Advice is free – Isn’t it?

Photo: Terry Mendoza Retro Photostudio
Photo: Terry Mendoza, Retro Photostudio

Well yes, up to a point and generally I will freely give it.

But…

“Hello. I’d really like to get into voiceovers, but I don’t know where to start. You’re a voiceover. Could you give me some tips?”

Usually, people are genuine in their request and that’s fine. I can and will help if they’re clearly serious and they’ve already put a bit of work in; for example concentrated on developing their sound and thought about where their strengths might lie. But more often than not, they haven’t. This what they’re REALLY saying.

“Hello. I’ve heard this voiceovers lark is really lucrative. Loads of money for a few minutes of talking. How easy is that?! You’re a voiceover – Give me the benefit of your time, skills and experience for free, then I can go and and earn lots of money myself.”

Let’s repackage this.

Hello Mr Plumber. Could you show me how to plumb in a boiler? Then I can do it myself and earn £90 per hour. I’m not going to pay you for you for the time you’ve spent teaching me this or  getting the benefit of your skill or experience, because I’m not actually using your services, you’re just telling me how to do it.”

I’m a sole trader. Time is money. If I’m not actually working myself and spending my time giving you free advice instead, I’m  losing that money.

I will occasionally do a first hour’s coaching for free for someone who has already taken the first steps by doing some recording or acting, put together a demo – even the simplest or most basic sort – or even just because they show promise. But if you’re just wanting to do voiceovers because you think that you’ll then be able to go home,  plug a microphone into a computer, record your voice sitting in your living room and then magically earn lots of shiny coins, then this is not the job for you. There’s so much more to it…

Do you know what makes a quality recording? Have you considered your room acoustics? How’s your sight reading? Are you using a balanced cable? Do you know about adding EQ? Compression? Normalising? Do you know how to create and track invoices? Do you know the best sample rates and bit depths for what you’re recording? Are you familiar with the rates for every type of VO job? Usage? ISDN standards and costs? Can you build and maintain a website? Communicate effectively with your clients? Marketing? How do you want to brand yourself?

Yes, you might get a lot of money for a few minutes of talking into a microphone. That’s maybe 10% of the job. The other 90% is learning your craft, maintaining the business and doing all of the above.

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