This is the second installment o the “Getting Started” series, so if you haven’t already read Getting Started Part I you should head on over there now before you keep reading.
Let’s recap Part I….
OK, so where were we?
Well, in our last installment, you decided that you were OK with:
- Sitting or standing, alone, in an enclosed space, for several hours a day reading out loud.
- Getting a decent coach who can train and guide you in your focus and your performance
- Buying or making an appropriately treated recording space that minimizes outside noise and reflections.
- Purchasing quality equipment (mic, interface, computer, DAW) to capture your performance (and learning how to properly use it).
So now what?
WHOA…Don’t get too far ahead of yourself here...
Well, you could drop a wad of cash on a booth and some top tier equipment and then sign up for some online casting sites (and drop a wad of cash for them too) and start auditioning right away. You COULD. But you really SHOULDN’T. The average voice over artist is going to book between 3-5% of the jobs they audition for. AVERAGE. Perhaps the experienced, well trained and talented artists will book somewhere between 5-20%. The unexperienced, untrained? Likely somewhere between 0-2%. Time is money, and auditioning takes time. That last category is probably also going to be in the group that only books very low paying gigs (more on that in a later installment) .
Let’s do the maths real quick as an example. I know, I know, I don’t like maths either, but it is handy to figure out the question of the universe: Is it worth it?
Is this really worth it?
Assuming you book at the upper end of average for a newbie, you’ll book 2% of your auditions. For every 100 auditions, you’ll book 2 jobs. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume each job pays $250. Also assume you can do 100 auditions a week (this is a BIG assumption, since there may not even be that many opportunities in a week) and you only work a standard 40 hour week (HAHAHAHA – but it simplifies the maths). So you’ll book $500 worth of work each week, on average on 40 hours of work.
Simple maths: 500/40= $12.50 an hour
That works out to $26,000.00 per year. Not gonna get rich, and probably have to keep working your day job, which means not having the full 40 hours each week to devote to auditioning. Which reduces that weekly amount. Oh, and however much money you’ve spent so far on equipment? Well, only you can figure the break-even point.
Oh, and don’t forget to subtract: Taxes, bank fees (for accepting credit cards, roughly 3% for sites like paypal, zero if you only want a check mailed), cost of signing up for a Pay to Play (P2P) site…and other expenses. Let’s round it down to $10 an hour NET, Now you annual take is just under $21,000.00. And there are other costs that are sort of “hidden” …but we’ll leave that to your Accountant (oh, and you’ll have to pay them too).
Not trying to discourage you, but ask yourself: Is that worth it? Maybe, Maybe not.
But to improve those numbers…
It’s worth repeating: GET A COACH!
The first (REAL) step in this journey, before you even enter a booth or plug in a microphone, is to get some training and/or coaching. If you do an internet searching for VO training, you will be BOMBARDED with a million hits for training in everything from marketing, to business, to accents and beyond. How in the world do you weed through all of this to find training that will not be a waste of your hard-earned cash (and getting into this business, if you want to do it right, is going to cost some cash up front – just like starting any other business will)?
It’s pretty simple, really (but not easy): Research.
If you know what genre of voice acting you are interested in, identify some working artists that have been successful and see if they offer coaching or seminars. If you are totally green here, and don’t really KNOW any successful voice artists to query, there are some ways to find them and I will mention a few below, but before we go down THAT rabbit hole, I need to ask: Do you even know what genre you are interested in? More importantly, do you know what genre your voice and present talent level is best suited for?
Let’s take another detour and talk about that for a minute.
There are MANY different genres of voice acting you could be involved in. Early in your career, it is a good idea to focus on one genre(or maybe two) to start with, getting the training/coaching you need so you can start booking gigs at the 3-5% rate and bringing in some revenue to help finance future expansion and maybe buy a hamburger or two – face it, it’s way too early for steak!.
If you don’t really know WHO a good coach might be for a particular genre, one of the best ways I’ve found to “meet” and talk to experienced, working, talent is through FaceBook. LOTS of voice over groups, but like everything else, some good some bad. Search FaceBook and look for groups that are active and have several thousand (Yes, THOUSAND…this IS a competitive business) members. Join a few, then lurk for a couple weeks to get a feel for who is a newbie (like you) and who is an experienced voice over actor. It’s pretty apparent after a week or so.
Here are a few of my favorites;
This one is not a FaceBook group (although one of the above is associated with it), but pop on over to Narrators Roadmap as well for a TON of useful information.
There are MANY others, it’s a mixed bag, but these are my go-to groups. Spend some time there, ask questions (but mind the group rules and always use the search function first – some topics have already been discussed TO DEATH) and generally start to network with other narrators. My experience (YMMV) is they are a friendly helpful bunch and you can get a LOT of info there. If you see me there, feel free to say HI and send me a friend request if you like.
Identify one or two people you “click” with, and either peruse their website (What!? You don’t have a professional website yet? Another expense) or reach out to them individually to find out if they offer any kind of training or coaching (many do). Usually you can arrange for a free initial consult (15 or 30 minutes) to decide if you are a good fit for each other and come up with a plan to move forward. Make sure to ask if they would be able to provide an assessment of where you are, what genre is best for you and what your next steps are. They should also be able to help you decide when it is time to have a professionally produced demo made so that you can market yourself and start pulling down the BIG bucks!
Well, maybe not the big bucks just yet! Remember: Behind every “overnight success” story, there are years of working diligently, many failures and many successes along the way. Keep your head down, keep plugging, be persistent and before you know it it WILL be time for that steak!
Your homework for this week installment is to find yourself a coach. Next in line will be: “Getting Started Part III: Fixing up a booth”…stay tuned!
Now go do your homework…Get to work!