Five years ago this month, I decided to become the VO Strategist. What a crazy ride it’s been!
My brain works funny. I often see the world as an incomplete tapestry filled with holes and missing pieces. It bugs the crap out of me. I’m always trying to get a better understanding of the universe; how it works, why it works, and what I can do to help fill the gaps. Back in 2012, a major gap that I noticed was a serious lack of coaches and instructors that help both aspiring and established voice talent deal with the real world of the voiceover industry: treating your career like a business.
There are some agents, coaches, and demo producers out there who would prefer to keep us voice talents ignorant so we can keep buying their stuff and signing up for their classes. Sadly, there are too many of them ready and willing to prey upon the constant tidal wave of new voice talent that wade into the deep end way too soon. Wow, two water metaphors in one sentence…
Anyway, I was booked to speak at VOICE 2012 that year and I took it as an opportunity to begin educating, even if for just a handful as aspiring voice talents. I spoke before a group of about 60 attendees and talked about the importance of thinking like a business and setting goals. At the end, I held a raffle to give someone in the audience a free 30-minute coaching session. The winner was our very own Pearl Hewitt.
I was nervous but we had a great time. We discussed the challenges of running a business from home and feeling alone most of the time. For those of you who are not voice talents, it can be a very lonely business; sitting in a dark closet talking to yourself and having no idea what you’re supposed to do next to move your business forward.
After that session I was determined to help as many people as I could to realize their potential not just as a voiceover talent but as a voiceover business.
TIP OF THE WEEK
After five years of sessions, students, and speaking engagements, I’ve learned three things:
1. We’re trained to think like starving-artists and not a business.
I think this is a product not of just our Prussian education system, but our culture. A Chorus Line and American Idol while entertaining, may have in their own ways done some serious damage to the entertainment industry. It’s ironic that in a capitalist society where (ideally) everyone has an opportunity to be successful based an hard work and merit, most people’s goal is to get minimal training then find an agent ASAP to relieve themselves of the responsibility of their career. To be a successful voiceover business is your job and your job alone. Not an agent, not the union, not “connections”, not “getting your big break”, you.
2. Most people don’t know what they don’t know.
When working with new students, we first have a Diagnostic Session. I ask a series of uncomfortable questions about every aspect of their voiceover career, then I tell them what they need to do to get them out of the starving-artist mentality and get them thinking like a business. Most have no idea what to do next. Training? Check! Demo? Check! Now what? Build your Systems of Thought and Systems of Execution, that’s what!
3. Vague goals will get you vague results. Specific goals will get you specific results.
This has varied from student to student. All of them want to be more successful (who doesn’t?) but don’t know what that actually means or how to go about it. What does success look like to you? Doing enough voiceovers to make grocery money? Going part-time? Full-time? Moving to LA? The more you think specifically about what you want, how you will get it, and what values drive you, the more success you will achieve.
I would like to thank FaffCon, VOICE 2012, Voiceover Xtra, and the countless students, friends, and fellow voice talents who have supported me these past five years. I was apprehensive about becoming the VO Strategist because I didn’t want to be seen as just another parasite. I just wanted to give back to an amazing community of people who have been so good to me and helped make my dream of being a voice talent some true. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
NEWS AND NOTES
Updated website! If you’re reading this via my website, you can see how pretty and shiny it is. Webmaster extraordinaire Nikki Saco of Saco Media made some cosmetic changes as well as some internal tweaks to make www.tomdheere.com more secure. Great job, Nikki!
Reminder! My next Edge Studio “Business and Money 201” webinar will be Thursday, July 20th @8PM EST. The subject: Cost/Benefit Analysis. We’re gonna talk about crunching the numbers that is your voiceover business. Click here to register.
No blog next week! I’ll be flying home from Denver Comic Con after promoting Agent 1.22, then celebrating Independence Day, then getting ready to man our Agent 1.22 booth at Garden State Comic Fest so Tommy gots to get some sleep. 🙂 See you on the other side!