I haven’t forgotten about my series on legitimate work-at-home jobs; I’ve just been really, really overwhelmed as I’ve had a lot going on, including my water fast. But I’m feeling pretty good and so today I’m going to briefly discuss another option for anyone who wants to work from home and add a really interesting job to their resume – Voiceover work!
I fell into it quite by accident five years ago and honestly, I was very reluctant to do it at first.
You see, my husband also works from home and the best way I can describe his job is as a jack-of-all-technical-trades geek. For one of his regular clients he creates realistic 3D avatars that are programmed to guide employees through an on‑boarding system that assists them in enrolling them in their insurance plans and explaining their benefits. His animated avatars needed voices and as this project was pretty much a startup five years ago, that meant
cheap free labor, which meant… Yup, I had to do it!
I cannot express to you how much I hated it. I mean, I really despised it. As an awkwardly shy girl, sitting at my desk reading health insurance material into a crummy microphone with my husband standing over my shoulder correcting my pronunciation or coaching me to use more inflection and emotion was not my cup of tea. Add to that the torture of having to hear my own voice played back multiple times (you know what I’m talking about, right?) while my husband used audio editing freeware to attempt to polish the recording; followed by the critiques from the clients (“She needs to sound more excited! More expression!”) and I was one resentful wife. But I eventually worked through the awkwardness and grew more comfortable behind the mic and hearing the sound of my own voice, which eventually led to my being relaxed enough to actually put more effort into the scripts I was reading.
Script reading is acting. I soon realized that the best way to add more expression into my audio was to act out the script that I was reading by using faces (often very melodramatic) and gestures to really convey the message in the copy. It was difficult at first and I looked and felt completely silly doing this but after a while I got used to doing it and I could really hear the difference it made in my recordings. Additionally, my own voice became stronger and smoother. When the client was finally able to afford to hire professional voice talent and had the scripts re‑recorded, their test subjects, to my surprise, said they preferred my voice to the new ones! More companies began to request my voice for their avatars and so began my foray into paid voice acting!
There is a lot of information on the Internet about creating a sound portfolio that I found very helpful in addition many websites you can join for free to make yourself available for voiceover gigs. I’m currently part of voices.com as well as some smaller talent banks. I highly recommend, as do the top earners on these sites, that you spend some time strengthening and refining your voice through practice every single day. Go here for a variety of free downloadable scripts to use for practice and eventually putting together your portfolio. Keep track of your recordings and compare them after several weeks and then again after several months. You will find a very noticeable consistent improvement in the quality of your recordings over time with regard to voice strength and expression as you grow more comfortable and competent through your practice.
Additionally, you might want to consider purchasing an inexpensive windscreen or make one yourself from a wire hanger and nylon hose to assist in further keeping your recordings free from background noises like breathing.
Finally, don’t be easily discouraged. The more you practice the art of voice acting, the better your voice will become. And don’t be afraid to experiment with your voice when putting together your portfolio. Available gigs vary in terms of their particular needs so while your voice might not be appropriate for one job, it just might be perfect for another.
Like any work-at-home job, setting up your voice over business requires some organization (yeah, I still struggle with this) and persistence. However, the experience can be very rewarding! I’ve gained much confidence in my speaking ability and have learned how to use my voice to communicate better with other people. I was also able to change my perception of this job, as I finally started to have fun with it. Give it a try! I’m sure you will too.