Podcasts Voice Over Experts How to Become a More Versatile Voice Actor
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How to Become a More Versatile Voice Actor

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Are you looking for ways to become more valuable to your clients? Jamie Hill shares a number of tips and observations that can help make your offerings as a professional voice talent superior to other service providers. Be attentive, be courteous and be relatable! If you’re trying to go from part-time voice acting to a full-time career as a voice over artist, Jamie shares what steps to take and encourages you to go for it.

Links from today’s show:

Jamie Hill
Jamie Hill on Voices.com

Your instructor this week:

Jamie Hill, voice artistJamie Hill truly enjoys voice over, as a passion and full time career. She is a “people person,” and this confidence and love of people comes through in her voice work. Jamie brings hard work, dedication and professionalism to everything she does.
Jamie was always been told that she has a naturally excellent voice, which is why she’s in such demand. Several years ago she started to look into using it professionally. Right away she got very positive feedback, which further encouraged her. She’s had the privilege to work high profile domestic and international clients, including Toyota, Microsoft, Amazon, Garnier, AT&T, Nike, 3M, JetBlue Airways, Honda, Burger King, Kellogg’s, PetSmart and many more.
Jamie continues to train and attend various workshops and seminars, as well as consulting and coaching voice actors who are new to the business. She believes that ongoing professional development is key to success.
Jamie is also a AAA-rated beach volleyball player and tournament director. She lives in Los Angeles and enjoys traveling, golf, snowboarding and spoiling her dog Chip.

Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else. Now for our special guest.
Jamie: Hi everyone, I’m Jamie Hill. Thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast on voices.com. You can read about me, watch and listen to current projects I’m working on, on my website, voicesbyjamiehill.com. I’m a fulltime working voice actor, but fulltime never really starts out that way. I’ve played volleyball my whole life. I’m six foot three, so I think it would be a waste if I didn’t do anything with that height. During the spring and summer months I’m an event coordinator for beach volleyball in Southern California, which gives me a great excuse to be in the sun a few weekends a month. I was also in the dental field and, kind of, came on to voice over as a hobby, but always in the back of my head I had fantasised about making it a fulltime career. I just really wasn’t necessarily to make the leap. For me, I really like structure and safety and having a consistent paycheck, so it was very important for me to do homework on all this stuff first. I needed to make sure I had a good solid foundation. I became a sponge. I read everything I could.
I practiced every day. Took classes and networked as much as I could. Fast-forward a few years later and I had some major mental and emotional shifting, and I was able to take that leap and make voice over a fulltime career. So, as far as fulltime voice acting, the average yearly income of a working voice actor, as of 2011, from what I found online, is about $47,000 in the United States. Most of you are probably already employed doing something else, and you’re looking to break into voice over, but how does anyone actually break into anything? You need to read about it, learn about it. Understand how it works. Get some coaching, take classes, network, everything I’ve already said but, really, we as the voice actor, we need to become the one stop shop and be as knowledgeable as we can in the industry. This is something you have to do on your downtime, and really dive into it and see if you like it. Everything in life is transitional.
A doctor doesn’t just get to practice medicine after one day, they need years and years of higher education and practice, right? I’m not saying you need years and years of training in voice over. Some people might, but some probably won’t. We talk every day, it’s what we’re doing right now. It’s a part of life. It’s how we communicate and get what we want and get our point across, and today that’s what the clients want. They want conversational. They want talking. If you listen to the radio ads that are playing right now, just watch and listen to TV commercials. Look at the branding videos on company websites. The majority of those ads are all the same. Whatever guy or girl is talking on there, they’re talking. It’s not some robot on the other end. It’s not Siri on your iPhone chit-chatting with you. It’s not someone that’s making you falling asleep, it’s boring you to tears, like you just want to run your head into a wall. It’s someone that you can relate to.
No matter how big or small that company is, they want the consumers to relate because, in the end, they want them to buy something, and most likely buy something we don’t need. That’s the essence of marketing and selling. Okay, so where do you start? We need to know the basic terminology of voice over, and what’s necessary to provide our clients with quality product that will keep them coming back to us for more. A good voice isn’t the selling point anymore. It’s a moot point. It’s about being conversational. As a consumer you want to relate to that commercial you’re watching on TV or listening to the radio, like it’s your sister, your mother, your boyfriend, your wife, your whoever because, at the end of the day, whoever that client is, they’re selling something. It’s still a quiet sell, but it’s a selling market, and that’s what we have to do as voice actors is sell for our client. So how do we get to that point, the point of being hired and being able to deliver? So we need a computer.
We need editing software. There’s tons out there. Adobe Audition, Mac Pro Tools, etc., from free all the way up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, right? You need a microphone. Preferably a non-USB connected mic, and actually know the difference between what a dynamic and a condenser mic are, and see what options are out there in your price range. You need a soundboard, or an audio interface that you can connect your mic to, with an XLR cable, and if you don’t know what an XLR cable is, Google it. This is what I mean about knowing the terminology. We need to know what components are necessary, in order to produce the end product, and that end product is us, it’s our voice, and as best as we can make it sound. So back to what we need. We need a space where it will be “soundproof”. Not all of us can afford to have a full studio, so make do with what you have. Use a closet, use a walkway. Make the sound as dead as possible. Be that with clothes or some other form of insulation.
I’ve heard of actors recording in their car. See, it’s the quality is what’s important. It doesn’t matter how you get there. The client just wants to have something clean to listen to. They don’t need to know all the details of how you’re actually going to get there. Okay, so voice over isn’t just recording your voice and voila. Okay, my French is horrible but seriously, where’s my paycheck? We’re still part of a service industry. We provide a service, and when you think of service, what’s the first job that comes to your mind? Think about it. A server at a restaurant. A bartender giving you drinks. An employee at a grocery store that’s trying to help you find some sort of product that you need for your house. A nurse at a hospital. Okay, so we’re like that too, right? We need to make customers happy. By making the customers happy, and servicing them in more ways than just our voice. We need to produce stellar quality sound. We need to be able to edit clean audio, without our breaths, send a couple takes if they ask for it.
If the job is short give them a few options, why not? You have to be communicative with the client. Ask them what kind of audio format they need for their files before you start working on their jobs. Do they want a wav file? Do they want an AIFF file? Do they want an MP3 file? You have to know the rates for each type of voice over job you’re doing. Know what a TV commercial is, a radio commercial. What a local spot is versus a regional or a national spot, and then also know what all these are, because these are all the types that we’re doing right now. Explainer videos, branding videos, IVR, corporate narrations, non-broadcast internet, training or instructional videos. Also what you’re going to charge. Are you going to do per finished minute, per project? Also, where is it going to be airing that might reflect on how much you’re going to charge, and also really be on top of your client. Ask them what they need. Is everything alright with what you sent? Are the files clear? Are the files corrupted? Do you need any revisions?
Just really check up on them. See how they’re doing but, you know, just check in. Be willing to work with them. I’m not saying be a sucker and do everything at no charge, but you have to be understanding and empathetic with them, because guess what? Most likely they’ve got someone on their tail too. They have an end client that they’re working for. Like for me, I had a client come at me with a line change. Just wanted to add the number to the part of the street, right? No big deal. We had already agreed to a good price on the spot. It was a local TV commercial, so I said to him no problem, I’ll send over a few options. His response to me, verbatim: “Good to hear. I wasn’t sure I’ve had people get angry whenever a small word change pops up.” See to me that kind of bums me out, because this is where you have to be, kind of, easygoing. You need to decide where the line is, and as long as you’re not being taken advantage of, go with it. I told him, I’m like, I’m easy to work with. I want you to keep coming back for me.
I don’t want to like, have friction with you. So the easier you are to deal with, the more likely they’ll want to work with you again. Alright, so being able to provide service options, of having the home studio set up properly for the audio recording, editing. Audio video engineer. Being able to provide music, script writing. Any other services that can eliminate the other avenues of people, if it’s necessary, or at least know the right people who can help along the way, and if you don’t know people, check out LinkedIn or Facebook. There are tons of voice over groups out there with voice actors that may have the same questions you have, or advice to give. People are going to help. I don’t think people are going to be wanting to push anybody away, but if all else fails, just Google it. Everything is on there. You can find everything on the web. The end point is making the client happy, and sometimes they don’t have access to all of those options, and sometimes the clients don’t even know what they want.
They’re going to give you a vague description of the sound they’re looking for. Request male voices, female voices, both. There’s going to be those few adjectives of what they’re going to say. Girl next door, friendly, believable, and what we’re supposed to deliver, just off like, two adjectives but, you know what? We have to. We have to be self-sufficient. We need to be able to ready the copy, understand who the copy is reaching out to. From there we deliver our best auditions and deliver our best final product when we’re hired. When clients listen to your auditions, and they like what they hear, you’re already one step ahead of everyone else. So don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s actually a numbers game. You’re not going to get hired for everything, so just get out there as much as you can, and don’t take it personally. Keep it simple, just state your name before your auditions. Just give it your best shot.
You want to just make sure you’re responsible, well liked and deliver everything on time, because when you do that you’re going to get return customers, and that’s the key to maintaining a continuous flow of business. So good luck to you. Thanks again for taking the time to listen. Again, I’m Jamie Hill, reach out to me for consulting. Any questions, I’m happy to coach you, and don’t forget to check out my website at voicesbyjamiehill.com, cheers.
Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory, or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voice over career online, go to voices.com and register for voice talent membership today.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
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