Cracking the “Newbie” Nut

by | Mar 9, 2016 | Training/Education | 2 comments

newbie-aEvery day a new voice is born.  When they get older people tell them “you should be in radio” (not knowing that radio these days hardly has any live humans to speak of anymore). 

When that happens often enough, the person with the golden pipes starts to believe they really SHOULD be a voice actor.  I mean, with that voice and all…it’s gonna be a cinch, right?

This is the first turning point.  The crux of the matter, and the challenge to all those of us who know the real truth: it takes MORE THAN JUST A VOICE.  Hey!  Someone wrote a book with that title!

Undeterred, the VO newb follows his/her dream.  Forging ahead with passion, vision, and determination.

The few who make it past the first couple of months are the real problem.  They’re not going to quit, but they are finally getting desperate for their first kill…a job that pays something…ANYTHING. 

This is the second turning point…the threshold that makes them a perfect victim for Fiverr, Thumbtack, O-Desk, Elance, V123, and

It’s that desperate place that also marks them as target #1 for unscrupulous, fraudulent, and enterprising predatory coaches and demo mills.

The NEWB is inexperienced, grasping, naïve, and largely ignorant of those who have come before, who take pride in this profession, and who are trying to uphold compensation rates.

What, then, do we do with the newb?  The anxious, next-gen, hopeful, but rate-standard-destroying inexperienced freelance wannabe voice actor???

Who are we, after all, to tell them they can’t get their start SOMEWHERE?

It’s that old Catch-22.  You can’t get a decent-paying job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a decent-paying job.

Haven’t we all been there?  Where did you get YOUR first start?

This conundrum was not lost on the bulk of VoiceOver Atlanta attendees.  In fact, it’s the thread that lies underneath the Rates Roundtable panel, the Agents panel, the Pay-to-Play panel, David Goldberg’s break-out session, Marc Graue’s X-session and on and on and on.

The truth is, the list of things we CAN do is relatively short, and it mirrors most of WoVO’s mission statement:

  • education
  • awareness
  • advocacy
  • mentoring
  • outreach

What’s the newb’s responsibility?  To do their research. 

If you were to suddenly decide you wanted to be a photographer (a freelance profession with AT LEAST as many star-struck hopefuls as voice-acting), you’d want to understand the lay of the land first, right?

You’d carry out your due diligence online, seek a mentor, read books, hang out with other photogs, visit studios, see the work that being produced out there, tinker with the hardware and the software, talk to pros, see the costs that are ahead, and certainly….CERTAINLY gain an appreciation for what other photogs have done to raise the standard of compensation in the field.

Why don’t newbie voice-actors do that?  Some do, and God bless ’em for it!  But those who don’t are missing an essential ingredient, and we all feel the negative effects.

So when the latest hopeful calls me to ask about how to get into voice-overs, I try to take the time.  We all should.  It’s the only way to help preserve our way of life.  Be realistic, but not discouraging.  Tell the truth, and don’t sugar-coat.  Don’t take their dream away, just temper it with hard answers.   Give suggestions.  Offer the name of a good coach.  Give them links and reading material.  Send them to Peter O’Connell’s Voice Over Entrance Exam. Remind them it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Explain that a good voice is only 15% – 20% of the success formula.

THAT’s how you crack the newbie nut.




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  1. ophellia@ophelliasvoice

    Praise God! When I say you preached this one Mr. Dave is an UNDERSTATEMENT. I am a recent subscriber to your blog, but with eyes casted down – a TEN YEAR NEWBIE. Even in my research, you have answered, addressed and confirmed soo much I cant express. My BEST research result has been YOU MR. DAVE. THANK YOU.

  2. Kyle Sauerhoefer

    I really appreciate this post Dave!! You make a lot of awesome points. This month I celebrate my first year since I made the decision to become a Voice Actor. Especially in the last 6 months since I started to develop my business these topics have been around in full force. It is a struggle just to make sense of it all, which side of the coin – under paid to get started but support myself better from the get go while undercutting the industry but gaining the much needed experience … or even starting out try to compete with the industry leaders trained actors career radio peeps while spending thousands of dollars on proper professional training (not just the everyday training scams we see) while landing less jobs but through the slow grind making it one better performance after another building the ideal reputation and skills.

    I still don’t know the answer because I can see absolutely both sides of the coin. Here is what I have figured out so far is that both are necessary starting out. This my own opinion, I like to think of it as a hybrid way of thinking. I have been training with Edge Studios for about a year an excellent VO training studio with coaches that are amazing and industry leaders, and have seen my performance and knowledge of the business grow faster and bigger than I ever imagined. I have also been undercutting the industry (sorry I really am but here’s why) through a local media company doing radio and TV adds outside of my own market for Fiverr rates. The experience I have received from this is on the same level of the classes through my training. I made a great producer contact who gave me consistent work, walked me through a lot at first, and did this all without a demo.

    I do not think any VO should doing $5 jobs through places like Fiverr for every job they do, It can have its benefits as in to try and create a relationship, like first job $5 so we can create a long lasting client. I do not like refusal to be transparent. I cannot help but appreciate the practice you get auditioning, close to industry standard rates I have seen on select projects (not all though) through, and their flexible payment options.

    I can defend both sides of the coin with research, experience, and coaching I have received and both really have their place over the last year for me. Which is why I have a hybrid mindset on it. So thank you again for your blog post and sorry for the lengthy response.


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