Voice over start-up costs
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Suzanne Amey Genuine VO

What does it cost to start a voiceover career?

Are you curious to know the start-up costs for your voiceover business?  Here is a list I’ve compiled to help you plan out your expenses!

Voiceover Start-Up Costs

 

Before I give you the list of items you may need to purchase if you decide to pursue voice acting as a career, I wanted to first emphasize the importance of coaching.  You should not buy a single thing on this list until you have talked to a professional production company or a working voice actor. When I started out, I paid $99 for an “Investigate Voice Over” webinar from Edge Studio.  (I’m not sponsored by them, if you’re wondering!) The class was a 3 hour webinar and I got a written assessment of my potential strengths and weaknesses before deciding to move forward with a voiceover career. I found the assessment honest and fair, and based on it I decided to start coaching with a professional voice actor.

If and when you decide to pursue a career as a voice actor, I recommend you continue to learn about the business (there are many youtube channels, blogs and websites).  One of the best sites out there for learning about voiceover is Gravy for the Brain (I’m not sponsored by them either).  They have many free resources and for a monthly membership fee you can access all the features of their site.

I also recommend you continue coaching with a working voice actor.  I’ve done most of my coaching through skype, so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who may be outside your town or city.

So here it is!  The list of VO start-up expenses!

1.)  Training (ongoing)

As mentioned above, the voiceover industry is changing just like any other and it’s important to stay on top of changes and trends!

2.)  Coaching (ongoing)

Find someone who works regularly in the industry and do some ongoing coaching.

3.)  Computer, keyboard, monitor, mouse

Most people have home computers these days, however if yours is a little older you may need to replace it.  I had to replace my 7 year old laptop when I started my VO career because it was just too slow to keep up with my editing software.

4.)  Editing software

You can get sound editing software for free to less than $100.  Audacity is free, however it’s limited in what it can do.  There are many software programs out there and many of them offer basic, intermediate and pro versions.  When starting out in voiceover, you don’t need to buy the pro version of any software as it is designed for engineers recording multiple audio tracks at once.  With voiceover, you only need to record one audio track at a time.  Start out with the basic software package and you can update in the future if need be.  Most editing software programs offer the same features and benefits, so don’t worry to much about picking the “wrong” one.

5.)  Domain name registration

Once you’ve decided on a catchy business name you’ll need to register your domain name.  In my experience, the cost goes down if you register for 3 or more years.

6.)  Hosting

Now that you’ve registered your domain name and decided to build a website, you’ll need to pay for monthly hosting services.  There are many companies out there, and the cost goes down if you register for more than 3 years at a time.  Sometimes you only end up having to pay a few dollars a month.

7.)  Website

I decided to have my website professionally build because I have no experience in that area and wanted something that worked well and looked good too!  If you have to ability to build your own website, take a look at other voice actor websites and see how they have theirs set up.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery so don’t be afraid to follow the many examples out there of good voice actor websites.

8.)  Microphone

You can get a good microphone for voiceover for less than $500 US.  I’m not talking about a USB mic you plug directly into your computer – although those mics are great for podcasting or phone calls, they unfortunately are not suitable for professional voiceover.  The type of microphone you need is called a large diaphragm condenser microphone.  Don’t buy one until you’ve read some reviews from professional voice actors, or better yet, tried one out yourself!  You cannot plug a large diaphragm condenser microphone directly into your computer, hence you need the following item on the list:

9.)  Audio Interface

An audio interface essentially turns the signal coming into your microphone (an analog signal) and transforms it into a digital signal that your computer can understand.  Without an audio interface, you won’t be able to record, edit or playback your recordings.

10.)  Studio Headphones

Now that you’ve got your microphone connected to your interface and then connected to your computer, you need to playback and hear what you just recorded.  Good studio headphones can be purchased for around $100 US.  Ear buds are not going to cut it unfortunately.  You need good quality studio headphones to hear if there are any extraneous noises and to be able to edit out mouth noises and pops.  Large diaphragm condenser microphones are extremely sensitive and you may hear sounds on playback that you didn’t hear during your recording session.  You may even hear a plane going by overhead or a truck passing by on the street that you didn’t hear when you were recording.

11.)  A sound proofed recording area

Most people can’t afford to have a professional studio put into their homes when first starting out. Most of us have to make do with what we have!  There are many websites and blogs about converting a closet into recording booth, or building a free-standing structure out of PVC pipe and moving blankets.  Everyone’s situation is different and there’s no one size fits all recommendation for this.  If you live in a noisy metropolitan city you may need something different than someone who lives in a quiet rural area.

12.)  A professional demo

Once you’ve worked with a coach and he or she decides you’re ready, it’s time to record a professional demo!  This topic could be the subject of an entire blog post so I’ll keep it brief here.  Your demo is like a head shot for a model or actor, or a resume for a job seeker.  A demo shows what you can do and it’s very hard to find work without one.

 

These are some of the items you will need when starting a voiceover career.  I didn’t include prices and they can vary greatly from country to country.  Once you’ve got your equipment and recording area set up, the next step is finding work!

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