Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Monday, January 04, 2016

5 Common Mistakes Made By Voice Over Beginners

Voice overs can be frustrating - work can seem tantalisingly close, but for some unfathomable reason, you keep failing to win the jobs. 

In an attempt to help explain some of the reasons why, here are five mistakes you could be making.

1. Inappropriate Targeting

Voice overs are not a numbers game. It is not the amount of work you apply for, but how selective you are. Too many voice actors spend far too long applying for gigs that are totally inappropriate for their voice type. 

If a voice over project is looking for a 'young cool voice' and you are middle aged (and sound it)  - leave well alone. It may be paying a tempting fee, but you will be wasting your time (and the client's) trying to sound like you are twenty years younger. 

Become well acquainted with your voice and get to know what it sounds like to other people. You may think you sound like you are sophisticate from Downton Abbey, but to the rest of the world your accent may be more Bill Sykes (not that there is anything wrong with sounding like a Cockney
ne'er-do-well, after all Ray Winstone makes a successful career out of it!).

2. Misreading Scripts

Recently I was listening to one of my student's auditions for a furniture store. The name of the company contained a double 't' in the middle, which could have either softened or hardened the preceding vowel. 

My student had chosen the harder version, but I was unsure. 

I made a quick call to one of their shops and asked the receptionist which was the correct pronunciation. I was right to be cautious, the company wanted their name to have the softer articulation.

My student would have fallen at the first hurdle had she submitted the incorrect pronunciation - there is nothing guaranteed to annoy a client more than hearing the name of their beloved business mispronounced by a voice over artist. A little research was all that was needed.

Attention to detail is so important.

3. Expectations are too high

I had a message just before Christmas from someone who was complaining about the poor amount she was earning in voice overs. After expenses, she had calculated her profits to be just under £3,000 ($4,400) for a year and she was very disappointed - "I was expecting around £20,000 ($29,500)" she grumbled.

When I probed further, she was doing hardly any marketing at all, spending most of her time on just one pay to play site. I recommended spreading her promotional wings far and wide - you cannot expect to earn larger sums if you are not putting in the appropriate leg work.

4. Expectations are too low

On the other side of the coin are those newcomers who seem content with low paid gigs and fear making the step up to better paid work. They apply for too many student projects and baulk at the idea of working for high-end clients, who they fear may be more demanding.

These low expectation folks convince themselves that cheap 'n cheerful is all they are capable of. 

Now regular readers will know I recommend applying for lower paid jobs when you are just starting out in voice overs. However this should not be seen as a substitute for well remunerated jobs - indeed these bargain basement gigs should act as a proving ground or springboard to better paid work. 

You are always capable of much more.

5. Not Taking The Business Side Seriously Enough

"I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself - that is the best combination."Judi Dench

Be honest with yourself - do you really run your voice over career like a company? Are you advertising, keeping accounts and working to your business plan? Do you consider yourself to be 'looking for voice over work' or 'selling your voice over services'?

If it is the former, you need a radical rethink.

You cannot expect clients to pay on time if you do not issue an invoice with payment terms. Likewise, phoning a production company and making yourself seem desperate for work does not sound good. If you want to be professional; present yourself as a pro. 

There is some excellent advice on this subject from seasoned VO and broadcaster Dave Courvoisier . In fact he recommends all voice actors should take a marketing course. Not a bad idea.

Too many talents ignore this aspect, or at least do not have a firm grip on the idea of running a business. They mistakenly assume it is all about the sound their voice. 

People often ask me "Is there a market for my voice?" to which I reply "yes there probably is, but are you willing to set up your stall and sell your voice?" 

If you don't somebody, who sounds a little bit like you, will. 

What mistakes did you make when you started doing voice overs? Please let me know in the comments below.

Gary Terzza runs a voice over training programme based in London, England.


Post a Comment