Even accomplished actors can struggle to take advantage of the growing opportunities in voice-over work.
Getting started in voice-over requires the best coaching and support available. Of course, it would help if you had a coach with a real passion for the industry, who is dedicated to your continuing development. It would also be best if you had someone who understands the common pitfall, the business of selling your voice and, of course, nailing the performance.
Caroline Turner Cole is an experienced voice actor, coach and writer, and we have worked with her on popular blogs like Why Auditions are BAD for the Voice Over Industry.
So it is without hesitation that we recommend her new book, Start Speaking: A Beginner's Guide to Building a Voice Over Business. Purchase the book using the Amazon link to the left (full disclaimer if you click on the link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission). Continue reading as we sit down with Caroline to learn more about her background, the book and to get some amazing advice.
Let's dive right in!
Q1: What inspired you to write Start Speaking?
Caroline: I have a course I created and launched at the end of 2019, priced at $147. It has three videos and a lot of homework you can do at your own pace.
It takes you from the ground up regarding what you need to build an online voice-over business. But I realized over the past year and a half that many people interested in voice-over don’t have enough baseline information to say, “Yes, I can do that, and I’d like to invest in a course”.
So, I went about putting together a guide for a much lower price point. The focus is to help introduce people (particularly multi-disciplinary creatives and local theatre actors) to the online voice industry to understand how accessible it is as a potential job and career.
Q2: How long did it take you to write?
Caroline: Technically it’s taken about three years (laughs). But once I decided to start putting together the essays and posts I’d written into a book, editing, organizing, and rewriting passages took about ten months.
Q3: What is it people can expect to get out of reading Start Speaking?
Caroline: It’s an introduction to what’s possible in terms of starting your own voice-over business from home. I know because I’ve gone from no understanding about voice-over (besides, “oh, the people who make silly voices for cartoons?”) to it being my primary source of income in about five years.
After reading the book, people can expect to understand what voice over is and how to start their own business. It is growing as a viable career option for more and more people! The book covers the concrete next steps for them if they want to become a voice-over actor themselves!
Q4: What bad advice do you commonly hear given to newcomers to the industry?
Caroline: That you have to spend a lot of money to get started. The VO industry has a low bar to entry. Those who claim you should invest a lot of money upfront are usually selling you something or secretly trying to keep you out to “limit” their competition.
There’s room for everyone here. I had to turn away two jobs yesterday because I’m fully booked at the moment!
Q5: In your career to date, what has been your favourite voice acting job?
Caroline: Oh gosh, that’s so hard! Two projects come to mind. I voiced an audiobook two years ago now that’s a retelling of a children’s fairy tale (The Snow Queen) for young adults.
The author creatively reimagined the story and dealt with mature themes like depression and suicide in really appropriate and thought-provoking ways. I enjoyed reading it, bringing the characters to life, and of course, playing a cute Irish boy who’s our heroine’s love interest.
Since then, I’ve gotten to read several other books from the same author, and it’s been fantastic. I love fairy tales and can’t believe reading them is part of my job! My other favourite project is one I worked on with some Russian clients of mine. They were helping launch a new high-speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg and hired me to read the English train announcements.
So hilarious to think that people commuting to their jobs on the other side of the world every day hear my voice reminding them not to forget their luggage when exiting the train. This job always offers diverse projects, and things you’d never imagine are right around the corner. I’m never bored!
Q6: Does a big ego help or hurt voice actors?
Caroline: Ooh, good question. I think confidence is an asset, but ego can be a liability. Culturally I think we conflate those two a lot. You’ve got to be confident in your ability to perform, deliver, and produce the right product.
You also have to be confident to sell your services to potential clients. But there’s a lot of rejection in this industry, like any performing art. You won’t land most auditions, and there’s a lot of jobs you won’t book.
There will always be someone out there who’s doing “better” than you are. You can’t let your ego get in the way of keeping going and finding creative ways to build your business in tough times.
Q7: What is the most challenging part of working as a voice actor?
Caroline: When clients don’t value your work or time, it can be frustrating in this freelance world working with people who don’t understand what you do or what you bring to the table.
They’ll try to lowball you or squeeze another revision for free because it’s “just one word that’s different” or whatever. An essential part of being successful in this industry is understanding and communicating your value to potential clients.
Most of the time, they don’t think they’re taking advantage of you (there are always a few rats who know exactly what they’re doing), so it’s up to YOU to set your boundaries, clearly communicate things up front, and handle disagreements professionally.
That can be frustrating at times, especially when you’re dealing with people mostly via the internet instead of face to face, and you’re also balancing language and cultural differences. It’s a pretty tricky tightrope to walk.
Q8: What book(s) have you recommended recently to friends and why?
Caroline: I always recommend The Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron. It’s completely changed my life – how I understand my creativity and view myself as an artist and creative being.
I also love a good murder mystery and am currently reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. A friend recommended it to me!
Q9: What purchase of $200 or less has changed your life?
Caroline: Well, since I already said The Artists’ Way (laughs), it would have to be my first microphone, an Audio Technica AT2020 USB microphone. And from that, I built a business!
Q10: Who is your biggest hero?
Caroline: My grandmother. She seeks solutions. She’s always learning new things. She doesn’t judge others for who they are. And she enjoys a whiskey on the rocks by a fire at the end of a long day. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
American women can’t thank her enough for how she secured our rights and shaped our legal system this past century.
Q11: Do you have any more books or courses planned in the future?
Caroline: Yessssss! I’ve got a big course launch coming this summer for those who are *really* ready to launch their voice over businesses: Start Speaking Springboard.
The course will include live group coaching, tailored lessons with homework assignments, 1-2-1 coaching sessions and even Demo production assistance over eight weeks starting in June 2021. SUPER limited space, so stay tuned y’all!
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