Getting Rid of the Ghosts of Christmas Past

It seems that each year it’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone. Whether you celebrate or not, this time of year is a turning event for many. It is the time we create goals and reflect on the past.

Instead of talking about the future today, I’d like to reflect on the past. My incredible assistant, and fellow voice talent, John Harris, suggested this topic, and I think it is most fitting. Many of us dwell on what isn’t, instead of focusing on what could be. It’s so easy for us as a society to blame, make excuses and focus on the negatives that set us back. I tend to focus on the positive, and this isn’t always easy. There is always something or someone getting in the way of your success. Most importantly, you!

I encourage you to reflect on what you’ve done this year to create success for yourself, and to flesh out what has held you back. Many of us hold finances accountable for slow progression. Whether it’s investing in coaching, demos, equipment, marketing or branding, we are all forced to put significant money and a ton of time into our craft. There are many out there who truly can’t afford to invest further to obtain more productive results, and so they stop investing. But isn’t that the same as saying, “I can’t afford the schooling to be a lawyer, so I’m just gonna wing it?” It’s interesting that if we pursue a conventional career or trade, we make whatever efforts are needed, so we can accomplish the degree or certification that allows us to draw an income from that profession ... yet with Voice Acting, people assume that all they need is a voice and some equipment, and they will just make it work.

Those of you who are no longer investing yourselves should realize: By winging it as I’ve described, you may not see the success you were hoping to obtain. Are you blaming the industry? The pay2play sites? Your lack of time? Limited finances?

It’s interesting how many people will pursue a goal (such as the VO career) that they can’t afford to reach.

I would never want to squelch pursuit of a dream, but neither would I feel comfortable encouraging false hope. If you can’t afford to progress, maybe this isn’t the right industry for you at this time? I have many students, and potential students, who tell me they can’t afford the demos, the equipment or the necessary training and branding, yet they still pursue. You wouldn’t be able to do this with any other profession, so why do we think we can in Voice Acting? Apparently people think that, because we each have a voice, we should all be working. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Consider: If it were that were true, what would it say for those who have made the investment? Those who have sacrificed finances, time, family and more to make success a reality? Shouldn’t they be the ones who are hired to do the work? In fact, they are. Not because their sacrifices made them more deserving (that’s seldom the basis for a business decision), but because they made themselves more skilled, more capable, more professional and more appealing.

And because, as a result, they make it look easy. We never hear about all the setbacks that a successful actor has throughout their journey. Once they make it to the top, it just looks like it was that easy.

So if I have one point to leave you with in this season of hope and good cheer, it’s this: If you’re not fully invested, don’t necessarily turn away from the industry. But do be realistic in what you expect.

If you truly want to succeed and create a full-time income for yourself, you must put in full-time hours. I am a firm believer that you get what you give. How many hours a day do you spend auditioning? Marketing? Finding new clients? Training? Invoicing, etc. This is not an industry where you can just wing it, or depend on being at the right place at the right time. In voice acting, you need to be as good in any other acting field. In fact, VO is the rawest form of acting.

And in today’s market, you also have to be good at business.

Let’s designate 2014 as the time to get rid of everything that has stood in your way. Fight the odds and take huge risks to make this happen.

Even the ancient Mayans agree with me on this. The Mayan calendar ended, and there were many who feared the world would end, but while I was on the Mayan Riviera recently, I inquired as to what it really meant. I learned the “end” was actually seen as a time for re-birth. It’s a time for change. It’s time to stop procrastinating and start being productive. Quit reflecting on whatever stands in your way, and find solutions for tomorrow.

Happy Holidays to you all – no matter what you celebrate, celebrate!! WE ARE ALL WORTH THE INVESTMENT, and should never let any obstacle stand in our way. Every year is another opportunity for change and growth, so let’s start this one off right, and make the entire year obstacle-free.

Here is to a most successful 2014; I wish us all nothing but success.

All my best,

VO Chef Deb

Deb Munro is an Edge Studio coach. For more information about coaching with Deb or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343.

thank you lex, for sharing your story with us

thank you lex, for sharing your story with us, I especially loved the music, and the detail you put into this look. I wish you (40 birthday wishes for a friend) just the best for your future :)

Agree! But hard to hear...

I fully understand, though for those of us who truly don't have any extra money, feel slightly discouraged. I'm not disagreeing with this article in any way! Nor am I saying it isn't worth it. Every dollar I have is going into VO because I know that this IS the right industry for me at this time. I certainly believe in the investment of both time and money being worth it. But I truly am continually held back by finances. I picked up a seasonal job to get extra money over the holidays, keeping me from being with my family at Christmas, which will allow me one class or private session, but certainly not everything I need. I've spent years building education, equipment, etc. and now I'm ready for it to be reality, but keep getting stopped (like not having enough to join a pay to play site with auditioning allowance, for instance). One difference between voiceover and the traditional career referenced is that traditional schooling allows for government grants if unaffordable to the seeker. I looked into every possibility to get financial assistance for a VO career and came up empty. I'm not discouraged--I made my first demo last year, and am looking forward to 2014 being the year that my dreams of having a career in this field come true. I'm totally willing to put in all the time and money that I can. But if anyone has any ideas about how to afford the coaching, education, quality demos, equipment, etc. that are necessary to continue on a very limited budget, I would love to hear them! I understand and have the basics based on my years of preparation and learning, but it doesn't yet seem to be enough. I wish people who give grants and scholarships and such offered those of us seeking nontraditional careers similar assistance for education. Sorry if I sound like a complainer, I truly am still optimistic and excited about what is to come, and willing to do everything necessary!

Worth the investment!

Thanks, Deb. Nothing like a refresher on doing what we need to do for success! Yep, I do get in my own way and this is a reminder that I can clear the way as long as I'm willing to take the necessary steps to ensure my success. Doesn't mean that I'll get hired from every audition, but I do need to swing the bat if I'm going to hit any home runs (working too close to a baseball stadium, but it works)!
Scott, I'll be picking up a copy of "Jump Ship". Thanks!

Hear hear!!

What a GREAT article Deb! So true! I've been recommending a new book on the market as well titled, "Jump Ship" by Josh Shipp. (I know, convenient authors name, right?) In it he describes in raw detail how UN-easy it is to transition from an unsatisfying job or position in life. I think it should be mandatory reading for those hoping a voiceover career is going to be their ticket to riches.
But investing in yourself DOES work. Admittedly I'm guilty of getting in my own way countless times. Looking back over this past year though I'm quite amazed at what I accomplished simply by...exerting effort.
A new logo, TWO major market agents and actual bookings! Granted, after doing countless auditions I got to the point of saying, "What's the use Scott? You're competing against a NATION of all this time and energy worth it?"
Oh you bet it is. Think of those Ghosts of Christmas Past as Cloud Nines. Walking on and through them is worth every ounce of toil and trouble.

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