

Oct 25, 2021
What TO DO and what not to do Starting Out as a Voice Over Actor

So you’ve begun your journey into the world of voice acting. Maybe you have a bunch of funny cartoon voices up your sleeve, or you enjoy explaining things, or reading books aloud for money sounds like a dream come true. Maybe you play video games and you just know you could do all those gruesome sounds when a character is losing a fight. 

The point is, you’re pretty certain you have a great voice, or at least you’re confident it’s a distinctive one that would be a perfect fit somewhere. 

Welcome to the voice acting community—where we love hearing ourselves talk! (and grunt, and scream, and sound like we’re being  punched in the gut). 

In this article, we’ll talk about what you should be doing in order to succeed as voice talent and what may be wasting your time and energy. 

When you’re just starting out in the voice acting industry, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. From “How do I set up a dedicated recording space?” to “Where do I look for work?” to “How do I do my taxes?” Questions are important, and you should write them down. However, all those questions can be a huge waste of time. Why? 

Time Waster #1: Questions without answers! 

Have you ever spent hours, days, or even weeks trying to find the answer to a question? Google makes things so easy, yet the rabbit hole is so deep. 

You might not be able to find the exact answer to your question, or you may find 1,000 different answers and not know which answer to trust. And then, when you do finally decide to follow the advice of that guy on YouTube who seems to know so much about how to test materials for acoustic absorption, you might find down the line that he was wrong! 

The #1 thing you need when you’re a voice actor working by yourself is a supportive community of voice actors who are working on their voice acting careers. You need a hive mind to help answer your questions and give you guidance on things like 

  • the best microphone for your budget
  • creating a demo
  • how to market yourself on social media
  • where to find voice acting jobs

Stop trying to answer your own questions with hours and hours of Google searching. Join a supportive VO community, such as the Elite Academy, where you can get immediate answers to your questions from other successful voice actors, participate in acting classes, and learn marketing and technical skills. 

To Do #1: Join a supportive community of voice actors

Don’t go it alone. Get on social media and get connected. Voice acting requires you to spend a good deal of time alone in your little booth or home studio talking to yourself. In a place like the Elite Academy, you’ll find:

  • Support from a community of like-minded people that want to help you succeed 
  • Access to the full Elite Academy Archive of hundreds of hours of training
  • Live, virtual classes Monday-Thursday on voice acting, marketing, business systems, and technology
  • Access to the private Elite Academy Google Drive folder of class materials
  • Access to the private Elite Academy Facebook group
  • Discount on live, small group audition reviews and voice acting practice
  • Discount on library of recorded courses

Time Waster #2: Working in all directions at once

What should you really be working on in your day-to-day VO life? Too many people start each day with only a vague idea of where to put their energies and what they want to accomplish that day or week. They jump in with both feet and splash around for awhile without making much headway. 

You might find yourself doing a little internet research on your editing software, practicing your deep commercial voice, or spending eight hours trying to put together a page of your website. But what did you actually DO, from start to finish, that day, that will help your business succeed? 

Voice acting is a business, which means you need to get down to the serious business of making a plan and of having a focus each day. Voice acting requires not only a good voice, but business and marketing skill sets as well. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the moving parts of building a successful voice acting career. 

Don’t try to tackle everything at once!  Yes, your goal is to get a voice over job, and then another and another, but you need to break this goal down into steps to success. 

You can watch my video and download The Ten Elite Steps to Voiceover Success here. 

If you aren’t setting mini and long-range goals for yourself, and picking which ones to focus on each day, it will take you a lot longer to gain momentum and grow your business. 

To Do #2: Make a plan—set goals and focus on meeting one at a time

After you’ve accomplished your initial set-up of equipment, decide which parts of your day to set aside for which types of work towards your voice over career. Set goals for how many auditions you will do each day or for how many samples you’ll create to showcase your talent in different genres (commercials, e-Learning, voicemail greetings, etc), or of how much time you’ll spend watching videos to learn your craft. Download the free Ten Elite Steps to Voiceover Success document as a guide.

Time Waster #3: Not keeping track of your actions 

There are eight main things you’ll do most days as a voice actor:

  1. Create 10-15 second samples of your work by
    1. Writing scripts
    2. Recording, editing, and mastering the samples
    3. Adding background music
  2. Build (and optimize) gigs on The top 10 VO freelance platforms
  3. Send proposals for gigs on freelance voice over platforms
  4. Audition on free and paid sites (check out my course on how to format your audition for ACX)
  5. Market yourself on social media (check out my courses on how to market on Instagram and Linked-in)
  6. Direct market locally and nationally
  7. Add new pages and keywords to your website
  8. Record actual voice over jobs as you get them

That’s a lot to work on in a day! If you’re writing yourself sticky notes and plastering them all over your computer to remind yourself to follow up with that production company you called or to post that thing on twitter you thought of, you don’t have a sustainable system of record-keeping. 

OR, worse, if you figure you’ll remember what actions you’ve taken each day and what needs further action, you’re taking two steps back instead of forward. Casting directors expect prompt responses to their emails, so don’t audition for something and then forget to check your new business email for three days!

Don’t let yourself get to the end of a week or a month without data to show you what you’ve done, how many times you’ve done it, and where it led. When you’re a creative voice actor, paperwork isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. 

To Do #3: Track your action items with an organized system

Create a document, such as an excel sheet, tracking each action item of the day (who you contacted, what follow ups to do and when, what you posted, how many times you submitted proposals for jobs, where you auditioned, and outcomes of each item). Use this record to tweak where you spend your time and energy. 

Time Waster #4: Reinventing the Wheel 

Speaking of paperwork, do you find yourself writing the same things over and over again? When you’re a freelance voice actor, you spend a lot of energy:  

  • Filling out online profiles with your bio, samples, titles and tags
  • Writing gig descriptions
  • Making lists of FAQ’s for your potential clients
  • Making your pricing clear and defining your parameters for each job
  • Creating marketing emails and social media posts 
  • Writing client offers or responding to client messages
  • Writing invoices or contracts for your work

If you’re creating all these things from scratch every time, you’re wasting time. 

Stop reinventing the wheel. Much of what you have to write on a daily basis can be saved as templates and copied and pasted (with some tweaking) into whatever you’re working on. 

To Do #4: Create reusable templates for every aspect of your business

Invest the time NOW in putting together reusable templates for all of your writing needs. Members of the Elite Academy have access to a variety of templates to help streamline work flow. In addition, you’ll find pro tips, graphic organizers, and practice scripts. 

With a community, a plan, practice, business and technical skills, and confidence, YOU and your new voice over business, will thrive. The Elite Academy will help you get started, grow, and become the best voice over artist you can be.