The 10 Commandments to being successful in Voiceovers

Thou shalt obey

The Ten Commandments

OK, OK, I know this one goes right to the Bible, and that’s a touchy and uncomfortable subject for some people.  *Insert eye-rolling and face-palming here.*  I guess the only place left to go to make you SUPER uncomfortable is…Jesus!  😊  Now that you’ve squirmed a bit, you’re ready to endure.  Read on.

I. Thou Shalt Pray, Trust & Intend to get jobs

Step one.  It’s all about a mindset.  If you go into your studio simply hoping that you may maybe possibly on the off chance kind of happen to get a voiceover job, you’ll never get a voiceover job.  If you go into it praying, trusting in God (or whatever Higher Power you wish to), praying and asking for blessing, and moreover, with full intention of being the recipient of the awarded job, your odds go up significantly.  Do you know that book, “As a man thinketh, so is he”?  Yeah.  That.  It’s a mind game, for sure.  You want to go in confidently, boldly, knowing that you do have what it takes to earn this job…to be awarded this voiceover…to be asked to represent this brand.  There’s nothing like a scared wet fish to scare off a client and make them click “next audition.”  It’s up to you to go in boldly in prayer, faith, trust and intention, resolute on doing the very best you can and trusting that God will do the rest, and work you into the ears, minds and hearts of the decision makers.  It’s not up to you – all you can do is give your best.  The rest is not up to you.

II. Thou shalt remember that it is not about rejection, it’s about selection

Did you think you were going to get that job?  Did someone beat you out of it?  Get 4 stars and you STILL didn’t get it?  So?  It’s about selection, not rejection.  They didn’t reject you or offer any commentary on the quality of your craft or the readiness of your talent; they simply selected another talent.  The sooner you can wrap your head around this, the better off you’ll be.  You didn’t get rejected.  Another got selected.  Another didn’t get rejected.  You simply got selected.  Round and round we go.

III. Thou shalt market to at least 50 people per day

Marc Scott’s marketing playbook says 20 people per day at least. That’s a great minimum!  But I say 50.  (Meaning no disrespect to Marc.)  Up the ante a bit, eh?  Get yourself out there.  The more you cast your net, the more your chances of reeling in a fish (Why am I talking about fish so much???)  Honestly, how long does it take to fire off an email?  Use the same text, but personalize it.  How long does it take to reach out to several LinkedIn clients?  Use the same text, but personalize it.  Copy-paste-personalize-send.  How long does that take?  They say voiceovers are 80% marketing and 20% recording.  I think this is true.  If you treat your voiceover career like a business and work 8 to 5, that’s 9 hours (without a lunch).  80% of your 9 hours is 7.2 hours.  You have 7.2 hours to market each day!  Whether that’s cold-calling, emailing, connecting, whatever, make sure you’re casting out your reel.  I love how Marc says you have to always have something in the pipeline.  And the ROI for your marketing may not pay off by tomorrow.  Or next Tuesday.  Or next year.  But you’re sowing seeds that will eventually come around, even if you never hear back from that particular client – who just happened to refer you to the one guy who referred you to their sister who referred you to the marketing guy whose brother does E-Learning, who who booked you for a massive E-Learning job, and you just never found out about it.

IV. Thou shalt remember that thy focus determines thy reality

George Lucas said this one. Stop and wrap your head around THAT for a minute.  The creator of Jar Jar Binks penned this line.  WHOA.  But seriously…I don’t even need to say anything about it.  Just look at the image and figure out for yourself what it means.  What is your focus?

V. Thou shalt ask thyself deeply, “Wantest thou this?”

Have you done this yet?  Have you sat down and really, really, really yearned?  Have you finally found the love of your career life, after long searching and sleepless nights?  Did you leave a full-time job for this?  Did you step out in faith?  How long has it been since you really cried into your pillow, wanting so badly for this to work?  Was it a passing fancy?  Or was it your life’s compulsion, your utter motivation, your happiness and pleasure…and is it still?  If so, what’s got you frozen in concrete?  Are you at an impasse? Why?  Can you take some time to figure out again, perhaps find your reset button, and see where you go from here?  If you don’t really want this, then find out the reasons why.  What happened?  What stole your thunder?  Who cut in on you and kept you from running the race?

If you don’t want it so badly you can feel it in your teeth, something’s wrong.

VI. Thou shalt view expenses as investments

Read this article.  Do you view things you purchase as expenses…..or investments?  An expense is an “Oh well, I have to buy this, so I guess I will, because I have no other choice.”  An investment says “This is going to take me to the moon.  I MUST have it for the long run.”  Expenses are short-term irritations.  Investments are long-term seed-sowings.  Every. Single. Thing. you spend for your voiceover career is an investment.  That new mic.  That new software. That advertising.  That workshop.  That coaching.  ALL of it is an investment.  All of this ramp-up towards success is going to take money and capital, no doubt about it.  Nothing in life worth succeeding at comes free.  In 2 Samuel 24:24, King Araunah says “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  He viewed it as an investment, not an expense.  He saw it as a long term necessity, not a short term irritation. Believe me, I KNOW it takes a bit of cash to start up a voiceover career.  But when you compare that to an accredited cosmetology school program which will usually cost anywhere from $5k to $15k, or to attend a top beauty school, which costs anywhere from $10k to $20k, only to see them make $20 per haircut, isn’t up to $5k in voiceover startup costs a cool drink of water by comparison?

VII. Thou shalt always stay in learning mode

Kenneth Blanchard said, “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”  So true.  You stagnate.  Your muscles atrophy.  You grow fat and bloated and turn into this.  Ok maybe it’s not that bad.  But really…keep moving.  That includes your brain.  Stay engaged with teachers and teaching subjects.  Make it your life’s aim to always better yourself.  Got a coach, or had a coach?  Get one again.  Attended some workshops a few years ago?  Book some more.  Networked in a Meetup with some other voiceover peeps?  Get back out there and mingle.  Joined an online vocal workout through Facebook and think they’re beneath you?  Squat down and get back in there again.  I’m always amazed at the kernels of truth that come out of revisiting something.  When I stop learning, I die a little from the pride that comes from thinking I know it all.  And that’s not where I want to be, nor should I.  Nor should you.  A rolling stone gathers no moss, they say.  Unless you’ve got an endless supply of Moss-B-Gone, keep thou rolling onward.

VIII. Thou shalt audition audition audition – for it is a numbers game.

Meet Jack.  Jack got into voiceovers.  Jack signed up for a P2P and did 20 voiceover auditions that first day.  Jack was happy because he knew he was going to book all those jobs!  Jack didn’t book any of those jobs: they all selected someone else.  Jack instantly grew disenchanted because he wasn’t grounded in realistic expectations, and he left the P2P and now works at Burger King, where his expectations of flipping burgers successfully every day are easily met.

Not the case with you.  Audition.  Keep trying. Keep pushing forward.  Keep attempting to secure a role.  Look at each one as an opportunity to grow and perfect your craft.  View each audition as yet another way to get yourself out in front of people, potential audiences, new contacts who will pass your name along.  Approach each audition with the knowledge that you can actually be the one awarded that project, because you do have what it takes.  Gain momentum from the auditions you did before this one.

Above all, keep at it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

IX. Thou shalt be thyself

Contact Kay Bess for absolute clarification on this one.  She’s wonderful.  It was her keynote from VO Atlanta 2019.  Unless you’re yourself when you audition or record your narration, you’re not being true to you.

X. Thou shalt always be grateful

Now, I’m not God (Thank GOD).  I didn’t write anything in stone, nor did I issue any instructions or edits or laws for man to follow.  But I am enormously grateful to the one who did.  My perspective hinges on the presence of a loving God who wants the best for me, wants me to have what my family and I need (and sometimes, even what we want – they’re different by the way: wants and needs), and cares for me.  And even if you don’t believe in God, it’s time for you to sit up and confidently state that there is some order out there in the universe that revolves around certain laws.  I don’t necessarily subscribe to this one, but I do subscribe to these ones.

An attitude of gratitude will take you farther than you ever intended to go.  It will provide you a sound bedrock knowing that everything that comes your way is a gift and a blessing.  What do my wife and I teach our son to say when he receives a gift?  “Thank you.”  And it’s adorable when he does so.  But he’s starting to do it automatically.  Where did we as adults lose this reactionary phrase, this reaction of acknowledgment that we were given something that perhaps we didn’t deserve or earn…or at the very least, didn’t expect?

Any time I’m awarded a job, I am INSTANTLY elated.  And immediately following that, I’m INSTANTLY resounding gratitude.  It is by the grace of God that I’ve been given what I’ve been given, and I’m extraordinarily grateful for everything that I’ve been given.

Now, does this imply that the who isn’t grateful won’t get anything or experience any success?  Not at all.  I just don’t want to be that guy, ever.  I want Someone, Somewhere, to know that I am extraordinarily grateful for this gift.  I want that gratitude to come around full circle and bring in more blessings.  Again, round and round we go.

Summary

Does this blog really need a summary?  I don’t think so.  It’s up to you to believe what you want and to proceed how you wish.  For me, these have worked for me and I wanted to share them with you as foundational pillars that work in MY voiceover journey, and help me to proceed in an attitude of focus, success, gratitude, and passion.  Not all that what works for me will work for you.  I just hope these ten will.

Be thou blessed as thou obeyest these commandments as thou wilt!

 

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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
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