Two weeks ago I was part of a marketing group led by a well-known VO talent. When I was asked what I was doing to get my name out there I mentioned my demos, my website, my rapid growing list of connections on LinkedIn and my blog. The leader of the group stopped me and said that blogging was a huge waste of time and that I needed to abandon it and focus more time on marketing myself. “Blogging won’t help your career. No one cares what you have to say,” She said. That’s ok. Everyone is entitled to an opinion; however, it was the verbal approach that caught me off guard. Her tone was harsh and her criticism malicious. I wanted to explain why I blogged but she quickly moved on to someone else. Some time later I combed through the auditions I had to get done for the day and found myself thinking about my blog. Could this marketing expert be right? Was it worth continuing? Did people really believe that I had nothing to contribute? I don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter or YouTube. I’m not famous by name or appearance. Why would anyone bothering visiting my website to read my blog?
Then… I got an email from a person telling me that they appreciated the info I was sharing about voice over and they looked forward to new posts. And then two days later I received a message from a young woman who said she found me through one of my recent posts about the #metoo movement and the CNN article about Peter Rofe. She had a story of her own and needed to know where to turn to. Immediately I messaged my friend Heather Costa and asked what email I could use of hers so that the woman who had similar experiences had someone she could talk to. I don’t know if the woman actually used them yet but she reached out nonetheless through what she read in my blog. That’s when it dawned on me. The leader of the marketing group kept saying that “I” needed to do this and “I” needed to stop doing that. It was my responsibility to take my career as seriously as she did. It has to all be about me!
But, the thing is, all my life I was taught that if everything is all about me then that makes me selfish and self-centered, yes? It also makes me think about the clients I’ve worked with and how I related to them on a personal level. It wasn’t just “I’m a voice over and I want to work for you” it was, “Sure I’d love to help in anyway I can, even if I’m not a good fit for the project. I can send you some names of people who are also professional VO talent with their own home studios, or I can help you find a sound designer if you need one”, and my favorite: “Voice over is my greatest passion, but I saw you enjoy cooking which is something I love too. What kind of cuisine do you enjoy? Indian? Italian? I’d love to know from one food lover to another.”
Making everything about “me” is not why I have a blog, because I don’t want it to be just about me. I have a blog to help readers like you who want to get into voice over. I include situations I’ve been in, articles I’ve read, and current events happening in voice over. I’ve worked with some great coaches I want to recommend, I’m part of quite a few terrific groups and get-togethers that welcome new talent and nurture them. I want to guide you as best I can without charging you an arm and a leg. I don’t call myself expert and I will NEVER call myself better than anyone else. I call myself experienced. There are no guarantees in this business because it’s changing day by day. In short, I blog to share all that I can for anyone who dreams of being a voice over.
Keep in mind, what worked for me may not work for you. Don’t expect to join a marketing group with the idea that it’ll work out exactly for you as it did for the creator of the program. And if he/she doesn’t welcome ideas or even opinions with an open mind (instead of an ego-driven one), then you may have to look elsewhere or just follow your heart. I don’t sugar coat situations, I’m honest and blunt because more than just a few people I’ve known for years are the same way. However, I also believe in encouraging others and providing concepts. Your journey has to be your own just as all life lessons are yours to learn. I can be a guide, but the decisions must be yours to make.
A good friend shared an interesting quote just yesterday which fits pretty well into my blog post:
The difference in dialogue between leaders and bosses:
Bosses: Tell you, “Do it because I don’t feel like doing it myself.”
Leader: Tell you, “Let me show you, or let me help you with this.”
Beware of those who call themselves leaders when they are better off as followers.
I’m by no means accusing the marketing leader to be “bossy.” But there is a difference between having an opinion and then forcefully telling someone to stop doing this or that because “they” believe it’s a waste of time. I’ve received emails from up and coming talent who find value in what I write and what I share. I don’t expect to make money from the few posts on my blog. It’s my way of sharing my knowledge (thus far) and my experience in voice over. It’s also so that I don’t have to rewrite the same answers to questions that I get asked continuously about “how to get in” to voice over. It’s far too much of a common thing these days that I’m hearing from those interested in VO and asking what to do to “get in.” Then I spend a great deal of time crafting a letter with what it’s like today in VO, what’s required of you and how you can’t let excuses get in the way of having a home studio, learning to direct yourself and be your own engineer, and the absolute must-have above all else to get into this profession – demos! Afterwards, I never hear from them again, not even a simple “Ok, thanks for the info. I appreciate it.” Gratitude can go a long way; however, lately most don’t think it’s necessary because they expect it to just be given. So, my blog is the best “free” information I can give.
You will probably be overwhelmed (as too many claim when I send them information about what’s required to work in this industry), but I will never stop saying in every post if I have to, that the entertainment industry is NOT for the faint of heart. The VO community is welcoming, but you’ll come across bullies who will do anything to discourage you because they themselves fear competition (or have psychological problems that they never got over as kids and can only find solace by being trolls–they’re out there in VO, too) and even find a way to step all over you in order to book a job. It’s happened to a lot of people. It’s just how it is.
I do all I can when it comes to staying up-to-date with what’s happening in VO such as technology, workshops, networking, new genres (VR and AR), and if I get to know you really well and trust that you have a home studio, demos and a good amount of training, I’ll keep you on my list of VO talent for when clients ask me to help them find more to add to their project or roster. I’ll try to answer questions as best I can, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll guide toward a source that can.
While some people charge hundreds of dollars for workshops teaching “old school” material (as some of my colleagues put it) and expecting you to follow only what they say instead of learning all that you can on your own, keep in mind, the internet has LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of free info. Take advantage of it!
A VO blog I enjoy reading is on www.nethervoice.com by Paul Strikwerka.
Or, if you prefer a podcast, subscribe to www.voboss.com hosted by Anne Ganguzza and Gabrielle Nistico. Those are just a few. There are more. Find as many as you can, read and listen to them. Learn to be your own boss, ignore those who thrive on ego and let nothing stop you no matter how long it takes.