voice over question #1


Sometimes I am such a schmoe.

Back in March Stu Gray tagged me (which is blog speak for taking a topic one writer has started and either responding to it or building on it “tag you’re it”) about how voice talents become successful.

Well, I missed the tag…it totally blew by me for reasons I cannot explain (or as has become my truthful response “blame the kids”) and were it not for Kara Edwards response to Stu’s tag in her blog, I would have totally missed it.

So thanks Kara and sorry Stu.

But under the heading of better late than never I shall offer my usually long and fairly self effacing answers (I don’t want/like to sound all puffy) to this multiple choice essay test which will prove yet again why everyone in my family was amazed I graduated high school and stunned when I graduated college (both were on the “pity the poor stupid bastard scholarship”….oops, can you say “pity” on the web).

I’ll do this daily (it should wrap up Thursday) so what I lacked in timeliness I will try and make up via sheer bloviating.

1. What habits have enabled you to become successful?

Is there a better word than passion to describe the professional sensation I feel working in the voice over field and managing my business? I get a rush every time someone calls with a new project and the rush is not money based…truly!

It’s a new project, a new creative start. When I get to work with other voice actors in the studio or during a training class, there are endorphins that kick in that are just blissful. When I get to visit with other voice talents and talk about the business I find pure enjoyment. I’m lousy at articulating it (I’m a VO, I need a script!) but I know it when I experience it…maybe you do too.

So to look to habits or tricks to be effective seems to miss the core of anyone’s true success (in my dictionary anyway). You must have a passion for what you do, it must consume you (in a non-addictive, not-so-much-a-hermit way), almost a part of your central nervous system and drive you to succeed. If you love something (voice over) that much, your success isn’t guaranteed but it is more assured because of it.

But I do mean to answer the question.

So with passion as your base, you must have true talent to succeed in voice over and one must be honest about whether that is the case. Talent isn’t a habit but the best habits cannot replace talent. Do you have it? Please try not to fool yourself because our business has too many fools already (see this blog’s masthead as exhibit A).

Just because someone says “you have a nice voice” or because you did the voice for your company’s in-house video doesn’t mean you have talent. Heck there are some radio announcers that aren’t very good but the station needed a warm body (consistent quality has long ago left the radio station biz). Most people, if they are honest know if they really have talent. But if you’re not sure, find an honest, reputable teacher and have a heart to heart. Here’s the puffy part: I have talent and it’s a key part of my success.

Calling on that talent, growing it, requires preparation and training (here’s some habit talk). While I chide radio, it was my great training ground back when radio offered some flexibility. Finding a group or one on one voice trainer is critical. In person is best but phone training is ok too. I don’t go near enough to my classes but every time I do I get energized.

I also often tell the story of being a teenager and reading magazine copy out loud in my room and having my parents peek in quizzically. I still do that today when I have the opportunity and people (well, mostly my wife) still look at me funny. At least I think that’s why they look at me funny. Basically, if you’re a voice talent, use your voice whether someone is paying you or not. Practice.

Then there’s the sales and marketing aspect of the voice over business. While you cannot succeed without passion, talent and training, all of that will get you no where if you don’t know how to market and sell yourself. I focus on it relentlessly (which I think qualifies as a habit) but breaking it down to a habit or trick is difficult except to say you need to scour the globe for leads, you need to track your leads and you need to manage your leads. One could quite seriously write a book on each of those three tasks. But you must learn how to do each of them or your business will fail (was that tough love or just too tough?)

If you had to focus on just one aspect of sales and marketing to make your VO business thrive, it is this: learn the internet. Every damn thing about the internet.

Voice over has become a virtually industry and you will never meet most of your clients (which I think is kind of shame). Your web site is your office. It’s the most construction you’ll likely ever have to do. Make it as easy and effective a place to access and operate as you possibly can. Or find people who know how to help you.

More tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

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