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Timeliness & Professionalism In The Voiceover Industry

Timeliness & Professionalism In The Voiceover Industry

It’s been said that in the voiceover industry, you can make money in your underwear. So sorry for the visual there but…..it’s true. You certainly can assuming you’re not being directed live on Zoom.

Wouldn’t you imagine that such a lackadaisical setup in the voiceover industry could lead to widespread slow deliveries and maybe a touch of sloppiness in general?

I come from the business world. Not just the business world but the ‘business of healthcare’ world. Being on time is extremely important and professionalism is part of your overall reputation. To be more specific, I am a Fellowship-trained Chiropractic Orthopedic specialist and am currently working on my second Fellowship in Forensics. My clinic employs 14 people and I’ve been in business for over 23 years.

I take the words ‘reputation’, ‘work’, and ‘pride’ extremely seriously.

That’s not to say I’m not a fun guy. Hey, I was a traveling singer/songwriter for almost ten years! I’m all about fun! But at the end of the day, we get one chance at a first impression and, if we screw anything up along the way, we may never get a chance to fix it.

How many times have you waited around on an air conditioner repairman or a plumber or a handyman to come and fix something you desperately need to be fixed? They have the worst reputation for being dependable and on time, don’t they?

Here’s the thing though, it’s because there aren’t a ton of them out there in the world to compete with so they can take their time. They can treat you however they want to treat you. They can miss timelines all of the time and never really pay the piper for a lack of professionalism and a lack of timeliness.

But you cannot treat customers that way in the voiceover industry. There are a million VO actors out there just dying to get those big commercials or eLearning and corporate narration gigs. Heck, I’m one of them!!

If there are so many VO actors vying for the same gigs the voiceover industry, you have to take every gig seriously and deliver every time, on time. There’s really no other way to be.

When I have a commercial or simple voiceover project and I have 3 days to get it done, I literally get it done in the first day because I cannot stand to have things hanging out there in the wind just waiting on me to get to it finally.

Why put off until tomorrow that which can be done today? Right?

You set yourself apart by being on the ball. Being ‘with it’. It’s important to understand that making a good living in the VO world is mostly about REPEAT business and you don’t get repeat business by mistreating them the first time.

So, timeliness and professionalism are the way in the voice-over industry. Oh, and being a good person that’s easy to work with. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard this from. Nobody wants to works with a pain in the backside.

Timeliness, Professionalism, and Good.

That’s voice over success broken down into three ingredients from what I can tell so far!

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A Glimmer Of Hope For A Voice Actor

A Glimmer Of Hope For A Voice Actor

As a voice actor, this may seem unrelated but, did you know that the odds of winning an Oscar are 1 in 11,500?

Doesn’t that sound like your chances are amazing? It sounds like we need to do as the Beverly Hillbillies did and load up the truck and move to Beverly!

What I am discovering is that 1 in 11,500 makes things sound WAY too simplistic. It simply is not easy to get traction in the acting industry. At all. The names you associate as being the biggest of stars in the movies or acting industries, the chances they took, the luck they stepped into, and the work they put in to get there….it’s typically pretty astounding.

Sure, some are overnight successes and chance ‘discoveries’. But those are usually flashes in the pan. Here today and gone tomorrow. 

To have a sustained, long-term career such as is enjoyed by the likes of Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Jack Nicholson, one has to do everything correctly. Especially in the early years of their career. Many times one stinker of a performance can sink a career for good. Here today and gone tomorrow. 

He made a successful comeback but look where Kevin Costner was prior to Waterworld and where he was for a decade or more after Waterworld. It can be a cruel world.

These are things I find myself thinking about as I am 48 but still in the early stages of my voice acting career. It is funny because you always feel you are in some precarious position poised on the edge of a cliff and making the wrong move, especially this early on, could spell disaster and doom!

That is a tough thought to process. The good thing is that not that many folks know about me yet. But….isn’t that the bad thing as well? 

On the one hand, it is important to keep moving and progressing your business one step at a time. On the other hand, you cannot afford to be bogged down and suffer from ‘paralysis by analysis’. The risks of a misstep are all around but the show must go on. 

For these reasons, I have tried to take my time and make smart decisions yet continue with forward movement and forward progress. Trying to choose coaching, training, and marketing instruction wisely. Most have a limited amount of financial resources to throw at it so decisions need to be made with the ‘return on investment’ being kept in mind at all times. 

For the first six months of this journey, I was almost convinced I had made a terrible mistake. To be honest, I still wonder from time to time. But, signs of progress can off that boost of encouragement one needs to continue. A shot of adrenaline, if you will. 

That is what has been happening slowly. It started with finally getting a commercial demo created. That was the first real shot in the arm.

Then I began submitting the demo to talent agencies. The second BIG shot in the arm came with signing on with Crown North Talent out of San Francisco/Los Angeles. Wow! If you told this life-long resident of the Texas Panhandle that he would be signing with talent agencies at the age of 48, I just would not have believed you. 

Then, more encouragement started coming along in the form of small little jobs. From auto sales and church programs to Cajun hot sauce! When you find out that you really can do this voice actor thing and you can do it in one or two takes while making the clients happy, it’s exciting and, of course, encouraging. 

So, that is where I find myself at the moment. Slowly building a resume. Slowly building a client list. Slow building a voice over actor’s career. 

The slow nature of this business makes me reflect again on what the actors mentioned before did and what they accomplished. It may look easy. But doors are shut. Until they are opened. 

So…..here’s to continuing to open those doors!

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Jeff Williams is a voice over / voice actor from Texas. Jeff is best described as having a young and middle-aged baritone voice lending itself nicely to a multitude of projects. Jeff can be described as having a deep narrator’s voice with a Texas, Southern charm when requested. His style pairs well with Home Depot, Ford Truck, Stick-this-burger-in-your-mouth style commercial. He has been described as the BLUE COLLAR voice for the WORKING MAN!

An equipment or tool commercial voice over project is ideal for his voice-over styling.  Jeff has ‘folksy’ nailed down firmly.

 

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Beginning A Voice Over Career On Voices.com…..

Beginning A Voice Over Career On Voices.com…..

…..Is like waking up and having your partner rare back and give you a good swift voice over kick square in the crotch to start off every single morning.

voices.com sucks

Before you’ve even had your coffee.

Right now, if someone were to ask me if they should pay for VDC and they were new to the voiceover industry, I would have to tell them that it is not worth messing with right now.

For me to explain why I say such a thing, I have to have some level of confidence in myself and in my abilities while beign sure to stay humble and understanding that I’m still very very new to the VO industry.

I am constantly reminding myself that it is a marathon. Not a sprint. However, I am, admittedly, an impatient person.

I’ll start by saying that I’m only about six months into voice over. “Why the long face?” you may ask. “You just got started!” Well, I come at it from a ‘hard work pays off’ perspective. I have been successful in business. Very successful actually. Certainly in the last 10 years or so. I’m used to results. I’m used to putting effort into and taking results out of the machine.

I have listened to the experts and have gone down the path with gusto and professionalism. I have done the things recommended of me by the folks that know what it takes.

  • I have done the group and private coaching.
  • I have bought the equipment.
  • I treated my room (which is in my basement) and it’s QUIET.
  • I have had my equipment professionally tuned in.
  • I have already attended a seminar. Albeit virtually. Still, I learned a lot.
  • I have attended online webinars and small classes.
  • I joined all of the websites and Facebook groups.
  • I made this website

I have paid for the demo.

And all I have to show for it at this point is absolutely nothing. Just a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. No profit. No voice over income at all.

Now that might sound bitter. I know. Maybe even spoiled and entitled on some level. And while I’m certainly frustrated, I’m not bitter, I don’t believe I’m spoiled (maybe a little), and I don’t think I’m entitled. Gen X’ers like me aren’t typically known for their ‘entitlement’ attitude.

Actually, at this point, if I’m anything, I’m more determined than ever. I love being an underdog. I love being underestimated. That really is fuel for the fire and Voices.com (VDC) is providing that for me right now.

The most frustrating part of my voice acting journey so far has been VDC. The lack of other paying gigs is simply because I was in a holding pattern until I got the demo completed. Which just happened a couple of weeks ago. I’m in the process of submitting to agents as we speak.

So there are reasons for the process dragging. Understandable reasons.

What is not understandable for me is my lack of any progress on VDC. I have auditioned 612 times and have had 424 actually listened to. I am getting shortlisted about 12% of the time that I actually get a listen.

That means that out of over 45 shortlisted gigs on VDC since I started, I have yet to land even one of them.

What’s that about exactly?

Now here’s the part where a person can come off as egotistical. I promise I’m not. I’m my own worst critic. I pick myself apart regularly and don’t have the confidence I would like to have. Some of that is directly due to VDC and my lack of being able to book even one gig in about 5 months of trying. And not just sort of trying. Really trying!

I found out I need to be one of the first to audition so I try to get in there early and be one of the first. I was told by a veteran that I need to lay down three takes. So I do. Yet, here I am. Still waiting for the first message saying, “We loved it and we want you.”

Now, one might be thinking, “Hey, Bud….sometimes you just suck. Get over it.” Maybe I do suck. Maybe I’ve sampled my own kool-aid too much. But I don’t think that’s the case. Again, I’m brand new and I’ve got so much to learn and figure out but, I have the ears of veterans that I have a lot of trust and faith in. They have all shared that they are impressed with me (especially for being new) and that it’s just a matter of time.

They are also clear to let me know that I have a Texas accent. Although subtle, it’s there and noticeable which will limit the gigs for me when compared to a neutral accent.

So, while that’s been good for my self-confidence, it hasn’t’ formulated into gigs just yet.

It deepens the frustration when you see people in the Facebook groups talking about how they booked their first VDC gigs 3-4 weeks in. Ugh. That’s great for them and I wish them all well but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a bit jealous. I can be honest here!

What I wonder is instead of me just straight up being awful at voice-over or voice acting, could there be another explanation?

What I think, or hope is happening rather than me just being bad, is that I get shortlisted and the client has a handful of people they’ve narrowed it down to. When they look at my profile, I have no testimonials. Because I’ve never been hired. I have no previous clients. Because no client has signed on just yet. And I have no voice over work history. Yet!!

So the decision probably gets made to go with the voice actor with some work history and testimonials from previous clients. And I’m left riding the pine and waiting for the coach to put me in the game. Someday. Not today though.

I have heard several times that this is a business of rejection. Well, if VDC is the only thing you have going on in the voice over industry, wear that rejection like a warm coat, my friends. Invite it in and embrace it like a BFF because it will be the overriding theme. That’s what VDC is right now. At least that’s what it is for me. I thought it would be a place where I could pick up some smaller gigs and pick up some experience on the way to bigger and better things. Things that would allow me to drop VDC like a bad habit sooner rather than later.

The good thing is, auditioning over 600 times is excellent practice in auditioning! I feel like I’m getting pretty darn good at it and can knock the auditions out fairly quickly. This will be handy and give me a leg up when the time comes.

Now that the demo is wrapped up, I can start really marketing and trying to put VDC in my rearview mirror.

Hell, maybe I can dump it before I ever even get a damn gig through them!! While that would be satisfying on one level, it would be nice to get at least enough work out of VDC to at least cover the yearly fee it costs to get kicked in the nards daily by their platform.

________________________________________________________

Jeff Williams is a Deep Male Voice Over / Voice Actor – Southern, Texan, Gravel, Wisdom, Experience, Conversational, Believable, Authoritative, Blue Collar Working Man
 
Please visit my voice over homepage and listen to my demos at jeffwilliamsvoice.com
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The Frustrations Of Being An Emerging Deep Male Voice Over Talent

The Frustrations Of Being An Emerging Deep Male Voice Over Talent 

The frustration of being an emerging deep male voice over talent. Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the notion that the financial barrier to entry in the voice actor world is low.
 
This is false in my experience!
 
Does that mean that the voice actor industry is a predatory profession? I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s been my experience that it is one of the kindest and most giving industries I’ve experienced. Honestly, there are some of the nicest, most genuine and helpful people you’ll ever meet in the VO world.
 
However, there are PLENTY of opportunities to spend money in the profession. I’m coming to realize that everyone is an expert and everyone is happy to sell you their expertise. Some are better than others.
 
Your opportunity to spend your hard-earned money is without boundaries in this industry. For this reason, it’s imperative to spend money wisely. You should make good choices and in the areas that are will give you the most bang for the buck. The best return on your investment. That only comes through doing your homework.
 
Let’s start adding it up, shall we?

Outfitting a voice acting recording space = $0 – $50

  • Depending on your needs, it could be little money to somewhat expensive. For example, your cost is zero if you have a large closet and can fit into the space. If you’re surrounded by blankets and clothes and things of that sort, well then your cost is zero dollars.
  • If however, that is not a luxury you have, you’ll have to spend some money treating your space. The amount you spend will depend on the space but it can get quite expensive. When you look up professional panels, sound deadening blankets, and things of that sort, you’ll be north of $100 in the snap of the fingers.
  • This is likely the cheapest thing you’ll do when entering the profession.

Compiling your voice over equipment = $840 – $7,400+

That’s quite a difference in expenses but it all depends on your desire. Do you want to start out by trying to be at the top of your equipment game or do you want to grow into it?
  • Essential equipment:
  • Microphone = $150 – $3500
  • Boom Stand/Mic Mount = $20 – $200
  • Pop filter $10 – $15
  • XLR microphone cable = $10 – $$30
  • Interface = $150 – $800
  • Computer = $500 – $2500
  • DAW Software for editing your sound = $0 – an ongoing monthly cost with Adobe Audition 
I am taking the middle road. I found a more cost-effective microphone. It fits my deep male voice over that compares very favorably with one of the more famous VO microphones. So, I was able to have great sound quality while still saving almost $1,000.
 
Since I was able to save money on the microphone, I splurged on the Apollo Arrow, which was $500
 
I chose to buy a new MacBook Pro that I could dedicate to VO work because I’m in it for the long haul. The stubborn journey, if you will. I knew it would be important to have a dedicated computer used ONLY for VO. Nothing else. So that it would work efficiently and as needed. Piling extra programs onto your work computer is a recipe for an unreliable computer. You can’t have that when you’re on a time schedule many times.
 
The DAW I use for editing sound, at this time, is Twisted Wave which had a $79 price tag.

Voice Over Effects Stack = $400+

Alright, we have our space in order and we have our equipment up and running. But can you make your space and your voice sound ideal to give you that edge in your auditions? The answer is, “Probably.” You can do this by getting in touch with folks like Tim Tippets at VO Tech Guru to log into your computer. He logs in over Zoom and can tweak the EQ and the settings. He’ll recommend a couple of programs for purchase that will make all the difference in the world for you. Then he’ll create an effects stack for you. When you record an audition, you run the effects stack on it. After that, then normalize it to -3 dB, and then submit it rather than submitting a dry recording.
 
Guys like Tim are about $200 or so but the programs you need will run an additional $200 or so. Every time you switch your room up or get a new microphone, you’ll want to pay guys like Tim another $200. That way they can get you all set up and optimized again.

Voice Actor Business Cards = $25 – $50

It would be a great idea to get business cards but it’s honestly not absolutely necessary in the beginning. Especially in the COVID area. It’s not like we are physically attending seminars and handing out cards. Correct?
 
But, if you are doing some direct mail marketing, including a business card in the packet might not be a bad idea.

Voice Over Website = $7/month – $2500+

Again, a wide range of costs here. The difference comes down to whether you are proficient in setting up your site. And if you are proficient at doing the SEO optimization on it yourself. If you are not, you guessed it….there are plenty of designers out there eager to get paid to do it for you. Regardless of how it gets done, you need a website. That website needs to have a way for people to listen to your demo on it as well.

Voice Over Demo = $0 – $2600+ EACH

The end-all, be-all of the VO industry. THE DEMO! The demo is basically your real VO business card. Everyone that has spent any time whatsoever in the VO industry will tell you NOT to make your own demo.
 
OK, cool.
 
And that makes sense too. On the surface. We aren’t all masters at sound production after all. BUT, when the industry places a value of $2500+ on a demo with decent quality, it gets difficult. My question for them is, “How the hell do you expect anyone and everyone to afford such an entry price to play the game?” Most cannot. Therefore, self-made demos there will be. And they’ll be around by the gobs because they are too damned expensive for beginners. Beginners that have no paying gigs or clientele to afford them. Plain and simple.
 
It makes sense to pay that for a demo when you are making money on voice-over gigs and you can re-invest that money. Of course. Until you have paying gigs, it makes zero sense and voice actors simply have to do the best they can to walk the line. The line is between having a presentable commercial demo and not having to pay $2500 for one. Especially when just starting out.
 
This has been one of my biggest obstacles and frustrations so far. Not only do they price demos out of the range for so many folks,, but they also want a demo for every single genre. So, separate demos for commercial, promo, narrator, eLearning, animation, radio, auto, and on and on and on.
 
Now it’s REALLY starting to add up. Right?
 
I would add that while they say to never make your own demo, the industry is also loaded with those that will make your demo for you. But they mostly started out by making their own demos. They’ll admit they had no engineering or production background. They figured it out. So, take that as you receive it. If you make your own in the beginning, I’m behind you 100%. Just have several listen to it. If it sucks, take the advice on the chin. Go back to the drawing board to make it sound as close to a professional demo as you can.

Voice Over / Voice Acting Coaching $25/hr – INFINITY 

Every VO professional will tell you coaching is a must. Then again, many will tell you they never had a class and are loaded with work. I err on the side of coaching here. There is no way we can know it all. Let’s be honest, we all think our ideas are the best or that our abilities aren’t as bad as others think. You know it’s true.
 
It’s helpful to have an outside point of view or perspective. Reputable coaches will bring something new to the table and, hopefully, renew your energy and drive.
 
Coaching comes at all costs. Some coaching is $25/hr while some cost $125/hr or more. Some voice over coaches are for newbies. Some voice actor coaches only accept those that have been in the business a while. Trust me here. There are PLENTY of ‘coaches’ that are happy to take your money. They’ll take your money just to give you generalized and mostly unhelpful guidance. It’s this way with literally EVERY industry.
 
Make sure you look around and ask for recommendations. Recommendations for reputable coaching before spending that money.

Voice Over / Voice Actor Pay To Play Sites = $300 – $500 per year 

You’re going to hear many in the voice over / voice actor industry tell you that pay to play sites are the devil. I can see their point. They see it as racing to the bottom and competing for the lowest dollar amount while devaluing the profession. I get it. I truly do. Then you look at some of the biggest talent and they’re on the pay to play sites. So, what gives?
 
For beginners specifically, voices.com or voices123.com provide access to quality clients. In addition you have access to quality opportunities immediately. And that is without going through the middlemen like agents to get there. It’s like a direct line to the boss and that’s appealing.
 
At the end of the day, if many of the biggest talents are on it, if it’s good for the goose, then it’s probably good for the gander. Just don’t sell the industry short there. Don’t accept pennies on what should be a $300 job. Use the GVAA pay scale for guidance on this. Don’t be the cheapest. Those customers will be the worst, most demanding clients. 
 
Get jobs but respect yourselves, the industry, and your fellow VO brethren.

Voice Over / Voice Actor Seminars = $150 – $300 EACH

I took my first seminar about 2 weeks ago. Since we are in the time of COVID, it was held through Zoom. The best part was that it was nice to be able to sit at my table in my home and still get the same instruction. I got the instruction I would have had to fly to New York City for just last year. COVID ain’t all bad, folks.
 
The seminar was called eVOcation and was put together by Carin Gilfry and Jamie Muffett. There were about 150 attendees and I have to admit, it was wonderful. It was packed with useful information and inspiration all weekend long. Seminars sure aren’t a required first step. But, in my first experience with a voice-over / voice actor seminar, it was well worth every penny.

Conclusion of frustrations of deep male voice over 

The bottom line of entry sits very very conservatively at about $2,000. The top end of entry sits at as much as $16,000 or MORE!
 
However, the more realistic number for a decent entry into the profession; the number that is comprehensive and adequate but still on the financially conservative side. That number is probably more around the $3,500 – $5,000 mark. For some, that’s not all that bad. For others, that’s impossible.
 
You are probably getting the idea here that there are infinite ways to make money in the voice over industry. You would be right. But there are also infinite ways a voice actor can SPEND their money. Especially when trying to break into the profession.
 
For those veterans in the industry to say there is little to no cost to get started is either disingenuous or it’s just ill-informed. If a new voice actor is going to ‘burst’ onto the scene with any effectiveness, they need the talent certainly. But, they’ll also need a good amount of money if they want to start off with a bang.
 
Also, being a deep male voice over / voice actor is FULL of competition. The voice over world is FULL of competition and FULL of deep male voice over.  It’s going to be difficult to break through so I think it comes down to being hard-headed (which I certainly am). It’ll take commitment and the resolve to get better. It will take my providing an amazing product for clients as well. If we are doing these things, then things will likely just take care of themselves in the long run.
 
Just my experience so far. With life and business in general. When we’re giving back and putting into people and the world, the world tends to give back. 

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Jeff Williams is a Deep Male Voice Over / Voice Actor – Southern, Texan, Gravel, Wisdom, Experience, Conversational, Believable, Authoritative, Blue Collar Working Man
 
Please visit my voice over homepage and listen to my demos at jeffwilliamsvoice.com
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