About three years ago I wrote a blog for Stage 32, an entertainment industry social media site. It was well-received and they have decided to post it again. You can read the blog via their website but I have re-posted it here for your convenience. Enjoy!
You will hate this blog.
Not the most inspiring of beginnings, but bear with me…
I struggled as a voice talent for almost 15 years. Before that, I went to college and graduate school for acting. It turns out that while I was pretty good at acting, I hated the lifestyle. I hated the competition and how it brought out the worst in people. I hated, well, other actors. Their insecurity, their need to act as a form of therapy, their love of Ramen Noodles. I hated actors because I saw too much of myself in them. I didn’t eat Ramen, though. I’m a Chef Boyardee man.
I discovered voiceovers after I dropped out of graduate school. It seemed to suit my disposition and I got to act as well. I worked with a coach for six months, cut a demo, and started cold-calling. I had no idea what I was doing. No sense of self. No plan. The majority of my decisions were made out of insecurity & fear and I had the audacity to be surprised that I was getting nowhere.
After 15 years of trial and error (more like error and error), I learned three things that changed my career:
I learned how to be not just an artist, but a business. Everyone wants to be the artist, but no one wants to be the business. Artists dream, businesses envision. Artist have vague goals, businesses have specific goals. Businesses write it down. Businesses execute. You have to think and act like a business to give yourself the opportunity to express like an artist.
But Tom, I hate spreadsheets and cubicles and stuff. I just want to dance!
That’s nice. The reality is that if you can’t or won’t do what it takes to be a working, learning, and growing self-employed entrepreneur, may I suggest Community Theater?
This blog is getting worse and worse, isn’t it?
I learned that I deserve to be successful. This happened when I attended my first voiceover conference. I didn’t think I belonged because I assumed everyone else was more successful & knowledgeable than I. I set out to prove that I belonged there. I put together a presentation about how to set goals as a voice talent. About 50 voice talents packed the small hotel meeting room I was assigned to. When I finished, I was shocked by a standing ovation. One of the audience members gave me a big hug and said, “You are a ****ing rock star!”
This experience taught me that I deserve to be a success. It may sound silly, but I didn’t think I truly deserved it. I thought I was faking it, or fooling myself, or trying to live a man-child’s life. And guess what? You deserve to be successful, too.
I learned to give back. I started blogging about eight years ago to get my name out there. For the first few years, my blog was nothing but a “me me me” show and nobody read it. Eventually, I changed the format. I talked about what I did right as a voice talent and more importantly, what I did wrong. I added a “Tip of the Week” to share what I learned from my successes & failures (and you always learn more from your failures, right?). I also added a “Quote of the Week” because, well, I like quotes! My readership increased almost overnight.
By doing this, I was giving back to the voiceover community. I was helping to spare people from the pain and mistakes that they could have made by sharing my war stories.