You Can’t Be Anything You Want – Week 35

Some posts lately have been leaning away from the “how to do it” aspect of Voice over Work toward the “why am I doing this” side. Or you might call it the whiny side if you are a follower. So, one last topic on that and then I should have most of it out of my system. For now.

I have in recent years come to be less of a believer in the “you can be/do anything you want” school of thought that is often given to motivate people. My quickest rebut to this commonly espoused theory is to ask you to read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers and see if you still hold to that viewpoint as strongly. I will spare you from any longer debate as this isn’t the proper media here, but I will say not everyone can or should be a Voice over Worker.

Not that you should not try, or that there is no place for you in the market, but before you make the decision to participate, make sure you have a realistic approach and view of the industry.

I have mentioned before how many websites and podcasts present you with some great success stories about people making six figure incomes doing Voice over Work. Not that I don’t believe those anecdotes, but whenever a success story is followed by “Buy this from us and you can do it, too” the story loses al credence it may have once had. Most recently, I came across a “personal experience story” about an untrained, first-time, non-studio based novice that got an ACX to audition and in her first week had an offer for an $80 PFH, 8 hour book. If I knew how to type in those noises where you sneeze and insert a detracting comment in, I would put that here.

Is it possible that this person, who (by her own admission) was using Audacity and a laptop microphone, with no experience recording, acting, or editing audio, was paid over $600 for her first book? Sure. In Bizarro World. But no. It isn’t. And you won’t get that either. Not even if you buy the product she was hawking. If you think so, I suspect you might have spent a good bit of money of some of Billy Mays’ products as well.

Will you ever get that? Maybe. There are books like that. I have done several, and I am working on some right now. So it is quite rational to expect to get to that point within a year of Voice over Working. If you are experienced in some way that compliments the process, you can get there more quickly. If you have never done audio work, read extensively out loud to people, and don’t yet have a very good mic and interface/mixer, then don’t expect it to happen.

The competition on every single site that offers Voice over Work is tremendous, and if you think you are ready to compete with what is out there, have someone compare your demos to others on Voices.com or even samples on ACX. Oh, wait, you haven’t done samples yet? Then stop dreaming and get to work. And don’t expect to land a good gig until you have some really good samples.

Sure, you might be better than some you can find out there. Are you in the top 10% or what you hear? Would the casual observer agree with your rating? On Voices.com, the average job I see gets 50-80 auditions. On UpWork, 20-50 is very common. If you were hiring someone to record your phone system messages or audiobook, would you choose from the top 10% or the bottom 90%? Sometimes, yes, there is the value in the lower portion, but can you make a living on those odds?

We heard before from Ken Rockwell – “Get Good Glass.” Mr Rockwell also said you can get great pictures from cell phone cameras or Polaroids. This opinion is valid – the right place at the right time and almost anyone can get the great picture. It may be possible to get some Voice over Work with the audio equivalent of a Point and Shoot Disposable Camera, but everything else – the material, performance, interpretation, pacing – has to be outstanding to compensate.

That’s enough of the Gloomy Gus. Does all this discourage you? If so, then I have probably saved you a lot of time and money, because this vocation is chock full of disappointing and discouraging things. And if this post can dissuade you, then you weren’t too serious about it in the first place. If this post challenged you to make it in a tough business, then keep going. But keep going with realistic expectations.

By definition, most of us are not Outliers. If you are a lightning attractor in Voice over Work, then you aren’t slumming on my blog to find advice or compare experiences – you’re busy making $400 PFH! The rest of us can make it eventually, too, but it is going to require us to slog through the $40 PFH books; the Royalty Share books that sell seven copies; the thousands of unanswered auditions; to re-invest our income into equipment, training, and software; to work more than 40 hours, at all times and all days to drum up the business; and on top of all that to be the entrepreneur that can run the business.

It’s tough work, but somebody gets to do it!

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