Remote Work Tips for Voice Actors: Advice from Voice Over Professionals
When the world transitioned to working from home overnight in 2020, many voice actors found themselves in the unique position to carry on their business almost as usual. For years, voice actors have been working remotely, auditioning and completing voice over work online right from their own home studios—all without actually meeting clients face-to-face.
This new era of remote work and social and physical distancing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for professionals in every industry, including voice over. Today’s professionals now have to learn to collaborate through remote technology like Zoom or Google Meet, find a balance between working and living in the same space, and navigate networking and learning opportunities in a virtual environment.
There are still a lot of questions and a lot to learn when it comes to remote work, even a year into pandemic life. This month, we turned to the Voices Insiders to help us answer some of the most common questions about working remotely and working from home as a voice actor.
The Voices Insiders are a team of professional voice actors who share their advice and expertise with the Voices community each month to help voice talent at all levels learn and grow in their careers.
Read on to find answers and advice for everything from communicating with clients remotely, to travel, and networking with other remote voice actors. You’ll learn:
- How should I communicate with clients remotely?
- What software or tools are best for live directed sessions?
- What is the etiquette for live directed sessions?
- How can I keep up with my voice over business when traveling?
- How can I maintain separation between home and work?
- How can I network with other voice actors while working remotely?
How should I communicate with clients remotely?
Whether you’re crafting your proposal, sending a follow-up message or email, or gearing up for a live directed session with a client, being polished and professional is the key to making a lasting impression.
“First, always be prompt with your communication. Clients are always operating on a deadline, so if they reach out to you try your best to communicate with them quickly. I will never forget the time that a client reached out to me about a job and I didn’t have my phone with me. By the time I responded to their inquiry (it was maybe an hour after they had initially reached out to me) they had already moved on to another talent! Second, since email is often the first and only impression a client will have of you, do your best to avoid spelling and grammatical errors. These drive me nuts and immediately makes me question someone’s professionalism.”
“Relax and be yourself. Even though live sessions can be intimidating, the clients enjoy the session when you do too. Greet them warmly and show appreciation for being a part of their project. During COVID, many of my live sessions became video sessions. It makes a world of difference in your delivery when you can see your clients and they can see you.”
“I think first and foremost, it’s making remote direction a key part of your service offerings. At least half of my clients require it, and my business has grown exponentially since adding it. Corollary to that, having multiple options to provide is a plus, but at the very least, Zoom, Skype and/or phone patch are a great start. Probably 80% of my clients opt for one of those.
Once you *do* offer a remote direction option, do plenty of practice runs with another person just to make sure you’re comfortable. You don’t want to be struggling having to toggle between programs as you’re taking live direction AND performing! It should be effortless and zero-stress. We are performers first, but in this current climate we also have to be engineers to a degree.
Third, make sure you have a strong internet signal, as well as a backup hotspot option. I live in the middle of a big city, and I still deal with internet issues at times for no apparent reason. Having a remote hotspot or mobile router has helped immensely with ensuring a seamless experience.
And finally, just relax and enjoy! I used to stress so much about sessions, but now I look forward to them. Especially during COVID times, it’s an opportunity to connect with someone and establish a rapport with a potential long-term client. Having that direct interface is such a tremendous opportunity to connect on a human level. And if you’re ever feeling ‘nervy’ as I like to call it, just remember they chose you, and YOU are the answer to their problems. That should give you such a boost of confidence.”
“I’ve been working from home as a voice actor for two years and the best advice I can give to new talent is to be prompt at all times. Whether it’s an audition from a client or a question about your rates or availability, respond as promptly as you can so you can start that channel of communication. I’d also say the same method applies with delivering work as well. After a live session, or a reading if there isn’t a live session, send over your finalized project files. There is too much competition out there for talent not to respond promptly and efficiently. Plus, it is always appreciated.”
“Be you and be honest! Let the clients know what you can deliver, how quickly, and what you need from the client to make the work efficient and seamless.”
“Be prepared. Have your internet hard wired. Do NOT use wi-fi for live sessions. Be patient and let the client lead the way.”
“Like many voice actors, I find live direction a very different experience from recording solo. To minimize nerves, find a portion of your day when you can be as free as possible from the worry of interruptions (the doorbell, homeschooled children during lockdown needing something, etc.). Get set up and warmed up, then give yourself a good 5-10 minutes to just be calm and ready in the studio before the call. Have a glass of water within reach by the mic, and your script in sight. Then relax and enjoy it! If the client wants to chat first, great. And if they want to get straight on with recording, make sure you’re comfortable (and hit record!) then dive in. Take your time when reading, as it’s tempting to speed up when someone is listening in. And the best thing is, when the session is finished, so is the job!”
“Keep it simple, friendly, and professional.”
“Be prompt, polite, and listen closely to direction. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s better than making an incorrect assumption.”
What software or tools are best for live directed sessions?
In the era of remote work, more clients are turning to remote connection technologies like Source-Connect, Skype, or Zoom to facilitate live directed sessions with voice actors from anywhere in the world without the need to meet face-to-face in a studio.
To learn more about the technologies recommended by the Voices Insiders, read our full guide.
“I use Source-Connect Standard, but many clients request Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet.”
“COVID has really diversified the platforms I use for live sessions. When dealing with recording studios, we always use Source-Connect. It has been years since someone asked me for ISDN. Many clients are using Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom to connect with me. I have actually stopped using my hard line for phone sessions and just give people my Skype number instead. Don’t forget to update your software and browsers to keep your sessions running smoothly.”
“To this point, I’ve only needed to use my phone, Google Meet, and Zoom, and I always have Adobe Audition recording the background during sessions.”
“The software I use most often for live sessions is Zoom, followed by Google Meet, and good old fashioned conference calls. I have a Source-Connect account but have not had an opportunity to use it yet!”
What is the etiquette for live directed sessions?
From a performance standpoint, preparing for a remote live directed session isn’t all that different from an in-person recording session. When it comes to the technology side and delivering files, there are a few key differences to be mindful of.
“Come in organized, ready, and open. If the talent is recording, make sure you communicate with the client to create a structure of how the takes will happen (separate files per take, type of audio to send, etc.). If all takes are in one file, voice mark all takes and pickups.”
“I always begin my session with new clients asking how they prefer to run the session (if they don’t ask me first). My preferred order of session is to do a full read of the script that they can make notes on and then break down the script section by section, slating each take. At the end I love to give another full read after I have heard how they like each section delivered. For short lines, I give three variations of the line in each take. Always close your session by clarifying how they would like the file edited and delivered.”
“Always, always, always test your sound before the client hops on the call. As a rule, I get on a live session call at least five minutes before the scheduled meeting time to be sure I’ve tested my sound and given myself enough time to work out any kinks, if needed. This has come in handy more times than I can count.”
“Always remember that this is the client’s vision. The voice is just a small (but wonderful) piece of the puzzle. I make sure to follow their lead, assuming they’re used to directly live recording sessions. If not, I offer to record the script and then pause to get their notes and tweak the delivery until it fits the client’s exact needs. Being flexible and courteous makes you memorable and will make the client want to reach out to you again.”
“I try to be 1) on time, 2) professional and friendly, and 3) familiar with the script I will be reading. I’m a super social person, so live sessions are a fun way for me to interact with other adults (I stay home with my two year old), but I do try to minimize the personal chit-chat, especially when there are multiple people in the session.”
“Be prepared for the client to interrupt mid-flow or to try out lines different ways multiple times. It’s no reflection on your work, they’re just trying out different ideas and deciding what they want as they listen.”
“‘Read’ the room, don’t interrupt, don’t be defensive or worse, combative if you’re not quite getting it, stay calm, be professional, and remember it’s a collaborative process. Don’t be afraid (depending on the project and client of course—I repeat, read the room!) to help make suggestions, IMPROVISE (especially with commercial and animation work), and have a great time.”
“Pay attention and be patient. Be prepared for long bouts of silence while they discuss things. Be polite at all times and give them what they want—whether you agree with it or not.”
How can I keep up with my voice over business when traveling?
When travel is a necessity, keeping up with your remote voice over business while on the road comes down to communication and a bit of ingenuity.
Tip: If you’re going to be away from your home studio, you can update your Vacation Status field on your Voices Profile.
“I always give my clients as much heads up as I can before traveling. This way, they can request pickups/revisions or additional projects before traveling or can plan around my traveling schedule. I also always take travel equipment with me wherever I go. In hotels, I use mattresses, pillows, blankets to create a space that sounds great for work that is needed ASAP. However I prefer to keep sound consistent and record in my professional home studio if possible.”
“I have a travel rig that comes with me every day that I am out of the studio just in case I need to do pickups or am awarded a job. It is the bare necessities of my microphone, a small USBPre or Zoom recorder with mic input and SD card, and my laptop with software and plugins. I use a small table top stand that fits in my backpack and a collapsible pop filter. I improvise my recording space on the road by finding a small space like a closet that I can stuff with blankets and pillows. I have actually had to record while camping in tents in the mountains. I learned very quickly that my car is an excellent isolation booth!”
“Make sure you communicate any delays or changes that might happen during travels. Make sure you structure your traveling and work and let the client know of any issues ahead of time.”
“I always make a note that I am not auditioning with my equipment that will be used for the final recording.”
“I have a travel mic that plugs straight into my Mac and you can work wonders with a duvet for soundproofing! But if on holiday I tend to let clients know beforehand that I will be unavailable and just check emails sporadically. Breaks are important too!”
“Have a mobile rig. Period. It’s been a real process of trial and error over the years, but I’ve learned to master the pillow fort/closet bunker. Get a setup that you’re comfortable with that’s easy to transport and mobile. I have had to cram myself into some pretty small spaces, and having a flexible rig is key. Clients will 100% of the time book you the second you book a holiday or need a pickup from a project you thought was done two weeks ago. It’s just a basic law of the universe, so be prepared. You don’t necessarily have to take the job, but at least you’re not kicking yourself when that same-day juicy gig passes you by and you didn’t set yourself up to have a choice.
Technically speaking, wherever you are, figure out a quiet space. I’m like a CIA agent debugging a room whenever I travel. The first thing I do when I go into a hotel room, or uncharted territory is locate the spot with the ‘quietest’ potential. Pillows and comforters are your best friends, and just like at home, have that mobile hotspot with you at all times.”
How can I maintain separation between home and work?
“I have a set schedule that I maintain that includes meditation, exercise, and work. I make sure to build breaks into my work time as I’ve been known to over do it a bit.”
“It is hard not to respond to clients 24/7 especially when you have clients across time zones. My family and I have recently decided to protect our Saturdays and turn off work. It gives us something to look forward to and clients have been completely understanding of waiting until Sunday or Monday for files.”
“Separate it! Have a schedule for your work. Treat it like a proper job. Leave family time free from running to do auditions.”
“I’ve been working from home as a voice actor for four years now, two full-time, and I’ve learned that it is important to have both dedicated work time and break time. I have a totally separate room that is my active workspace so I can literally shut the door and be closed off from ‘home,’ which I think is important. And as far as a typical day goes, I usually work two to three hours in the morning on certain tasks, take a long lunch break and a walk around the neighborhood, then dedicate another two to three hours to work on totally separate tasks after that. I’ve made long lunches a priority, especially after this year, because it helps me to focus on my well being over work, which I have a tendency to do, especially working at home every day.”
“My voice over business is kind of interwoven into my home life, which suits me just fine (for now). I fit in jobs and auditions throughout the day, mostly when my son is napping and there are nights when I continue working after I put the kids to bed. By now, my children and husband are used to me sitting at the dining room table with my headphones on! But the cool thing about this business is that if I need a break, the only person I have to check-in with is myself!”
How can I network with other voice actors while working remotely?
With in-person conferences and networking events put on hold for the past year, maintaining a connection with other voice over professionals is now more important than ever—even if it’s remotely.
Online conferences, webinars, Zoom meetings, and social media groups are some of the ways voice over professionals are meeting each other and sharing their experiences online. If you’re looking for a place to start and get to know other voice actors, we recommend the Voices Instagram or The Voice Acting Hub on Facebook.
“I use social media to reach out to other voice actors. I offer to double check their audio quality or brainstorm audition/marketing ideas. Feel free to find me on Twitter and say hello or ask questions!”
“My main networking has been through Instagram. I’ve connected with tons of amazing voice actors. And it’s a great way to see what everyone else is up to and what kind of projects they are working on. I even found my current voice over coach through a recommendation from another voice over artist on Instagram!”
“Social media and group projects (podcasts) help with meeting new people and keeping things fun and interesting.”
“Zoom groups are awesome. If you can’t join a group, start one yourself! I have a monthly Mastermind Zoom group as well as many drop in groups throughout the week.”
“Most of the interaction I have with other voice actors is on LinkedIn, Facebook groups, and Instagram. I’m a bit traditional so I also enjoy a good email conversation.”
Working Remote as a Voice Actor in 2021
If you’re ready to take the next step in your voice acting career, signing up for a Voices account is a great place to start.
Get access to thousands of jobs with a Voices profile, and show off your vocal skills with your demos—all from the comfort of your home studio.
Do you have a question about remote work you’d like to have answered? Let us know in the comments!