Good things take Time and Patience
“How often do you do that (work Freelance as a Voice Actress)?”
I get asked this question quite frequently and to be frank, I’m not sure how to answer that question. Is the question including the prep and research time it takes or is the person merely requesting I count my projects and divide the time in between? That, too, is almost impossible to calculate. For example: I completed 4 projects in a single day about three weeks ago. I’ve just landed another project to complete today after work. But before all that, I went about a month and a half between gigs.
The short answer is: This line of work is FREELANCE – I “do” it as often as I get it!
I unfortunately haven’t even auditioned for anything in over 2 weeks due to some issues that had to be addressed; however, I usually try to dedicate 1-2hrs/day on my craft – but that doesn’t always mean doing something that’ll get me work directly.
I’ve had lots of conversations with those who have casually pursued this career field. They honestly seem to think the jobs just come to you. The tricky thing is, they can but it’s after much time has been put forth to cultivate said result. In other words, you don’t just “open for business” and get work. You must submit your demo like it’s a cat video on Facebook until you book an agency that will search for opportunities for you. At that point, you can technically sit back & wait for the job offers (or at least auditions). But, you’ll be doing a lot of waiting and the question “how often do you work” will be even more difficult to answer.
My most successful avenue has been an Advertising company. They are not an agency; they don’t go out looking for work for me. But when they get work that requires voice over, they contact me to do it for them. I love this simply because it’s not bringing me an audition – they come to me with the job and I accept.
But do you know how I got in with the advertising agency? I was auditioning for another role – a role that I didn’t get; one of the many offers listed on voice123.com. I was contacted separately because the client hadn’t made their decision yet on the job I auditioned for but the agency that was working with the client loved my voice & wanted to work with me directly on future projects.
And that’s kinda how it happens. They always say it’s about “who you know” – networking is key and it can happen at any time. The important part is marketing yourself and getting yourself known (or at least heard).
Any artist, no matter the medium, will tell you that the freelance life isn’t a 9a-5p ‘put in your time & get money’ deal. It’s quite the opposite. I spent money prepping my Studio Booth so that it was not just audition quality but work quality. I also paid for my demos to be professionally done, since that’s commonly the first – and possibly only – shot I will have at being considered. I spent time– Full days’ worth – getting my marketing together and I STILL have more work to do. Because it’s not just about the craft or talent; this is now a business.
Many people assume that because they can read, they can be a voice actor; they’re forgetting that you still have to know how to act. And others assume that being a voice over artist is easy money on the side. What they don’t realize is that the actual READING part is only 1/3 of it. The other 1/3 is editing (It takes approx. twice as long to edit as to read – now, if you have an agent who can argue for you, you can be hired to JUST read & the post-production will be done by someone else. But let me give a bit of ‘tough love’: you don’t start off that way and many jobs STILL require you to do your own editing. You can decline but your submission to the job will also be declined). The final 1/3 is FINDING the jobs to AUDITION to. And it’s not just sending in your demo – 90% of the opportunities I’ve found have requested a custom recording. (Unless you use smaller, generic sites like Freelancer.com but those gigs are like $20-40 and I can tell you from experience, the less someone pays the MORE picky they are.)
ANECDOTE TIME: I’ve done two non-paying video games and had to re-read 3 to 4 times for each of them. The first substantial-paying gig I got – they used my AUDITION for the project. Quite funny because I always send quality stuff but I was assuming I would get notes to improve upon, like how all the Indie projects did it, but the next email I got from the client was “where do we send the check?” My jaw literally dropped. Turns out, WORKING is easy – GIVING is tough!
So many people state “oh, I can work and do voice over on the side for some extra cash”. And yes, that’s true. But “on the side” means “every moment of your free time”. Because, to reiterate, I spend most of my VO time searching for auditions and then it’s a numbers game; the market is highly saturated after all. Let’s say it takes you 5 minutes to send an audition. I believe the idiom is, ‘for every 99 No’s, you get 1 yes’. That means for every 500 minutes you spend, 495 will be ultimately wasted; 500 minutes is roughly a little more than 8hrs, which is not bad at all, actually, assuming this average can be applied to voice over. But a concept these people must then ask themselves is – how much “free time” do you have? And what percentage of your book reading/tv watching/ other hobby are you willing to give up to provide yourself the “free time” required?
So… what does one mean by ‘how often do you do this’? Something tells me they are less interested in measuring how much time and energy put forth and are focusing only on the payoff.
One last thing I’d like to note: To state that this career is easy is actually offensive. Granted, it’s not “rocket science” and this is my passion – the actual recording of my voice is more than easy; it’s freeing, and soothing and by the end of a session I feel as though I just came from therapy! But that is the ART not the CAREER. As an aspiring actress, I was always told “Oh, I used to act in HS/college but I stopped to get a real job.” You might not take this seriously but some people do. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be the well-known term of the “starving artist” or the idea of an actress who waits tables. There is more to it than meets the eye. Please be considerate when speaking to someone in the creative field. =)