Updated: Mar 31, 2020
You’ve heard of a Swear Jar? Ya know. the thing mom made you put a dollar in every time you used a ‘bad’ word? I want to propose a special jar for fledgling voiceover talent. I want to call it the Good Voice Jar. This way every time someone tells me that everyone compliments them on their great voice, that person can contribute to my retirement fund.
This post is for you if:
You have a smooth, husky, sexy, deep, etc. voice.
You speak with a foreign accent and people tell you that it’s exotic, unique, sexy, etc.
You speak a lot for a living and people marvel at your eloquence.
You use your voice somewhat charismatically on a day to day basis.
If you identify with one of these statements then people likely tell you “I could listen to you speak all day.”
Gross, but also kinda cool, I guess. Here’s the reality of how these compliments (all be they nice) don't necessarily equal a career in voiceover.
For starters – people profess to LOVE things that are different, intriguing, unique, etc. We also LOVE accented speakers, but that alone will not be enough to book voiceover work. Sorry. But the truth is that it is very unlikely anyone is going to hire you just because you sound the way you do. That’s because there is a slew of skills that voiceover actors possess in addition to their lovely speaking voices. They are trained actors who know how to perform on mic. They know how to use and manipulate the voice they have to influence and emotionally move an audience. They have spent years studying the human psyche, copy interpretation and audio editing and recording technology. If you do not possess these skills, nor strive to learn them, you will not be able to make money in voiceovers.
Another thing to consider – is there a demand for your voice? Do you hear your type of sound, style, etc. in media often? Voiceover actors earn a living when they are relatively unremarkable. They sound just like everyone else. They blend in. The same is true on-camera. A regular looking, middle-aged man who is a little overweight will work far more often and more consistently than a chiseled jaw Mr. Universe type. Mr. Average can play a number of different roles and is memorable, but not in a stand-out way. They make up the majority of the net-worth acquiring, booking actors who we see on TV and in movies all the time. We don’t know their names. We never know their names. We just look up at the screen and say ‘oh hey – it’s that guy.’
So, unfortunately, sometimes, having a very unique sound can actually limit you. Sure, you’ll book work occasionally when someone is looking for something unique, exotic, different, etc. But that won’t be often enough to sustain a day-to-day living and pay your bills. Your accent or uniqueness will need to be marketed aggressively in order to sustain your life. This way you turn occasional opportunities from one or two clients into frequent opportunities from 100s of clients.
And lastly, please remember that voiceover actors are not judged, valued or hired based on their speaking skills in normal, everyday conversations. We are hired based on performance abilities. If you used my ‘regular’ speaking voice to determine my worth or merit as a voiceover actor you would probably be very unimpressed. My voice doesn’t come to life until I have a character, a script, a role, a motivation and a microphone in front of me. So, the question you should be asking is not ‘Can I make money with my voice?’ The real question is – can you learn to use your voice to make money?