Can you actually make money at this?

I’m toying with the idea of doing voice-overs on the side. Where would one go to try their hand at this? Is there some manner of training involved? Do the top talents make a nice living at this?

This isn’t really a definitive answer, but I do know someone who does this for NPR (National Public Radio - the Colorado affiliate.) She was doing some volunteer phone work for them, someone noticed she has a clear, distinctive voice, they needed someone for occasional announcements, so she just fell into it. Plus she is bilingual (Mexican-American; English is actually her second language.) She doesn’t make much money at it, but I imagine if one was to work in commercial advertising it would be possible. How about calling advertising agencies, or local radio stations? I’m sure they could point you in the right direction.

Maybe you can relieve that one guy who does the voiceover for every single movie trailer. He must be exhausted. “In a world…”

Dr. J

I work in advertising, so I know a little about this. It’s not tremendously lucrative (unless you’re in the top 1%) but it’s possible to make a little change on the side.

When you say you’re toyuing with the idea, where did you get the idea. Has someone offered you a job, or have your friends told you that you have a great voice? Remember, every radio DJ where you live is trying to augment their income with voiceover work, too. It’s very competitive.

You can check in with the advertising agencies around town. They’ll ask you to submit a tape of readings in various styles. Then they’ll give it a broad categorization (“middle age male”) and file it with the other 3,000 they have for when they need it. If you have a distinctive niche (can do a Russian accent, or a realistic crying baby or whatever) that helps.

Alternatively, you can become the voice of a local business. You’ve heard the commercials where the owner does the voice work and sounds horrible. Often they do it that way because the owner doesn’t want to pay union scale on top of production fees. You can probably work out some sort of deal until you get more established.

I did some searching on the ‘net about this once, and I found some websites that talk about how voice-over work is done. If I still have them at home I’ll post them later. Most seemed pretty optimistic about the potential to earn money at it, but then again, most were trying to sell classes or information or studio services, so obviously they would want to maximize peoples’ hopes. From what I picked up, getting started involves making a demo tape (which requires the use of a studio-- speaking into a tape recorder in your basement doesn’t cut it), distributing a few dozen or a few hundred copies to various places, and keeping in touch through letters. So the initial investment could be a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, but if your tape impresses enough people you can earn that back soon enough.

I’d be interested in hearing something about this also. I’m mulling over something “different” to do part time when I “retire” in a couple of years, and, yep, I’ve been told I have a great voice.

Here’s one of the local schools I found:

Are outfits like this worthwile?

Mostly from people telling me I should be a DJ, etc. I actually was a DJ for a few years, but not in radio. I worked in a large dance club and therefore spoke very little. My voice was described by one person as “Chris Schenkel, after a few years of Scotch and cigarette comsumption”. It’s deep, somewhat resonant, and I’m able to do some strange things with it, including turning it into an “announcer” voice (Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuummmmmmmble).

I did do a bit of voice work when I worked for the audiotext industry, but I was employed as a software developer, so I don’t know if they just asked me because I was free.