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New To Voice Over? Check These 12 Essentials
To Getting Started - Or To Jumpstart Your Career

Note: On Tuesday night, Feb. 5, 2013, the author and top voice talent / coach Jim Conlan present a special online event, Dream Vs. Reality & Your Success Plan. Click here for details about this essential webinar. Your registration includes a full recording to review any time, and in case you have a schedule conflict with the live show Feb. 5.
By Bettye Zoller
Voice Talent & Coach,
If you are new to voice over - for instance, in the career thinking stage or close to producing a demo and to start marketing - basic and continuing training is essential.
My colleague, voice talent and coach Jim Conlan, puts it this way:
"By way of analogy, I often ask newcomers if they've ever tried to play a musical instrument in front of a paying audience," says. "Most reply, 'Oh no, I'm not that good.' And that helps some realize what it takes to become a professional voice talent."
So - what do you need to know? Plenty! Here are some essentials to get you started and on the path to voice over success.
1. DEMOS. Have at least two professionally produced "killer" voiceover CD demos - which you also link from your website and online casting sites - that demonstrate your Commercial and Narration work. 
Niche demos will also become important, to demonstrate your skills in specific areas, such as science, medical, music history, helping children get better grades in school, surfing or hanggliding, learning to swim, preparing for the college entrance exam, raising dogs, horses, etc.
Caution: It's unlikely that you can self-produce quality demos that will appeal to producers and agents in the markets you seek. Hire a professional for direction and production.
2. DEFINE YOURSELF. Write out who you are and what you want to achieve, in the form of a one-page or shorter mini-essay, to help you define your goals and describe what you want at appropriate times.
Avoid talking about your "straight day job stuff" and concentrate on why you are doing - or hoping to do - voice overs.
List your acting and voice over training here. If you have not had training yet, don't mention that. Also mention your roles in theater or film if you've done this type of work, but do not give dates or say who you acted for if it's only high school or college productions.
3. POSITIVE ASSOCIATIONS. Associate with positive people who believe you are doing 'the right thing' in attempting a new line of work.
4. RESEARCH TRAINERS. Study with teachers who have proven track records, who have "done the work" and not "only taught."
Gather a few recommendations from former students, but be careful about "vendettas" as some students blame teachers for their lack of talent or success.
5. SEEK AGENTS. Try to become represented by voice over agents in at least four geographical areas. You cannot do this, obviously, until you have at least two "killer" demos and are able to perform alone as well as you do on the demos.
6. NETWORK ONLINE. Get active in online in networking groups. Become "known." But remember that whatever your put online stays there! Don't rant or write something you don't want potential voice over clients to see.
7. NEED WEBSITE. Create a website devoted to you as a voice actor. Build one yourself if possible, using those simple "builder" services, and don't spend tons of money right now on the website. Simple is good.
8. SENSIBLE HOME STUDIO. You will need a home audio studio for recording voice over auditions and jobs. But at this stage, don't spend bundles of money on it. Keep it simple. Search VoiceOverXtra archives for practical home studio advice.
Honestly, you don't need a home studio until you've developed the skills necessary to compete for jobs!
9. BE PATIENT. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a voice over business. It's a "build" that typically takes three to six years to get up to speed. So figure how you'll pay your expenses while doing voice work and study "on the side" for quite a while.
10. ONLINE CASTING. Online casting services are great for auditioning and extra income, but don't for a living.Think of the pay-to-play websites as "an excellent way to gain experience and win an occasional job.
11. SPREAD THE WORD. Tell everyone you know and every new person you meet about your aspirations in voice overs.
12. MARKETING. Early on you'll need business cards and other fundamental advertising tools, but spend wisely. Online printing services are quite economical for this. And for how-to marketing advice, continue your search of the VoiceOverXtra archives.
Bettye Zoller is an acclaimed and award-winning voice over talent and coach, based in Dallas, where she operates the VoicesVoices audio production and voice over training company. She conducts voice over workshops in Dallas and worldwide, and also teaches monthly webinars for VoiceOverXtra - including the Feb. 5, 2013 webinar, Dream Vs. Reality & Your Success Plan (click below for details).
Feb. 5 Newcomers Webinar, Dream Vs. Reality:
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
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