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September 19, 2014

Three Fundamentals of a Successful Voice Over Career

My childhood dream was to become a professional athlete. I wasn’t picky it could be a professional football, basketball or baseball player. And so I pursued my dream, playing football, basketball and baseball through grade school and high school, and even playing basketball and baseball at the small college level. However, it was very apparent early on that my dream was not going to ever materialize. When people ask me about my athletic career now I tell them with a smirk, “There were only two things that held me back from becoming a professional athlete: Talent and Opportunity!”

Talent and Opportunity: two of the fundamental building blocks to any pursuit, whether being a professional athlete…or whatever! Many a story has been told about talented people who just couldn’t connect with the right opportunity. And many other tales have been told of people who had plenty of opportunities to pursue their goals, but in the end, just weren’t talented enough.

To be a successful voice over talent you certainly need both Talent and Opportunity. But I would say you need to add a third ingredient to you fundamentals list: Perseverance! You need all three: Talent, Opportunity, and Perseverance. You need T.O.P.

First, let’s talk about the “T” of T.O.P.: Talent. The great thing about the voice over world today is that most clients are looking for you to just simply be you! You don’t have to have the deep, million dollar voice like the old days. If you listen to most of the national TV and radio commercials these days you’ll hear people who have a “regular, guy/girl next door” sound; the days of the radio “announcer” style VO have passed. The vast majority of my VO auditions and jobs are for a “conversational, natural read.” Sometimes they even say, “We don’t want an announcer!” So, don’t try to be someone else, just be yourself. To be sure, being a successful VO talent takes talent, not everyone can do it. And voice over is a craft that you need to develop and hone. But when it comes to talent, learning to be you behind the mic may be your biggest talent challenge!

Second, let’s discuss the “O” of T.O.P.: Opportunity. There is certainly the element of “Being in the right place at the right time” in the VO industry. In fact, just yesterday I sent out a few email updates to potential clients and received the following replies:

  • I am just putting 4 scripts out on voices.com for audition and I saw your e-mail.  Do you want to give me a read on this one?  There will be 3 more coming in this series
  • Great timing (and great website by the way).  I’ve got a project I’m going to be voice-casting starting tomorrow and as part of it I need to find a male voice that can be fairly versatile – sounds to me like you can vary your sound quite a bit. Have you got time for a quick phone call tomorrow at either 9:30 or 11:30?

To get two possible VO jobs like this from sending out a handful of marketing emails is rare, however, don’t miss my point. While it is true that sometimes there is a bit of “luck” involved in obtaining VO jobs you can certainly increase your chances by having a strong and systematic marketing plan. Understand, I never would have had these opportunities if I had not first taken the initiative and sent out the marketing emails in the first place. In others words, I needed to “take the [opportunity] bull by the horns” and market. Some VO artists think that because they are talented, opportunities will just come their way automatically. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t let opportunities happen – Make opportunities happen!

Finally, let me speak to the “P” of T.O.P.: Perseverance. As important as talent is, if you don’t persevere in developing and honing your craft you can be the most talented voice over guy/girl in the world and you won’t be successful. And as important as opportunities are to a successful VO career, if you don’t show perseverance in a strong and systematic marketing plan, opportunities will be rare. Perseverance is the “guts” behind all talented, opportunistic VO artists. Having an “I will not quit! I will pursue my dream and make it happen!” attitude is rare in the VO talent industry but it is what separates the VO men from the boys!

So, as you continue to build your voice over career I encourage you to always remember “T.O.P.”

All my best until the next time,



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