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A Book Review!?

So this goes a little against the theme of my blog. I usually keep to a pretty personal perspective but I wanted to take a moment to discuss a current inspiration to me:

 How to Start and Build a SIX FIGURE Voice Over Business: Set Your VO Career on Fire! – Bill DeWees

Available here.

Now, before I start – I didn’t pick this book up in the hopes of garnering a Six Figure income. But the issue I have been battling for a while is finding work. I’ve been told several times to “Market” myself but never HOW to do so. It’s common to hear bashing of Pay-2-Play sites, such as voice123.com and voices.com etc. “They” also say not to wait around for your agent to bring you work, as that is how the industry used to work.

So, if we can’t use these “on your own” sites and we can’t rely on others – then how DO you find auditions? And WHAT do you mean by marketing?

I took a Social Media Marketing seminar provided by the GA Lawyers for the Arts. It was beneficial in learning how sites like Twitter and Facebook actually work, but I left with more questions than answers. In the Seminar, I was told that as a Freelance artist, I was to reach out to prospective clients. But very rarely does one ever find a Twitter post saying “Man, I wish I had a voice actor to cast for this character!”.

That’s where “How To” comes in. I don’t want to give away all of Bill’s secrets because then there would be no need to buy the book & that’s not how reviews should work. But I will give away this one tidbit: he mentioned Social Media in one of his chapters and confirmed that he has never – not once – gotten work through that outlet.

I was gearing up to spending months and hours of my time marketing the WRONG way! So glad I decided to pick up this book before proceeding. I was paranoid that I was about to do something wrong; now I am confident I’m on the right track.

As far as an actual review of the book: Bill DeWees has written a very casual, conversational book with very important information. So, while you won’t feel like you’re reading a text book, you will find yourself highlighting and taking notes. That’s a good thing because I was able to just sit down and read the entire thing almost as easily as watching a movie would’ve been!

Now for a ‘con’, which really isn’t even all that bad – more than the first half of the book will be redundant to you if you’ve already gotten started on your career. This is because Bill covers EVERYTHING and writes it in a way so that one could literally walk into a book store, decide to become a voice over artist, and pick up his book. Now, having said this you might think that this book is a waste of time – it isn’t. If you’re anything like me, you need constant reassurance that you’re doing the right thing. Even after getting a Bachelor’s Degree and studying for over a year with a Vocal coach, reading his book and being able to say “yep” to every chapter as if it were a checklist was IMMENSELY helpful. It means I truly am ready.

Granted, he focuses on voice over, not voice acting. This could be semantics but my dream is to be a voice actor for cartoons and video games which Bill very clearly states is not where his focus is. He is a voice over artist, who specializes in commercials and audiobooks. There is nothing wrong with that and I definitely see this door more open than the animation world, but my point is that he downplays the importance of acting knowledge. This is not to say he believes vocal coaches are unnecessary. Quite the contrary – you need to know how to talk in a conversational way rather than speak authoritatively; people don’t want the announcer voice for most projects nowadays. But I couldn’t help but feel my feathers ruffle just a little at the downplay of the importance of acting and I needed to mention it.

However, he was completely forgiven for the minor transgressions by the end of the book because he CLEARLY defined and explained what it means to market yourself as a voice over talent. There was no need for me to try to relate generic tips to my specific need – he said “this is what I do and I make X amount of money, so clearly I’m doing something right.”

The best part is – I had already stumbled upon the answer, I just hadn’t realized it! For all the praise I gave the Advertising Company I’ve been working with, I had no clue that this was the answer!

And that is all I the hint I will give. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out but even so, I still highly recommend reading his book because you see a success story spelled out. This is not a fairy tale; it is hard work and constant persistence. But it is a blueprint that can be easily followed.

I am almost finished with my preparations – my goal is to be actively working on my groundwork come Monday. I may not see any fruit of my efforts for a few months, as this is a numbers game, but within the year I should be well on my way!

I’ve been my own obstacle for long enough – it’s time to get to work!

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