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5 Things That Never Change,
To Succeed In Voice-Overs 
By Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager, Voice123
Working online in voice-overs is definitely a new way of getting voice-over work. However, there are basic principles that have not changed during the transitions in technology over the years.
Whether your first demo was on a reel, tape, CD or MP3, there has been no change in the following:
  • You need a great demo
  • You must know how to read copy
  • Success takes dedication, patience and a positive attitude
  • Doing only 'one thing' to get work is not enough

You always need a great demo that shows you at your best.

It is easy to say such a thing to a voice talent just starting. It is usually followed by the question, "Well, what makes a great demo?"
If you are in the initial stages of your voice-over career, the best thing to do is:
  • Pay attention to voice-overs you hear on TV, radio, movies, web sites, etc.
  • Decide what you like, record it, save it, and remember why you liked it.
  • Hold yourself to that high standard of quality sound and copy reading.
Why? The talented folks you enjoyed listening to will be competing with you!

But don't worry. That's a good thing. Their demos are amazing, and is the standard you want to hold yourself to always.

If you commit to high standards, one day you will meet the very people that inspired you to do a voice-over demo in the first place.

For instance, I just learned that Voice123 talent Ed Victor did the voices on a product line of toys I bought for my nephew. Small world!

You have to know how to read copy.

This comes with practice, and when you feel you have nailed it, you have to keep practicing to stay sharp - like a pro athlete who does not stop working out just because he signed with a pro team.
You have to stay competitive!

Reading voice-over copy goes beyond just reading it and sounding like a voice-over talent, though. Your voice is your product, so you have to shape your product into what 'they' need.
You also have to learn how to be flexible, open-minded and original - and yes, at times, know what they want, even when they do not say it.
Not every voice seeker truly knows what they want, until they hear it. Your skill to help them is a result of your dedication, practice and training.
Voice talent and coach Lani Minella, who specializes in the videogame world, is wonderful example. She is extremely flexible at reading copy, and knows how to teach talents all about what she does.
I had been listening to Lani for years, but only learned 'the name behind the voice' when I began working at Voice123.

Succeeding takes dedication, patience and a positive attitude.

I understand that it is easy to write or say this, but how do you actually do it? Try this:
  • Surround yourself with great, hard working, positive voice talent and positive environments.
  • Save voice-over industry professionals' work that inspires you.
  • Stay away from conversations that lead you to negative feelings or actions. Negative thoughts are incredibly easy to focus on because being positive takes hard work and dedication.
The fact that voice talent basically apply for jobs every day, makes a positive focus a necessity!
Even on those "rainy days," focus on the positive conversations that remind you of the reasons why you want to do voice-overs.
Most importantly, believe you can do it. After all, you are what you believe you are, and because of this, you can become anything you want.

It's also important to be "down to earth."

Whether for online casting or walking into an agent's office where you first meet "the watchdog," you must always put the feeling out there that you are a voice talent who will be a pleasure to work with.
Granted, online you actually have to display this by what you write and your demo.

As well, working online is all about having a brand.
If someone goes to your web page to hear your voice-over demo, they will see what you write, your headshot, and listen to how you sound. They will have these three things to know what makes you special.

In all my years, and in all my research into various businesses, I never once heard someone say, "You should have an attitude. They will love that!'
There is simply nothing more enjoyable than working with someone who is down-to-earth, because he/she is talented, they know it, and they do not have anything to prove.
"Attitude" may get you a reality TV show, but your 15-minutes of Fame starts counting down from there, until a focus emerges on what works for longevity of a career.

Finally, doing just one thing to get work is not enough.

Online casting has succeeded in giving thousands of great voice talent amazing amounts of exposure.
Yet being on a web site is not enough exposure, if people do not know to find you there!
Social media has exploded, and now you can find voice talent all over the web, doing videos on YouTube, Tweeting, or discussing topics in voice-over forums and on Linkedin.
The more exposure you give yourself, the better. BUT do not forget the basic rules above!

Today It is cheaper and easier to promote yourself than ever before. But with that power comes great responsibility.
Promote your voice-over product - you at your best - only when it is ready to hit the shelves. And always be positive and proud of what you do.
Steven Lowell is a voice actor based in New York City, and public relations manager for Voice123, the online voice-over marketplace that provides online auditions and work for its members.


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Comments (1)
Jan Anderson
11/9/2010 at 11:40 PM
Great advice, Steven. I'm just getting started in the VO biz, and what you say in this article rings very true.
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