INSIDE: Voice over acting is a fun and lucrative side hustle. Learn how it works, the pros and cons, how much money you can make, and how to get started right here!
I used to joke that if I could get paid to just talk all day I’d be one happy (and rich) person. Then a friend one day told me there’s a thing for that called “consulting,” and a few months later I was officially a blogging coach and soon after a money coach ;)
But the REAL opportunity, as I’m just now finding, seems to be with voice over acting. And today my friend Carrie who’s killing it with voice acting tells us how she got started, and how you can jump into it as well. Along with all the pros, cons, and most excitingly – how much it pays!
A great way to hit our 60th side hustle, thanks Carrie!
[This article was updated in October, 2020 to include even MORE knowledge now that it’s been 4 years since Carrie originally posted this… As you can see below, she’s still very much enjoying it and killing it!]
In a matter of four months, I discovered an industry, started a side hustle in it, replaced my day job income, and quit my job to pursue my side hustle full time. All this on the nights and weekends with a newborn baby in the house. What was my investment to get started in my new occupation? About $300. I’ve since invested a lot more into my business, but fortunately, my original startup costs were pretty minimal.
The industry that I dove into was voice over. I got paid $450 for the first job I ever did. I was instantly profitable. The job was to provide the narration for a two-minute video for a company in Denmark (I recorded it from the closet of my apartment in Kansas City). I made $10,000 over the course of three months on the third job I ever got. I quickly learned that is extremely rare to book a national radio campaign with a worldwide brand as a new voice actor, but hey, that’s my story.
In the rest of this article I’ll tell you what voice acting is and a little about how the industry works. I’ll also outline exactly how I got started, and provide some steps you can take if you’re interested in becoming a voice actor.
What is voice acting?
You know those voices you hear on the radio, TV, and online trying to sell you things? Those are done by professional voice actors. Professional voice overs are also used for narrating audiobooks, product/explainer videos, training videos, video games, animation, live announcing, jingles and more. The voice telling you what stop is coming up next on the bus or subway is from a voice actor. Announcements at the airport and audio tours in museums. I’ve done pre-recorded announcements for award shows. YouTube ads, Pandora commercials, toys… It’s not just TV and radio. Video game voice actors are becoming very popular. The list goes on and on. When you hear a voice but don’t see the person talking, that’s voiceover. (Fun fact: It’s called seiyuu in Japan and it’s a huge industry over there!)
What Voice Over Work Entails
I spend my days at home in my vocal booth, reading scripts, editing audio, and delivering recordings to clients. But I didn’t start out that way. My first “booth” was a spare bedroom in my old apartment with sheets hung on the walls. Then I “upgraded” to the closet that we treated with foam and acoustic blankets. I’ve also recorded from my car, hotel rooms, friends houses, and once in an airport. That didn’t work too well.
Of course, there is the business side as well that includes invoicing, marketing, networking, branding, and getting coaching and vocal training. As a voice actor, you’ll spend your time split between doing the administrative things you need to do to keep your business running and reading scripts for commercials, narration, animation, or whatever types of jobs you book.
A lot of times, the voice acting jobs that you book aren’t really things that you’re passionate about or interested in. But sometimes you get to work on projects that are right up your alley. Like in this Grammarly ad that got a lot of playtime on YouTube. A friend of mine called me and said he got really confused when he heard it. He often reaches out to me for help editing papers, and he thought one of our conversations was somehow being played back through his computer!
Pros of Voice Acting
- You can do it from anywhere! Well, anywhere with an internet connection that is quiet enough. In 2015 my family went on a cross-country road trip and I recorded many spots from the bathroom… I mean ”studio” of our travel trailer. I would hang acoustic blankets up anytime I needed to record in there. I’ve recorded from a parking garage, and I discovered one of the best, quietest places to record from when traveling: cemeteries. Yes, I look super suspicious pulling up in my car and then going into the backseat with a blanket over my head and a microphone. But you do what you have to do ;) My in-laws are awesome and set up a closet that I use as a studio when we come for visits.
- You don’t need a degree. But professional training is everything. I wouldn’t have been able to get my career off the ground like I did without training and coaching. While training is a must, what I mean is you don’t need anyone’s permission to choose to pursue voice over.
- You can make your own hours for the most part. There are always deadlines for voice work, but there’s a ton of flexibility overall.
- It’s a cool job! It’s fun, and people will always be intrigued when you tell them it’s what you do.
- It is very lucrative. Or it can be anyway. There are a lot of voice actors out there working part-time, pursuing voiceover as just a hobby, or who are struggling to get their careers off the ground. But on the other end of the spectrum, a lot of national TV commercials have 5-figure paydays. And it’s been really fun to get to grow with a lot of voice actors who are now making a big 6 figure salary! Of course getting to those numbers takes years of dedicated voice work, training, a good plan, and the endurance to stick with it.
- Low barrier to entry. You don’t need a bunch of expensive equipment to get started. You do, however, need some good quality equipment, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. (I’ve offer resources to help you select equipment, get proper training, and start auditioning here in my free getting started in voice over guide.)
Cons of Voice Acting
- Work is never guaranteed. It’s a competitive industry, and sometimes (if you’re auditioning) you’ve got to beat out hundreds of other voice actors to get a job. There’s not much of a safety net aside from your ability to market yourself and consistently book work. Agents and casting sites can help in this area but it’s ultimately up to you.
- Training can be expensive and time consuming. It takes time to get your skills up to a competitive level. The professional voice actor industry is competitive and full of people who have been doing it for decades. As a beginner you can’t really expect to compete with people who have more skills, knowledge, and connections than you do. But even those people started as a beginner years ago. It’s okay to be a beginner and start from where you are today. While getting enough equipment and know-how to start auditioning doesn’t cost much, a good coach does — and should. But in my experience, it is well worth the investment to land more voice acting jobs. If the cost of training is prohibitive, there are many online groups you can join for free that are extremely helpful, but aren’t a substitute for 1-on-1 coaching. (More info on these types of groups in the guide I mentioned above.)
- It can be isolating. If you’re an introvert like me, this could also go in the pros category. But you can expect to spend the majority of your time alone in your recording space. I sometimes joke that my job is to stay locked in a soundproof box in my house shoes talking to myself all day long. (Nightmare for some, dream job for others.)
- Certain types of work are easier to get if you live in LA or New York. Although this hasn’t stopped me from making six figures from home in Kansas City. I have flown out to LA a few times for auditions, but I do the vast majority of my work from home. About every other month I do a directed session at a local studio.
How Much Money Can You Make Voice Acting?
This varies from job to job and depends on whether you are a union member or not. You can check out current union rates here. What I’ve discovered is that outside of union rates, it’s subjective when it comes to pay. Many audition sites will allow you to bid your own price for a job. On these sites, a job may get one bid at $20 and another bid from a different voice actor for $1,000. It’s a matter of what you feel you’re worth and how much clients are willing to pay for truly professional work.
One of my most memorable paydays was $3,000 for 45 minutes of work. I was getting paid $500/spot (whether the spot was 60 seconds or 15) for a cinema ad campaign and did six spots in under an hour. It was my first time seeing that kind of cash come in from voice acting, and I remember feeling like there had to be some kind of mistake when the check came in. I was ecstatic!
The rate for voiceover work varies depending on what type of job it is (the pay for narrating audiobooks is very different than the pay for voicing commercials), how long the work will air, and where it will air. So you’ll see rates ranging from a couple hundred dollars well into the thousands.
When I was first starting out, I took jobs that I wouldn’t today. But I learned my lesson on accepting less-than-optimal rates. I am a huge advocate for charging what you’re worth and not underselling yourself–even for new voice actors.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Money magazine just came out with a list of the highest paying jobs you can do at home, and interestingly enough voice over work clocked in at 2nd place! With an average hourly rate of $72/hr. So obviously those actors aren’t doing it right like Carrie is ;))
How I Got Started Voice Acting
Before we dig in here… If you ask any voice actor how they got started you’ll likely get a TOTALLY different answer from each person. There’s not one, straight and narrow path like, “I went to voiceover school, completed my residency, bought a mic and now I’m a voice actor!” I’ll tell my story but just remember that your path will be different. I also highlight other voice actors’ getting started stories on my website so you can see the unique journeys different people have had.
Okay, here’s my story…
It all started with podcasting. My husband and I have hosted and/or produced thousands of podcast episodes starting way back in the ancient days (2010). We used to work for a podcasting network and we’ve had our own personal shows off and on since 2010 too. We’re always on the lookout for a good new show to binge. At the time I discovered voice acting, I had a 45 minute commute to work, so I got lots of listening done.
One day, I randomly picked a new podcast I had never listened to, the Go For It Show with Tyson Webb (sadly, it’s not around anymore). I turned on the latest episode and set off for work. About half way through the episode, a light bulb went off.
The show I happened to be listening to was an interview with a voice actor named Alyson Steel. I was only half paying attention until I heard her answer the question, “What does a typical work day look like for you?” I had a baby that year and had just gone back to work. I was dying to be able to spend more time with my daughter and husband.
This is what Aly’s typical work day looked like: She got up, did yoga, got her kids off to school, checked her email for scripts, spent some time in her voiceover booth recording spots for radio, TV, internet, telephone systems, etc., got on Facebook for a while, did a little more recording, then called it a day. Um… AWESOME!
At the end of the episode, she mentioned that she offers private voice acting coaching for $150 for an initial hour consultation (her coaching model is different now and I still highly recommend her). My husband, Derek, is a budgeting fanatic, so I figured he wouldn’t be too excited about me asking to spend $150 to learn more about a job that neither of us had even heard of before that day. Fortunately, he told me to go for it. (He would later tell me that he could tell how excited I was and that he could “sense” something.)
I booked the session with Aly, a 20-year voice acting veteran, and she spent an hour telling me all about the business. I took notes like a crazy person. I still have them. That night, I recorded a very rough sample reel on the equipment Derek and I use for podcasting and sent it to Aly. She was beyond encouraging, so I hired her to coach me as I worked to get my new business going.
The Ball Started To Roll…
I become a voiceover sponge, reading, watching, and listening to every voiceover resource I could find. Meanwhile, I started auditioning for work on an online casting site. They had a special where I could sign up for my first month for $10. When a client or casting director on the site likes your audition, they can shortlist you. I started getting shortlisted almost immediately. And one morning as I was leaving for work, I whispered to Derek who was still in bed, “I got my first job. $450!” I was thrilled and he was shocked!
I had booked my first paying job about seven weeks after learning voice over was even a thing and I was totally obsessed. I started living, breathing, and eating all things voiceover. Well, not eating…
(We’ve come a long way since this pic! This was in an isolation booth at a at a co-working space I used to use that just happened to have a full blown recording studio. The door was five inches thick and weighed a freakin’ ton! The mic in this pic was the same we used for podcasting and originally cost $100 in 2010. I’ve since upgraded my set up which you can learn more about in my getting started guide.)
I’ve been having a blast. Like in any business, there are ups and downs, but I have now been booking work on my own and through my agents and manager, while continually seeking out the best training in the industry. I get to network with the amazing contacts I’ve made over the years, am nationally represented by one of the best agencies in the business, have voiced highly played television and radio commercials, and built up a hefty clientele of repeat business for my voiceover services. In 2019 I joined the Actors Union which I still can’t believe!
I’ve worked with hundreds of companies now, including Taco Bell, Kmart, REI, Grammarly, Pandora, 7-11, Walt Disney World, AT&T and am loving doing promos for the Netflix Series Spirit Riding Free.
Here Are The Steps I Took in Detail
(I’m laying out the path I took, even though I realize your path will look way different. If you’re less interested in how I did it and would rather just hear about how you can do it, skip down a section.)
First, I made the decision to make a real go of it. Since I’ve been voice acting, I’ve had hundreds of people ask me how to get into the industry. I think the first step is that you have to want it. Badly. And you have to want it enough to put in the effort it requires. Of the many who have picked my brain on becoming a voice actor, only a small percentage actually followed through with the steps I suggested. Voice over work sounds like a ton of fun — and it is — but it is also a business. Voiceover jobs don’t fall into your lap just because you’re sort of interested in trying it out. This leads me to the second thing I did, and probably the most important.
Then, I hired a voice over coach. There are so many people on the web claiming to be voice over coaches, and you have to be careful that the one you work with isn’t just trying to build up your confidence, make you a half-ass demo, take your money, and then send you on your way to poor results, no income, and frustration. Sadly, this does happen. You only get one chance to make a first impression with potential clients and agents, and your coach should be someone who helps you develop your skills and make a demo that is going to give them a good first impression. Look for someone who knows the industry, is connected to agents so they know what a good demo sounds like, and doesn’t just crank out demos for anyone who will pay their fee. You want someone who gives you personalized attention and will be there for the long haul.
Thirdly, I devoured everything I could get my hands and ears on about the voice acting industry. Blogs, books, podcasts, everything. I’m really glad I did this because I ended up booking my first national radio spot in a matter of weeks, and all of the research I did, combined with my sessions with my coach, helped me to feel like I knew what I was doing when I walked into the recording studio for the first time. I lay out some great resources that I devoured in those first weeks and months in a free guide that’s available on my website (more info below). A word of caution on this: If someone is promising you something that sounds too good to be true, make sure to vet the person before giving them any money.
Next, I auditioned. Auditioning was my only method of getting work for my first full year as a voice talent. I was still working full time, so I would try to do ten auditions when I got home from work, and as many as I could on the weekends. This didn’t always happen, but it was my goal.
Lastly, I marketed myself. After my first year, I wanted to have more control over my business, so I developed a targeted system and marketed my services to potential clients I really wanted to work with, mostly for e-learning work. By doing this I was able to build up a steady stream of repeat clients, many of whom I still work with today.
You may have noticed that “buy a microphone” or “learn how to use audio editing software” is nowhere on this list. Fortunately, I just happened to have had a hobby (podcasting) that gave me a head start in those areas.
It was not a smooth road to making a full-time income with voiceover work, particularly in the first year. It was risky to leave my job when I did, and although things ended up working out, there were some shaky moments. My income was dependent on whether or not I would book that next job. Getting regular, repeat clients helped to ease the burden I felt to constantly be booking new work.
And I never stopped seeking counsel. Along every step of the way, I consulted with my amazing voice over coach, who was (and still is) over the moon about my success. She has talked me down from the ledge, encouraged me, shared her wisdom, believed in me, and helped me to believe in myself. In a word, she is invaluable. I’ve also been involved in voice over mastermind groups that have helped me grow my business through motivation, connections, and voice and business skills.
By now you’ve recognized a common theme throughout my story: coaching and training. Voice acting is one of those industries that seems easy to get started in because “it’s just talking.” And while I do know a few people who have made amazing careers for themselves with no or limited coaching, you’re much more likely to grow your business–and experience less frustration–if you invest in developing your performance.
After all, many of the most acclaimed athletes, speakers, and entrepreneurs regularly meet with their coaches for ongoing development, so I figure I’m in good company.
(Pic above is of my current vocal booth at home. I’ve got my computer monitor and mic mounted to the wall and of course a shelf for my coffee!)
Want to Be a Voice Actor?
I get asked all the time “How do I get started?” or “Where do I go to get the jobs?” I answer these questions cautiously because I want to give the right kind of advice, and also because I’m trying to gauge if the person asking is setting themselves up for failure and frustration because they think it’s going to be easy. If someone ever tells you it’s going to be easy to start a 6-figure business, they’re pulling your leg. Starting a voiceover business may not be easy, but with the right plan and expectations, it’s totally doable. And totally worth it.
Here are a few steps I recommend you take if you’re interested in pursuing a career in voice over. These are the Cliff’s notes.
- Get a voice over coach. I recommend Alyson Steel. She’s awesome. It may sound ridiculous to hire someone to teach you how to talk. You’ve been doing that for years! But I promise there is a lot more to voiceover than just talking. A good coach can help catapult your career to the next level much faster than you could on your own. They can also save you from a lot of confusion and disappointment if you’re auditioning a lot and just can’t figure out why you’re not booking any jobs.
- Listen to your coach. No really, your coach will be able to tell you what your next steps should be. At some point, you’ll need to make a demo and start auditioning and/or marketing your services. Your coach will let you know when you’re ready and will make suggestions for getting started. He or she can also help you with acquiring all of the equipment you’ll need for your new career.
- If you want to go rogue and just get out there and see what happens, check out this guide to getting started in voice over without a coach, available on my website. It includes microphone recommendations and other helpful resources. But remember, you’re much more likely to get the most out of your investment if you hire a reputable professional who is familiar with the industry to guide you.
- Listen to commercials. Or audiobooks, or e-learning programs, or whatever it is you want to voice. I used to hate listening to radio commercials in the car. Now, I’ll actually change the station when music comes on so that I can study the commercials!
- Market yourself. Once you feel your skills are competitive, get a website up and running, get a demo made, and start reaching out to your ideal clients and agents. But don’t do this too early. If you’re going to invest in a demo, make sure it represents you at your best. So don’t do it first thing. If you make your demo first, then start getting training afterwards, your demo will be outdated almost immediately. (Meaning: You will be better than your demo so your demo will actually be holding you back from getting jobs!) Make sure you’re competitive before paying money to get a demo made.
- Keep practicing. I absolutely love doing voice over. It’s fun, and I get to be creative and even goofy sometimes. (Sometimes I scare the crap out of my husband when a job requires screaming. I always forget to warn him ahead of time!) There are people all over the world working hard to perfect their skills, and if I want to stay competitive with them, I have to practice to keep up my chops. I know they are practicing and getting coaching, and that motivates me to keep up (or slightly ahead). ;)
- Grab my (free) how to get started in voice over guide. I give away some of my best secrets on how I grew my voice over career, as well as some super valuable resources in the guide. Everything mentioned in the section above is expanded on in the guide, from equipment to training and coaching recommendations to marketing and even invoicing clients.
I feel so blessed to have found an industry I adore, that supports my family, and allows me to spend time at home with the people I love.
Let me know if you decide to look into it!
Frequently Asked Questions about Voice Over Acting:
Here are the top questions we got from the comment section and quick answers below…
Can I do voice acting if I have an accent?
Absolutely! In fact, there are definitely opportunities where having an accent or being bilingual comes in handy with voiceover work. And for all the other situations, there are coaches who specialize in accents, so they could help you with that area as well. One of the first questions my voiceover coach asked me was, “Do you speak another language?”. Slang and local terms are very desirable skills.
Voice coaches that specialize in accents: –> Check out Edge Studio and The Accent Coach!
How do you care for your voice?
“I drink tons of water, or at least I should :) I avoid sugary foods before sessions, I avoid yelling, and I try not to get sick :)”
Best advice to attract new voice acting jobs?
I would say that your ability to act/talk convincingly to your target audience is more important than the quality of your voice. If you’re promoting a skin care product, and you can “become” the best friend sitting across the table telling your friend about this great new moisturizer you discovered — and do it so convincingly that it doesn’t sound like you’re acting — that will get you further than just sounding nice. You can do self study to get better at this, and you can also attend classes, workshops, or hire a coach. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions!”
Can I do voice acting as a full time career?
Yes! This doesn’t just have to be a side hustle. Many people make a great career out of VO. Typically you’ll need a lot of experience to land full time jobs and earn a steady voice actor salary. But, you also might find that you can make more money contracting and being a freelancer for your talent than getting paid a salary.
What is the typical voice actor salary?
The average voice actor annual salary is ~$76,300 (or $36.70 hourly wage) according to Zip Recruiter as of October 2020) But keep in mind, this is the average. Some professional voice actors get paid massive amounts.
Can you make passive income from voice acting?
Although you sometimes can earn residuals for voice over work, this is mostly trading your time for money. But, if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life, right?
Who is the highest paid voice actor? (Just for fun)
Trey Parker & Matt Stone. These dudes created South Park, and do the voice acting for many of the main characters!
What if my voice sounds “too young”?
Remember, there is no such thing as the right kind of voice. Lots of adults get paid big money to voice act for parts that are supposed to be kids voices. Most of the cartoon voices that sound like kids on TV and in video games are really adults! Typically, adults are easier to work with than kids, so you can use a young sounding voice to your advantage! Check out Lisa Biggs!
[Love a fun hustle? Check out all 59 others we’ve featured here: Side Hustle Series]
Top photo by drestwn
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Very cool hustle! I have a friend who does the same thing locally. I hear her voice all the time on radio and TV.
Fun! If she’s getting a lot of local work, that probably means she hustled and did a great job with marketing to local businesses, which is a really smart way to go. Good for your friend!
Carrie – your husband and I stayed up wayyy too late this weekend pointing out all the voiceovers on TV commercials, haha… we thought we were hot $hit :)
Oh man. I can just see you guys. Was there any pillow fighting involved? :)
haha, I forgot about that!
I worked for 10 years as a radio DJ and also did various voice acting jobs for our radio commercials. It’s indeed different to talk ‘normally’ and to talk ‘radio like’. But it can be done and with experience, you’ll get the hang of it.
My only issue with pursuing this on an ‘international’ scale is that my English accent is still not perfect (I am Romanian). And in my city the jobs are paid way too low to make it worth.
But, I could actually try to get my accent in check and see if anyone would be willing to hire me. I loved being in front of the mic, maybe it’s my chance to get some of the old groove back :)
Hey Ramona, there are definitely opportunities where being bilingual comes in handy with voiceover work. And for all the other situations, there are coaches who specialize in accents, so they could help you with that area as well. One of the first questions my voiceover coach asked me was, “Do you speak another language?” :)
I would have the same problem as Ramona. I have a crazy-thick Southern accent. Know of any coaches in particular that specialize in accents? I’d love to learn to “turn my accent off” or at least “tone it down” in certain situations.
Here are a couple of resources, Nichole. I’ve never used either of these, but they’re worth checking out: http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over-accent-elimination-and-acquisition and http://theaccentcoach.com.
Thank you, Carrie, for clarifying this. I do not have such a ‘strong’ accent, but I was afraid it would disqualify me. Still, I do think there are chances to get it ‘fixed’ with some work. Will definitely look more into this.
Awesome. And yeah, you never know. You may be able to get some jobs BECAUSE you have an accent. There have been jobs that I decided not to audition for because the direction asked for an accent I didn’t feel comfortable faking.
Hey, Ramona one way you could work to get a better english accent if you can afford it is to take a long trip to a predominantly english speaking country and constantly try to speak like the locals. Also you could still audition even if there isn’t as much work for someone with your accent because it might be exactly what someone is looking for. The travel and practice idea will work with anyone and any country too! Just try to work on the accent and especially slang terms which can make or break a fake foreign accent.
What a great idea! I used to work as an Equity actor as a kid (the perfect job for any 10 year…play pretend and get paid for it!), and I’ve been wanting to flex my creative bones these days. This may be an excellent way to get my feet wet. Awesome article!
Absolutely! Bring out your inner 10-year-old and get paid for it! :)
This is crazy cool! Though it’s definitely not in the cards for me, I’m afraid. When telemarketers call they often say, “Sweetie, can you put your Mommy or Daddy on the phone?” because I sound like a five-year-old. Ha! I love your advice about always seeking counsel. That’s so true for life, isn’t it? There’s always more to learn and having a mentor is invaluable.
Actually, lots of adults get paid big money to voice act for parts that are supposed to be kids voices. Most of the cartoon voices that sound like kids are really adults!
Perhaps you’ve really got something good going!!
Penny, you could actually make bank if you sound like a kid. Check out http://lisabiggs.com. Adults who sound like kids are (generally) easier to work with than kids, so use it to your advantage!
Also, don’t forget the person behind Elmo is actually a bigger dude than the person inside of Big Bird!
Did you love the movie, ‘In a world?’
I almost gave voice acting a try after that, but I don’t think there is a huge market for nasally midwestern accents.
OMG. Loved that movie. And I know it seems like you’ve got to have a velvety voice to do voice over, but someone’s gotta play the best friend/sidekick/relatable neighbor, right? There’s no such thing as having the “right kind of voice” for VO :)
There is a market for every voice. It may not be a huge market or easy to find, but just like actors of every age and shape, every voice has a home.
So true, Dachia! We can’t all be Brad Pitt. Some of us have to be Screech :)
I just watched that movie last month! It was great!!
Pretty accurate, too ;)
Carrie, what a great read! My husband and I come from a TV production background, and we have professional recording gear. How would one go about seeing if their voice would attract work? I know my husband’s would, but I’m not sure about mine. I would love pursuing this. Also, how do you care for your voice? Do you avoid certain foods/drinks?
Hi Audra, great questions! I would say that your ability to act/talk convincingly to your target audience is more important than the quality of your voice. If you’re promoting a skin care product, and you can “become” the best friend sitting across the table telling your friend about this great new moisturizer you discovered — and do it so convincingly that it doesn’t sound like you’re acting — that will get you further than just sounding nice. You can do self study to get better at this, and you can also attend classes, workshops, or hire a coach. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions!
I drink tons of water, or at least I should :) I avoid sugary foods before sessions, I avoid yelling, and I try not to get sick :)
My sister has been doing this for years! Great intro, Carrie!
Oh awesome! Yep, it doesn’t have to be a side hustle. Many people have made great careers out of VO!
I’ve always wondered what the life of a Voice Over actor looked like. That is intriguing! I’m pretty sure I could never make it (I have one of those high squealing voices that men can’t hear and dogs despise). Who knows? Thanks for the peek into another gig.
I like the “Who knows?” part of your comment :) You never know ’til you give it a go!
It is awesome work, thanks for sharing. I used to pay folks to voice my commercials, but then I got thinking, “I used to be in the media business, why don’t I try it.” So I told my account reps that I would voice my own commercials and they didn’t care so went in to the studio and nailed it. Practice, practice, practice and listen to your own voice. It was hard for me at first, but now I drive down the street and my daughter will say, “oh great, there is dad on the radio again.” It’s fun and people pay you for it.
Isn’t it cool to get paid for doing something so fun?! And like you said, it does take practice, but anything worth doing does, right?
Awesome! I didn’t know you did that, Lance – you ever blog about it??? You should!
Fascinating. Sounds like a great way to earn a living on your own time – lucrative and flexible.
Probably not for me though. It feels to much like selling your time. I’d much rather invest my time building an asset which will generate an income stream, and having to build a while be skill set and business is a large hurdle to jump before you have the ability to create the cash flow assets.
I totally get that, Jack. It is a different model from the investing/passive income route. Although, you can earn residuals from work and get paid from the same job for years. Also, I don’t mind trading my time for work so much, if the price is right :)
That’s a very cool way to make money! Thanks for sharing how you got started.
No problem! Voiceover has been so amazing for me and my family, I love sharing it :)
Fantastic side hustle series! This is totally up my alley and something I’ve been considering for awhile. My husband is an actor and his first voiceover job sort of fell into his lap and I couldn’t believe how much money he was getting paid to just talk! It’s criminal (but great for the household finances!).
Thanks for the info…time to start devouring it!
Carrie and I laugh sometimes at how much she gets paid because it can get into the “ridiculous” range for the higher paying jobs.
But, we aren’t complaining! haha
I’m so excited to see how big this blows up… Carrie’s on freakin’ fire!
It does feel criminal sometimes! But in the most amazing way ever :) I’m excited for you to dig in!
Well this is basically the most epic side hustle on the planet. I love the voice talent industry – or maybe I should say I’m a huge fan of the it. Audio book narrators really do a lot to impact the books they read aloud. Great advice Carrie. Loved this post.
I totally agree. Good audiobook narrators make it seem so easy that listeners don’t realize that what they’re doing is actually a skill that takes a LOT of practice to develop.
Glad you liked, Laura!
This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing your story! It’s always amazing the things we don’t know or have any idea about. Who would of thought?!
I had NO IDEA that voice over was even a thing until I heard that podcast episode. It still seems like someone is playing an (awesome) joke on me sometimes after a recording session of literally just talking and getting paid for it ;)
Very cool side gig and inspirational story. I always love hearing great voices but no one would want to hear mine :).
You never know :) There’s a market for every type of voice…
One of my favorite side hustle pieces ever. Thanks for sharing.
I’m giving it some thought, as momma always told me I had a face for radio…
Glad to hear you’re thinking about giving it a try!
Carrie, I’m so thankful to have read this article. I’ve had a premium Voices.com account ALL YEAR (a Christmas gift from my folks because they love the different impressions I do when I visit) but had only done TWO auditions since January.
I just submitted three this evening.
Seeing your website was really helpful and your story is super encouraging. I’m stoked to really get cracking (and hopefully raking in some cash). Thanks so much for making this feel more accessible and doable.
Travis, it makes me SO happy to hear this! Seriously, it’s just like anything else — hard work pays off. And if you love it like I do, it could change your life. I’m rooting for you! Keep me updated on how things are going (and so I can give you a gentle shot of motivation of you need it). Carrie (at) carrieolsenvo.com.
GOOD FOR YOU!!!! WOW!!!
I’m impressed. It’s a tough area to break into, but you’ve done it. Congrats!
Thanks NDQ! It’s been a wild ride. One that I never would have imagined for myself, but I’m so grateful for it :)
Awesome work! I am really considering this since my baby is so young and my husband and I could use the extra income. Besides I talk so much he always say you should have your own talk show! lol
Hi Carrie.. Are you an union actor?
So sorry for the (super) late response! I am not a union actor. I do audition for union jobs, so I will join if/when I have to :)
I’m very interested in voiceover acting. I would have to start with absolutely nothing though. my family and I have had an extreme rough few years and we as of.now.have little to no income. I’m looking for something that I can be home with my kids. I’m not sure its possible to be a vo with zero income. Do you have any advice?
So sorry for the late response! Is it possible to do VO with zero investment? Like most, if not all businesses, it does require some initial and ongoing investment. Shoot me an email, and we can talk about it. Carrie(at)CarrieOlsenVO.com.
Love this article! For years people have told me I should do this, including a Professor of Speech and Language at our local collage. I didn’t know how to start.
I am currently in the ‘searching for information’ phase as this is something I really want to do. Plus I have had some people tell me I should be on the radio/ a phone sex operator (LOL). I took a local adult class about it and I am trying to get equipment together. Seems like the hardest part so far is the computer. Next stop is to comb through your other web pages for more info. However if you have a suggestion on computer and or microphone I welcome it. :) thanks.
Not sure what type of microphone to use, but here’s our article on being a phone sex operator ;)
Awesome work Carrie!!
I’m also a voice actor and I recently launched VoiceActing101 to help those getting started: Check out http://voiceacting101.com/ for some in-depth guides on getting started, finding work and marketing.
Hope it helps!
You have a pretty cool back story, man – congrats on all your success :)
Thanks for the comment! Love your site. How awesome that you got hired to do radio imaging as a teenager! All my best you!
I am thrilled that I found your post! I have been telling my husband for years that we need to figure out a way for him to make money off of his voice! His celebrity and cartoon impersonations are hysterical so I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a leap to do voice-over acting with some training. He is going on 49 next month and is currently in the construction trade as a drywall finisher, which is heavy, manual labor. His knees are going and his back isn’t far behind, so he needs some way to be able to make money when he no longer wants or is able to run up and down multiple flights of stairs carrying a 30 lb. work belt around his waist and repetitively lifting huge sheets of drywall over his head. But after reading the information here, I may give it a whirl too! This is very encouraging and exciting.
I hope you guys do!! In the past year since we posted this Carrie’s only been taking off even more :) In fact, we did a podcast with her where she went into a lot of this stuff even more if you want to check it out:
Let us know how it goes if you jump in!
Hi Carrie! You mentioned the webinar was free, but when I click the link it’s saying there is a monthly fee?? Am I doing something wrong?
Looks like the course stuff was changed over the years I went and edited to make sure it doesn’t show “free” anymore, sorry!
The link https://carrieolsenvo.leadpages.co/side-hustle-free-guide isn’t working. Well, if you enter your email address to receive the guide. The error produced is,
Mailing List Not Active
This mailing list is not currently active.
Please notify the website owner.
I am interested in mic recommendations for women. Thank you
Thanks for catching this! I believe the free resources/guide is the one on her homepage now: https://carrieolsenvo.com/ I’ve updated the blog to reflect as well going forward.
So I noticed you waited until almost the very end to mention, very briefly, that you have to PAY to work through this site your pushing.
I always love places that make me pay to work for them.
Right up there with places that make me pay to be able buy stuff from their store.
Sorry – the site featured here has changed a lot over the years since posting this, so it’s possible things don’t make as much sense or are updated to reflect all the changes. Just went in and made a note about this for future readers.
An excellent read, Jay! The ability to work from anywhere and anytime is one of the biggest perks of being a VO artist and its the freedom of this job that I love so much. Thanks for sharing these tips. Really helpful for beginners!
Glad you’ve found success in it! Such a killer gig it seems like :)
Hi Carrie! Thanks for the great article. I am a “working” voice over actor based in Oakland, Ca. I have an agent in SF and I audition all the time, but don’t get as many jobs as I’d like. One of the issues I run into is that I never get any feedback from directors or agency regarding auditions so I never know where I can improve. I realize that they represent too many people to do this for everyone, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been a “top 3” candidate only to miss out on the job. I’d like to be able to make adjustments but never get any input as to where or why I may have missed. Is this something you think Alyson could help with? I want to learn how to nail my auditions more consistently. I feel like there is some tweak I could make that would have me working more. Thanks for your time :)
Hi Jacob! Yes, absolutely! Feel free to reach out to me or Alyson any time, and we’d be glad to work with you and give you some recommendations!
Hello Carrie, thanks so much for this wonderful write-up, just reading some articles when yours popped up. I love voice acting so much that I want to make a career out of it, reading this made me realize I’ve been going about it the wrong way. first of, I desperately need a voice coach, although, I’m in Nigeria, I don’t know how to go about it. I’ll follow your advice on how to be better at it with tons of practice. thank you ☺
Your article is full of great info. I am looking for a casting website to get work from that is reputable. It is very hard to find. What was the website that you first used? I am trying to get started, but there are so many websites that are scams.
This is really useful. I’ve just completed Guy Michaels’ course and found his guide good too, really practical! Great to get opinions from all sorts of folk
Great article, enjoyed the comments….
I’ve always wanted to get into voice acting… Often mimicking character lines from movies, games, advertisements, radio jingles, etc….
I’m from South Africa and really feel like this is something I want to do.
Only problem is that every penny I earn goes to taking care of my kids, which makes it difficult to buy the recording equipment or pay for recording time in a studio.
When manage to make a demo. Where do I send it?