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The Most Important Quality of a Great Voice Over Coach

When I think of a coach, for whatever reason, I can close my eyes and picture Coach Bill Cowher standing toe to toe, right up in the face of one of his players on the sidelines, a firm grip on his face shield, spit flying from his mouth, a death glare in his eyes.

He’s not patting that player on the bum telling him how great he is.

He’s ripping him a new one, and making sure he learns to do better.

For the record, this is not my coaching style. However, it does shed light on what I believe is the most important quality of a great voice over coach.

We live in a world where everybody is offended by everything, so we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We also live in a society where everybody gets a trophy.

It’s pathetic. A disservice the upcoming generation.

The fact of the matter is, sometimes we stink at things and telling us we’re great isn’t actually going to help us get better.

Trophy’s should be earned!

A great voice over coach will tell you what you need to hear. Even if that’s not what you want to hear.

That’s the only way you’re going to improve your craft.

Whether you like it or not.

On this particular day, I’d like to extend thanks to J Michael Collins for being that coach.

A great #voiceover coach tells you what you need to hear. Not what you want to hear.
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I Don’t Need Help – 4 Dangerous Words

People come to me on a daily basis looking for advice about one thing or another as it relates to their voice over business. When they’re coming to me, generally they’re looking for help with marketing, social media, goal setting, etc. Although, I still get a lot of inquiries about demos, home studio and performance to name a few.

Most of the people that reach out are looking for help and happy to get it, in whatever form that may be.

Others, not so much.

Too Good For Guidance

For example, when someone comes to me for marketing help, the first thing I ask is to hear their demos. Before I’ll ever do any coaching with a talent, I need to know they’ve got a marketable demo. Without that, my advice to them would be useless and I won’t take their money for something they can’t use.

When I hear a demo I don’t think they should market, I say so. I’ll suggest further coaching and a new demo when they’re ready. Of course, this isn’t what they want to hear. They want to market themselves now. Find work now. Book gigs now. Make money now.

“I don’t need help,” they tell me. Speaking of their performance or ability.

At this point, there’s nothing I can do for them.

Don’t Stay Stuck

When I first joined Voice123 back in 2008 or 2009, I booked on the site about weekly. My audition to booking ratio was great and I credit the site with leading me to some really fantastic clients. Clients I still work with to this day.

A few years ago, I let all my casting site memberships slide. I had no need for them. I was too busy with my own clients. I didn’t have a lot of time for auditioning and saw no real value in me having a membership. Some castings I let go for other reasons. *cough* * cough* * gouging talent and budgets* *cough* *cough*

In the fall, Voice123 offered a really awesome deal on a membership and I decided I’d give it another shot. What the heck. Why not?

My experience on Voice123 this time has been a lot different. I haven’t booked a single gig. Granted, I’m still extremely busy with my own clients and definitely don’t audition as much as I should. Some weeks, I don’t audition at all. That said, I was still surprised I hadn’t booked anything. Especially considering how well I do on my own.

Top #voiceover talent stay that way with coaching.
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That’s why I reached out to J Michael Collins. Nobody does casting sites better than J Michael Collins.

My note to him was simple. I stated that I’d like to book him for an hour of coaching and have him listen to some of my Voice123 auditions where I received bad reviews, despite them being for jobs in my speciality genres. I wanted to get a second opinion.

Many Voice Seekers don’t know how to use the ranking system on Voice123. The site has admitted as much. So I know bad rankings aren’t always a reflection of the audition or talent. Still, I want to cover my bases. I want to be sure.

I Don’t Need Help – 4 Dangerous Words

Even as a successful voice actor with a six figure income, I know when I need help and I’m not too proud to ask for it.

As you grow into your business and develop as a talent, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. But ever be too proud. Don’t even be too embarrassed. Don’t ever be too afraid.

If someone suggests you might need help in a particular area, listen to them!

Four of the most dangerous words a voice actor can speak are, “I don’t need help.”

Einstein said it best, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Don’t let yourself die!

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Is It Possible To Do Too Much Coaching?

How about that for a potentially controversial topic? Is it possible to do too much coaching?

Seems like a risky question for me to ask when voice over business coaching is part of what I do! Nevertheless, it’s a valid question. One worth exploring.

Talk to any coach and the first thing they’ll tell someone looking to get into voice over is “take coaching.” That’s just smart business. It’s also sound advice, to be fair.

Talk to any professional voice actor doing well in their career, odds are they’ll give credit, at least in part, to a coach or two or four they’ve worked with along the way.

I refer people to coaches on a near daily basis! My coaching services aren’t right for everyone, after all. I’m not looking to prey on people for money. I’m more interested in helping them succeed!

There are coaching programs out there specifically designed to sell you more coaching programs. They offer little to no value. We call them predators.

At what point, though, does the line get drawn? At what point do you have to stop yourself and question if you’re doing too much coaching? Does that point, that line, even exist?

Is It Possible To Do Too Much Coaching?

A couple of questions to ask yourself…

  • Why do I think I need more coaching? An honest answer to this one can offer a lot of insight into mindset, and perhaps whether you’re spending your training dollars in the appropriate manner.
  • Has a trusted colleague suggested coaching? It’s one thing when we tell ourselves we need more coaching. It’s something different when other professionals we trust recommend it. They may hear or notice things in our work we can’t see or hear ourselves.
  • Are you training for a new genre or niche? This is often a good reason for coaching. I recently went through this myself, as I prepare to expand my business into the commercial market. New ventures often require new training.
  • How long has it been? Did you work with a coach six months ago or six years ago? This makes a difference.

All of these questions can offer insight, but the one that matters most is the hardest one to ask. Personally, I think this is the number one reason I see people doing too much coaching.

  • Am I using coaching as an excuse to not get started?

using coaching as a crutch

Has Coaching Become A Crutch?

Ouch, right?

Tough question. But I see it a lot. In fact, I’ve called a few of my own coaching clients out for this.

When we’re getting started, sometimes the idea of actually getting started is really intimidating. Once you put yourself out there, it’s impossible to take it all back.

Once you’ve started auditioning, sending demos, doing marketing, contacting agents, a major reality check is going to occur. It may be good. It may be bad. Either way, it’s unavoidable… unless you just keep coaching and never take the leap.

Don’t let coaching become an excuse for not actually getting started. Tweet This

Trust yourself. Your talent. Your skill. What you’ve already learned.

A good coach is going to tell you when you’re ready. Not keep trying to sell you more coaching. If one coach tells you you’re ready, don’t use that an excuse to move onto a new coach. Paying six different coaches to validate you is a sign of a deeper confidence issue. Sometimes the best way to resolve that confidence issue is to just start auditioning!

The first booked voice over job is going to do more for your confidence than 10 hours with coaches!

Just Get Started

Nobody wants to be rejected.

Nobody wants to make a fool of themselves.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’m still there! Here’s a little truth nugget for you, that feeling never goes away. Whether you’re 10 minutes into the business or 10 years into the business.

Here’s another truth nugget for you, the more confident you are in yourself, the less likely you’re going to be rejected and/or make a fool of yourself!

Coaching is a tool. A resource. A necessary part of development. But if you’re waiting until you’re perfect before you ever leave the safety of the classroom for the reality of the studio, that day will never come!

Is it possible to do too much coaching? If you’re using it as a crutch, now you know the answer.

Thanks for sharing this post from Marc Scott's Voice Over Blog.

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4 Lessons Learned From A Failed Attempt At Marketing

The other day I posted a picture on Instagram. I’d taken a screenshot of my intinerary in my Delta app. It showed the number of days until check-in for three upcoming flights.

marc scott flies with deltaIn other words, this was not a stunning photograph. No breathtaking sunset. No full moon night sky. No masterful architectural creation. No beautiful people. Just a boring screenshot of something I was really excited about. Getting on an airplane is fun.

A day later, I received a comment on that Instagram post. “Beautiful! I’m a photographer in NYC check out my portfolio.”

If ever there was a failed attempt at marketing, add this one to the list. “Beautiful,” really?

It seems clear to me this photographer has an automated system in place to leave comments on Instagram pictures that are probably connected to a particular hashtag. Either that, or they’re actually wasting their time spamming new posts with a request to visit their portfolio.

Whatever the case, it comes with a couple of valuable marketing lessons you can apply to your voice over business.

4 Lessons Learned From A Failed Attempt At Marketing

1) Limit Automation: Next to recording actual voice over jobs, marketing is the most important aspect of your business. Or, at least, it should be! After all, if you’re not out there spreading the word about your services, there won’t be a lot of booked work. Don’t trust something as important as marketing to a lame, ineffective system.

Bonus Tip: If you’re using Auto DM’s on Twitter (or any other platform), stop right now. Nobody wants an automated, impersonal form message from you for any reason.

2) Know Your Audience: I posted an Instagram photo about check-in dates for upcoming flights. What the crap does that have to do with a photographer in NYC? Why would their portfolio have any relevance to me and what incentive or motivation would I have to visit it? Before you do any marketing, research your audience and tailor relevant, targeted messages designed specifically for them.

Bonus Tip: If you’re not researching your audience ahead of time, you risk wasting a lot of time sending the wrong messages to the wrong people, producing limited ROI.

3) It’s Not About You: “I’m a photographer… check out my portfolio.” Me, me, me. This message was all about them. It demonstrated zero interest in me, my needs, or why their services as a photographer might be relevant to me. When you’re reaching out to voice over leads, your message needs to speak to them, their needs and why your services would be of value to them.

Bonus Tip: Don’t start every sentence with, “I.”

4) Stop Using Form Letters: Do you know where generic emails and form letters go? Into the spam or trash folder. Do you know what happens to those auto DM’s? Delete! If you want to be more effective in your marketing, start being more of a person and less of a robot. If there’s one thing I learned from my early marketing efforts for my voice over business, it’s that generic mass messages produce extremely limited results.

Bonus Tip: Relationship is a big part of the marketing equation. To build relationship, you need to personalize.

How This Example Could’ve Been More Effective

With the above four tips in mind, let’s consider how this photographer could’ve left a more personalized comment that would be much more likely to produce the desired result… to get me to click-through to their profile.

“Hey, Marc. Looks like you’ll be in NYC in a few days. If you need a photographer while you’re in the city, say the word! You can click the link in my bio to check out my portfolio. Have a safe flight and enjoy your trip.”

A couple quick, personalized sentences that would’ve taken just a few extra seconds to type. But they would’ve made all the difference in the world.

By that comment, I would clearly see the message is neither automated, nor a generic response. It’s personalized. It shows they’ve actually looked at the picture I posted. It takes an interest in me and isn’t all about them.

Marketing takes time and effort. It’s easy and tempting to look for ways to automate as much of the process as possible. From scheduling tweets to sending generic form letters. The problem is, the methods aren’t going to be nearly as effective as taking a little time, doing a little research, and adding a personal touch to each communication.

Thanks for sharing this post from Marc Scott's Voice Over Blog.