There are people in this business 30 years or more – who have forgotten more than you or I will ever learn.
Even after a few months, you quickly realise that the learning curve is steep.
As a relative newcomer to voiceover, I discovered quickly that the people in this world are the friendliest, helpful, accommodating and kindest bunch of characters I have ever come across.
In my very early days, it became clear that there is a wealth of experience and knowledge out there which is massively helpful when you’re starting out. Now In an effort to give something back, I thought I’d jot down the things I learned VERY quickly about VO – in order to help people aiming to get into this world understand what can happen early doors.
If someone benefits from this list, then perhaps I’ve given a small leg-up to people considering this path. It’s MY experience, yours may be different – but we’re all different so embrace that.
1) It’s not easy
You need time, dedication and tenacity to learn how to do things the right way. Liken it to being a mechanic – you might be able to do a crash course in car repair in a week, but in order to make a success you still have to do your apprenticeship, turn out good quality work, build a customer base, open your business and grow it – and that takes time. If you want an overnight success, don’t bother reading the rest of this.
2) Prepare for rejection
Clients will make decisions about whether you are right for their project or not based entirely on subjective factors. Accept it, and enjoy it. It’s part of the game
3) Get the right kit
Don’t think you can compete with the thousands of others out there by recording into your smart phone nestled in an egg-box, you need to invest in professional equipment. There is lots of useful resource to help you choose, but work hard to find what’s right for you. Equally, don’t overspend in the early days – it’s not a wise investment. Hone your VO skills first in order to learn what YOU need from your gear. £300 will get you started, but do your research and spend it well.
4) Get a coach
If you only take ONE thing on board from what I learned, get a coach who KNOWS their stuff. They can guide you through the minefield of anecdotes and advice. Mine is Gary Terzza and he is FAB.
Did I mention that It won’t happen overnight? It will happen if you apply yourself and work on it every day.
6) Try everything
I surprised myself by getting work on projects outside of my comfort zone. You’re learning a new craft, so you need to learn where your boundaries are too. That means getting things wrong, but mistakes are VITAL because you learn from them.
7) Don’t undersell yourself
If you’re going to spend just 2 hours a day practicing and auditioning, that’s 56 hours a month honing your craft. If you spent 7 working days a month learning to be a mechanic, would you then carry out a full service on someone’s car for 5 dollars/pounds/Euro? Resist the temptation to do cheap work early on, if you want to do something for free – try a charity
8) The wall
There will come a point when you start questioning whether this could deliver a return, if you have to adjust something do it – but if you want success you MUST persist. This ‘wall’ may come at 2 weeks, 6 months, or longer – when it does remind yourself why you set out and don’t let that evaporate.
9) Don’t cut yourself off from the real world
A significant amount of work is to be had online through so called pay to play agencies etc. That’s VO life, but it’s not the whole picture. You need to get out there in your local market and tell people what you can do for them. Use contacts, local businesses – anyone who can help you find out where there’s work, and respect these contacts, you never know when they may have something helpful.
10) Enjoy it
This is a remarkable world, and potentially a life-changer if you can succeed. Don’t lose sight of how interesting and enjoyable it is, even in the tough times. Every recording you make is unique, and could never be replicated by someone else. Cherish what’s unique about you.
11) Who said there have to be 10?
The voiceover world is (as my coach calls it) a contrarian lifestyle. That means working weekends, evenings, quickly, being flexible, doing what’s necessary. But the rewards in terms of satisfaction when that first client chooses YOUR voice over everyone else’s are fantastic, and worth it.
If these things are useful to you, then I’ve helped. ENJOY what you are setting out on, you’re about to join the most remarkable group of people I have experienced working with. Use common sense, and a filter when considering the body of advice (including mine!) and you can find your way.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But people in this world have heart and WILL be happy to help you. For more content which I found useful, have a look at the following resource:
Have a GREAT day!