Voice acting is like singing, anyone with a voice can do it, but only a few can earn money doing it.
Take for examples Set MacFarlane (Family Guy), Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons), and Trey Parker (South Park). According to celebritynetworth, collectively they are worth approximately $775 million. That’s an insane amount of money for just acting with your voice.
However, voice acting is not just glittering and gold. According to the bureau of labor, the average wage for voice actors is $17.50/hour. You’ll have to work for 51,000 hours before you can save up $1 million with that wage.
It goes without saying that the millionaire voice actors mentioned above worked hard to be where they are now. And that’s a completely different story.
In this article, we’ll talk about the first few steps that aspiring voice actors can take to earn their first paycheck with their voice.
Mastering Tempo Management
Voice actors have to learn how to control the pace in which they are speaking. A fast pace of speaking can influence the overarching message that you are trying to deliver – it may appear salesy and give off the impression that you’re building up a sales pitch something.
Most of the times, voice over for marketing materials such as demo video, podcast, or explainer videos are meant to resonate a brand’s expertise in the subject matter. For a promotional piece like an explainer video, the ideal pace is somewhere between 140-160 words per minute.
If you’re aiming to build a career as a voice actor, knowing how to control the pace of your speech is a must.
Other reasons why voice actors must have the tempo mastery:
- Speaking too fast could make you lose listeners’ attention.
- It might degrade the clarity of your message.
- Nobody likes feeling they’re being sold to.
Training Crystal-Clear Enunciation
Enunciation is the act of pronouncing words – a clear enunciation means your message gets across clearly and perfectly. No squeaky voice, stutter, or mumble.
In the world of commercial voice acting like commercials and demo videos, enunciation is crucial.
Commercial content is commonly displayed in front of a large number of audience for a very brief time. In order to optimize those few seconds of attention, any message delivered in the commercials has to be clear – including one that’s delivered through voiceover.
Imagine this, you see a commercial for a brand new juicer that you like, but the voiceover mumbles the pricing. Wouldn’t you be annoyed?
Mumbling words also reflect inconfidence – it makes you look like you’re doubting your arguments. On top of that, mumbling words could cause phrase mix-ups. The simplest example for phrase a mix-up is goin’ and go in.
Learning How to Characterize Your Voice
Even though it doesn’t require facial expressions like movie actors, voice acting is acting. It means that in order to become a voice actor you have to pretend to be someone else with your voice.
If you want to create a complete character, Dee Cannon (acting coach) recommends asking yourself these questions:
- Who am I?
- Where am I?
- When is it?
- Where have I just come from?
- What do I want?
There are two general employers for independent voice actors: companies and animation studios.
Getting hired by a company usually means voicing their commercials or demo video. In that case, you must be able to align your voice with their brand persona (e.g casual or serious, formal or informal).
Working for animation studios could mean voicing different characters, which is arguably more challenging because you have to make that character alive with your voice.
This leads to our next skill you have to master to become a voice actor.
Learning Different Accents and Dialects
As mentioned before, voice acting is still acting. By characterizing your voice into someone else, you have to know how that character would speak – most of the time they do so in different accents and dialects.
That’s why knowing various accents and dialects is always a plus point for not only voice actors but any kind of actor.
Like anything else, you can learn accents and dialects, and these are the key to learning new ways of speaking.
Below, we have featured an infographic from Breadnbeyond that covers basic voice acting skills. Essentially, these skills are what you need to have before you can promote and brand yourself as a voice actor.