Where is that neck brace I used to have? It has got to be around here someplace…

As previously mentioned, I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of those established people in the voice-over business who share their knowledge and experience freely, giving back to their industry. However, looking back at when I first started in voice-over, I can also remember another overwhelming feeling. Whiplash.

It’s okay to make your own first demos to get your feet wet, but the VO gods will strike you down if you do because first impressions last forever. Having a great voice is a handicap because the only thing the industry wants are “real” sounding deliveries. On the other hand, having a great voice can be a great asset. Don’t let being untrained stop you from jumping into the pool, but absolutely get professional training and take acting and improv classes at a minimum before you step out. You don’t need to have professional equipment to start booking jobs, but if you don’t have professional audio, don’t risk auditioning. You need to have a fully developed brand in place with a professionally designed website before you start marketing, but don’t let not having those things hold you back. Marketing plan? You’ve got to have that or you are wasting your time, however, the most important thing is to get your name and voice out there so don’t wait to figure everything out first. You’re not really a professional voice actor unless you are a union member, but most of the industry isn’t. You should always slate your auditions unless told otherwise, but the people listening to them will automatically disqualify you if you do because they don’t have the patience to listen to those extra two seconds. You shouldn’t be on casting site X, Y or Z, but you might need to consider it to get your first jobs. Broadcasting experience, especially radio experience, is a severe hindrance because it is often impossible to get rid of the “announcer” sound, but broadcast experience can give you a leg up because you have already been trained to read well, enunciate properly and aren’t afraid of a microphone. Yes, I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

So how do you deal with the whiplash? I’ve decided to ignore it.

That isn’t to say I don’t listen to the guidance of others. I have found the advice and feedback I have received immeasurably valuable. How I handle the contradictions is to listen and collect the advice over time, paying attention to which bits consistently float to the top.

I also ask questions. Is what I am hearing generally accepted across the industry? What are other people’s reactions to it? Who is the advice from and what is their reputation in the community? Do other established professionals refer others to them? Does what they say make basic, logical sense? Is this advice I need to hear or is it only what I want to hear?

In any case, don’t let the emotional ups and downs, the encouragement and discouragement sidetrack you from your goals. Let the whiplash effect roll off your back. Ignore it. Take all the information in, then find the middle ground that feels firm enough to stand on. Then keep going.

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