Making Mistakes In Voiceover

Mistakes Voiceover Actors Made When Starting Out

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Brad Dassey Voice Overs

The BEST Voice For Promos and Commercials

May 29, 2012

Hey it’s Brad Dassey from Best Promo Voice Welcome back after a nice LONG Memorial Day Weekend!  I hope you had a GREAT weekend and first and foremost, I just want to THANK all of our veterans and soldiers out there.

After having an extra day off, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Yes, I know, you can groan with me.  Awwwwwwwwww.  This week’s topic is, “Making MISTAKES when first starting out in voiceovers.”  A big THANK you to everyone who replied and for their shared insight.  I didn’t have the chance to offer EVERYONE’S advice, so I apologize for that.  Please don’t send me hate mail asking why your response wasn’t included.  Maybe next time.

So, making mistakes is something we ALL do, right?  We have to make mistakes in order to get somewhere in life, our jobs, our relationships, good blog writing, good show producing, etc.

If you are just starting out in the voiceover industry, you are probably going to make mistakes, and LOTS of them.  Making mistakes in voiceover isn’t something to be ashamed of, but let me tell you, a couple years from now, if now, you are saving all of your audio recordings, demos, auditions, etc. you will look back and say, “Wow?  I sounded like THAT!?”  To be honest, it will probably sound like nails on a chalkboard to you, a few years down the line when you finally develop your craft in voice over.

To be quite blunt, if you are just starting out in voiceovers, you aren’t going to know EVERYTHING, you aren’t going to sound that GREAT and to be quite honest, people aren’t going to want to hire you for their next audio project unless you are remotely even worth listening to.  I mean, be honest with yourself, take a real good listen to your work and ask yourself, “Is this a selling voice?”  “Are my voice overs good enough to be LIKED and are they LISTENABLE?”  Your voice and your work will practically SELL ITSELF, if so.

Face it, you’re not going to be a PROFESSIONAL voice actor over night.  It’s going to take time, patience and LOTS of PRACTICE.  Just keep telling yourself this, “A LITTLE success is better than NO success.”

I surveyed quite a few people on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter about mistakes they’ve made when first getting into voice over acting.  This is what they had to share:

Bobby Thong • Waiting on one casting company to send me auditions, wasting almost two years of valuable time I could have spent networking other opportunities.

Linda Borg-Roberson • Blindly spending over $3000 for VO classes from an un-reputable company before doing the research and shopping around!

Bill Sleeper • Early on, I won a very big e-learning project and quoted my budget based on each module of curriculum being the same finished length. Found out right away, that was a costly mistake. Each module was different and should’ve been charged pro-rated. Ugh. It’s all in the details!

Jon Bailey Crumpton • Reading too fast for things other than 15/30 second movie trailers.

Tanya Rich • Not being as good on breath control as I have since become (25 years VO!)

Michael J. Schoen • Must agree with Robert S. I tried to move forward before I had the necessary skills in place. It’s hard to have the perspective when you don’t have the perspective!

Dave Wallace • Not getting off my butt and doing my marketing. For a while, I subconsciously thought that as long as I had a demo and joined a P2P site here and there that clients would find me. That does happen on occasion, but enough for a career? Nuh-uh. I–and all other voice actors–have to go out and find clients.

David Brower • Trying to be all things to all types of clients. Once Susan Berkley taught me about finding my “niche” my career took off and has served me and my family well, as my full time job, for over 4 years now.

Tom Daniels • Overly compressed audio.

Edo Peters • I started doing voice acting and other voice stuff I was almost six years old and that was over 40 years ago. I had access to great coaches and equipment all the time. At 11 I joined Dutch national radio and by the time I was thirteen I already owned quite an impressive audio setup. I already did most of my recordings from home. Maybe the biggest mistake was only thinking of the best tools, cables, consoles, recorders, microphones in the industry and totally forgetting about room acoustics at the same time. When my recording studio was overhauled by an acoustics specialist it opened up a whole new world for me.

So… don’t make the mistake of buying a great microphone and interface when all you basically need to do is treat your room and prevent (early) reflections from interfering with your clean sound.

Also… (to starting VOs) NEVER NEVER NEVER offer introductory discounts to a client! No matter how hard you need the job. The next job will NOT pay you a decent fee for the same client, for you’ve already set the ceiling lower than low the first time. If your performance is good enough, nobody tries to move you to Lowballer’s Paradise. Furthermore… the tightest budget clients often turn out to give you the biggest headaches… first they ask you to lower your rate (often promising you more jobs… yeah right) then they change stuff continuously without compensating you for the pickups… believe me, you don’t want to go there.

NEVER EVER offer discounts, UNLESS it is a long term client that has given you regular jobs.

Bill Pryce • My biggest mistake was moving from on-air radio and production into VO and thinking those radio skills would be useful in voice-over. They were not. Radio is radio. Voice-over is acting.

Billy James • Obsessing over the tools can be a costly distraction. The simplest audio chain that lets you get the job done is what you’re after. A good mic for VO doesn’t have to be a $3500 German sports model. And you don’t need a high-end multitrack studio software suite to record a single dry mono voice track, which is what you’ll almost always be delivering.

Soaking up info is great, and newcomers do a lot of that. But especially in the beginning, the most productive time is spent in front of a mic, developing good technique and figuring out what your wheelhouse sound is. Focus on that. The best book ever written about swimming is not as good as time spent in the pool. There’s no shortage of info available (or people willing to sell it to you). But in the final analysis, it’s all about how you sound standing at that mic. Do as much of that as you can, and get honest feedback from opinions you can trust. A good grasp of your sound, self-renewing enthusiasm, and the ability to adjust a read on-the-fly are vital skills.

Chuck Davis • When I first got in I was still in radio as well. The mistake was my assuming that a radio background would be valuable as a VO. I found out quite quickly how wrong that was and then found out just how hard it can be to loose bad habits learned in broadcasting.

Mary McCready • I didn’t take the plunge soon enough! I held back from setting up a home studio for several years because it seemed costly and complicated. I was so wrong. My advice to those starting out is don’t hold back, jump in with both feet and go for it!

MY biggest mistake was getting ANGRY at potential clients after what seemed like, “Wasting your time.”  I soon found later on, some of them came BACK to want me to voice their project, some simply stated, “With an angry attitude like that, I’m NEVER coming back.”  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS treat your potential customers with kindness and respect.  If they say no, let them walk but leave them with a good taste in their mouth while doing so.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. soon from now, you’ll be HEARING all of your mistakes and it’ll come in time.  You will make mistakes and it will be a mistake well LEARNED!

I recommend recording anything and everything you can, wait about an hour and RE-listen to it again and find out what you can do different, find out what you are doing wrong, just simply find out why it might not sound too great and shape and change your technique.  DON’T ask friends to critique it, they will just tell you it sounds, “great” anyway.

Put your recordings on your ipod, your mp3 player, burn them on CD and listen to them in the car, on your next workout, walk, etc.  LISTEN to them and compare them to other voice over demos and see what you can do differently.

Fellow voice actors, share your tips and advice below!


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