What Do People Ask You When
They Learn You're A Voice Talent?
February 27, 2015
By Tom Dheere
Voice Talent and Coach
I love being a voice talent. Itís fun, it fulfilling, and I get to work with amazing people. There is almost no downside to it. Almost.
I can only think of 1-1/2 things. 1-1/2? Yes.
The 1 is the unpredictability of the voice over industry. You can work with a client for years and suddenly they just vanish. Sometimes they lose their end-client, hire a cheaper voice talent, or go out of business. These things are uncontrollable and are just part of the business. Thatís why you need a consistent marketing plan to manage your client churn.
AND THE 1/2? ...
The 1/2 is the questions I get. Almost every week through various circumstances (attending a networking event, standing in line, etc.), a stranger discovers what I do for a living and many if not most of the questions below invariably follow.
I say 1/2 because the questions and the questioners are mostly harmless and most days I (and my ego) are happy to answer them.
Other days, not so much. Why? Look at the questions and tell me what you think:
Youíre a what?
Most people donít think about who is the voice in a cartoon or commercial, much less that itís a vocation.
Where have I heard you?
There are two motivations behind this question. Some ask because they would be thrilled to have heard you in the past and listen for you in the future. Others ask because they think if they havenít heard you, then youíre not really a voice talent.
How did you get into that?
Once again, two motivations. Some ask because theyíre genuinely curious. Most people divide occupations into two categories: those you go to college for and those you donít. Who ever heard of a voice over major in college? The other motivation is because they want to know how they can get into it.
Is it good money?
If you know what youíre doing.
Where do you go to record?
I record mostly from home but I go to various studios in New York and New Jersey.
That must be fun, right?
Do you have an agent?
Most people canít imagine how a performer gets work without an agent. I have multiple agents and a manager, but I get most of my work on my own. Which leads to the next question Ö
So how do you find work?
It only takes a few seconds for their eyes to glaze over after I start to explain positional branding and action plans.
My friend has a good voice. Can you get him a job?
How can I be a voice talent?
Thousands of dollars, lots of coaching, a home studio, lots of free time, and the ability to embrace failure. Hearing "thousands of dollarsĒ is enough for most to lose interest.
WHAT THEY DON'T ASK ...
Hereís what some think but never ask:
Are you ever going to get a real job?
Is that a fair question?
From my end itís a bit insulting, but I understand why some folks think that way. Most people are hourly employees or on salary so the idea of doing something fun for a living and working from home just doesnít compute.
If that question is ever posed to me, this is probably how I would answer:
Being a voice talent is not a job, itís a career. Iím self-employed and I put in as many hours as anyone else does. Just because those hours are put in at my home doesnít make them any less difficult. Also, most of those hours are not spent recording inside the booth. They are spent doing clerical work and marketing myself in a myriad of ways to develop relationships with both potential and existing clients.My point is that the grass isnít always greener on the other side of the fence. However, I do enjoying mowing my lawn!
Tom Dheere is an 18-year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a voice over business consultant, a coach at Edge Studio, was marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is writing and producing a comic book.
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