Education, specifically the current American educational system, has really done a number on us voice talent. Think about the 20th Century “American Dream” career track that has been ingrained in us…
The “right way” to realize the American dream is to work hard in primary school and high school so you can get into a good college. If you work hard there, you get your 4-year degree and the second you graduate, you land a job at some wonderful company that will take care of you & your family for the next 40 years with low-cost health insurance, paid vacations, and a pension until you retire with gold watch and plaque in hand.
If you’re looking to climb a few more rungs (and if you work hard) you can train to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, chemist, or whatever by getting your MFA, PHD, etc. and get a job where you will have financial security and work for a big honkin’ corporation, hospital, firm, etc.
If you’re not “smart enough”, instead of college you either go to a vocational school or train on the job to be a plumber, carpenter, etc. and join the union where they will protect you and yours with collective bargaining, health benefits, etc. BTW this is a horrible stereotype that has been perpetuated for far too long.
You could also join the military, police, fire fighters, coal miners, or work on an assembly line in a manufacturing plant and enjoy many of the same benefits.
If you couldn’t or wouldn’t do any of the above because you didn’t have the smarts (again a horrible stereotype) or the money you became a janitor, garbage collector, or diner waitress and were looked down upon by society. Even with these jobs there was a certain level of stability.
In other words, the closer you stick to this model for getting a good education, the better your chances of being successful.
In the 21st Century, that model has been turned upside down.
The 20th Century model no longer sets up many Americans for success. Why? College has become much more expensive and leaves many with crippling long-term debt. College degrees aren’t as valuable as they once were and job security has become a thing of the past. Companies rise & fall much quicker now and are less loyal to their employees. The pension has been replaced with the much riskier 401(k). 25% of Americans can’t get health insurance through their employers or don’t have an employer to get it from (like us voice talent). Housing is now far more expensive in proportion to income.
Take all that and apply it to us crazy-ass voice talents who want to go way outside of the now-dysfunctional 20th Century American Dream model. There are far more resources out there than there used to be for the self-employed, but we have to figure it out all by ourselves. You can’t major in entrepreneurship, much less voiceovers.
TIP OF THE WEEK
To be an effective voice talent these days, you need to overcome the decades of cultural and educational dogma that has been pounded into our heads as well as learn to navigate the waters of entrepreneurship since there is no preset mechanism for us. How do we do that?
Education. Set yourself up for success in the modern world through the prism of the five categories of your voiceover business (as always, thank you Voiceovers Unlimited!):
Cash Flow: learn how to manage your finances effectively using accounting software like Mint, find good credit card deals, join a credit union, etc.
Tools: utilize the right hardware and software to run your business effectively; everything from microphones to CRM software to business cards.
Technique: continually hone your craft with coaching & copy practice and keep up with trends by reading voiceover industry blogs & magazines.
Marketing: build your brand, communicate that brand effectively via social media and analog marketing, and attend live events so you’re not just another introvert afraid to come out of the booth.
Health: this is the big one! Stay in shape mentally, physically, and emotionally. Get a Health Savings Account, set up a retirement account, and join a Mastermind or other group to support your peers.
In other words, the closer you stick to the modern idea of getting a good education, the better your chances of being successful.
Yes, you can be an effective voice talent these days. Education is still everything, just not the kind we got in the last century!
NEWS AND NOTES
Thursday, May 30th 9am-3pm EST: “The VO Tech Deep Dive and eLearning Extravaganza!” is only a few weeks away and there are some seats left! Tickets are on sale here!
September 13th-15: “VOcation NYC” Click here to register!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Tom Dheere is a 20+year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds of clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a voiceover business & marketing consultant known as the VO Strategist and produces the comic book “Agent 1.22”.