Newcomers: How Much Is This
Gonna Cost? A Realistic Answer ...
By Jim Conlan
Voice Talent & Coach
©Jim Conlan Voice Overs 2010
There are two questions I hear all the time about getting into voice-overs.
First, “How long is it gonna take me before I start making money?” And second, “How much is it gonna cost?”
These are good questions. Especially since many people who are interested in doing voice-overs are being downsized, outsourced, or otherwise thwarted in their attempts to keep food on the table.
They need another source of income … the sooner, the better.
I know, some talent-development services claim you’re just moments away from a career in voice-overs.
So I make sure that the people I work with understand the process involved in getting to the pro level.
Because it’s a profession, there’s the cost of training, of course. And because it’s a business, there’s the cost of marketing.
FIRST, THE TRAINING
Because everybody has a voice, I suppose they assume it shouldn’t take long to become a professional voice talent.
But I like to think of the voice the way musicians do – as an instrument.
So I recommend thinking of voice-over training the same way you’d think of learning to play a musical instrument.
COUNT TO FOUR
It takes four things to make a professional voice talent:
It’s the role of training to help you get the most out of your voice, personality, and talent.
That’s not usually a quickie proposition. More likely, there’s going to be quite a bit of exploration, experimentation, and evaluation before you feel you know exactly what you bring to the party.
IT TAKES TIME
Naturally, that kind of training takes more than a couple of trips to a studio and a flair for editing.
It takes time and money.
How much time and money? A good voice-over coach will be able to determine the answer after you’ve spent a bit of time together.
Just be careful of people who want a lot of your money … but don’t require a lot of your time.
MARKETING YOUR SKILLS
Once you have a good idea of your talent and skill as a voice-over artist, it’s time to think of yourself as a business.
And starting a business requires money – perhaps not as much money as some businesses (you won’t need to stock inventory or rent a storefront), but you’ll need some amount of money.
You’ll need a home studio. Business cards. Demo CDs. A web site.
And you’ll need to put money into marketing.
HOW MUCH INVESTMENT?
Although lots of modern marketing techniques cost little or nothing (email campaigns, social networking, industry memberships, cold-calling, etc.), some do require an investment. For instance:
ASK THE PROS
I know it’s hard to make financial decisions when you don’t have the experience of hindsight.
In many ways it's a new game, and we're all learning or re-learning the rules. So check in often with people in the industry. Not just one or two people, but lots.
You’ll find quite a lot of good dialog, for example, on VoiceOverXtra.
Look for consensus – how most people view the state of the business. But also look for the maverick point of view. That may turn out to be the prophetic one.
Over time, your research and experience will help you make educated decisions about how to spend your time – and money – to increase your chances of success as a voice-over artist.