Do or do not…There is no trying in voice overs – Part I

Posted on January 4, 2012 by

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AJ McKay at workWhen my friend and Voice123 Talent AJ McKay announced to his friends, family, employer, and the world that he was ready to take the plunge and become a full-time voice talent, I wasn’t sure if he was brave or just off his meds.  Either way, after 22 years in radio, he’s leaving the safety of having a steady paycheck and benefits to “voice the dream.”

Listen here: Interview with AJ McKay Part 1

The First Steps to Voicing the Dream

AJ told me, “I recently had a friend of mine that died and he just celebrated his 30th birthday and passed away the next day.  I thought to myself, ‘ya know, life is way too short’.  I need to be doing what I love to do and that’s following my dream…to do full-time voice over work.”

Step 1:  Set a deadline and commit to it.

AJ set his date as February 1st, so, he gave notice to his employer that his last day would be January 31st so that he would have no choice but to make it happen. “A big catalyst for me was Bob Bergen, the voice of Porky Pig…an amazing voice talent and coach.  Bob came to town for a seminar…and he said, ‘you don’t want to be 85 years old and look back on your life and say coulda woulda shoulda’…fear is the biggest obstacle.’”

Step 2:  Marketing!

There is a huge range of work out there for voice over talents.  But what kinds of jobs do you really want? AJ wants to focus on doing voice overs for TV network promos for local affiliates and cable providers, radio imaging, promo work, etc. so he markets himself to that audience.  Use social media channels, buy Facebook ads, banner ads on industry sites, become a premium member of Voice123 (shameless plug here, but Voice123 is just one part of your marketing strategy), connect with the voiceover community.  What do you have to offer?

Step 3:  Be ready.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  “The worst thing you can do is advertise yourself and say ‘Oh, I’ve got ISDN’ but if you’re traveling to a studio and it takes an hour or 30 minutes, that’s not really having it… The big networks expect you to be ready at a moment’s notice.” Are you really ready to handle that huge client when that phone rings?  Part two of AJ’s interview will cover getting the equipment and skills you need to succeed.

Step 4:  Educate yourself.

This should really be the first step and every step.  This doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on classes, materials, and lectures.   “I attend a few webinars or seminars a month…but I’ve got a lot of friends that are actors…so I get a lot of free acting lessons because I pick their brains a lot…I love to learn, I’m always reading forums, blogs, articles, anything I can get my hands on.”

Stay tuned for Part II: The Epic Battle for ISDN  Click here for a special “preview” 😉

Special thanks to AJ McKay Creative for this interview.

Do you have any questions for AJ about his plunge into a full-time voice over career?