When it comes to prospective coaching clients, at this point, I think I’ve heard it all. It sometimes seems to me that folks want to jump into voiceover without considering the time, investment, and dedication it takes to build a successful career. Rather than looking for the fastest way in or the quickest fix, instead consider how to create a sustainable career built upon a strong foundation and supported by great coaching, competitive equipment, and a strong set of skills. And…voiceover is just that: a skill! Just as you shouldn’t waltz into another career and just start, voiceover is a field that requires hard work and appropriate preparation. I say this with love and respect for the art form: don’t rush it, do it right, and please don’t tell me…these five things:
1) I have a great phone voice!
Well, as it turns out, having a “great phone voice” is not as relevant as you would think when it comes to voiceover. The success of great voiceover artists is much more about their excellent acting skills than merely the sound of their voices. The effort you put into your training should focus on the acting rather than resting on having a “good voice.” Voice acting encompasses all sorts of important skills, like good reading comprehension, attention to detail, speaking with an interesting cadence, being engaging, an ability to take direction, adjusting your delivery for various audiences, interpreting scripts, and more. If people that you know like the sound of your voice, that’s great! Undoubtedly it will help in the process, but it will not be enough to build a career upon. Develop your skills so that you have all the qualities that a client might look for.
2) I really can’t invest any money…
It would truly be difficult to move forward in VO without spending at least some money. In order to level up, you’ll need coaching, professional equipment, an appropriately outfitted home studio…the list goes on. I would hope that voiceover artists would want to continue their learning by participating in workshops, and that they would invest in additional business tools that they will likely need to pay for. I always tell people that it’s very hard to gain something out of nothing. In any career you might pursue, you’d be investing money in things like training, attending college, and acquiring supplies. For instance, if it is your dream to open a restaurant, you won’t be able to do it without some kind of budget. You would undoubtedly need to invest something into that goal. It doesn’t mean you need to spend big bucks up front. You can gradually build your skillset and equipment and grow as you go.
3) I need to start booking immediately.
Ok…I won’t deny that some people are able to book early on, but for most others, it takes much longer. You might need to complete dozens or even hundreds of auditions before you book their first job. Now, I’m speaking in extremes here… but those extremes are still very real. If the period of time it takes to book goes on for too long, then to me that says you likely need to revisit coaching, revamp your website, and/or upgrade your equipment, because something is not aligning. With all of that said, you need to be willing to be resilient, do a lot of auditions, get in front of a lot of people (coaches, potential clients, or agents), and do a lot of marketing. And when I say a lot, I really mean a lot. These things don’t happen by magic. You’ll get out of it exactly what you put in. It won’t happen overnight, so expecting it to happen in a flash is unrealistic and will only leave you frustrated in the end. Putting in time and effort makes me feel good about how I use my time, and I feel pretty confident that you will too.
4) I heard on TikTok that people are making 6 figures doing voiceover as a side hustle.
If you remember anything I’ve said here, please remember this: social media isn’t always real. Or… you’re not always getting the whole story. It can be a useful tool, but folks really only post what they want us to see. It’s much less likely that people will post their struggles than that they’ll post their success. When people are doing well, they share it! And that’s great, but it might also create unrealistic expectations for others. If you are seeing on TikTok that folks are making 6 figures using a USB mic while they lay in bed in their pajamas, then I’m here to tell you that you have been misled! Of COURSE, voiceover can be a side hustle, but it still requires all the training, professional equipment, and time that I discussed above. A career is not something you can just buy online, plug in, and then cash out. Furthermore, on many of the freelance sites, consider that you would just be working exponentially harder because the rates are often very low. Wouldn’t you rather book great jobs with professional rates by putting in the extra time and effort required to compete at a higher level? I know I would!
5) I’m great at impressions and crazy voices!
Well I’m sure all of that is very entertaining, and there’s a time and place for it, but did you ever consider just being…you? Impressions are not that helpful because there are already actors who play those iconic roles you are imitating! So for you…being able to do a recognizable voice isn’t necessarily helpful. Sure, there will be times when you’ll need to voice match for a known actor or celebrity, but it doesn’t come up as often as you would think, and it’s definitely not an everyday occurrence. Regarding crazy cartoon voices, there are times you’ll need that too, but animation is continuously moving toward real, grounded performances that are much more like live action television shows and films. This is true for cartoons, video games, anime, and more… so although it can be helpful to have a flexible and bold quality to your voice, it’s not even close to being the only thing you’ll need to succeed in this business. If you really stop and think about it, you’ll see that you can’t create a future based on your ability to mimic a few iconic voices. Start thinking about how to bring the best of YOU to the table, and go from there!