GONE IS THE FANTASY
Nope...No Magic Wands Here
You got into voiceovers because you wanted to do something fun. You thought it would be easy. You thought if you just put yourself behind a mic, and made magical sounds, you’d be an instant hit and receive worldwide acclaim. Basically, you fell for the uber-demonstrative in-your-face solve-all-your-problems infomercial and ordered that mic/interface/headphones bundle from Tonka for four easy payments of $39.95. But wait! There’s more! You “acted now”, so you got a second Tonka mic… completely free! Nothing can stop you now.
I’ve got crushing news for you. There simply is no Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.
As with all things, there’s no fairy godmother to make your dreams come true, no magic carpet ride to whisk you away to success, and no potion you can drink – unless it’s Strawberry Gatorade Vodka – to enable you to carve out your indelible mark in the annals of voiceover history. There is only one thing…ever…that can enable you to be successful.
It’s looking ridiculously sexy, like me.
I’m kidding. It's more along the lines of Tony Robbins motivational stuff. In truth, I’m talking about:
- Tenacity is repetition.
- Tenacity is consistency.
- Tenacity is being in it for the long haul.
- This is a fourth bullet point for added emphasis.
As my good friend and repeat audiobook client Thibaut Meurisse says, “Success is a process and not an event.” These things take time. There are those out there that are perfectly (read: deludedly) content with microwaved Hungry Man meals. You know those meals: the kind that make you want to puke coat hangers in the end, whose flavor dimly reminds you of the succulent tang of automobile tire. And then…there are those that get rich, thick beef stew through crock pots. How will you choose to fill your belly? The thick broth aisle is this way; Discount Tire is over there.
The Fast-Track is a Myth
As one of the ways I give back to the VO community, I provide tons of free half-hour video consults to aspiring (and established) talent. Many of these aspiring voiceover artists come from posts I create on Reddit. It never ceases to amaze me how many of their first words to me over email are “I’ve been told I have a good voice.” To my recollection, I’ve been told that exactly zero hundred and zero times. In fact, I don’t ever remember once where someone said “Hey, Josh! You have a great voice; you should do voiceovers!” Not once. After all, a good voice does not a good voice actor make. And unfortunately, many of these newbies are proceeding on a false assumption. That assumption is in the form of a somewhat arrogant question. The question, of course, is, “How hard can this be?” The answer? Why, it's as easy as giving birth while having your femur bone cracked in half plus pain and suffering plus the worst hurts you can ever take plus someone close to you dying plus being run over by an elephant plus being bound by hand and feet in a tub filled with fire ants plus someone repeatedly inserting push pins into your eyeball.
In other words, it’s so easy, anyone can do it! Act now for only four easy payments of $39.95!
The real answer, of course, is “extraordinarily hard.” It’s not an easy thing to pursue voiceovers. You’ll face rejection in marketing and auditioning. Rigor. Duress. Politics. Deflated ego. Hurt feelings. People speaking the truth. Oh no! Not speaking the truth! Yes. Speaking the truth. We need more Voiceover Simon Cowells, because not everyone should be in voiceovers. It is not as easy as people think, and “having a good voice” is not all that is required. You have to also look incredibly sexy, like me.
The road to success is no respecter of persons, and will demand and exact much from you, if you let it. If you truly want to be successful some day, you’re going to have to pay your dues. No magic wands will be waived. No VIP lists get you inside. No secret passwords grant you unfettered access to the riches that lie therein. There’s simply no fast track, and there are no fairy godmothers.
Sorry, Cinderella. Don’t quit your day job.
Rather, just like in every other industry, vocation, endeavor or passion-based pursuit, it requires Cubitum Crisco. In other words, elbow grease. You’ve got to market hard, audition hard, network hard, push hard, pray hard, work hard, commit hard, think hard, plan hard, organize hard, hope hard, intend hard, focus hard, and do all of that over and over again, 24-7-365. Basically, whatever you're already doing, do it a lot harder.
In other words, it’s still so easy, embryos can do it! Act now for only four easy payments of $39.95 and get a SECOND embryo for FREE!
Voiceovers, like many pursuits, are entrepreneurial in nature. What that requires of you is not just putting a mic in front of your face and headphones on your ears. It’s about looking sexy, like me. It’s also about structure… ecosystem… branding… goal-setting… treating it like a business. Rinse and repeat. Any coach who promises you the moon and sells you on the idea that in exchange for your purchase of a $2500 coaching package you’ll be booking jobs right and left within a week…is out of their freaking mind, and needs to swap “coach” for “predator.” Because that’s really who they are, and that's really all they are. It’s predatory predation of prey, plain and pimple. I’m pelling you the pruth, and not pying to you.
Plan on a marathon, not a sprint. Anyone in their right mind will tell you that.
How old are you, Joshie?
Where am I at in all this? Oh I’ve definitely paid my dues. I’ve faced rejection, rigor, duress, politics, deflated ego, hurt feelings, and people speaking the truth. One of my favorite truths ever spoken to me was by J. Michael Collins during a coaching session. He said: "There were moments where I didn't believe you." Ouch!
I’ve been talked to by lots of Simon Cowells. Sometimes it’s politics, politics, politics. *sigh* I served my time. What helped me is that I looked sexy through all of it.
I feel like an old soul, because I watched voiceovers on the periphery for many, many years. I would stick my toe in the water, and it wasn’t the right time. Or I got distracted with other creative pursuits that paid the bills but weren’t my heart’s delight. Or I got roped into doing one wedding… which turned into fifty weddings… which turned into four-hundred-and-fifty-three weddings and a funeral. I cannot begin to even express to you how overjoyed I am to be out of the wedding videography business. Firstly, because we no longer wanted the hassle; and secondly, because we no longer needed the income. Thirdly, because weddings suck and happiness is stupid.
A moment of silence for Bibbidi-Bobbidi-boo.
“All good things happen to those who wait.” It’s a time-honored adage, and one worthy of great respect. Wait for it. Work towards it, by all means! But don’t rush things, and don’t expect a miracle. Jesus does those primarily for people in pain. Your third-rate mic isn’t causing you pain; your lack of acoustically-treated space isn’t causing you pain; your sadness over not booking work isn’t causing you pain; you’re just being a pain. So please stop it at once, and start looking sexy. Like me.
I’ve been doing multimedia, voiceovers included, for a long, long time, and I’ve paid my dues on a number of fronts. What I’ve learned is that while there are many ways to skin a cat, cats never taste good raw. You need to gather wood. Crumple paper. Start a fire. Watch it grow. Feed it. Give it time. The best tasting cat is a cooked one, where the skin just falls right off the bone and the juices are so sweet.
Please stop dialing the ASPCA. I am not advocating skinning or cooking cats. Unless of course it’s my wife’s: you can have that one. I’ll be over here looking sexy.
NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational purposes. I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.
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