Continuing with the 10 things you need to know when starting out in voiceover.
Number 8: You have got to put in the work. Sorry to be a downer so soon into this blog. But as the title says, it is something you NEED to know. There a very few overnight successes in this business. Peel back the layers of any rags to riches story and you will nearly always find evidence of hard work and passion. Hey, you can always try and buck the trend if you want, but I much prefer the path shown to work 99% of the time thank you very much.
So, what does hard work look like? That’s a very difficult question to answer as it so unique for each person. Circumstances are different for everybody. Some have full-time jobs that they need to transition from, others have families that need raising, and there are others who have all the time in the world.
Here’s my definition of hard work. Doing as much as, or more than others who are successful in the industry of choice. I really think it is that simple. Many people think that most successful businesses were a success because of a great idea and brilliant execution. That helps, without a shadow of a doubt, but it is never the whole story. The hard work that happens behind the scenes is sometimes incomprehensible. Hours upon hours of graft, working towards an outcome with laser focus.
Let’s assume that you have the talent for what you want to do. Why would somebody hire you? Really. If someone is looking for a creative to perform work for them, do you think skill and talent is the only qualifier? Nope. Much more important things take precedence. Trust, budget, familiarity, recommendations, reviews and actually finding you. And that’s just the start. Try and think what you look for when paying a good price for a quality contractor. Our customers have the exact same mindset. They are entrusting a very important part of their project with the Freelancer they choose.
And that’s where the hard work comes in for a creative. There are numerous business coaches out there who will tell you that you need to email a certain amount of people every day. That you need to send targeted emails. That you should cold call using the phone. Join your local chamber of commerce. Go to conferences relevant to your creative field (and I mean relevant to the field your clients work in). These are all great ideas and are necessary. But what many people forget is why they are doing that. They think that if they contact enough people – someone will eventually hire them. That if their email is so well written, customers will be knocking down the door. You get my point. Think long and hard about this. When was the last time you hired someone because they kept sending you emails?
Build trust. That’s where your hard work should go in. How do you do that in a creative field like voiceover? Ooooh. The million-dollar question. To start with, study your craft incessantly. There have never been more resources to help creatives get better at their chosen skill. The internet has been a huge aggregator. Knowing that you can supply a top-quality product when asked to, is essential. Read, watch videos, ask questions in forums and Facebook groups, read some more, get professional coaching, listen to podcasts, watch paid webinars. THIS is what those who are serious about their business do and a big reason why they can be trusted.
The great accelerator. Before we go any further, this is not a short cut. This is a way to use your training time wisely and build relationships with those in the industry who are decision makers. Choose a performance coach wisely. Using a fellow voice actor as a coach can bring amazing results. But think about it this way. Will that other voce actor bring you any work? But Craig, that’s cynical I hear you say! Nope, that is good business practice. Getting to train with, and more importantly, getting to know casting directors who are constantly booking talent is just common sense. They know what the market is looking for, so they can train you with the necessary skills, and they are also the people who actually book work.
Along the same lines. Get your voice in front of the movers and shakers in the industry. Pay to have your voice heard and critiqued if necessary. There are many opportunities for you to perform and receive feedback from industry leaders like J. Michael Collins who has free workouts on his Facebook page that pop up occasionally and also hosts commercial work outs on Gravy for the Brain. Brad Shaw has a free workout group called Wonderland that usually has a guest coach that works in the industry. The VO Weekly Workout has some great industry big hitters who generously take time out of their week to critique the reads of 50 people with set scripts. There is a $20 charge but that’s nothing for what you are getting!
Work harder and smarter. This is a creative profession you love. You are passionate about it. It’s a no-brainer that you use that passion for your performances. Just don’t forget to use it doing the mundane and essential things you need to do to grow your business. It works. If you don’t believe me, check out Carin Gilfry, Josh Alexander, Maria Pendolino, Carrie Olsen and Paul Schmidt. These are some of the hardest working VO’s I know and every one of them puts in the work. They got where they are because they bust their asses and reap the rewards. If you don’t work as hard as them, how can you expect the same results? As a bloke from Stratford-upon-Avon once said, “that is the question?”