What am I Doing Wrong?

We get lots of email asking about what it takes to break in and succeed as a voice talent. Unfortunately, many people think voiceover is an easy business and that success will come quickly. The truth is that voiceover is a part of “show-business” and as with all other performing arts, it will take time to develop the skills and establish credibility as a performer.

Here are some common questions from one of our subscribers who was wondering what he is doing right and what he is doing wrong. You may find the answers helpful in your pursuit of voiceover work.

Mr. Alburger, I'm doing the following to promote my VO career:

1. My professional demo is complete and I'm currently circulating it to agents in Florida.  I live in Orlando as well as Atlanta, GA. I’m Also sending it out to radio stations, production companies and even animation schools so I can build a resume.

Are you calling ahead for names of people to send your demo to? Or are you just sending it cold? Are you following up a week later with a phone call? and then after that with on-going post cards? Does your demo show you at your absolute best? Does it include strong production value? Is your demo - and more importantly, are your performance skills -of a caliber with professional voice talent who have been doing voiceover for many years? You may not be getting much response because either your demo is weak or your performing skills are not up to par. Don't think that just because your demo was produced at a recording studio that it will automatically get you work - or that it's even a good demo. I've heard hundreds of "professional demos" that get about :10 of ear time, then get trashed. Your demo must be exceptional in today's VO market. (click here for more info).

2. I'm NOT packing my bags for L.A. because I'm told that its necessary to live there before you will be considered for work.

This is good - and wise. LA already has too many voice talent who aren't working! Master your craft where you are now! In today's VO world, you don't necessarily need to live in LA to do voiceover work unless you're doing animation VO or high-end national work. With today's technology you can - and should - build your performing and business skills where you are and only move to the next level when you know you're ready.

3. Networking on the internet to build relationships and secure some work.

Also good. You may find that some of the networking seeds you plant today will not bear fruit for a year or more. Again, persistence is the name of the game.

4.  Yes, I know that it takes time, but the response has been lukewarm at best.I want to create some excitement!

It sounds like you're doing some things right, but you're focus seems fractured. What type of VO work are you going for? Commercials? Character? Radio imaging? Industrials? Each of these is a specialty - usually requiring a separate demo. If your demo isn't targeted well, it won't get listened to for very long - maybe :10 if you're lucky. Most VO coaches will tell you to plan on at least several years of diligent marketing to create credibility and develop the connections you need. Give yourself time to build your VO business. Don't forget . . . this is "show-business," and the overnight sensation usually doesn't happen overnight.

5. Do agents actually listen to demo's? Do I need to follow up?

Are you calling ahead before sending to agents? If they know your demo is coming most will listen to it - but don't expect a reply from them any time soon. Follow-up is an absolute necessity of a good marketing plan. Do you have a marketing plan for yourself? If not, stop right now and put one together before sending out anything or making another phone call. You'll find an excellent starting point with the "Business Plan for Voice Actor You, Inc. in The Art of Voice Acting. You’ll also find Penny Abshire’s book Demo and Marketing Magic for Voice Actors has a lot of valuable information on demos and marketing.

Here are some other things for you to consider:

Have you read my book “The Art of Voice Acting?”  Have you read other books on both the craft of performing for voiceover and the marketing of your skills?  What training have you taken - and are you planning to take - to develop and master your performing and business skills? Do you have a website and the computer literacy to record at home and work with MP3 files?

Be persistent with your marketing and work on your craft daily and you are sure to find the success you are looking for.

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