If you read my entry from Sunday, you know that I appeared on a TV show called Finding Your Dream Job which aired on Monday night. Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV (Channel 2) had posted a call for entries on its web site. Out of the 100s of submissions, the station selected 6 people to assist in career transitions.
David McCreary was one of the 6 people chosen to participate on the show, and he wants to start a career in voice-over. WSB-TV arranged for him to spend his first time in the recording booth at the fantastic Catspaw Studios under the outstanding direction of studio owner and leading national voice-over talent Doug Paul. Doug called me to perform copy with David for the recording session.
The show focused on how to change careers and land in your dream job. Popular TV/radio personality and author Clark Howard hosted the show and talked with a panel of career advisors and special guests in addition to the people profiled on the show.
David’s segment was early in the broadcast. The spot we recorded during the taping wasn’t aired on the show. It was a role reversal for me in that it was one of the few times in my life that I was seen but not heard. 🙂
During David’s portion of the show, Doug gave him some solid advice specific to starting a career in voice-over. Like many people interested in this profession, David has spent years impersonating other people and cartoon characters. He would like to perform those impersonations for a living. Doug said, “Unfortunately, you won’t get a lot of jobs being so many other people like that, so you’ve got to do straight and character stuff.”
Doug recommended that David see if he can find an opportunity to work in broadcasting, such as at a small radio station. He also suggested that David get involved in theatre work. Doug told David that he could start creating some short demonstrations of voice work to use as something to talk about with agents.
The best advice from Doug applies not only to newcomers to voice-over but also to professionals:
“If you really want to get into this business, you’ve got to work everyday. It’s kind of like playing tennis. You’ve got to play every day.”
If it were easy, everyone would do it
Host Clark Howard used himself as an example of someone who never thought he would use his voice for a living. In talking about career changes in general, he said that “Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got to go for it. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy street. You have to work hard.”
I’m glad he made those comments on the show. As I briefly discussed with his producer at the taping, I think many people are eager to enter the voice-over industry because they enamored with the performance aspects of it. People are told they have a nice voice and perceive this field as one open to anyone without any training. Often, they don’t seem to realize that it is a business requiring on-going training and perpetual marketing like any other business. (We won’t even talk about the other business departments needed for your voice-over enterprise like accounting, information technology and office management.)
We all have unique voices. The ability to interpret someone else’s words, remain true to their meaning and perform scripts with an intended audience in mind while sounding natural and flowing is a skill that takes practice. Over time, your sound becomes as polished as a beautiful jewel. Like Doug Paul said, you’ve got to work every day.
How to change a career (to voice-over or anything else)
The entire program was excellent. Viewers learned that, on average, people change jobs 5-7 times and careers 3-5 times over a lifetime. All of the general guidance to changing careers can be applied to starting a career in voice-over. In order to change careers, you first need to:
- Know yourself well
- Know your skills
- Know what makes you happy
The advisors suggested reading books, taking career assessment tests and working with coaches to help you narrow your choices.
You may need to build experience and education by:
- Working a part-time job
- Working as a contract or temporary employee
- Going to school or obtaining specialized training
Clark and his guests also stressed the importance of learning everything you can about the industry that you want to join. They listed a number of possibilities for networking with professionals in the industry:
- Find a mentor
- Join professional associations
- Go to conferences
- Take an internship
I would add that once you have defined your niche in voice-over, you could utilize such networking opportunities as ways to meet potential clients who might be in need of voice-over work.
Here’s that word again: PERSISTENCE
One person interviewed on the show was Atlanta writer Deb Bruce. Although I am writing a column about voice-over, I am including her story because it is another one of self-discipline and persistence from which we can all learn valuable lessons.
When she began her writing career, she got up at 4:00am to write before her children were awake. She submitted her articles for publication and kept track of them. If an article was rejected, she sent it to someone else. She said she always had about 100 articles out for consideration at time. She has now published more than 2500 articles!
In addition, she was at a social gathering once and heard the name of Doubleday behind her. She seized the opportunity to introduce herself, complete with an idea for a book pitch. The publisher didn’t produce that kind of book, but he handed her the card of someone who did. She followed up with that contact and obtained a book contract. She has never been to New York but has now published 79 books and works with New York publishers every day.
The theme of the show seemed to coincide with everything I believe – if you know yourself, have clear goals and are willing to work hard to achieve them, you can make your dream job into a reality! Thanks to WSB-TV for producing such thought-provoking and potentially life-changing programming for the citizens of Atlanta and for Doug Paul at Catspaw Studios for including me in the production. Catspaw engineer Jim McKnight made us sound great while we performed our scripts. It was an honor to participate in this project. I enjoyed working with David McCreary in his first studio session and hope to see him across the booth from me in the future!