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10 Things To Ask Yourself Before
Pursuing A Career In Voice Overs

January 5, 2015

By Anthony Gettig
Voice Actor

This is the time of year when many folks have made New Year resolutions. Whether it's self-improvement, career related, or something else, the new year brings with it a clean slate of sorts.

For some, starting a voice over business is on that list. Is that you?

I thoroughly love this business and am always happy to help hopefuls get going. However, it's important to consider the cost of any new venture. To that end, I've drafted a list of 10 questions that I think are important for a person to ask him or herself before pursuing the business of voice over.

Note:In order for these to be helpful, you need to be 100% honest with yourself. Here goes ...

1. Are you comfortable with the idea of owning and operating a business?

It's been said that "show business" is 98% business and 2% show. This is 100% true. In addition to performing, you need to keep track of expenses, income, taxes, and more.

2. Are you willing to take on all the minutia that goes into running a business?

Are you entrepreneurial? For the working voice talent, jobs don't just magically show up in your email. Well, sometimes they do, but it takes a lot of prospecting and relationship building to get to that point. Prospecting for work and building relationships is a big part of the voice over business.

3. Are you OK waiting up to 30 days (or longer) to be paid?

I always put "DUE ON RECEIPT" on my invoices. Many clients honor that and pay immediately, but a lot don't.

It's just a reality of being in business. A lot of times, it's as simple as your VO client can't pay you until THEY get paid. It's nothing personal, it's just business. If you voice for larger corporations, sometimes this gets pushed out to 45 days. Government contracts? Even longer.

4. Are you teachable?

The best thing anyone can do to get their voice over endeavors off to a good start is to get coaching. This is a big one for former radio people.

A good coach will help you break bad habits, establish good ones, and equip you with tools to approach your work. They will also let you know when you are ready to record your first demo.

5. Are you disciplined?

When you work for yourself, it takes discipline to get the work done! I think it's a huge mistake when people go online and brag about doing VO in their pajamas or underwear.

Seriously? That's what a professional does?

No, a professional is disciplined and gets up at a decent time, showers, gets dressed, eats a little breakfast, and gets to work.  A professional has systems in place to make sure they are doing the right things.

If you want to be a consistently working voice actor, you need discipline.

6. Are you looking to make a lot of money real quick?

Can you make a good living in voice overs? Yes. Will this happen immediately? Probably not.

Remember, this is a business. It takes time to build relationships, your systems, find your strengths, and really find your niche.

As my friend and colleague Bob Souer has said, "Voice over is a wonderful way to make a living, but a terrible way to make a living quickly."

Wise words indeed!

7. Are you willing to spend money on your business?

A microphone, computer, headphones, and other studio equipment are obvious expenses.

But I see too many people willing to spend money on gear and not on:
  • professional services like a CPA and/or attorney to get a solid business structure in place,
  • voice over coaching, so they have a chance at competing for work, or
  • acoustically treating the space they intend to record in so it's dead. 
I recommend coaching, business structure, and studio refinement before you get a demo done or buy any equipment. Those things really are that important.

8. Do you have basic people skills?

This too, may seem obvious, but as a business owner, you will be interacting with prospects and clients. I'm not saying you need to be a "people person," but it doesn't hurt. 

Don't worry if you're not; you can learn people skills.

9. Do you handle rejection well?

It's been said that the "work" of voice over is auditioning. Doing the actual job is the fun part. There is certainly some truth to that.

The working voice over talent will audition a lot, especially in the beginning. You will not be selected for a gig way more often than you will be selected. Even folks who have been in business a long time still audition and are not selected.

10. Are you running AWAY from your current job/career - or are you running TO a new career in voice over?

Running away from something is almost never the right approach. It can set up a mindset of despair and scarcity, leading one to take ANY voice over job … even one that takes advantage of them.

When you run TO something, it's easier to set goals, have patience, and pursue the dream.

This subtle shift of thinking can be a powerful force in either direction.
Anthony Gettig is full-time working voice talent in Kalamazoo, MI specializing in business narration and commercials. He blogs about the voice over business at Outside of VO, he enjoys roasting coffee and spending time with his family.


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Comments (13)
Dexter Barrow
3/14/2021 at 7:44 AM
This was a great article and has only increased my interest in voice over work.

Carolyn Rubin
12/17/2019 at 4:52 PM
Good solid article. Thx
Roy McRay
2/26/2017 at 7:58 PM
A most well thought out plan of attack with well rounded reasoning for support to it. I personally am grateful for such experienced knowledge to be handed down to any beginner, young or old, and see the merit of its' value.
Thank you Anthony!
Rich H
1/8/2016 at 3:04 AM
Great guide, thanks Anthony. It's given me a lot to think about as I start to traverse the heady heights of voice over work.
Debbie Grattan
1/6/2016 at 3:25 PM
Very nice compilation of key points here for anyone contemplating entering the VO ranks. Great work Anthony!! My fellow Michigander!
Anthony Gettig
1/6/2016 at 11:07 AM
Thank you, folks. You are all very kind. I sincerely hope this is helpful for many people!
Debby Barnes
1/5/2016 at 7:41 PM
This is such a big thumbs-up, AG. And it's an essential dose of reality. Boom!
Sean O. Shea
1/5/2016 at 11:44 AM
Well done, sir. I'm with you on the "making money in your pajamas," slogan. I am sooo over that. A little part of me dies inside, every time I hear it. I treat VO like any other job/career/business. For me, the morning regimen sets the stage for the rest of the day.

Put some pants on, people. ;)
Alan Sisto
1/5/2016 at 10:23 AM
Excellent points, all -- and actually very encouraging for once! Being new to VO myself, I've read many articles that (understandably) are written with the goal of persuading folks who haven't thought it through to put the brakes on. As someone who's been running a (mostly) successful freelance business in an entirely different field for the last 10 years, I feel like I've already got half this list checked off -- and having received my first VO rejection just yesterday, I'm still smiling... so there's one more off the list. :)
Paul Strikwerda
1/5/2016 at 10:19 AM
Many are called. Few are chosen. A successful VO-career requires discipline and dedication. It may take years before people see a return on their investment. Is it for you? These questions are the answer.
Jason Huggins
1/5/2016 at 9:15 AM
Awesome, well-spoken and concise article. There is a reason you've been successful I'd say!
Memo Sauceda
1/5/2016 at 8:14 AM
Excellent advice, and a template to send to people interested in starting in VOs!
Rebecca Haugh
1/5/2016 at 3:53 AM
Anthony - BRAVO!! This works also for anyone considering entrepreneurship.
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