This is my son, Rylen. He’s been doing voice overs since he could barely babble! There is a definite demand for child voices and there is definitely good money to be made. In fact, he gets paid more per job than I do. Child voices are more scarce and finding a talented child who also has a home studio is not easy, so clients are willing to pay more.
Life Lessons Learned from Voice Over
Due to his voice over career, Rylen already has a few thousand dollars saved. I have let him have full control over his money because, after all, he’s the one who earned it. He checks his bank account balance frequently, has his own ATM card, and weighs every purchase he makes. He doesn’t spend it frivolously like you would expect a 10 year old to do. I think that voice over has taught him the value of money because he now knows how hard it is to earn.
We have so much fun in the studio together. I have hours of really funny outtakes and silliness of us playing behind the mic. I hope that he appreciates those recordings when he gets older because I know that I will treasure them forever.
Now, just like any career, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Voice over is hard work and is demanding of adults, so it can be especially so for a child. Should your child be a voice actor? Here’s a guide to getting started and some tips for helping your child’s career.
Things to Consider Before Jumping In
Does your child want to do this?
Most kids love recording and playing back their voice. Rylen loves seeing the waveform of his voice on the computer and making different noises and watching the shape change. I try to make it as fun as possible in the studio, but sometimes we have to do the same line over and over again. Sometimes we get very picky clients requesting a lot of revisions. It gets tedious and boring sometimes. Your child may love talking into a microphone, but it doesn’t mean they will love reading scripts into one. Make sure that voice over is something your child enjoys. Get them behind the mic and let them start practicing.
Do YOU want to do this?
Working with your child in the studio can sometimes be frustrating. There are going to be times when they just aren’t in the mood to do it. Any parent knows that trying to coach your child to do anything can quickly turn into a disaster.
This will also disrupt your life. You will have to handle all the administrative duties for your child: finding auditions, negotiating, getting paid, etc. You will also want to look into getting your child a work permit. My son has one from the state of California that must be renewed every 6 months. He also had to file taxes (he got a refund, of course), but that was something we had to remember to do. Check your local state or federal laws regarding child labor laws. You will have to deal with the last minute changes, setting up auditions and appointments, in addition to the other one thousand things on your plate for the day.
Get your child into acting lessons
Just like I recommend for adults who want to get into voiceover, I also recommend training for kids, especially improv. In my experience, kids naturally just act like themselves behind the mic (unlike some adults), but acting will help your child understand how to “get into character” when reading a script. They may have to play the role of a sick child for a hospital spot or maybe they have to be angry, for example. Also, improv will help your child during live recording sessions with clients (or if they are listening over the phone) when the client or director says “say that line like this” etc. In most major cities, you can find studios that actually specialize in voice over classes for kids (here in San Francisco, I recommend Voice One).
Recording at home
It’s going to be much easier on you and your child to record from your home studio, especially during the school year. If you need some advice on setting up a home studio, I recommend our course from the Home Studio Master, Dan Lenard.
Getting a demo
If you’re working with a coach, they will assist you in getting a professional, amazing sounding demo for your child. This is their resume, so it’s important that it sound great. That being said, there’s no need to sink thousands of dollars into a demo right away. When you and your child are still deciding if this is something you want to pursue, just have your child read one of their favorite books. Potential clients want to hear your child speaking naturally and just being themselves.
Clients are usually willing to pay more for a child voice actor vs. an adult because a) they are harder to find (especially one with a home studio) and b) they understand that it takes more time and effort to work with a child. Ensure that your child is being compensated fairly for their work (and your hard work, too!).
Set up their Voice123 Profile
Creating a profile for your child will help you go through the steps of getting set up. You will need to figure out how to describe your child’s voice, upload demos, and decide which projects are the best fit. I will tell you that Rylen gets most of his work from clients finding him in the search feature. He doesn’t really have to audition which saves us a lot of time and hassle. Having a complete profile and at least one good demo will help your child get more work. A headshot is completely optional. I know many parents worry about having photos of your child posted online and I understand. Don’t feel compelled to provide one. Many opt for a logo or caricature instead.
We have many voice over families here on Voice123, like the Snider family: David, Donovan, and Weston. We also have great child actors like Morgan Burch, who voices Sesame Street and tons of educational materials.
Are you a voice over family? Any tips for keeping your sanity?!