Yet another person called me today because of a desire to get into voiceover. While I have always endeavored to provide assistance to people considering a voice-over career, several things about this exchange left me feeling more irritated than helpful. Therefore, I want to turn my negative thoughts into some tips to help others approach me and other voice talent in more respectful manner.
1) If you must leave someone a voice mail, tell them the purpose of your call in your message.
2) If you leave a message and must leave the phone immediately, state a good time to return the call.
Today’s caller left me a message saying she wanted to talk to me. I called her back a mere 13 minutes later and had to leave a message. In my message, I said she could send me an e-mail to cut down on phone tag. (Phone tag is a HUGE time-waster!) As Murphy could have predicted, I was unavailable when she called the second time. Again, she didn’t tell me the purpose of her call. I knew at that point she was either trying to sell me something or wanted to quiz me about becoming a voice talent.
3) Get on-line.
After I told her in my voice mail that she could send me an e-mail, she stated in her second voice mail to me that she didn’t really care for e-mail. Since the entire voiceover industry is increasingly on-line, you will quickly be left behind if you don’t want to communicate through e-mail. When people send me e-mail expressing interest in working in voiceover, I can respond at my leisure — requiring less time on my part — while also offering far more details and links to info than I could give to a prospective voice talent over the phone.
4) Do your own research.
Drew is now working for me in my voiceover business, so I asked him to call her back the second time. He also had to leave a message. (Did I mention that phone tag is a waste of time?) Once they finally were on the phone together, he spent 14 minutes patiently answering this newcomer’s various questions, like:
- Since LA and NYC are the big spots for voice-over, can you do it anywhere else? What’s the market like in Atlanta? (Drew’s answer was the same as mine would be — are you currently working in voiceover, or are you looking to get started?)
- Who’s a good agent? (I mentioned agents on my advice page on my web site. Basically, you need to have appropriate training, a well-produced demo, marketable skills, and probably a number of bookings before an agent will even listen to you.)
- Can you make $50,000 a year? (Yes, but most people starting out don’t make that much.)
- Is it possible to make $100,000? Did he know anyone who made that much in voiceover? (Yes, anything is possible. Your earnings are based on a wide number of factors, not the least of which is your audition ratio. A voice talent’s real jobs are auditioning and self-marketing to generate work and consequently income.)
- What’s the phone number for Nancy Wolfson (after Drew said I had been studying with her)? How much does Nancy charge? (If you want to talk with Nancy or any other voiceover teacher, look them up and contact them personally.)
Drew referred the caller to my advice page, but she said it looked more like a blog. Obviously, she had not read that page, any of the 100 or so articles on my blog, or any other of the millions of pages on-line that could have answered the questions she was asking.
5) Request an informational interview.
If you want to have an informational interview with anyone currently doing a particular job, send a courteous request for an appointment that has a pre-defined amount of time of no more than 15 minutes. Calling a person and expecting them to take time from their busy schedule just to talk with you when it’s convenient for you shows a total disregard for their time and business. Don’t assume that the person you called can stop their current activity to talk to you.
6) Be prepared with questions.
When I talk to newcomers on the phone, I ask first if they have read my advice page and blog and then whether they have specific questions about the info that I have written. I have a business to run; I don’t have time to man the information desk.
A friend called as I was writing this entry. She summed up the underlying reason for my irritation over today’s events exceptionally well:
Do you want to make money, or do you want to earn it? People who want to make money are out to get rich quick through any means possible and using anyone they can. People who want to earn money are willing to undergo necessary training, proceed methodically, and persistently perform the necessary business aspects such as marketing and accounting to build a career.
A voiceover career definitely falls in the category where you earn money.
Peter K. O'Connell says
Isn’t it amazing what inspires blog posts?
After about the 10th one of those calls in a week, I was inspired to write “The Voice Over Entrance Exam”.
Now I just send similar callers and e-mailers there first and tell them to call me after they have read it. Fully 75% of the time I never hear back from them (these would be desirous of “making” money in VO.
The other 25% are the ones who are worth spending a few extra minutes with. They want to EARN a living.
It’s a helpful filter for me. If they can’t be bothered with a free e-book, they can’t be that serious about the biz.
Greetings, Peter! I always like how you think! 🙂 I confess that I had forgotten about your fabulous e-book, but I will add it to my list of “how to get started in voiceover” materials. I think most people who call us haven’t even taken the most basic step you listed on page 14 of recording their voice and listening to the play-back. Thanks for developing this great book — it helps all of us! It also shows why you are such an incredibly successful person in this very competitive business!
Amy Snively says
Just want to say that I feel your pain. I particularly love how irritated these people get when I recommend that they get some training first. No, they’d like to know which microphone to get and how to find good material for their demo. Sigh.