Before choosing a new life path, we often explore the idea in imagination. Let’s imagine voice-over work. Everybody has a voice. Most want to be heard. Most are also shy about being seen. Voice-over work might appeal to many people, if they thought about it.
Does using your voice to earn money-and command a little attention-interest you? It’s often just as much fun as it sounds, resembling, as it does, what we loved to do as kids. (Occasionally, it is also work.)
I started a voice-over gig at Fiverr.com after retiring from private practice psychotherapy. I wanted to improve the audio when recording video classes at home. Instead of paying $15,000 to develop my voice-over technique, I decided to freelance, learned voice work, earned $7,000, and had a grand adventure.
I became the voice of newsmen and presidents, generals and soldiers, assorted aliens and video-game voices galore! Now, I make my own video classes that incorporate what I learned by being the voice for other people’s messages.
Voice recording is an easy freelance skill to deliver since our voice is a “wind instrument” that-unlike the oboe-we all practice daily. You can begin with whatever microphones and skills you find lying fallow about the home and then learn like crazy on the job. Study, while you are doing the work, is easier; concepts are more immediately relevant in this teachable moment.
Fiverr freelancers, and millions more, are earning while learning (whatever skills they want to perfect). Voicing can be as simple as reading an announcement or as limitless as the world of voice acting. For those who are part performer and partly shy, voice acting lets introverts perform while hiding.
Einstein used his famous “gedankenexperiments,” or “thought experiments,” to explore bold new ideas, and, since I like dropping his name, let’s use a thought experiment to imagine how you might first consider doing voice work. We’re just thinking out loud here. This is only a pre-test; do not adjust your mind-set. We’re only “pre-preparing” for voice work.
Can you imagine using your voice as a tool? Did you ever love reading stories to someone? Have you had a seductive encounter with a microphone’s power to magnify and transform your voice and, therefore, how you experience yourself? Even if you normally avoid attention, is there not some part of you that, at the least, longs to be listened to, and maybe even to perform?
How to imagine “Audio Acting” and/or Renting your voice to “Announce.”
1. Listen with new attention to television voice-overs, and to radio (all voice-over, all the time). Can you imagine yourself doing some of those parts? Repeat a line or two now and then. What do you feel?
2. Discover announcers with voices similar to yours and study how they “use their instrument.”
3. Imagine voice acting in which you become different characters. What characters would appeal to you?
4. Experiment by reading aloud from a short script or poem or story that lets you bring one or more characters to life. Does that bring you to life? Observe your enthusiasm.
5. Record yourself “announcing” a few different kinds of information, and dare to listen, repeatedly.
6. Find your natural voice. Broadcast style has evolved from a pompous grandiosity to more “authentic-sounding” voices. Unusual or imperfect-seeming voices sometimes benefit from their uniqueness.
7. Explore your not-so-natural voices! Play at voice-performing several different characters. Record, listen, and notice what you notice. Keep checking for hints of excitement. Return from imagination when ready.
If voice-over work still or increasingly intrigues you, it might be worth looking into. There are many places to freelance online. You can explore Fiverr or search on “freelance” and “voice-over” to investigate further. The skills you develop freelancing at Fiverr can later be used to compete for higher-paying online voice work as well as other projects.
If this imaginary “test drive” speaks to you-notice the voice in which it speaks because we all have an interior voice-over commentary! Another important discovery to observe. All things begin in imagination. You can now choose to leave voice-over work right there, or begin to imagine some audio adventures in your future.