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Becoming a freelance voice over talent is a popular career option for many in the entertainment business — and for good reason. Voice over artists enjoy relative anonymity — a big perk for those with day jobs — and a huge amount of flexibility. It’s also quick work with little prep — no hours in the makeup chair — and often finished after just one take. Although the terms “voice over artist” and “voice actor” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is some distinction between them.
In general, a voice over is designed to inform the audience, while the goal of voice acting is to entertain by conveying a character. However, there’s still a lot of overlap between the two and most of this advice applies to both.
Hone your craft
How dedicated are you to practice?
You’ll need to practice until you can smoothly read copy aloud without sounding wooden. An important part of professional voice overs is getting it perfect the first time.
Have you tried recording and listening to yourself?
Play your practice sessions back to yourself and listen closely. Look for awkward pauses and stutters, hissing S noises (sibilance), and filler words and sounds. Focus on training those out.
Do you pay attention to other voice over talents?
Try to listen to podcasts and audiobooks as much as possible. Take special notice of the voice over techniques used in radio spots and television commercials.
Play to your strengths
What kind of vocal stamina do you have?
You need to be able to perform for long periods without developing vocal fatigue. While vocal stamina can be improved through the right training, it can take some time before you’ll be ready do to voice overs professionally.
Do you have a voice people want to listen to?
Beyond wishing for an iconic voice like James Earl Jones, there are several ways in which you can take note of while speaking. For one, pronunciation is key as it is crucial for viewers to be able to understand what you are speaking. Pronounce each word clearly and correctly, though do be careful to not over-enunciate.
Remember to take note of the tone you are using as well – too monotonous and you will put your viewers to sleep, too overly friendly and it might come across as fake. Lastly, as with everything else, practice makes perfect. Only by practicing and re-reading the script will you be able to convey your video’s message in a natural and thoughtful manner.
How good are you at shifting styles?
The greater your range, the more roles will be available to you. Learn how to alter and maintain different tones. Show clients that you can sound either authoritative or conversational, depending on what the project requires.
While most voice actors are trained in general acting first, others are voice over talents who have branched out. Some background knowledge in sound engineering is also important for freelance voice work. Setting up a home recording studio is a must if you want to expand your potential client pool beyond local production companies. A solid understanding of acoustics is necessary to get the best quality audio.