“I’m just working this job until I get my big break!” – Said every actor ever.
“Oh it’s just a waitressing job, I’m really a full time actor!” – when asked the question of why do they work at a certain place.
A subject that I’ve noticed a lot of people do not like to talk about is the proportion of time they spend working other jobs in order to make the dream come true. The dream that is voiceover or even acting in general.
Now, just to clarify, I know quite a few full time VO’s that do very well for themselves and it is their ONLY source of income. It absolutely can be done, however, the path to get there is far less clear at times.
However, this post is for the majority of people I know that are striving to be full time but aren’t quite there yet.
For the subject of this particular discussion though, I’m more focused on making sure that you are as dynamic and as varied as you can be as a talent in general.
Auditioning and marketing are the exhausting majority of what we do and that’s alright because when we do book, it’s the best feeling in the world. The momentum starts, the ball starts to roll! You’re feeling like a winner! Then comes that deposit into your account.
“If I do the same amount each week, I’ll be set!” – you tell yourself.
Then…as the last job wraps up; Emails dwindle…you market your hardest, hitting every contact you know! You’ve got this. Then a day goes by…two days...a week…two…a month. You’re doing everything right and you know you’re firing on all cylinders. Nothing comes through. So now what? You can’t pay your bills with IOUs.
So a little slice of reality creeps in, while the dream seems to be on hold. So what now? You pick up a part time job, or perhaps you work a full time job alongside building your VO business. Does this make you any less dedicated to your goal of being a full time VO? Does this make you a failure?
Of course not.
A lot of people like to talk in extremes. Such as “HAH! You work a day job and you call yourself a pro!” – That lovely nugget I tend to ignore, mostly as it comes from people who already have a book of business built up. There should be no shame in working multiple jobs in order to ensure your bills are paid.
People will argue that you can’t be a ‘professional’ unless you’re sitting by your computer 24 hours a day in order to be a success. This just isn’t true for people up and coming into the industry. With the internet and the advent of P2P casting sites, flexibility is achievable while maintaining a professional manner. I make time for my clients. However, I will agree on the fact that working multiple jobs WILL impact your availability. So I’m willing to meet halfway on that issue.
Now, is this a typical situation? I’d say so. From what I’ve experienced and what my colleagues have experienced the notion of ‘Full time VO’ seems to be a professional label rather than an absolute truth. I’ve even spoken to friends who have quit doing VO completely despite being immensely talented and successful, it’s just the money and the infrequency of booking did not meet their expectations.
So as artists, do we rely solely on this income or is it also our responsibility to stop ‘waiting for the money’ and make sure we are as diverse as possible. How multi-talented are you? Can you bring more than VO to your client? Have you considered on screen work? Have you thought about branching into other creative areas to help ‘pad’ your talent base.
I don’t believe in the myth of the ‘overnight success’. Hard work will get you so far, talent will get you further. Having the right timing or luck to land that project you want, that’s the hardest part.
A better analogy for switching to ‘Full time’ would be a boat tied up to a jetty prior to a long trip. The jetty wobbles as you walk down to the boat.
Do you just jump in the boat? If it’s a long trip, you’d want to make sure you have enough fuel and provisions? Is the boat in good shape? Did you check the engine?
Also, neither the jetty nor the boat is a stable platform. They both sway back and forth with forces you can’t control.
You have to time it right. If you just run up and jump, there’s a good chance you could land in the water. Instead, time the moment until you are ready to literally step onto the boat.
Treat your business and your professional journey like the boat and the pier. Take your time and step across into that new threshold of full time VO, only, when you feel ready and more importantly prepared.