If you're union, have agents in every major market, go to your studio every day to satisfy your clients' needs, and pay your bills on the proceeds of your voice-acting business, this blog is probably not for you.
I write for those who are in the other — what? — 10-15%…who depend on a spouse or another job to make ends meet, who bust their butt every day to just get noticed, who seek coaching classes to improve their skills, who ALWAYS think their demo needs improvement, who constantly worry their equipment is not "professional" enough, who ride the fence on joining a union, who live with rejection ALL the time, and who think once in a while that maybe their Uncle Ralph's offer to come work at the car dealership might not be such a bad idea after all.
Sure, the real pro's need coaching to spruce things up now 'n' then. Yes, the accomplished and seasoned voice actor must update their demos from time to time. But they possess a certain confidence. Their name is recognized, they have steady clients, they have nursed their compensation threshold steadily upwards, and once in a while, they even turn down business.
If you fall into the former category, no blog of mine is going to compensate for the innumerable books, articles, how-to guides, and online resources that vie for your attention.
My perspective is free, though, and it comes at exactly 3 years into the dedicated, determined focus of becoming a full-time voice-actor. Take it for what it is…someone who has the same foibles, fears, and falling-downs that you have.
The following checklist more comprises questions to ask yourself in goal-setting rather than a blue-print to success:
1) Do you have a completed business-plan?
2) How much time have you given to discerning your brand? WHO is (your name) ?
3) How will you market that brand?
4) What colors and visual graphics will best suit that brand image?
5) Do you have a website, bizcards, stationery, mailing labels, or a blog that displays that brand?
6) What is your bread 'n' butter talent? The one that you know can rely on for work without stretching?
7) What niche do you most want to shoot for…that will satisfy your passion and challenge you?
8) Have you found a mentor?
9) Do you have a formula for setting rates for the different work you'll get?
10) What is your plan for seeking clients? Is it working?
11) How will you generate leads?
12) How many phone calls-per-day are you prepared to make to further your business?
13) Do you have reserves or budgeting skills to get you through "dry" periods?
14) Are you licensed as a business in your state?
15) Have you considered…should you consider agency and/or union representation?
16) How are your computer/technical skills?
17) Are you seeking regular critiques, coaching, or evaluations?
18) What networking are you doing in the VA community?
19) Do you find time to practice your craft everyday?
20) How thick is your skin in surviving rejection?
All of the above and many more…hopefully this will get you thinking. I do not claim to be a self-sustained voice-acting success, but I HAVE set goals and priorities, and I DO work them. Hard.
Sometimes when I see a goal is not working, or the vagaries of the market are changing, I'll drop or augment the goal. It takes constant self-evaluation, and once in a while, so tough talk from one of several mentors I depend on.
My biggest challenge is finding and working leads. To that end, I'm setting a goal right here and now to read Frank Frederick's "Love Notes" before the end of the year. Need a copy? Contact Frank and ask him for special pricing 'cause you read this blog.
Go for the Goal!