So I've been at this voice over thing for a while now and here's what I've learned over the past year
Hone your technical game! What do I mean by that? Well, simply digest as much as possible about what makes a voice over track "sound good". Now, that comes with a lot of interpretation but for the most part, learn what the industry is "doing" when they process a voice over. For example, how much headroom do you leave? Should you add effects? Do you compress the ever-living-shit out of it?
The following are just a few examples of what I've learned over the past year.
Processing / Editing / Technical
1) Learn what compression is, and how to use it properly. I made the mistake of using too much compression/limiting when I started out and everything just sounded muddy or was "too loud".
2) Maximize your workflow within your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) by learning your shortcut keys and creating favorite macros! You'll soon discover that you're doing the same things each and every time to each and every voice over project you record. Create favorite macros and use shortcut keys!
Watch every video you can about your DAW and pay attention to how the presenter works within that DAW. You'll be able to cut out so much editing time during your workflow it'll allow you to put more time into your read and therefore create a better audition.
3) Not all plugins are created equally. For the first six months I just used the stock effects within my DAW. While these worked great for the first six months I soon began to wonder why so many people recommended certain ones on the message boards and forums I visited.
What makes them so much better than stock plugins? Well, hearing is believing. I wasn't paid to say this but, RX5 from Izotope changed my workflow more than any other single bit of kit I own. The De-Click module alone shaved hours off of my editing process. Auto-heal is almost completely gone now in my workflow.
Huge shout out to the pros over at the /r/audioengineering sub Reddit. Huge wealth of technical information on there. (Mostly from producers, but it's worth it to hear about their experiences!).
This part really goes without saying; social media is another way you can market yourself to potential clients and customers. I won't talk too much about this but if I had to give one experience that really opened my eyes it would be this...
Unless you get lucky as hell, building a following through social media takes time. From Twitter and Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, unless you hire someone to manage it I would stick to only two of them to "promote" yourself.
If you're a whiz at social media, knock yourself out. But for a guy like me (a sarcastic asshole), committing time to this dream is important and I'd rather spend my time learning the tools of the trade.
At first I didn't know how to define what jobs would be a good fit for my voice type. I thought that I might spend some money getting a "professional" to tell me what jobs would be good for me. But I didn't do that. Instead I put my head down and auditioned for everything. It took about 8 months before I started to see a pattern emerge. And lo after months I think I know what my voice can "sell"
I suppose there's some element of experience that allows a professional determine your voice "niche" but to be honest, unless you're in a hurry to find out, you will find out sooner if you just keep auditioning.
In closing I would like to thank everyone that gave me a job over the past year. I learned more from their feedback and directions than all the other stuff combined. There really isn't any substitute for constructive criticism.
Here's to another year of learning and getting better!
Here's an example of what one of my first commercials sounded like. It was dull and didn't really have any "brightness" to it.
Now here's a newer voice over which I think sounds much better after many months of getting to know what processing benefits my voice.