While voice acting is a legitimate profession, it is still a creative art form, and like any form of creativity, it does not exist in a vacuum. Voice over artists often work with other creative professionals during the course of a job, be it sales copywriters, other actors, animators or sound editors (and usually all of the above).
Somebody, at some point, has to put such a team together. Time for a little thought experiment.
Imagine you’re in charge of hiring talent for a project and you need to pull together a team from scratch. After sifting through a stack of resumes, you come across a voice actor which fits the profile of the job. Chances are, you’ll short list him or her for the role.
Now imagine you come across another resume of an equally competent voice actor. The difference here is that they also have some proven skill in writing their own copy or mastering their own sound files…
… You’d be tripping over yourself on the way to call them immediately. Here’s the lowdown on:
Three Supplementary Skills That Will Land You That Voice Acting Job
They say that writing is a talent that can’t be taught – you’re either born with it, or you’re not.
Right off the bat, we can comfortably state that this is nonsense. While it’s true that a small minority of people are hopeless at writing copy, and always will be, given your job as a voice actor requires a deep understanding of words, the chances are slim that you’re one of those few people.
It’s arguably a tougher industry to make any real money in than voice acting, but for the purposes of supplementing your resume, you should have no problem getting some entry-level writing gigs just to demonstrate you’ve got the aptitude for it. The good thing is that a lot of writers would kill to work on some of the projects you’ll encounter as a voice actor (since the fee for those is a cut above general writing work), so the ability to cross-sell your services can prove to be lucrative.
Here are a few tips…
Craigslist is an excellent place for beginners to hunt for work, as long as you watch out for the scams (which are very easy to spot). By checking out the “writing/editing” section of your local CL portal daily, you’ll eventually come across some easy (albeit low-paid) writing jobs from folk needing sales copy for their online store, or perhaps a bit of online blogging work.
Avoid the numerous “auction” sites (in which people bid on the lowest fee they’re willing to do a writing gig for) in your quest to beef up your portfolio. They work for some people, but without going into a diatribe on their many flaws, take it on trust that you’ll spend most of your time being undercut at ridiculous prices rather than actually conducting copywriting work.
Another entirely viable course of action is to start your own blog if you haven’t got one already. Try to avoid general “rambling” blogs talking about your day or how the dog threw up on the new carpet. It may be therapeutic, but not of interest to anyone except you (and maybe the dog). Instead, focus on a particular niche or hobby. Of course, writing about your exploits in voice acting can be a great way of demonstrating your knowledge and aptitude.
All you’ll need to get started is a few places online which you can point to and say “hey, look: I can help improve your material as well as provide the voice over for it.” Not only will it make you more marketable, but it usually makes voice over work a lot easier if you’re able to write material with your own voice in mind.
2. Conventional Acting
Although the competition is fierce, you’ve got one up on everyone else here because you’re already an actor.
Picking up conventional acting work for film or TV looks fantastic on any VO resume, and increasing your knowledge of screen acting can be a boon to your development as a voice artist. There are numerous resources online to help you find work in this area,even if they’re only bit parts to get you started. If it’s something you’d really like to delve into, however, a formal education in an acting school will help immensely in launching your career.
One of the biggest benefits of mixing in acting circles is for networking. The type of people you’ll mingle with on set are exactly the type of people who will know someone who knows someone who needs voice acting. So, be sure to get you face out there.
3. Sound Engineering
To the outsider, it’d seem natural that voice actors are intimately familiar with sound editing, but it’s surprising how few know their uncompressed WAVs from their Ogg Vorbis.
If you haven’t the faintest idea of how to go about sound editing and you’re working in an external studio, be sure to stick around after the work is done and hang out in the editing suite to watch the pros at work. Ask as many questions as you can. It’s unlikely that you’ll get annoying, as the sound guys are often used to being ignored.
It’s also a rare opportunity to hear how your voice works in context of the bigger picture, as well as to quiz the people who have to work with your voice to see what works particularly well, and what doesn’t.
If you work from home, chances are you’re used to the fundamentals of audio mastering before sending in your voice work. If you’re getting credit for the VO, make sure you ask for credit on the sound editing too, since you can list that on your resume or portfolio website.
Once you have enough experience under your belt, be sure to point out your competency in this area when conducting preliminary discussions on a gig (and charge accordingly, since you’re saving the creative director from having to hire an extra individual).
Making the Time to Grow
Given that voice acting is a craft which can take quite some time to master on its own, it may seem counter-intuitive to spend additional time and energy learning other skills at the same time. However, every string to your bow is an investment, and they’re all skills you can practice (and use to earn some extra cash) during your down time.
Keep yourself busy, keep learning, and above all, keep cross-selling your talents as much as possible!