Real conversations with good people who want to get in on the voiceover industry
It may not seem like a nice thing to call someone a “newbie”, but it is equally not nice to fill someone with false confidence by calling them a voice actor from day one. Recently, we had conversations with people who were happy to call themselves “newbies”, mainly because they saw their practical way of thinking as “good business”.
The deal is…
When you offer great voiceover jobs on a website, it does not take long for everyone to find out. Not long after, the website begins to get contacted with questions and quite often those questions serve as an education for what is really happening in the minds of people looking at online searches for voiceover jobs.
Unfortunately for newbies, the time it takes between “online search” and “getting a voiceover job” can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years. In spite of all the fear-discussions on saturation of the industry, this simple fact is what keeps the voiceover industry small. But the industry is small for another reason: Practical thinking. This reason is similar to the very reason people did or did NOT become voice actors, BEFORE online casting.
It may simply come down to a person’s DNA: Is the newbie “too practical” to be a voice actor?
Conversations with Practical Newbie #1
This “Practical Newbie” is a “technical business connection” who sometimes gets tired of the business life he leads for the lack of work-life balance…
Practical Newbie #1: “I tried some of those “free” voice casting sites, but it turns out they are not “free” at all. I did not know that in order to get work, I had to have special recording equipment to submit audio. I was always told I should do voiceovers, but no one told me the recording equipment was that expensive! How the hell can I pay for it, if the jobs pay so poorly. I have no time for that.”
My curiosity was peaked. I replied: “Does the website seem no longer free to you because you have to buy competitive audio equipment?”
Practical Newbie replied: “No, it still seems free, but it no longer seems worth the effort. Why? I get to spend a lot of my own money money to get paid a little, and continue to make little? Does that make sense to you?”
Me: “No, not at all. But you have to know great work is out there. It just takes more effort and it is competitive to get it because you go up against so much experience, but…(practical newbie cuts me off)”
Practical Newbie: “Is this the part where you try to sell me services to make money for your friends, who have friends with friends, and I end up going broke?”
Me: “I think you are touching on why it is important to be able to trust who you work with, but this is the part where I tell you the cost of doing business in voiceovers is just like the cost of doing business anywhere. To date, I have never met a person who did not spend money to make money. Have you?”
Practical Newbie: “No, I guess not. I just need to evaluate if I really want to do this or not. It looks like fun, but there is so much more involved than I realized.”
Me: “Well, let me know in the future what you end up doing.”
Practical Newbie #2
This person was a complete stranger who messaged me on LinkedIn:
Practical Newbie #2: “Hi! I had been looking at your LinkedIn profile and saw you work in the voiceover biz. I would like to get into that, but I currently have a steady job announcing at (a theme park). I am really interested in doing this. I am not just saying that. What would be my next move?”.
Me: “Hello, I do not know you, and never heard of you, so I am afraid I cannot help all that much. I will offer this advice: Keep your steady job! Why? You will need the money. In the meantime contact (this person). I personally offer no education, but they do.”
Practical Newbie #2: “Thanks for your reply. I was looking to quit my day job and start my own business. I have issues with the management style of most of my jobs and want to work for myself. I will reach out to the person you mentioned.”
Two months later…
Practical Newbie #2: “I am writing to thank you for your help two months ago. I went to the person you mentioned, and learned more about the voiceover business. I discovered it is just not right for me. The good news is that I kept my job, so no harm done. I appreciate your guidance. I did not know of the cost involved and I found I just did not like the work after all. Maybe one day.”
Me: (I did not reply. It just seemed like the person wanted to own what she learned.)
Why share this?
Times are definitely changing and the website slogans that invite hopeful voice actors to “Chase a dream” or “Fulfill a passion” have come full circle. Today’s voice actor has to be a practical thinker and pay attention to “the numbers of the business”. Who knows? It may even be fun to know if you will waste money, before it happens.
In 2014, the mindset of “the impractical voice actor” leaves the artist as an open target for being taken for granted, overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid.
This Thursday, August 14th at 7pm EDT, we are doing a webinar that will supply information to help voice actors make smarter business decisions for their careers. It would be a pleasure to have you attend. It may save you some time, money, and headaches in the future.
We hope you can make it, and if not, the webinar is recorded for play at a later date.
RIP – Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)
Thank you for the laughter and enjoyment you brought us all