Don't give up on your voice!
The title say’s don’t give up but it obviously depends on your situation. Do you love recording voice overs? When you go into your booth does a huge smile come over your face? Are you always excitedly looking forward to your next audition? When you dream about the future does it include you running your own successful voice over business? Do all the “no’s” make you more determined to get a “YES!”. If you answer no to any of these questions (and there are more I did not list) then maybe you should give it some consideration. If you answered “Hell yes!” then you probably have what it takes.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, getting started in the voice over business is tough unless you already have connections in the business. And this makes sense. Think about it from the client’s perspective. Why would they hire a brand new, inexperienced voice actor, when they have hundreds of seasoned professionals that they can trust. They listen to numerous auditions and narrow it down to the final list of maybe 5-10 voice actors based on the sound they are looking for. At this point, there are very fine lines that separate the “right” voice for the project. These can be tiny things like; have they worked with you before? What projects have you been involved in up to this point? Does your voice truly represent what the client wants to portray? And many, many more tiny little things. Your audition may be great but if the client has worked with one of the other voices before and it was a positive experience then they are probably going to choose them again.
I think the first important thing to do is find your voice. This is easier said than done. I found it came with a huge amount of practice and many coaching sessions. One day I just found that being me and not trying to be something else worked best. When I picked up copy it just felt natural to go with my gut feeling. I still analyze the copy and try and find what the writer is trying to convey. After that I just talk. As if I was talking to someone I know. If it is a natural happy read, then I imagine talking to one of my close friends while having a drink in my living room. If it a business/corporate type read, I imagine I am practicing with an old colleague on how I would present this at a convention. Whatever makes my situation feel natural. I don’t try to put on a voice or try and be someone else.
So how do you become the “go-to” guy or girl for your particular voice or niche? Well first you need to find your niche. On my website, I say that I am the “go-to” British voice for the USA. This is my niche. I don’t try have an American accent. There are thousands of voice actors who do this and far more genuinely than I could ever do. I don’t try to be Irish, although I think I do a pretty good Irish accent! Once again there are others that do that better than I could. I am confident that my natural non-specific British accent is perfect for many clients in the USA and these are the clients I try and target. I will never be the next voice of Ram trucks or the next Ford F150 and I am OK with that. I let my prospective clients know that I am based in the USA and that I can make the business side of the project go very smoothly without having to deal with international taxes or red tape. And I let them know that my voice is genuine. It is not someone trying to be British, I am British and I am the British voice for the USA market!
Your niche could be soccer Mom, friendly Dad, optimistic millennial, wise old country dude. The list is endless. Ask friends and family to help figure out who you are. Ask them to define your personality as best as they can. Soon you will have a consensus that will point you in the right direction. If you agree with the consensus and it makes sense to you, go with it. Accept this is what your “go-to” voice is. This will make most of your reads much more natural and allow you to win more jobs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do other types of reads if it feels it will suit the situation better. Only you can make that decision. I am just saying that if the copy asks for a natural type read the you should probably use your ”go-to” voice as this will be the most natural.
So good luck finding your “go-to” voice and as always - keep practicing!