So You Want to Do VO? - Part 2: A Solid Foundation

This is part 2 of a multi-part post aimed at folks that want to get into a career in voice over. 

In our first episode, we talked about the top three tired tropes people use as reasons to get into VO. In this post, we get into the details of what you need to do to be successful in the business.

DISCLAIMER:  There are many ways to get into this business and this may or may not be the easiest, best, or most profitable way. It's simply the way that I did it and, right or wrong, it's worked pretty well for me so far.

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 weakened. 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! Part of  the reason for this is because of  the three tired tropes I mentioned before. ("Its easy!" "People always tell me what a great voice I have!" "I do a great (random celebrity) impression.") 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.

But let's be honest: Hiring a coach isn't cheap.  There's also a time commitment involved. And if you're just starting out or have school or a job to contend with, scheduling the time for a voice coach may be difficult. If you can't afford a personal voice coach at this point in time, there are some other alternatives you can use to get started.

My suggestion: check out Voice Over Club  - for a beginning voice over artist, this is a fantastic way to get started learning about the business. They have an affordable monthly membership that gives you access to online training modules, videos, lectures, and resources. You can learn at your own pace. You can watch a training module, take notes, walk away and come back to it a day or a week later and not miss anything. 

There is a ton of information presented and some really important tips and tricks that will help you to become a quality voice over artist. Everything from script delivery, to how to audition, marketing and how to become and stay profitable. Much more information than I'm giving here. AND you can try out everything the club has to offer for three days, for only $1.

This is an affordable way to find out if being a voice artist is really what you want to do. There are other online VO training sites out there, but I used these guys and I can't say enough positive things about their work. It was VERY helpful to me when I got started.

Once you've gone through the course, you can start getting serious about whether or not you want to do this as a career. If you do, then its time to start thinking about moving on to the next step in the journey: getting a voice coach that will help you build a professional demo and get you some serious work.

In the next part of this multi-part post, I'll get into the fun stuff: the gear.

About Rob Marley - 
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin Texas. For more information, visit his website at