The following message was left as a comment to my post The feel-good voiceover blog of the summer! I copied the message exactly as I received it because I felt the answers to the questions deserved to be their own entry.
I’ve been considering launching into this field—and really want to know what it takes and what to expect. The best way to find out the pros and cons of any occupation is to talk to others who actually do it…..So, I’m open to whatever info you think would help me so I don’t invest a lot of money and energy needlessly. My first question is, “Do you like voiceover work?” and “How difficult is it to break into this business?” I’m thinking it may take a few years…Is there really that much work out there for new talent?
Do I like voiceover work?
I don’t know of any person who would say they didn’t like the voiceover part of the job.
Voiceover is like any career in that you like some parts of it better than others. Of course, I love the actual act of reading the words on the page, interpreting the author’s meaning, and recording the author’s words with my voice. I love employing all sorts of marketing tactics that do not require me to make cold calls. I love writing articles on my blog and responding to reader comments (hint, hint!). I love connecting with other voice talent and clients in person and on-line. I love the immense satisfaction of hearing my voice at work in different media for various companies, and, yes, the coolness factor of this occupation is pretty hard to beat.
Perhaps a better question is: “Are there things that you don’t like about being a voice talent?”
Editing the recordings is not my favorite task, especially since editing takes far more of my time than recording. Auditioning for countless projects and not even getting a response can be very depressing. Chasing down payment from clients who are at least a month late in paying for completed work is downright annoying. The situation with late-paying clients is even more stressful when that money is needed to pay one’s own obligations.
Also, you’ve probably read about voice actors who brag about recording in their pajamas. What they didn’t tell you is that they are wearing their pajamas because they are working early or late hours or on the weekend in order to meet a client deadline. If you want a structured, 40-hour-a-week job, you will want some other career choice than being a voiceover talent.
How difficult is it to break into this business?
How difficult is it to start any career that inherently means you are a self-employed business person? Becoming a voice talent necessarily demands that you will spend time, energy, and money as part of the start-up and continuing operational costs of your business. There are NO shortcuts!
I actually have a couple of mathematical formulas for figuring the method to become a voice-over success story. I wrote about the first one here, and the second one is below.
My feeble attempt at humor merely illustrates that the question can’t be answered because every person’s path into and through a voiceover career is different.
So, how does any start-up business become a thriving enterprise? Obviously, the business’ chance for survival — much less prosperity — depends on the people who work there and the product they are selling. The time, energy, and money you invest in developing your technique, demo(s), web site, and marketing plan will be the deciding factors in your chances for success in starting and maintaining your voiceover business.
My questions for you
Anyone contemplating any career — whether as a voice talent, computer programmer, or Sherpa on the mountainside — should ask themselves as many or more questions than they ask other people. Whatever career you pick will require substantial amounts of time and energy; chunks of money are also required when you are considering starting a business. Spend some introspective time determining your answers to the kinds of questions I list below, and your answers will help you decide if voiceover is a good career choice for you.
- What are your values? Values are different than goals. For instance, if you value security as highly as I do, you’ll probably want to have a day job with healthcare benefits and a 401K plan at least until your voiceover income consistently exceeds that of the day job and you’re able to insure yourself and plan your retirement.
- What is your passion? If you don’t know, what activities make you happy? When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? (If you want to see some great books that will help you find your passion, check out these books by Barbara Sher .)
- What about voiceover work is appealing to you? Do you think it’s an easy and glamorous way to make money? Do you love to read? Do you love to learn things? Is technology your friend? Do you have a desire to help people? Do you work well in isolation? Do you work well on multiple projects at one time and under multiple deadlines? Do you have an inner calling to do a certain kind of voiceover work? Have you ever actually recorded your voice and listened to it?
For an excellent reality check about starting a voiceover business, I highly encourage you to read Peter O’Connell’s Voiceover Entrance Exam. Peter is a veteran voice talent and savvy marketer who gives you the straight scoop on this business in a free e-book.
A final question on my list
Whatever happened to saying “thank you”?
People frequently fire off questions to me without including the simplest acknowledgement that my valuable time will be needed to answer them. I don’t expect compensation — not that any is offered in most inquiries I receive. I supply my advice as a service out of a true desire to help others. However, I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who overlook the small courtesy of saying “thank you”.
Therefore, my parting advice is to develop an attitude of gratitude, starting with every communication you have with another person about your career choices.