What can you do, I mean things you can actually act on, that can improve your voice over career? Many people think that is a tough question but when you break it down, it’s easier than you think. There are so many people out there giving vague advice and repeating “atta boys” to make you feel good about yourself. But how many people give you actionable advice? Things that if you put into action, after a certain amount of time should see a positive effect on your business. Not just likes on a Facebook group or feel good pats on the back.
It actually IS a numbers game!
Working in voiceover means that we sell our services. That means, whether you like it or not, we are salespeople. Yuck. I know how you feel. Car salesman have scarred me for life! The sooner you accept this truth the better. And sales is not rocket science. Read any literature on sales and you will find one common theme among the varying new fads and trends. The more people you contact about your services, the more opportunities that will come along. It is an undeniable fact. Let’s do the math:
You are auditioning on a P2P site. You audition for 10 jobs per day. When you start out the conversion rate is around 1% on average. Let’s say you take weekends off. It will take you 10 days or two weeks to book a job. The average job price on a P2P is around $250. Can you survive on $250 every two weeks? That’s a lot of Ramen noodles.
HOW TO IMPROVE
1. Figure out which genre you are best at and focus most of your efforts on that.
2. Listen carefully to your auditions. I mean REALLY carefully. Find some work from voice actors you know are booking work and compare it to your files. Edit your audition between two files of person who you know books. Do your auditions sound as good if not better?
3. Change things up. If you are not booking then something is wrong. Is it your audio? Get a better recording space or at minimum have your audio checked out by someone like Uncle Roy, Tim Tippets or George Whittam. Is it your performance? Get a new coach. Not connecting with the copy? Take more time to analyze the script and figure out what the copy is trying to convey.
4. Also, there may come a point where you have to realize that you may not have what it takes to make a success of this business. It needs talent and determination. Unfortunately, we don’t all have that.
You are direct marketing to your email list. You send 10 emails per day. According to Remarkety the conversion rate for a newsletter type email is 1%. You would need to send 100 emails to convert one customer. Once again, this would take 2 weeks. See a recurring theme? The numbers don’t lie.
HOW TO IMPROVE
1. Spend time searching the internet to find out what type of email campaigns work. Campaign Monitor has some good ideas. Just search Google for “email campaigns that work”.
2. Make your emails about them. Do not make them about you. Read Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand for some great info.
3. Make sure that your email list is relevant. Campaign Monitor does another great job of explaining why a good email list is important.
The 10,000 hour rule. Although this is being debunked by many, the principle still has merit. They are just arguing on how many hours it actually takes and what practice hours actually count! The rule was made popular by Malcom Gladwell in his book the Outliers. It states that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If you practice for 20 hours per week, it will take you 10 years. I have a slightly different take on this rule. I believe that it takes 2 years of doing something for 20 hours per week to become competent at it. This has been true for all of the pursuits I have followed through my near 50 years on this planet.
HOW TO IMPROVE
1. Practice. There is no way around this. It takes hard work and determination. You should be in your booth at least 2 hours per day when you are first starting out. You should be reading scripts, listening back carefully. Being very self-critical.
2. Coaching. You don’t know what you don’t know. There are rules and skills that you must learn. The only real way you can do this is to get a quality coach who knows what these skills and rules are. Make sure it is not someone who is going to blow smoke up you arse! There is no point in paying good money to have someone tell you you’re great when you’re not. SERIOUSLY! Stop being so bloody vain!
3. Script workout sessions. I can’t tell you how important these are. It does two things:
a. Allows you to hear constructive criticism about the quality of your script interpretation and read quality.
b. Trains you to give criticism on others. This is huge. It means that you have to listen very carefully to others and see how they can improve. In doing this it teaches you on how you can improve. This is invaluable!
4. Read. Read some more. And when you think you are done….read some bloody more! This is not my favorite piece of advice as I really don’t like reading (I know – I picked the wrong career - right!). Speed reading and cold reading is an essential part of what we do. Reading ahead takes practice but it can make a real difference. You should be able to actively be at least a few words ahead with your eyes from what you are actually saying. This helps enormously by reducing the number of mistakes you make and it also helps you understand what is coming ahead in the script. This allows you to change you tone and inflection on the fly.
5. Be a sponge! There is just so much good information out there on the old intra-web thingy! Search relentlessly and ye shall find!
If you are treating voiceover as a part time hobby, I welcome you to forget and reject everything that you have just read and just have fun with it. If you are treating this as a serious career choice, I urge you to treat the numbers seriously. They can tell you so much about how you are doing and allow you to make critical decisions with regards to your business. But you should still have fun. You see, I forgot to tell you that I think numbers are fun. So, I get to have fun when I am in the booth doing what I love and then I have just as much fun analyzing how my business is doing. Now. I have to go and check out my spreadsheets. Oooooh, spreadsheets. It’s like numeric porn!