On the surface of things, I may seem like the luckiest guy in the world. I’m a digital nomad who makes a living with my God-given talent, my voice. My voice has allowed me to travel all over the world, freedom to decide how I spend my days and has set me in the company of some pretty famous and interesting people. And my work is heard literally by millions of people every day. There are so many reasons Why I Love Being A Voiceover Talent. So what could a guy with so many great fortunes have to complain about when it comes to being a Voiceover Talent? Here’s my list.
When I think about the things that I don’t like about being a voiceover talent, most of it comes down to the business aspects of the job. But there is one thing that relates directly to the job itself and that’s auditioning. Imagine that you have an advanced college degree in something and you have years of experience in the field. Now imagine that every day you go into work and before you put in 8 hours you have to interview for the job you’ve held for years each time in order to even start work. That’s what auditioning is like. It’s like a job interview every day. It’s maddening for me.
I have heard of talents who literally audition for work all day every day. This is what they do until they nail the job. For me auditioning is frustrating. Literally, you are competing against sometimes hundreds of people for one position. And certainly, I have landed many pretty spectacular jobs from auditioning but the process can sometimes feel like a time-waster. Instead, I have based my business in voiceover in marketing my voice and cultivating relationships with clients. But still, auditioning remains a part of what I do.
Who Do I Trust?
Shady managers, agents, producers, websites, and coaches all prey on talent in the voiceover industry. Some of us know who they are. Some of us don’t. The voiceover industry can be a very lucrative field even if you’ve never stood behind the mic. Many people know that and make money legitimately from it. But there is a growing population of people who lack experience and worse, morals, who are guiding others’ careers. They have everything from profit-sharing schemes of talents entire income, to quickly made demos for talent who obviously are not ready to make one. As these snake oil salesmen penetrate the mainstream of the voiceover industry, it’s tougher to tell who is who as many reputable people are befriended by them. As a voice talent, knowing who to trust to help grow your business is becoming as cloudy as Manhattan smog in the early 80’s.
The Pressure To Perform
When you think performing in voiceover, you may immediately think about copy interpretation and executing the right voice or character. But no! The real pressure for a VO professional is to be what Marc Scott calls a VOprenuer. Day in and day out marketing of your voice. For someone who entered into this profession because of their talent, this can be difficult.
There are no guarantees in life but starting any business has a unique set of risks. There is uncertainty about the future of the industry as a whole and then there is a person’s individual uncertainty about competing in that industry. There are questions and doubts about how will you retire from this industry? How will I provide insurance for myself and family? There is also the everyday questions of “where will the next job come from?” In any small business, what you kill is what you eat.
Dealing With Scissors
I probably came into voiceover at a time when rates for VO services were at an all-time low. But that money was still great money for me. But for the professionals who enjoyed even bigger checks for many years before I arrived on the scene, these checks were barely enough to pay for their 7 Series BMW’s. I was an undercutter. 14 years later I struggled to pay off my Acura in 24 months with these rates. Well, the scissors are out again and this time they keep cutting. Rates are getting lower.
Websites who promise new talent work and at the same time promise clients extremely low rates have big budgets to help them rate at the top of google searches. These websites are corporate-minded, not individually concerned and so they have invaded the industry from multiple angles in an attempt to make talent and agents mere low waged hourly-like employees. This is, of course, a fight that as the talent we must push back on both collectively and as individuals.
Billing- I Am Not A F$%king Collection Agency
Whether I’m fighting with Paypal over a chargeback scheme by a customer or calling a client several times a day to collect on an overdue invoice, the part that I dislike about my job is being a collection agency. It’s probably the most disliked part of any business. Comcast wishes they didn’t have to have a collections division either. But unlike Comcast, I deliver the work with quality, on time and with great customer service. So I deserve to be paid on time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many people are not content trying to drive the rates to almost nothing. They want to make sure that they actually get it for nothing. Others feel as if the interest is accruing on the money they owe me in their accounts so they should delay delay delay. This is extremely inconvenient because meanwhile, this puts me in the position that Comcast is calling me (I’m kidding.) Either way, I tire from having to collect money that is a given that should be simply paid to me.
I’ve added safeguards to ensure that I’m paid. I collect money from certain categories of clients before the work is performed. I also use services that confirm that the work was sent to and received by new customers. And I’ve reduced the number of clients who I accept PayPal from (Because PayPal doesn’t support it’s service providers). At the end of the day, the best way to get paid is to get paid upfront and avoid frustration.
Truthfully, I was having a bit of fun writing and recording this vlog. Some of it was a bit exaggerated. All in all the benefits of being a voiceover talent for me are greater than those things that drive me crazy about being a Voiceover Talent. It’s a great job to have. And had to give advice to anyone who is frustrated with voiceover or who is discouraged from continuing, I’d simply advise them to have fun. Release the pressure. Learn as much as you can. Just do it. It’s worth it.