If you're reading this post, then chances are you're planning to become, or already are a working voice-over talent. If so, you're in the right place! Let me tell you a little about how I got my start as a VO Talent and how I hope to help others along their VO Journey through this Blog.
My Entry into Voice-Over
My name is Michael Langsner, and over the past five years, I've built up a successful career as a VO Talent including credits for brands such as Google, AOL, MasterCard, Dell, Coca-Cola, and many, many more as well as securing representation with 5 talent agencies across the country.
I also started an Audio Post-Production company with clients including Verizon, Kodak, and Intuit and through which I've cast VO talent for many projects and have gotten to be on the other side of the equation. The first year of my VO career overlapped with a full time 9-6 job, and I slowly built up my business during that year, to the point where I was able to leave my 9-6 and do VO work full-time.
I entered the world of VO with zero experience whatsoever in acting, radio, announcing, copy-writing or anything related to voice-over performance. The only asset I did have, was a background in audio recording and engineering - along with a small home studio setup. Because of this, I thought I didn't have much to lose by giving VO a shot - as the only cost to me, really, would be my time. I honestly didn't expect much at the beginning because I had such little knowledge of the industry, I just hoped to maybe pickup an extra couple hundred a month at best.
So I got a one month subscription to the P2P site, Voices.com, which I was offered at a discounted price of $10. I figured for $10, it was worth a shot to audition a bit and see if I could land a gig. So I joined the site and started auditioning for practically every job opportunity I found on there. No coaching, no demo reels, no website - nothing. Just a profile I quickly put together on Voices.com and my home studio from which to record and submit auditions.
My First Gig
Every night I'd come home from work and spend a few hours submitting auditions. I had no clue how much VO work was out there, so when I joined the site, I figured every open job I saw on there would be the only ones available for a while, so I auditioned for almost all of them. I quickly saw just how many new jobs were posted and began to be a bit more selective. After about 2 weeks, I actually landed a gig! Not only that, but it paid $150 - 15x my $10 monthly subscription investment!
The client needed it in a hurry though, so if I wanted the gig I only had a few hours to deliver. So I drove home from work on my lunch break (luckily I lived pretty close to work), recorded, edited, and delivered the VO, and drove back to work - all in an hour. The client was happy and didn't ask for any revisions (likely because they were in a rush! I went back and listened to this very first VO a little while ago - and it is not impressive - but anyways...), I got paid a few weeks later, and the first job of many was in the books.
The one month subscription came to an end, and to renew for another month I'd have to pay the full monthly subscription rate of $40. At this point, I had no idea if I was just lucky to land a gig or if I was on to something - but I was up $140, so I figured why not keep going another month.
The Ball Starts Rolling
During my second month as a part time VO talent, I continued to audition pretty much every night after work, albeit a bit more selectively than I had when I first started. I figured if I didn't get another job this second month, I'd probably walk away and move on to something else - and I'd still be up $100 ($150 - $10 for the first month, and $40 for the second).
Well, a couple weeks into this second month I landed another gig - and this one paid $250! So now I was up $350 in profit. When this second month came to an end, I decided I would take that $350 and go for the annual subscription (which coincidentally cost $350 at that time).
From my point of view, I landed 2 jobs in 2 months and was up $350. If I took that $350 and got a 1 year subscription, any money I made in the next 12 months would be purely profit - and I was pretty optimistic about the potential of this new VO thing I'd found and couldn't see going a full 12 months without landing a single gig, even if that may have been overconfidence or naivety.
So at this point I began to take things more seriously - bought some books, did tons of research online, practiced reads, reconsidered my recording chain, etc... and went forward to grow upon my early success, land more gigs, build relationships with happy clients that led to repeat work, and eventually leave my full time job 10 months later.
How I Hope to Help
My entry into the world of VO was very DIY (Do-it-Yourself). I learned a lot of things by trial and error, learning from the experiences of others, and digesting as much educational material as I could.
Whether you are someone just entering the VO Business as I was 5 years ago, or you are already a working VO Talent - there is always knowledge to be gained and improvements to be made. I still read books, blogs and articles often and try to interact with other talent as much as possible, because I realize this and have seen the positive effect it has on my own success in VO.
Going forward, I hope to publish posts, videos, and other content covering all aspects of being a professional freelance VO Talent, including: Home Studio Gear and Setup, Performance Tips, Audio Recording and Engineering, Auditioning, Business and Marketing and anything else I can think of to help other talent avoid mistakes and set off down the right road in their journey as a VO Talent.
If you have a story of your very first gig or how you got into VO, especially if you didn't come from a VO background, I'd love to hear it - leave it in the comments below and also, always feel free to comment with topics that you'd like to see covered in future posts.
Best of luck with your VO Career, we'll speak soon!