VO Talent Resources
Hi there and welcome to the wild, wacky world of voiceover! Since I get asked for this kind of information quite a bit, I created a page with all of the resources I recommend in one spot.
Not all of the following voiceover resources and advice will apply to you, so pick and choose what resonates.
“Break a jaw,” as my agent Jeffrey Umberger says! I’d also love to stay posted on your VO journey. Please connect via social media so I can cheer on your successes.
Please know that the following advice is based on my own voice-over journey, and what worked for me may not work for you, but here it is none the less:
LISTEN! Stop skipping commercials and start listening. What are the differences between local and national ad VO? Does a brand use a female or male voice? Does it sound conversational and real like someone talking or does it sound smooth and rehearsed?
TRAIN! So, you’ve been told you have a “great voice” or you can do spot-on impressions. That’s fantastic, but you’ve still got a long way to go to be a successful voice actor. Do your due diligence and find a reputable voice-over coach.
DEMO! No excuses. Save your coin and have your voice-over demos professionally produced. This is not the time to use your Uncle’s best friend’s cousin who rocks Garage Band. Your demo is what will open doors, so it better be top-notch.
While I choose not to participate as paid conference speaker or webinar presenter (long story for another day, but in summary, I feel I need to pay forward kindness given to me when I was first starting out as a female voiceover talent), I do get asked to speak and will participate in events that I believe have the voice actor’s best interests at heart. This is the presentation message that garners the most response from attendees. So, that’s why I’m sharing it here.
It can be difficult to stay the course on your voice-over journey, tripping over roots of self-doubt, distracted by shiny new gear or tempted down pathways pursuing promises made by industry predators.
Find direction through career compass points.
NORTH: Connect with someone who is where you want to be in 5-10 years, and create a mutually beneficial relationship with that person. Look to him or her for guidance when you hit bumps in the road, but also find ways to reciprocate.
EAST & WEST: Team up with colleagues who are walking alongside you at the same point you are on your journey. Support and learn from each other sharing information, brainstorms and referrals.
SOUTH: Look behind you to find someone where you once were, and become that person’s North. Be a guide, and be inspired by his or her newcomer’s passion. Reflecting on where you were is a reminder of how far you’ve come. Recognizing the lessons learned along the way helps you move closer to your final destination.
Be prepared to make a financial investment in your career. Make sure to budget for training, professional demo production, marketing, website, books, memberships, conferences, webinars, booth/recording space, consultation and gear. A professional VO friend of mine, Jane Ingalls, suggests to plan on a $5,000-$7,000 investment.
How to Approach Mentors (Norths)
DO your research. Go to their websites, listen to their work, follow them on social media, share their content (make sure to tag them in that post crediting them for content you share).
DON’T launch into how great you are. You should start each contact demonstrating that you’ve done your research.
DO offer to pay them. It’s a sign of respect for their time and experience.
DON’T forget to scratch their backs too. If they’ve helped you, let your clients, agents and social media audience know.
DO find something you can do to help them as they’ve helped you.
How to Find a Coach
DO your research. Visit their websites and listen to their work. Talk with others they’ve coached. Look at VO Talent agency sites and see if they have a list of recommended coaches.
DON’T fall prey to promises of instant success or false flattery.
Back before I went into voiceover, I used my journalism/PR degree as a writer and marketer working for various media companies, nonprofits and corporations. Sometimes, I volunteer to write articles in order to keep my skills sharp. It’s a blast to write about a subject, I’m truly passionate about: VO! Here are some tips and best practices I’ve written about in both articles and interviews with people who hire voice actors.
- Voiceover Session Dos and Dont’s (Backstage)
- Audition Must Do’s (Backstage)
- VO Q & A – TV Promo with Bryan Marye (Backstage)
- VO Q & A – Casting Director with Mary Lynn Wissner (Backstage)
- VO Q & A – Commerical Advertising Casting with Ron Huey (Backstage)
- VO Q & A – TV Series Voiceover Casting with Rhayvnn Drummer (Backstage)
- 5 Questions to Ask Before Attending a Voice-over Conference (Backstage)
- VO Session Go-bag: Must Haves and Must Not’s (Backstage)
- 7 Tips for Booking Commercial/Advertising VO Work (Backstage)
- The African American Voice Actor Database with Bryan Howard (Backstage)
- Voice-over Marketing How To (VoiceOverXtra)
- Art of the Pitch (PR Daily)
- Bid to Win-Production Pitches (Production HUB)
More Articles & Interviews
Being on the other side of an interview is also a blast! From the perspective of not only a professional voiceover talent but also a female business owner, entrepreneur, and mother of a teen VO talent I’ve spoken with great reporters and podcasters about a wide variety of topics from specialty genres like conversational, medical, promo, in-show narration, video games, eLearning and more general topics like running a business, marketing, PR, operating in the gig economy, creating my free Time Your Script App and more.
I’ve been featured in publications I have great respect for like AdWeek, CampaignUS, Reader’s Digest, Inc. and on NPR’s Marketplace among others.
- KB4Jeep – Jeep – Kelley Buttrick – Voice Actor-Marketing (AdWeek)
- Gig Economy – UPS Store (Inc.)
- Women in the Gig Economy (NPR’s Marketplace)
- Kelley Buttrick – KB4Jeep – Jeep (Campaign US)
- Business Owner – Creative-Marketing – Kelley Buttrick (Voyage Magazine)
- Kelley Buttrick – Working as a Female VO (Exposure Magazine)
- Female Disruptor – Kelley Buttrick – Woman in VO (Authority Magazine)
- Female VO Talent – Voiceover – Creative Agency (Monsters Unlimited – Speaking Human)
- VO Marketing – Jeep – KB4Jeep – Kelley Buttrick (V.O.B.S.)
- VO Marketing – Female VO – Empowerment (VO B.O.S.S.)
- VO Marketing – Episode 1 (The Voice-Over Marketing Podcast)
- VO Marketing – Episode 2 (The Voice-Over Marketing Podcast)
- Female Voice Over Talent Journey – Kelley Buttrick – Episode 55 (Mike Lenz Podcast)
Free Outside Resources & Advice
The voiceover community is chock full of amazing people who are not only talented but also generous with their advice and experience. I highly recommend the following to anyone interested in becoming a voice actor.
- The Voiceover Entrance Exam by Peter O’Connell
- So You Want to be a Voiceover Talent by Sarah Sealey
- Backstage – Offers expert advice from working pros
- VoiceOverXtra – Great pros offering great advice and great discussion.
- Jonathan Tilley – I’ve been a fan of Team Tilley for years and get a lot of value from his free offerings as part of the Facebook Creative Circle group.
- V.O.B.S. (Voice Over Body Shop) with Dan Lenard and George Whittam – Dan and George are approachable experts and are guaranteed to make you snarf your drink. Their guests provide invaluable advice.
- Mike Lenz Podcast has fantastic guests, and I learn from every episode I hear.
- The Voice Over Marketing Podcast with John Melley – John knows his stuff and so do his guests.
- #VO B.O.S.S. – Rock your business like a boss by listening to female VO pros Gabby and Anne dish on all things voiceover.
- O.B.S. (Voice Over Body Shop) with Dan Lenard and George Whittam – Dan and George are approachable experts and are guaranteed to make you snarf your drink. Their guests provide invaluable advice.
Like any career change, there is going to be an investment. Educating yourself needs to be a part of that investment. The following are resources I’ve used and participated in personally and found great value in them.
- The Art of Voice Acting by James Alburger – Note: I’m quoted in this book-albeit my name was spelled incorrectly, but I’ve recommended it long before this edition featuring my Career Compass advice. I found this book to be the most helpful when I was researching the path to becoming a voice actor.
- Atlanta Voice Over Studio – I have voiced projects with the owners Heidi Rew and Mike Stoudt as well as many of their instructors.
- Celia Segal – Celia is the branding guru for the voice-over world. She was a big help to me consulting on marketing efforts and agency representation.
- Mary Lynn Wissner – I’ve coached with Mary Lynn on perfecting the real-person, conversational, authentic read so popular in commercials today.
- Jeff Howell – Having stumbled into TV promo work, I wanted to know how to grow that aspect of my business and Jeff was the ideal coaching choice for me working on the subtle nuances needed for on-air promotion VO.
Kelley Buttrick...always smiling, prepared, and early to the session. That alone makes her a pleasure to book. But there's more...she strives for excellence and brings enthusiasm and energy to every voiceover project. She makes my job as a director easy.
Just some of the clients that trust Kelley with their message...
Kelley Buttrick | Female Voice Talent // Classic Service. Modern Sound.
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