The other day I was given the name of a potential client. The reason I was given this name was because they had hired a voice talent to do a job for them and it had been done so poorly that they were likely going to have to get it done again.
The original voice actor came in with highly discounted rates, and in the end provided exactly what the client paid for.
This really bothered me. I take it personally because it reflects poorly on what I do for a living. On the business I love. It also means somewhere along the line, misinformation is being presented that causes often well meaning people to assume they can become a voice actor and charge pennies to provide the service.
So where is the breakdown?
Is it in teachers and mentors who create false hope? Is it in coaches and services that are only interested in getting paid and not necessarily providing results? Are there just a bunch of delusional people walking around out there who really think they can do this? Are sites like Fiverr really just ruining the creative and freelance world?
5 Questions For New Voice Actors
As I thought about all of these things I thought about some questions I’ve presented to people in the past who have come to me wanting to know the secret to “breaking in” to voice over.
If you’re considering this as a career, honestly ask yourself these questions. Take time. Be sincere and genuine with your responses.
1) Is voice over your passion? I can tell you right now, if you’re not passionate about something, regardless of what it is, you will not succeed! Ask yourself if voice over is truly your passion. If it’s not, start trying to figure out what is.
2) Are you prepared? You don’t graduate from high school having taken a biology course and become a doctor. Nor does printing For Sale signs and business cards make you a realtor. Don’t fool yourself into thinking voice over is easy. Don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t waste your time. If you’re not prepared either get prepared or don’t do it.
3) Are you good enough? I had a very good career in radio for many years. I was the number 1 rated Afternoon Drive host in Hamilton, ON for a while. I did my job well. But I was never going to be a major market morning star. I knew that and I didn’t try to fool myself into thinking otherwise. Before you try voice over for a living, make sure you’re actually good enough to make the cut. I say this for the sake of your potential clients and for the sake of your happiness.
4) Do you know your worth? I don’t care if you’ve been doing voice over for 10 minutes or 10 years. If you’re passionate, if you’re prepared and if you’re good enough, you’ll get paid. Don’t assume that because you’re new you can only book jobs by undercutting everyone else. All you’re doing is hurting yourself and the industry. Book jobs on your ability. Not on your fee.
5) Are you committed? Here’s a reality check for you. Success in this business doesn’t happen overnight. If you think this is a great way to make money on the side while you figure out what you really want to do, don’t waste your time and don’t hurt our industry. To make it in voice over you better be committed for the long haul.
Be Real With Yourself
Don’t misunderstand me. My purpose is not to say that new voice actors aren’t welcome. This is not an elitist club. My purpose is actually to force you to be honest with yourself about what you really want and if voice over is really it.
If you’re not passionate, if you’re not prepared, if you’re not good enough, if you don’t know your value and if you’re not committed, you will not succeed. Blunt, hard truth. This counts for every other industry and career as well, not just voice over.
If this is what you truly want to do, then by all means, go for it with your whole heart. If this is something you want to try for fun or because you’re bored or because one time, at a family barbecue your great aunt told you, you had a good voice, don’t bother. It’ll only bring you pain and take time away from what it is you’re truly supposed to be doing with your life.