Whether you’re an electrician, a real estate agent or a voice actor, you probably settle into a groove no matter what the new day brings. But what exactly does a day in the life of a voice actor look like?
Full disclosure: it’s a delicate thing zeroing in on a ‘typical’ day. Sometimes it’s insanely busy – sometimes it isn’t.
- If I told you about my busiest day ever, it would paint an unrealistic portrait of the VO landscape.
- And if I told you about my slowest day ever, you’d get super bored listening to how I sent some marketing emails, played video games for six straight hours, ate instant noodles and took a bunch of pictures of the cat.
This is a recent day that fairly illustrates a typical day in the life of a voice actor.
7 AM – Wake Up
I guzzle coffee like my life depends on it (it kinda does). Smoothie, toast, shower.
8 AM – Triage Emails
I live on the West Coast, so New York has had a full three hour head start on the day. My email inbox could be a crime scene if I don’t do something about it soon.
As a voice actor, a lot of my time is spent flipping through my inbox and determining what I need to do right now and what can wait.
- This morning there are three emails for auditions due by end-of-day today – and if I don’t get them submitted this morning, I’m probably not going to have time later on. The East Coast is clinking glasses at happy hour (rightfully so!) while it’s still early afternoon here.
- I’ve also got a client in Culver City who emailed me to find out if I’m free for a remote pick up session later this afternoon. A ‘pick up session’ is a second recording session to address things like script changes after the primary recording has already been done. ‘Remote’ means that I will record from my home studio.
- And I have an in-person VO session later this morning at a recording studio. The client from that job just emailed the final script to my agent so I can get familiar with the wording it before I head in.
I download the three audition scripts, confirm with my client that the 4pm pick-up session works – and let my agency know that I received the final script for this morning’s session.
Everything else can wait.
8:20 AM – Warm Up
This doesn’t have to be a complex process. But it has to happen.
Q: What do I do?
A: Drink room temperature water and read out loud.
Seriously, that’s it.
Today, I read an interesting long form article about people quiet quitting their jobs.
Then I read the audition scripts a few times out loud and make some mental notes about how to best sell toothpaste, candy and exercise bikes without sounding like a salesman.
9 AM – Audition and Edit
Voice over auditions make up a big part of my day. More so than actual paid voice over work.
In fact, if you ask, most voice actors would probably agree that it seems like we audition for a living. Here are some audition tips to help you crush your castings and get booked.
To make the best use of my time, I batch my auditions.
- Batching means that I record all of them back to back, one after the other
- Then I edit them all back to back
- This way, I can focus specifically on reading for a block of time – and then editing for a block of time
Learn about why it’s usually best to record more audition takes than you’ll actually send to potential clients in this step-by-step course for beginner voice actors.
As I’m exporting and sending my .mp3 files, another same day casting comes through.
So it’s back to the booth. Record, edit, export, send.
9:45 AM – Consult the Maps
Traffic can make you look bad.
- As a voiceover actor, being on time for things is a big deal. And walking into a paid session even 10 minutes late is just not on.
- The client paid for the studio time, and that’s expensive
- But even if circumstances beyond my control (like traffic) were to hold me up, walking in late – sweating and breathing heavy from jumping out of the car and running the last 15 blocks – I’d just seem generally unprofessional and unreliable to my clients.
My session this morning is at a studio in Hollywood. Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze all tell me the roads between here and there are basically parking lots.
So today I’m taking the Metro (and hoping that’s just dog poop on the platform).
11 AM – VO Session
While I love the freedom of working from home, I actually prefer in-person voiceover sessions. And maybe that’s because I don’t have to worry about anything other than my voice acting performance at a studio.
The equipment is always superb – and having a professional audio engineer on site means they’ll handle it if the Source Connect link gets nerfed, or the mic is running a little hot.
Anyway, the session runs like this:
- A little howyadoin chit chat.
- The clients show me the TV spot – and give me some direction.
- We record a few takes.
- They give me a little more pinpointed direction, and a couple of phrasing suggestions.
- We record a few more takes.
- The clients and the sound engineer cobble together their favorite reads and set it to picture. They’re happy, which means I’m happy.
- We then record a couple ‘safety’ takes. Read about what that means in this post about VO jargon.
- I sign the contract and financial docs, say my thank yous and goodbyes – and walk into the blinding California daylight.
Quick, easy and fun.
Below is the commercial spot we recorded in the studio. I’m the first male voice that comes in, right after the female intro.
I Uber it to the Arts District and triage my inbox the whole way.
- My agent is asking about my availability early next week for a well known shoe brand. Nice.
- But I’ve also been released from a relatively big job I was on-hold for. Not nice.
- And more auditions. It’s gonna be a busy afternoon.
12:45 PM – Lunch
My wife and I sit on a sunny courtyard terrace and grab a quick bite.
Start Your Career as a Voice Actor
Voice Over: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
2 PM – More Auditions. More Editing. A Little Bookkeeping
Back at home. Now I get to the auditions that aren’t due until tomorrow or later.
- There are a few that I’m really looking forward to
- A couple that I’m ambivalent (but totally fine) about
- One that I’ve decided to pass on
- And one I can’t submit on because of a period of exclusivity with a competitive brand
I love recording and editing, and the time literally melts away.
Export, send, done.
20 minutes until my next session. Let’s have a look at outstanding invoices. Are any of them overdue? A quick look through my spreadsheet shows me that almost everything is paid – or submitted too recently to worry about.
There’s just one invoice that is past the 30-day mark. I send a gently worded reminder.
3:45 PM – Live Directed Session Prep
Remember how I said the in-person sessions are great? Well, so are the voiceover sessions from home. But there’s a little more to those.
At home, I’m responsible for the sound isolation (or lack thereof) of my recording space, my equipment and software. Even something as dumb as a choppy internet connection can grind a recording session in my home studio to a halt.
So I make a point of double checking everything I’ll be relying on in the session. Everything that is supposed to have a green light has a green light. Let’s go.
I fire up Source Connect and wait for the client and engineer to patch in.
4 PM – Pick-up VO Session
The client connects to the Source Connect session – and we go over a quick line change their legal department has tweaked to make the commercial, you know… legal.
Since we’re only inserting one new line into the completed spot, the client asks the engineer to play what we recorded last time – so I can match the pitch and cadence from our last session.
I read the new line three times in a row. Three more for safety and we’re done. We disconnect and I email my invoice to their accounting department and update my spreadsheet.
4:15 PM Coffee on the Roof (and a Little Reflection)
I’m not one to get super emotional. But I do have a moment on the rooftop, looking over the city, sipping from a scalding cup of black caffeinated water, where I realize just how fortunate I am.
Before I made the decision to pursue voice acting, I had a job I hated with the ferocity of the sun.
And I had to keep that day job when I was just starting out as a voice actor because, well… rent.
- I was doing the dishes one night after a particularly hellish shift and heard something on the TV that sounded familiar. And it took me a second to realize that it was my voice reading the announcer lines in a commercial.
- OK, did I get so fired up that I almost broke an entire sink full of dishes when I dropped a frying pan on top of a bunch of plates and ran into the other room? Yes I did.
Not cool, but true.
I wanted more. Training helped me get there.
Sure, with my current career, I’ll never have a zeroed out inbox. But that’s OK. I also don’t have a bad day because of work anymore.
5 PM – 12 AM Dinner, Leisure, Drums
In the mailbox I dig through the circulars and credit card offers – and find two checks (sweet) and a tax document (meh).
We eat dinner in front of the TV, cause that’s how we roll. Plus I’m always doing homework. Watching television is a master class in modern VO.
Wanna hear one of the best voice artists currently on television? Watch Love Island UK and check out this guy.
Later, while we’re half-watching Dateline (or as I call it: Murder Island), one of my current pharma spots plays during a commercial break.
Am I embarrassed that I said some interesting words on TV? Nope. I’m proud to have done the work – and the clients were great.
Then at 8 PM, I head to the rehearsal space and bash the drum kit like it’s a bloodsport.
Later in bed, I know it’s time to sleep when the phone I’ve been watching F1 highlights on smacks me on the forehead.
What about you? What’s your workday like? Tell me about your struggles and your victories in the comments!
And check out these other things beginner voice actors should know about:
- The One Thing Successful Voice Over Artists All Have in Common
- 6 Simple Voice Acting Tips
- How Much Do Voice Actors Make?
Plus, gear reviews for voice actors:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface Review
- Sennheiser MKH 416 Microphone Review
- Sony MDR 7506 Headphones Review
Curious about how to start your voice acting career? Want to learn more about voice acting and the things beginners should know about the voice over industry? It’s more than just having a great voice. Bring your natural talent and check out this voice over training course for beginners!