An old fashioned roadmap (with the creases and all!)
I decided to change my blog up a little and create a series on how I have got to where I am in voiceover so far. It will be a candid look back on the most important lessons that I have learned, what worked and what didn’t and what I think are the main areas you need to focus on to create a flourishing voice over business. And before we go any further, it will not be a “how to get rich” plan, or “how to become an awesome voiceover” course. They usually suck! It will be more of a roadmap (albeit a slightly creases and wrinkled one!)
“How dare you think you’re qualified to tell me how to succeed in this”, some may say. And, they have a very valid point. In truth, one of the reasons I am writing this is for my own benefit (selfish, I know!). I have always found that examining my successes and failures makes me a better person. Helps me improve in every aspect of this business. My only hope is that someone, somewhere will pick out a little nugget of information that helps them become better also.
So, in reference to my qualifications, I started VO back in April of 2016 while working a full time 8-5 management job (which I still work at). I still have the email I sent to Jim Conlan, a voice over coach in Houston, TX. I signed up for an 8-week introduction class. I had always listened to narration on the radio, TV and other outlets and I always thought – I really want to do that as a career. The introduction class from Jim let me know 2 things:
1. I really, REALLY wanted to do this
2. I started to realize there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know
“Ahhh”, I here you say, “you’re still working your full-time job after 4 years doing voice over. You’re not a success!”. And here is the basis of my first golden nugget of wisdom for you. Voice over is NOT a path to easy money or fame and fortune. If that’s what you believe then you are grossly mistaken. Now, I’m not being a Debbie Downer or trying to frighten new entrants into the world of VO so they don’t take my jobs. Far from it. I believe if you have the drive, determination, and talent to do this then I more than welcome you in. But in my experience and the experience of others I talk to regularly in this industry, it takes roughly 3-5 years to start making good enough money to call this a career.
For the first 2 years of my time in VO, every single penny and I mean EVERY single penny that I earned went back into my business. This is why having a full-time job was so important to me. I invested in better equipment, better studio space, marketing and training and coaching. Coaching alone over the last 4 years has cost over $6,500 in total. That does not include my commercial demo that was over $1,000. Now, I am not saying that you have to spend that much. I am saying that you will need to plan to invest all of your profits back into the business for a while to get to a place where you can earn more. This is a business after all. Yes, it sucks, but believe me, it has been instrumental in increasing my revenue year after year.
My second nugget of advice for you today is be very careful where you get your information from. There are many experienced people in the voice over industry who will tell you certain things that you must and must not do in order to be successful. I recommend that you study this veraciously and then make your OWN mind up about what is the best way forward for you. Do not follow any one piece of advice blindly without thinking it through. I hope you do this with what I am saying also. What worked for me, maybe entirely wrong for the path that you want to take. That’s OK. I’m not offended. In fact, it makes me smile.
Next week I will go into how I got my first job, how many auditions it took to book it, how much it paid and what my plan was. You might be surprised. I assure you that I was! I look forward to welcoming you back.
If you have any questions about my journey or just want some advice on a certain subject, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my very best to get back to you.