As a voice over coach, I spend most of my time responding to enquiries. I always say there is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to our business. Let's face it the industry can seem opaque and inaccessible to newcomers, so if I can help somebody with their query and point them in the right direction, I feel I have done my job.
Consequently I thought it would be an interesting exercise to share some of the questions that have come my way recently. They are all genuine, but for reasons of confidentiality I have withheld names. However, I've noted the original source of each discussion.
Hopefully you will find the answers useful too, especially if you are just starting out in voiceovers.
My trainer at the radio station says my voice is sing-song. How can I correct this? (phone conversation)
This takes me back. When I was about 10 or 11, I recall doing a reading in class and received some positive feedback from the teacher and was subsequently selected to do a more substantial performance on stage at the end of term concert. My head got bigger, until another teacher told me my performance was too 'sing-song'.
The comment did me the world of good (although I was upset at the time) and have since been acutely aware of over-modulating - to give the phenomena its technical name. You can sometimes hear announcers reading the news in a predicable rhythm, almost like there is a melody in their voices with repeated inflections. This is what your trainer has heard and she wants you to develop a more naturalistic style.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to record yourself speaking normally and then reading a script. Notice the difference? You are probably switching on your radio persona and need to connect back with the real you. Concentrate not on the sound of your voice, but on the meaning of what you are saying... your voice will follow without you even thinking about it.
What do you think my rate should be for 1,000 minutes of finished audio for an e-learning job? (email enquiry)
Blimey that's a lot of minutes. Crunching the numbers, this works out at about 17 hours of completed audio, but of course it will take you far longer than this to record, edit and review the project. I recommend you allow 70 to 80 hours of your time. So 2 to 3 weeks of very hard work. Remember you will need to take regular breaks (including eating and, er, going to the toilet!). In terms of fee, I would say in the region of £1,400 to £1,600 for the whole project (e-learning is not the best payer).You will need gallons of water too.
For someone who is a total novice, is there a site of inclusive sample elements to work from? Or is it a case of listen to one and copy it? (Linkedin message)
Voice overs are all about finding your own voice and when making a showreel you shouldn't be copying others. However I can understand that you might want to get an idea of the form and structure a typical reel might take, so check out some of the voice actor profiles on agents' websites, or perhaps even on the pay to play sites, such as Voice123.
Can you help with my recording problem? On playback the sound is very quiet, almost as if my voice is not being recorded through the microphone at all. Is it my mic or pre-amp? (email enquiry)
Probably neither. From your description it would seem you have identified the problem already when you say your voice doesn't sound like it's being recorded through the mic. My theory is that what you are hearing is your computer's inbuilt microphone and not your external mic. Check your computer's audio preferences and make sure you select the pre-amp and de-select the onboard computer mic.
Looking for some feedback on my website! Tell me! (Twitter conversation)
This is a swish looking place to visit. Interestingly your images are not the usual mic or headphones (which are difficult for voice over artists to get away from) and the site resolves beautifully on my mobile device... Google will be pleased! Of course when it comes to voice over websites, the acid test is what do the demos sound like. Yours are great, but with one major caveat: there is a guy - who isn't you - providing an intro to each of your tracks. GET RID OF HIM. It is your voice clients want to hear, not some voice on a stick.
Also have a think about how you are going to promote your website. Decent SEO, social media plugs, signature on the bottom of emails are all excellent ways to attract visitors.
I don't know much about audiobooks. How can I earn money narrating stories? (Facebook)
I would try ACX. Unlike the p2p sites, they are free and part of Audible and the mighty Amazon, so your work has a higher chance of being found. You may also want to take a look at my article: Five Things Every Audiobook Beginner Should Know where I discuss some of the fundamentals and pitfalls of narrating.
Got a question? I'm all ears....