Headbanging caused by mistakes in your voice over career

Posted on September 7, 2012 by


Graveyard of Mics, Cables, Demo CD’s


This post addresses comments posted by voice talent, JS Gilbert, in our last post about listening to voice over advice.

  • You will make mistakes and you will spend money that won’t contribute to ROI (return of investment).
  • “The nicest thing about banging your head against the wall is stopping”. Not everybody can or will make a living doing voice over.

And this is 10000% true. When it comes to websites including Voice123, the instant gratification that is expected can create the perception that “life’s problems can be solved with a mouse click, and if you have enough data, you will know what to do next.” Human nature dictates, however, that when you go from person to person, each one will have their own perception as to “how things should work”. Until you find what works best for you, lessons will be learned and money will be spent. In 1995, I spent about $5000 USD on demos, tapes, postcards, and stamps, and I reached everyone in Ross Reports…who now all possessed the worst possible demo in the world. It was awful, and I paid for it, twice. Once for the mailing and then once for working to pretend it never happened. No one wasted money, but me. When starting online, and learning to work from home, I bought all sorts of things that now sit in a graveyard under my desk. I keep it there as a reminder.

It is true that not everybody can or will make a living in “voice over work”, but not always based on talent. Something that was expressed once to me, “If you want to be in the business, you can do it. But it may not be in the way you had expected.” Did you ever notice that some voice talent become producers, coaches, writers, and *cough* community managers of voice casting websites? Life is about discovery. You may discover you were meant to be a full-time voice talent, and you may discover that you have a skill in helping people get work, or producing and casting. If you end up on the arts administration side of things for a while, you are still “in and around the business”, and yes…it is better than borrowing money from family or banks. I once took a phone call from a person, who stated he needed a premium subscription because he was out of work, and he was quite upset he had to pay to use the website. The first words out my mouth by gut-reflex was, “If you need money or a job, what the heck are you trying to do voice overs for? Seriously, get a job, and come back to this site later. This site is the last stop on a journey to get work, not the first.”  I still come across old friends on Facebook, who ask me how to get started. When it is an old actor-friend, I feel I can help. When it is a teacher, CPA, or construction worker in-between jobs, I tell them, “You don’t wanna know.” Every trade takes an education before applying to work in it. I see this topic written about so much, it needs no further explanation.

Reading such text like this leads many to believe it is “negative” or “not supportive”, but it is not the case. Emails from talent who tell me, “I need to take a break. Things did not go as I expected.”, actually make me smile because it is a smart thing to do when you get frustrated. Take a step back and absorb what happened. If you spend too much time banging your head because of mistakes, you don’t give yourself a chance to learn from them. Are there people out there who try to get into voice overs, spend lots of money, and then quit? Sure, and I know many myself, even before Voice123, but all of them faced the same opposition as everyone else with all the speeches of how they will never make it. Those who discovered it was just an itch they had, did not last. Those who made it their career, always had a dedication that at times led others to believe they were crazy. When you stop and think about what you are doing, if you really do not like it anymore, your instincts are telling you something important.

Thanks for your great comments on the recent posts!