How Do You Pick Your Voice-Over Niche?

NicheWhen I first got into this amazing industry, the thing that surprised me more than anything else was how many different genres existed! I never even considered toys, or museum tours – heck, I didn’t even know e-learning existed – but that is where I make the majority of my money now.

As a voice actor, there are so many genres available to you, like:

Government, political candidates, education, military, GPS navigation, audio books (children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, self help…), airlines, airports, TSA announcements, elevators, websites, e-learning, video games, apps, dubbing for Foreign film, museums, sporting events/live announce events, animation characters/anime, translation, ADR or looping, documentary film, travel films, hotels, TV network/ TV narration, theme parks, toys, toy aisle demos, trade shows, public transportation, security systems, voicemail/telephony, super markets, the self check-out, sales and special announcements, department stores, electronics, phones – what about Siri???

So how do you pick which voice-over niche, or niches, are the best fit for you? Follow these steps:

1: Define your voice.
Know the product that you have to offer, inside and out. Pick 5 words that define your personality and see which of those words are present in the sound of your voice. Use the voice evaluation you received at your first Such A Voice class.

2. Know your Strengths and Weaknesses.
Throughout your coaching, you are asked to perform a variety of scripts – what comes naturally? What emotions do you perform easily? Personally, I do a great friendly and encouraging – but ask me to do mean, angry, or snarky and it just comes out whiny… Can you do accents? More importantly – can you sustain them for long periods of time? It is important to know both your strengths AND weaknesses.

3. What do you like?
Are you into animation? Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks? Are commercials your bag, baby? That’s a great place to start. If you have a genuine interest in a certain genre, people can hear it in your voice. You will also be more likely to do your research in the area to find out what the niche looks for in their voice-over artists. The more you know about the genre, the more you can become an expert in the field and enjoy more credibility and increased bookings!

4. Match your strengths to the needs of the genre.
If you can sustain character voices for long periods of time, animation and fiction audiobooks may be in your future. If you like to keep a smile in your voice, engage your listener and teach – then e-learning and telephony is a good choice for you. If you can really connect with your copy and sound conversational and real – commercials are your best choice. If you have an authoritative and resonant sound it’s time to look at documentary films or TV imaging.

Whichever genre(s) you choose to pursue, make sure that you come from a place of authenticity. Let your uniqueness shine through! For more information, join me for my Biweekly Webinar on June 26th from 8p-10p when we’ll discuss all the different types of VO work and how to market yourself to them.

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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