Just what does it take to be successful as a voice talent in 2012? Treat it like a business. (This of course, assumes that you have some talent to start with.)
The Internet has changed what we do in many significant ways. It has 1) increased the number of people offering their services as voice talent (whether they should be or not), 2) cut out the middle man in casting (the people who know the value of voiceover), and because of a lack of truly understanding that this is a business like any other business it has 3) driven rates down down down.
Many people just getting started fail to see the big picture. Sure, the come on for so many of the endless voiceover classes screams “make $300 an hour,” but … can you live on one hour every few months?
One recent discussion centered on whether $25 per hour was a “good rate.”
Hey, if you are doing something 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year with a 2-week vacation and paid holidays, then $25 an hour will pay the mortgage and put food on the table – depending on where you live, it could buy you a bass boat too. But the reality of the voiceover business is that you will not be recording 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, etc., etc.
If you are a working voiceover professional, you are more likely actually voicing (and possibly editing) for an hour or two a day, but that $25 you will make for that hour must also cover the initial rate negotiation, the subsequent invoicing, the maintenance of your equipment, that new software, the marketing plan and execution, etc., etc., etc. (There are a lot of etcetera’s in this business!)
There will be weeks where you will voice many more hours and simply not have time to do the bookkeeping and then there will be the weeks where you will not voice a single project and spend hours troubleshooting a corrupted driver issue, sorting through your email folders and catching up on marketing (or the laundry). This is not a job for people who must have a steady pay check. It is your own business.
And as it becomes easier and cheaper to acquire opportunities and tools, there is an ever increasing group of people who have simply skipped over the business part and fail to see that what they do actually has value.