When people ask, “What’s the most important factor for voice over success?” generally speaking, I don’t like to give an answer. In most cases I find these people are looking for the easy answer. The get rich quick answer. They want me to tell them one secret, key, magic ingredient, and they’ll be well on their way, skipping 47 other steps required.
That said, it’s something I’ve definitely thought about at length as I reflect on my own career and journey.
Factors For Voice Over Success
The Voice: This is the obvious answer, right? I mean, it was probably your first instinct when I asked the question. Well, consider this… from a vocal standpoint, what do Gilbert Gottfried, Fran Drescher, Morgan Freeman, June Foray, Dennis Leary and Wanda Sykes have in common? Not a whole heck of a lot. Yet, each of them, with their own unique voice, has found great success across multiple genres.
It would seem that a particular voice, tone or style isn’t necessarily indicative of success or failure.
The Equipment: When I started doing voice work from home I was given one specific technical piece of advice. Under no circumstances was I to record with an EV-RE2O… unquestionably the worst voice over microphone of all time. More than one “professional” VO told me this. In return, I recorded host VO for three syndicated TV shows and one syndicated radio show. I also recorded tens of thousands of dollars in paid voice work… with the worst VO microphone of all time. I know VO’s dropping coin on Neumann’s, and I know VO’s making a living on Blue Yeti’s.
With that broad of a spectrum, I guess equipment isn’t as big of a factor as some would have you believe.
The Studio: So about the studio. From the fall of 2007 until the fall of 2014 (when I moved into my current studio space), I recorded in my living room. As in… my wide open living room in my apartment. With an EV-RE20, the worst voice over mic of all time (so I was told). There was no treatment. No Whisper Room. There was a desk. A couch. A TV and a big honking open living room. I built my entire business recording VO’s in my living room.
Clearly it would seem the studio space is not the deciding factor in success.
The Agent(s): About the agents… as I’m writing this blog post on Sunday May 8, 2016, I do not have, nor have I ever had an agent. That hasn’t stopped me from building my voice over income to nearly six-figures annually, since starting full-time in 2012. To be clear, I have nothing against agents, and will actually sign with at least one or two this year. However, I was still able to achieve success without an agent.
Though an agent can absolutely contribute to your success, I think we can safely say they’re not the most important factor.
The Training: Last winter, I worked with Uncle Roy for about six weeks to prepare for my new commercial demo. This was the first time in my career I had worked with a professional coach. Granted, I came from a broadcasting background and worked with some amazing producers in my days in radio and television. I’ve heard some VO’s with a natural ability that required very little coaching. I’ve heard some VO’s who’ve worked with dozens of coaches and still can’t book a job.
Training, then, it would seem, while unquestionably a factor in success, is still not number one.
The Most Important Factor For Voice Over Success
I’ve eliminated the most obvious answers, haven’t I? Ask this question to a dozen VO’s and no doubt most of them are going to point to any combination of the above factors. Not me.
Facebook offers a feature on your profile called, “On This Day.” When you click the link, it will take you to a page with statuses posted on that particular day from the previous years you’ve been on Facebook. It’s a feature that’s been around for a while, but I only really started paying attention to it a few weeks ago.
Here’s what I noticed. A few years ago, my attitude was total crap.
Nearly everything I posted had some kind of negative connotation to it. Whether in the form of sarcasm, bitterness, anger, sadness, or otherwise, clearly my mindset was NOT in a very good place. These were also the years I was struggling most both professionally and personally.
Some of you will immediately respond, “that makes sense. When times are tough of course your attitude is going to be less than stellar.”
To that I emphatically state, “that’s no excuse. The two things do not necessarily have to go hand-in-hand.”
When I got my attitude in check, things turned around for me.
Not a little bit. A complete 180 degrees!
When I stopped allowing my circumstances to dictate my attitude, and started thinking and speaking positively regardless of what was going on in my life, everything changed. In my voice over business and in my life in general.
The most important factor for your voice over success, without question, hesitation or doubt is attitude. Click to Tweet
Mindset matters and when yours is right, success won’t be too long to follow.