Different Types of Voice-Over Work (and How to Get It)

What are the different types of voice-over, how do you know you’ll be good at them, and where do you find them?

Whew – now THAT is a loaded question! I’ll try to attempt to answer it all within the space I am given, but I have to tell you, a lot of the work is going to be up to you! Let’s start with the first part: the different types of voice-over.

When I began my journey of voice-over, I truly thought that voice-over only consisted of commercials and “books-on-tape” as they used to be called. I had no idea the breadth and scope that voice-over encompassed. The reality is that as technology changes more and more opportunities open up for our industry! It is an exciting time to be a voice-over artist.

voice-over workVoice-over can be broken up into many different categories, but for this blog’s purposes I am breaking them up into Short Form, Long Form and Live Announce. There are sub-categories within these categories, too, including genre, emotion expressed, whether it is actually selling a product/service or just informing…the options are mindboggling. When you receive the script and direction you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly how to interpret it.

Short Form voice-over opportunities include (but are no limited to) commercials, most explainer videos, telephony (voicemail), electronics, toys, elevators, alarm systems, casino games, overhead radio systems, public transportation, and TV & Radio imaging.

Long Form voice-over opportunities include (but are not limited to) audiobooks, eLearning, animation, video games, ADR/Looping, documentaries, TV narration, museum tours, and vocal replacement (medical applications).

Live Announce opportunities include (but are not limited to) sporting events, corporate events, trade shows, awards shows, graduation ceremonies, and live TV shows.

How do you know you’ll be good at a certain type of voice over?

“Know thyself!” Someone much more important than me said that – I think it was Socrates – but either way it rings true! You have to know your “products” strengths and weaknesses first. Know what your voice can and cannot do. Do you have multiple character voices that you can sustain for long periods of time? Spectacular! Then animation, video games, and audiobooks might be places for you to explore. Do you have an upbeat, natural, reassuring smile to your voice? Awesome! Then look into the eLearning, telephony and explainer video genres. Does your voice convey authority and information well? It’s documentaries, museum tours and TV narration for you.

Most importantly, what do you think you will have fun doing? Remember that audiobooks sound like a lot of fun until you realize that you have to do all the editing work for those books too! Sometimes it’s trial and error – you get an opportunity to do work, you do it really well, but decide it’s not your cup of tea. That’s just part of the journey.

Okay…you know about the different types of voice-over, you know what you’ll be good at (and like), now where do you find the opportunities?

  • Video/Audio Production Companies – Explainer Videos, Documentary/Travel Films, TV Narration, Animation, Video Games, GPS Navigation, Museum Tours, ADR/Looping
  • Genre Specific Production Companies – eLearning Companies, Toy Production Companies, Audiobook (Book) Publishers, Telephony (VoIP, Telecom) Companies, Sporting Event/Live Event Production Companies, Overhead Music Production Companies, Electronics, TV and Radio Groups.
  • Advertising Agencies – Commercials and Explainer Videos
    • Make contact with smaller market agency’s Creative Director, send demo and follow up!
  • Pay to Play Sites
    • Such A Voice has a special relationship with Voices.com – there is a discount offered to Such A Voice members – so contact your Career Counselor for details.

If there is a specific company that you want to work with – start with the Marketing Director there and have them point you in the right direction. Google is your very best friend! You can also search on Twitter and LinkedIn by specific keywords to find companies or individuals that can hire you. When you contact prospective clients, offer yourself as a resource for their voice-over needs. Keep it short and sweet with a link to your website and a time that you will follow up with them.

Whew! I think I answered that loaded question. The rest is up to you. Look at the voice-over options, decide your own strengths and weaknesses and where your voice might best fit, then go after the work!

Best wishes to you on your voice-over journey!

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Jillian Nielsen is an expressive voice talent with over 14 years of experience in radio and television commercial and promotional voice-overs.

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