We always like to stay in touch with the graduates from our voice-over training program and catch up with them to see how they’re doing. This month, we were fortunate enough to catch up with voice talent, Jennifer Doig! She was recently featured in WCAX-TV’s Made in Vermont segment. We had the opportunity to talk with her more about what inspired her to pursue a career as a voice-over artist.
Doig: My interest in voice-over began when my daughter was born, although I didn’t exactly know it at that time. My husband and I got a lot of books for her, as we believed it was a fun and essential part of our daily routine with her. We would read several books every day. I really enjoyed getting into the books and acting out the characters and stories, rather than simply reading the words on the pages. As kids tend to do, she often requested to read the same books day after day, sometimes several times per day, which really allowed me to try different techniques when reading the stories and come up with a way to bring each character and story to life in my voice. She also loved having me read things that came in the mail – marketing pamphlets, magazines, catalogs, etc. I had a lot of fun coming up with ways to make each type of read interesting for her. She loved to read what she called, “Mommy New Car Book.” It was just a pamphlet I got at the car dealership when we were buying a new car. Let me tell you – those are a lot more exciting to read than you might think!
The variety of reading I was doing was vast, and I developed a sense to bring new books and materials to life in the same fashion, even when reading them for the first time.
A few years after my daughter was born, I saw a listing in our local recreation department flyer offering a voice-over class put on by a Such A Voice instructor. I thought it sounded interesting, so I went. I learned a lot and I really enjoyed it. Best of all, I was told I had great potential. I signed up for the program, which was a fantastic experience.
SAV: What were your initial fears of transitioning to a whole new career/industry? What were you most excited about?
Doig: It was a complete 180-degree turn from my previous career, so I was nervous about the huge change. I was also nervous about creating and running my own business, as I had always worked for someone. However, these were also the things I was most excited about. I knew I wanted to do something other than the IT work I had been doing, I just didn’t know what. I was actually quite fortunate to get laid off from my part-time IT job because it gave me a chance to take some time and reevaluate what I wanted to do. About a year and a half after that, I saw the voice-over class listing. After attending, it just felt right. It came at the right time and I knew in my heart it was what I wanted to do. It was a huge leap of faith, and I’m glad I did it. I create my own schedule, I do something interesting and enjoyable, and I have my own business! It just feels so cool to say that. I went to college and grad school for business and IT. Having that background has given me a great foundation for running my own business successfully.
SAV: What advice would you offer to those who are thinking about pursuing a career in the VO industry?
Doig: Persistence and hard work are key. You have to spend the time up front getting coached and learning the industry, but it doesn’t stop there. You have to put in the time and effort to get work, and it takes time to get that first gig. Just keep at it, be persistent, and it will happen. That’s a recurring theme I seem to hear from both experienced VO artists, as well as those who are fairly new to the industry, and that has been my experience as well. In addition, continued coaching is key – you have to keep learning and improving.
SAV: What do you consider your niche in VO?
Doig: Right now, I am definitely stronger on the narrative side, so I’ve been focusing on educational narrations, learning videos, audiobooks, and different types of narrative work. However, I am always open to trying different things if it seems fitting for me. I have auditioned for lots of commercials as well.
SAV: What voice-over projects have you done so far?
Doig: After months of hard work and persistence, I finally had my first paid gig recently! I was one of several people talking on a podcast that was produced for internal training purposes for a company. Aside from that, I have had a lot of promising leads, including local auditions I have been invited to, and some great feedback on some of the pay-to-play (p2p) sites.
SAV: Some people eat cantaloup or drink tea to prep their voices, what about you?
Doig: The things I do to keep my body healthy also help my voice. I make sure to get plenty of sleep each night, exercise most days, and drink lots of water. I have my water bottle with me all day. When I’m recording, I have a glass of room temperature water with lemon in it, as the lemon helps with dry mouth. I also have Granny Smith apples on hand while I’m recording, as the tart taste helps to eliminate mouth noise, or that smacking sound. My coach, Dave Tolar, gave me this advice and it has been priceless! I also warm up with some vocal exercises before recording.
SAV: After you completed your training, how did you go about marketing yourself to clients and agencies?
Doig: The first thing I did was create my business and brand. I had a graphic design company help me with my logo and color scheme. I made this consistent across my website, business cards, and social media accounts. I then started researching companies in my area that could use voice-over artists and contacted them to introduce myself and sent them my demos. I also contacted my family and friends to let them know what I was doing, and got some great referrals from that. I have recently begun expanding my search outside of my local area.
Recently, I was featured on one of our local news stations for their Made in Vermont segment, which is a short bit focusing on a local business. I have made a lot of new connections from that. Vermont is big on supporting local businesses.
SAV: Describe the elements and equipment that make up your home studio. What have you found that helps best with enhancing the sound quality?
Doig: I have a large desk with an iMac, two monitors, and a Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface with Focusrite Preamp. I use a Scarlett CM25 Studio Condenser Mic on a stand with a pop filter. I always stand up when I’m talking into the mic as I sound better when I’m standing. Oddly enough, this is all in my home office, which is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a studio. I think that Ben Marney (who assists students with home studio support) was just as surprised as I was that it sounded so good! Eventually, I am planning to create a small studio space in another part of my house with all the proper soundproofing. On the other hand, the home office is working so well that I’m afraid to change it!
SAV: What do you like the most about being a VO artist?
Doig: There are so many opportunities in VO – think about all the times you hear a voice and don’t see a person. It’s everywhere! Every project is different, so it really gives me the opportunity to do different things and keep it interesting. I love the variety, I love how fun it is, and I love being able to make my own schedule.
SAV: Do you have any exciting plans coming up this year that you’d like to talk about and share with us?
Doig: For now, I’m continuing to work on making new connections and gaining new clients, and auditioning for gigs. I’m really focused on establishing and building my business. I am also planning to get a laptop and start building a dedicated studio space in my home, so that I can be a bit more portable. We have a spot picked out for it and just need to start planning out the details. I record in an empty house most of the time, but sometimes things come up when that isn’t the case, and it would be nice to have a space to record without worrying about other people in the house making noise.
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