Tuesday, October 05, 2010
So, just what is a voice-over artist and how did I become one?--Part 1
I've gotten several questions lately from my blog readers about my voice-over work. What exactly is being a voice-over artist? How did I get into the business? How can they get into V-O work?
So, although I don't claim any particular expertise--and in fact my voice-over career isn't yet where I would like it to be--I thought I'd answer these questions, from my perspective.
Quite simply, a voice-over artist provides a voice narration for a recording. Those voices you hear on radio and TV commercials? Those are voice-over artists. The dramatic guy you hear on the movie trailer? A voice-over artist. The voice on an instruction video? Yep, a voice-over artist.
When I first got into radio. Oh, how the years go by!
For me, it all started with radio
It all began when I was 19 years old, in Bible college in Springfield, Missouri, and wangled a part-time job at a Christian radio station.
I worked there for three years, then moved with my husband to his hometown, where I had my first child (Jonathan), and a year later, got a job at 101QFL.
If you're interested, this post will tell you more about that.
A few years into working at the station, I got a call from a man who owned a local video production company. He needed a female voice for a TV commercial, and he liked my voice on the radio.
That became my first voice-over job. I remember how excited it was as I entered the booth to record. I've never been nervous about doing voice-overs--it's something I feel I was, as cliche as it sounds, "born to do."
Right then and there, I knew that if I could quit my day job, voice-over is what I would do all the time.
Coasting along in a V-O career....
That V-O job led to several others with the same company, but still rather few and far between.
Then a guy who had been a DJ at the radio station and now owned his own recording studio called me and asked me to do some work for a local advertising agency. That led to several years of occasional V-O jobs at his studio.
All this time, I wasn't actively promoting my V-O career at all. The occasional jobs I got simply fell into my lap. They were nice extra money, and I loved doing them...but my life was really taken up with my radio station job, being a wife and raising three children.
Interviewing Peter Furler of the Newsboys, 2003
Getting in deeper...
I've been blessed to have a variety of V-O jobs come to me through various sources, so I really do have a wide array of experience is most aspects of the job: video narrations, commercials, phone surveys, phone prompts, voice acting, book trailers, and much more.
The two major, ongoing V-O jobs I have had also came without me seeking them. As a Christian, I believe they were both a "God thing," and they've been a source of real financial help to me and my family (although I'm definitely not getting rich!).
In early 2003, I got an e-mail from a company that records e-learning courses in Mumbai, India. They had somehow found me on the internet (I had a small voice-over page on my now-extinct website), and they asked for a demo.
(I now know that many V-O artists have had some terrible experiences with these types of companies--some are unreliable and downright fraudulent. I didn't know that then!)
This V-O job has been ongoing, off-and-on, since early 2003, and for the most part it has been a good experience. The company is quite legit, and although they tend to need things frantically and are sometimes slow in paying, they always do pay up.
A few years later, I got a call from a company that produces phone surveys for all kinds of businesses. Apparently their CEO had heard my demo on, of all things, this blog.
This has turned into my most beneficial V-O job, and one which I hope continues indefinitely. This company is a genuine pleasure to work for, and (something that is rare in the V-O world), they pay me regularly and PROMPTLY. This has been especially helpful--in fact, essential--since I lost my radio job this past March.
As co-host of "Marlar in the Morning" on 101QFL, 2008
Speaking of that...
I can't say my world wasn't rocked when I lost my job at 101QFL after 29 years of working there. However, I can see God's hand in the whole experience. (You can read more about that here.)
Losing my job has been very difficult, but it has forced me out of my comfort zone and made me realize what I really want to do--and that is voice-over work.
So, I'm now taking steps to expand my V-O career, and for the first time, really market myself as a voice-over artist. It's an ongoing thing at the moment, and I'm trying to learn all I can. (For example, do I try to get an agent?)
I also still have one foot in the door of radio, as I'm doing fill-in work at Cumulus Broadcasting here in Rockford, mainly News/Talk 1440 WROK.
If you'd like to hear some samples of my work, go to my Voice-Over Universe page or to my Voice 123 page. And if you need a female voice for a project, don't hesitate to contact me! :)
In Part 2 of this post, I'll share the advice I give for people who ask me how they can get into the voice-over business.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, fire away!