The Voice Over Cult...or is it?
I have to come clean.
This voice over business has been irritating me lately. Surprise surprise. Although this time it has nothing to do with rejection or the people on the other side of the booth. Rather it’s the actual people in the booth- the vo artists themselves. And how they’re choosing to market and promote one another and share their information, that has me buggin’ a bit.
My intention is not to step on any toes so I apologize in advance to anyone who takes this personally. If you’ve stopped reading, I understand. If you’re still here, I thank you for your time and patience. And if you still need an explanation afterwards or are confused, my door is open.
While most talents are off narrating sophisticated medical copy, and bragging about how difficult it is to pronounce words like “Septklickphalseumatreit" I’ve been taking somewhat of a two week dry spell in stride. Knowing full well this is an inevitable, though temporary, part of being a voice talent. We’ve all been here before. Keeping the faith is key. It’s hard to suppress the frustration of not having a single thing to record while your peers are out disclosing every detail of their career on all forms of social media. So, the best I can do is not let it affect my progress and focus my energies on another part of business. As many other voice talents in the industry have suggested and written about ad nauseam, downtime is the perfect time for you to focus on marketing, to leave no stone unturned, reaching out to old clients, agents, production companies, design memorable email newsletters, snail mail, cold-calling and to create original and engaging content whether in the form of Blog or YouTube video. Or take a vacation. Or simply do nothing.
Some valuable suggestions right there, and, while a great number have proven effective, I can’t help but feel my mind wandering, getting ahead of itself, jumping the gun and assuming I’m the weakest link. Why? A number of reasons:
My blog hasn’t been a high ranking and most read resource.
Not being featured in another voice talent’s weekly summary of the "best voiceover blogs this week.” (Yes this is what I think about)
I simply don’t know how to drop what I’m doing and become this endless video content purveyor, a role we are required to learn instantly and start taking advantage of.
Because I don’t sit in front of my computer all day long scrounging the online world for new opportunities.
Because I leave my studio to see the physical WORLD
Why is this toxic/counter-productive clutter entering my psyche?
Because these are now some of the requirements every voice over talent must have to grow a successful online business and, aside from being talked about and promoted daily, it’s caving in on me and driving me insane.
Call me old-fashioned.
The other day I went to a VO blogger’s site and it hit me. Everything looked clean, professional, polished- a flawless presentation which I clearly don’t have. I was hooked from the first glance. Inspired? Yes. Intimidated? Oh yeah. Over-whelmed? Hell yes! This person seemed to have covered every topic imaginable in voiceover so much so that I felt he was reading my mind as I approached the page and then supplying answers right before my eyes as they randomly appeared on the page.
Like most other talents, it was a one-stop shop for everything VO. Informative, helpful, stream-lined. Need to know how much to charge for 30 sec spot? Editing problem with audio files? What voiceover actors to follow on twitter and why they’re cool? Interviews with other voice over talents? Yep, this person had it all. Except the fact that amidst this swarm of content, I couldn’t find the reels. Oh THERE they are! And, while I felt this website was truly well put together, it further confirmed my belief that, at the end of the day, this can all seem like a broken record at times.
Who hasn’t explored these topics before?!
Everywhere I look, I see pretty much the same thing- voice actors marketing to other voice actors, lending their expertise about how to approach agencies, calling themselves “social media experts” and claiming the most effective ways to “be a successful marketer”, how you can use social media to “exponentially” increase your sales (I still haven’t figured this out btw), and other useful things like demo production, detrimental cross-posting, how having a blog is “vital to traffic and SEO success” so you must become a writer and just, well, start writing shit down that’s “keyword-rich” and people will come. In the same way that some industry leaders had complained that VO is over-saturated and anyone who has a mic and computer thinks they can do this, I have been having similar thoughts about us as “marketers”.
It’s as if the community of voice over talents have in a sense become a Jonestown-like cult. One pioneer starts preaching a sermon and every other eager beaver decides to follow suit and just drink the kool-aid. And what you have is a group of Star-Trek convention types that haven’t seen the light of day in a week.
Not me. I’ve never been a cliquey person. An observer, not a follower or groupie. I’m one of those people that never loses sight of the thing that got me here in the first place– my actual voice talent. And I am working hard at becoming a leader in this business by what I’ve accomplished and the reputation I am working to build upon each day. I’m desperately not to get sucked into the cult.
Perhaps it’s a subjective revelation but I feel it’s over-whelming presence every day.
All this advice we see online does not come without a little bit of self-righteousness and ego. After all, we’re “actors” right? Everyone’s a little bit of a diva from time to time. More importantly we are businesses. We take on a myriad of roles we wouldn’t otherwise assume if we were working at a corporation. Roles we’d probably take for granted. The CEO? That’s us. VP of Aquisitions? Us. CFO? Us. Human Resources? Yep, that’s us too. And even down to the nitty gritty. The Social Media Strategist, Digital Developer, Manager of Branded Content…yep, yep and yep. The list goes on. Getting caught up in the amount of work that’s fully required of us is truly daunting. We cannot be required to be all these roles every single day but it’s a reality we must face as self employed entrepreneurs. A reality I am still struggling to grasp and learn how to define for myself.
I’m not unappreciative of the education I’ve received. Sharing the love and providing an accessible means of education ain’t hurt nobody. Having knowledge dropped on you on a regular basis by a colleague is considered a privilege someone wouldn’t have otherwise received, say 10 years ago. The information is out there. You just have to grab it.
I just know when I need a break from it all. And lately, it’s been a lot.
My word of advice: distribute your knowledge piecemeal. It’s what you do with that information that matters most and what personally works for you.
I’m going to continue to do my own thing.