Voice acting can be a great career for many people if they have the talent for it, but it’s an intimidating field to get into. If you’ve never done any voice acting work, how do you even get any clients to give you a chance to show them what you can do?
Getting a voice acting job with no experience involves being able to market yourself well and building a voice acting portfolio of example work, references, and paid clips. It is much easier to get a voice acting job with no experience if you have a home recording studio and a website.
If you want to get started and don’t know where to start, you’ll find an overview of everything you need to do to land a voice acting job even if you don’t have any experience. From setting up your first studio to strengthening your personal brand and more, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances of becoming a full-time voice actor.
Do You Need Experience to Be a Voice Actor?
Is it even possible to get started as a voice actor when you have no experience? The old saying goes that everybody has to start somewhere, and that goes for voice actors too. Even the most famous voice actors in the world were at a starting point in their career where they hadn’t recorded a thing yet.
So if you can get started voice acting without any experience, what do you need to get going with a voice acting career?
Here are some of the requirements you’ll need to think about when you consider becoming a voice actor:
- A great voice: Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to get voice acting work if you don’t have a strong, charismatic tone to your voice. Voice actors capable of manipulating their voice to project a diverse range of emotions or characters can be very successful. In some cases, voice actors may be asked to voice multiple roles in the same project.
- A place to record: You can make some of your money as a voice actor by showing up to walk-in auditions at a recording studio, but these experiences won’t really give you the portfolio and skillset you need to make a go at full-time voice acting. To become a professional, you should consider investing in a home recording studio.
- A flexible day job: Almost no voice actors get started in the voice acting field by doing voice acting work full-time. The nature of the work is that it is contracted from job to job and there are periods of no work between projects until you can voice act full-time. It helps to have a second job to cover the bills and provide financial stability.
- The motivation to market yourself: Voice acting is just like any other freelancing job in many ways. It requires you to seek out potential employment opportunities and market yourself just like you would any other product you’re trying to sell. If you don’t have the drive to present yourself to potential clients, you won’t do well as a professional VA.
If you fit the profile above and you are still enthusiastic about voice acting, then you should consider the pros and cons of making voice acting your full-time career. It’s not a career for everyone, but it’s a unique job with some interesting benefits.
Advantages of a Voice Acting Career
Other than the fun of getting to act and use your imagination to create different characters for the parts you’re asked to play, there are many more practical advantages to becoming a voice actor. These are just a few of the benefits you can enjoy by pursuing voice acting as a career (Source: Masterclass):
- Self-determination: Like other freelancing work, being a voice actor means that you get to pick and choose which work you want to do and when you do it. This allows you to specialize as a voice actor or be a jack of all trades, depending on which better fits your personality. This kind of versatility is a valuable job trait to many people.
- Legacy: Even if you only end up doing small voice acting parts in minor productions, you’re still lending your voice to a recording that will likely exist in the world decades or even centuries after you’re dead. Being recorded for posterity for hundreds of years after your death is intriguing enough to interest many people in acting and voice acting.
- Clients and networking: For people who enjoy the thrill and the challenge of meeting new clients and getting them on board with your talent as a voice actor, this career allows you to progress as far as you’re willing to work for it. In voice acting, networking and personal branding are often just as important as having a strong recording voice.
- High pay: Even though voice acting work is not steady work, the hourly rate for voice actors is quite high compared to some other careers. This makes it a viable career choice for full-time work once you get more experienced, and can also make it a very profitable side hustle for those looking to supplement their primary employment.
- Low competition: While it isn’t that difficult to get started as a voice actor with no experience, many people never even consider this option as a career or job choice. This means that the competition for voice acting work may be significantly lower than competition for more commonplace employment positions.
- Work from home: If you construct a home recording studio, a lot of modern-day voice acting work can be captured as raw audio data from a home recording studio. Learning how to do a little sound editing yourself to clean up the audio files can help you get better jobs, too. Either way, it allows you to work from the comfort of your living room.
If you have a good voice and you’re willing to do a little investing in yourself, the advantages of becoming a voice actor far outweigh the disadvantages.
Disadvantages of a Voice Acting Career
Voice acting can be a great job, but it doesn’t come without its own set of drawbacks. Here are some of the reasons you should think carefully before becoming a voice actor (Source: MyJobSearch):
- Unstable work: When you’re first getting started out as a voice actor, you’re not going to have steady work. You will likely go weeks or maybe even a few months without securing any voice acting work. To get going, you’re almost guaranteed to have to work two jobs to make ends meet while you pursue a voice acting career.
- Isolating conditions: Working from home can be fantastic, but it will wear down even the most dedicated introverts over time. Freelancers who work as voice actors from home will need to make extra efforts to socialize since you don’t really have coworkers or peers in your day-to-day voice acting work.
- Expensive start-up costs: To have the best chance of becoming a full-time voice actor, you’ll need to set up a home recording studio. Buying high-quality equipment can give you a major advantage in finding voice acting work, and this type of recording equipment can mean a lot of money invested before you ever start making any of it back.
The disadvantages of being a voice actor can be reduced by starting up a voice acting career on the side while you pursue a different job.
Doing voice acting on the side at first and building your way up while you pay bills with another job can help you offset the investment costs of constructing a studio, alleviate isolation until you develop a voice acting network, and provide financial security while you build your portfolio.
It’s also a good idea to treat your voice acting like a hobby at first while you enjoy the process of building voice acting experience and learn the basics of recording. This will help you enjoy the process and keep you from getting discouraged early on. Later, once you start to make some steady money with your voice acting, you can get into more advanced business management.
How Much Do Beginning Voice Actors Make?
Voice actor salaries can vary widely depending on how much experience the voice actor has and how much they’re charging for similar work.
A beginner voice actor makes an average of around $18,930 a year. However, this figure is much lower than the rate offered by an experienced professional actor, who can make an average of $90,000 annually. (Source: Gravy for the Brain)
So how does a voice actor get to the point of quadrupling their take-home salary? It all comes down to learning how to charge for your voice acting.
How Much Should You Charge for Voice Acting?
Learning how to negotiate your fees as a voice actor is a balancing act.
On the one hand, as a new voice actor with no experience, you won’t be able to charge very much to start out with if you don’t have recording credits, references, or a strong portfolio of work to show off. On the other hand, you don’t want to get into the habit of undercharging for your work. This can lead you into years of not getting paid what you’re worth.
These are some of the factors to consider when you’re deciding what to charge as a voice actor with no experience:
- The scope of the work: Some piecemeal jobs that only require one recording session may not pay as much as you’d like to demand as an hourly rate, but these shorter voice acting jobs may be easier to land if you don’t have much experience.
- Demand: One of the challenges of voice acting work is that it is largely a remote position. This means that you’re in competition with other voice actors from all over the world, not just locals. Overcharging can lead to you losing work to lower bids, while undercharging can mark you out as an amateur to other voice actors and clients.
- Background: If you have a strong portfolio, some previous client referrals, and a track record in voice acting, you can charge a higher rate and still get hired. However, if you have no experience, you’ll need to work on building up your voice acting background before you increase your hourly rates.
In many cases, you won’t have to worry about how much to charge for a job. Instead, you’ll be applying for a contract based on a flat rate of pay, and you have the option whether or not to accept the offer or attempt to negotiate.
By only applying to voice acting auditions that are aligned with your desired pay rate, you can set your hourly rate even if you don’t control the funding for the project.
Increasing Your Rates as a Voice Actor
When you’re starting as a voice actor with no experience, you’re going to have to take what minor jobs you can get at first. It’s likely that you’ll be out-competed for higher-paying jobs by other voice actors who have a stronger portfolio, better networking connections, or samples of their paid work.
Once you’ve had the chance to build up your own portfolio by taking on smaller jobs, you can get to the point where you’re competitive for bigger voice acting projects. After you’ve started to receive steady work and have a bunch of recording credits, you’ll be able to raise your rates without hurting your eligibility for jobs.
It might seem easier to get work at first by short changing yourself with a low hourly rate, and to a certain degree most voice actors have to do this early in their career. If you don’t raise your rates with your experience level, however, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up financially with your peers in the voice acting industry.
Setting Up a Studio for Freelance Voice Acting
If you’re trying to get a voice acting career off the ground, it’s a good idea to set up at least a basic recording studio in your home to help you advance your voice acting career. Here’s a few reasons why having your own recording studio is a good idea (Source: HomeStudioHub):
- You don’t have to work around a studio’s schedule. Managing a voice acting job can already be difficult to schedule around a day job. You don’t want to have to schedule your voice acting work around public recording studio hours too. You also don’t have to worry about whether there’s even a recording studio available in your area.
- You don’t have to pay for studio time. While it can be somewhat expensive to set up a good sound recording studio at home, this upfront cost is significantly cheaper than the cost of paying for recording studio time to build up your portfolio.
- You can learn in the comfort of home. It can be difficult to really let loose and practice with your voices when you’re in front of strangers and sound engineers in an open studio. When you’re first starting out, learning to record at home can give you the confidence to work your way up to a studio voice acting audition.
- You have full control over the studio. Your home recording studio can be as sparse or decadent as you want it to be. You can buy the bare minimum equipment necessary or invest thousands of dollars into a studio professional enough to rent out. As long as it has good acoustics for recording, you can make your studio whatever you want.
- You can audition from home. Having a home recording studio allows you to control the entire voice recording contract from start to finish without ever leaving your house. A home recording studio is a great investment for voice actors who want to eventually be able to work from home full-time.
- You can respond quickly. Sometimes a voice acting job depends on a voice actor’s ability to record lines and turn around audio files very quickly. Your chance to win the job will rest on your ability to get work turned around fast. A home recording studio means you’ll never have to let any job opportunity pass you by if you want it.
Putting a recording studio in your home may seem like a pretty drastic step for a part-time job, but the more seriously you take your voice acting career, the more likely you are to land meaty voice acting roles regardless of your experience level.
If voice acting is something you want to get in gradually, you can still get a recording studio. It’s easier on your budget if you buy just a few pieces of high-quality recording equipment to start with and gradually build your collection.
Soundproofing Your Voice Acting Studio
When you’re putting together your voice acting studio, you’ll need to consider soundproofing. Not only does this keep the sound of your recording activities from being heard in the rest of the household, it also helps prevent echoes and other auditory distortion that can degrade the quality of your voice recording.
There are a few different ways you can soundproof your voice acting studio depending on where the studio is located and how much money you want to invest. These are just a few ways you can help improve the acoustics of your studio:
- Increase the thickness of the drywall. If you’re renovating a room of your home into a recording studio and you’re designing it from scratch, consider adding several inches of drywall to the walls. This can improve the acoustics of the room and also muffle any potential noises that may occur outside of the studio.
- Use acoustic panels. Acoustic panels are a special type of foam padding that helps absorb sound. This leads to a cleaner sound on your voice recording. Acoustic panels are quite expensive, but have the benefit of being removable should you ever decide to dismantle your recording studio or move it elsewhere.
- Use soundproofing mats. If you’re trying to record in a second floor room, you’ll have to deal with floor vibrations and noise as well as the walls. Put down soundproofing mats to help reduce buzzing and other distortion.
Getting clean, professional recordings is crucial when it comes to landing recording jobs without much experience. If you’re capable of producing a strong voice clip that is professionally sound-edited, you can get hired whether you have experience or not.
Recording Equipment for Your Voice Acting Studio
Once you have a good soundproof room to record in, you’ll need some voice acting equipment to land a voice acting job with your home recording studio. These are a few of the most basic pieces of equipment you’ll need to pick up:
- Microphone and microphone stand: A high-quality microphone is probably one of the most crucial pieces of equipment you’re going to buy for your home recording studio. You can go with a slightly cheaper model for your first mic if you’re working on a limited budget, but note that your recording quality will suffer as a result.
- Headphones: Other than microphones, headphones are probably the second-most important piece of equipment you need. Good headphones will allow you to listen back on your recordings and adjust them for sound quality or edit them.
- Pre-amplifier: The pre-amplifier is the piece of recording equipment that translates the sound of your voice into an electronic signal that you can then download onto your computer and manipulate with sound editing software.
- Recording/editing software: Once you’ve recorded your voice work, recording and editing software on your computer will allow you to clean up the recordings and submit them wirelessly for electronic auditions.
There are other auxiliary pieces of equipment you can purchase for your home recording studio, such as shockmounts and pop filters, but these pieces aren’t pieces you absolutely need when you’re first starting out. Get your basic pieces of equipment first, find a good location for your studio, and worry about expensive accessories later.
Selling Yourself as a Beginner Voice Actor
If you have the equipment you need to get started as a voice actor, the next part of getting work even if you don’t have any experience is learning how to sell yourself and your work. One of the most challenging parts of being a beginner voice actor is that you are responsible for finding potential employment opportunities and pursuing them.
There are several different ways you can start reinforcing your brand as a voice actor so that you can land some jobs and build your portfolio. Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Build up your online brand. Having a personal website allows you to showcase your best work, post client referrals, show off your hourly rate, and accept job offers. Get a website and some business cards to direct clients to it if you do any networking for your voice acting career face-to-face.
- Build up your portfolio. Even if you don’t have any paid experience as a voice actor, that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your portfolio. Come up with several examples of your work on clean audio recordings so that you always have something ready to go if someone asks you for a sample of your work.
- Ask your clients for recorded clips and references. It might take some confidence and a little repeat business with a client to get up the nerve to ask for a referral, but after you become more comfortable with your regular clients you should be able to use some of them to help you land other voice acting jobs as a client reference.
- Hunt new gigs consistently. Being a working freelancer requires the discipline to set your own working hours each day and stick to them. If you don’t have the drive to seek out and land new jobs, you won’t build up a portfolio strong enough to compete for more extensive projects.
It can sometimes be difficult to be both a voice actor and act as your own business manager at the same time, especially if you have more talent on the creative side of the house. But learning how to market yourself well is vital to landing jobs. More importantly, it’s vital for building the kinds of industry relationships that lead to more steady voice acting work.
Voice Acting Is a Fake-It-‘Til-You-Make-It Career
It can be hard to get your foot in the door when you’re starting out as a voice actor with no portfolio and no real paid voice acting experience. Since many voice acting casting calls may specify that they want experienced voice actors, this may discourage you right out of the gate.
The good news is that voice acting is a creative-based industry where the art you produce speaks for itself, and people don’t care how much experience you have as long as your voice recordings are good. With a solid home recording studio and some effort put into presenting yourself and your work online, you should land some voice acting jobs in no time flat.