Is Your Attitude Killing Your Voice Over Career

Believe it or not, there is a great supply of quality voice talent available online today. The opportunities are endless, yet only a small supply of voice talents carve out a full-time career. The root of this problem stems from something voice talents say to each other when discussing how to get more voice over work, or making career adjustments to get more work:

“But what if we make a lot of people mad”

The above quote has done more to kill voice over careers than it ever helped grow them. The major flaw in the statement to begin with is that we now live in a connected age where we are exposed to all types of opinions in the voice over industry. We also live in an age leveraging data to make decisions, and as such the phrasing “a lot” cannot be relied on as a “measurable statistic”.

Using a Real-Life Example

Meet “Joe Voice”, an alias for a voice actor who is now back selling insurance.  Four years ago he went into the business because he enjoyed listening to voice overs. He seemed to find he had a particular skill at doing explainer videos. His voice just clicked with the culture of web businesses and he began to get work steadily. To get acquainted with the industry Joe started to poke around online and started reading negative opinions about websites. He soon found people he met had strong feelings about businesses he had done explainer videos for in the past.

“Joe Voice” felt conflicted because he was new to an industry and getting work, but feared talking about it or marketing his success to attract new clients. Why was he afraid? He was afraid if he did he would “make a lot of people mad”. “Joe Voice” decided the business was too crazy for him. It would just be better to get along with everyone, keep his success to himself, and never market his success.

Eventually, Joe’s work dried up and clients move on to new voices. Joe never followed up his success by marketing it. He very much enjoyed a 1 to 3 year stint as a voice talent, but the pressure of making everyone happy, both clients and peers, was just too much.

Why This Statement Kills Careers

Simply put, choosing to stall your career, until everyone approves of your next move first is the equivalent of choosing to let everyone decide when it is acceptable to progress in your career. If you truly believe your voice over career success can somehow be the result of a democratic process, you will meet the same fate as Joe Voice. You will enjoy little to no success and move on.

The truth is in order to be successful you will eventually make people mad just because you are enjoying success. If you make it past this learning curve of your voice over career you will come to discover the very people claiming, “I will be mad at you!” will be the very same people who take voice over work you turn down.

Sadly, as this is a branch of the acting business. Like a game of poker, some will act as if they will shun you for taking certain jobs. The phrasing “a lot of people” itself only refers to “personal inner circle” and offers no statistical value a voice talent should shape a career around. As such there will be times in your voice over career where you must leave an inner circle to reach new heights. When you are successful your former inner circles will chide you for it.

Everyone is Guilty

Here are some classic examples of choosing “Not Making People Mad” over “Progress”

  1. Companies not redesigning a website when needed to sustain customer retention
  2. Talents not marketing voice over work completed to spare their competitions’ feelings
  3. Organizations or unions not changing outdated policies to keep internal harmony
  4. Businesses or employees not adopting new technology past clients refuse to use
  5. Overall decision-making based on perceived emotional outcry.

The best way to avoid making poor decisions based on what others feel is to know exactly what you want for yourself in your career. Eventually, you will find those who seem to make people mad the most are the very people who have spent years trying to improve themselves, their careers, or businesses. Someone who knows what they want can be very difficult to compete against.

Have you made career choices to make others happy and later regretted the outcome?

Steven Lowell

Steven Lowell is a writer, business consultant, and voice over community advocate from New York City. In voice overs since 1992, he has extensive experience with online business and voice casting.

  • Hi Steven,
    Thanks for your reply.
    I do know that most people tend to avoid confrontation, at all costs. I guess I’ve just never understood why one wouldn’t stand up for something they believe in, especially if it’s their business, at the risk of perhaps making someone mad at them. It really sounds so immature to me. But I guess the world is full of all types. That’s what keeps it interesting.
    I appreciate someone who tells the truth and is direct in their communication. One can do this without being rude or impolite. It’s all about making polite requests. If we don’t ask, then we will never know what we’re missing out on.

  • Steven Lowell

    Hi Debbie,
    Yes, I am saying there are voice actors who do this, as well as, very important people to this industry.

    You may not think about it, but there are plenty who wrote me over the years asking for advice and when push came to shove, they chose “it’s better not to make people mad”.

    Meanwhile those changing the industry never worry about it. In addition, I have been exposed to many influential people who would sooner avoid any possible confrontational discussions than use their influence to make a better industry, and saying the exact phrase I quoted.

    The comment about kindergarteners I cannot address. How my blogs are interpreted obviously changes based on people’s personal experience. I can guarantee you that there is no hidden extra meaning or sub-text in my blogs. As NYC people say, “It is what it is.”

    Thanks for your reply.

  • Steven – I had to read your article twice to make sure I understood what you’re saying, and I’m still not quite sure. Are you saying that VO talents are afraid to market their work for fear of making their peers “mad at them?” I understand wanting to be perceived in a positive light, (and not being a brag) but I don’t understand why showcasing “Joe Voice’s” VO work in Explainer videos would make anyone “mad” at him? And, are we kindergartners? I think as working professionals in any field, we make decisions based on building our business, as opposed to making a choice out of some fear of “making someone mad” at us. Maybe I’m just not understanding the concept here.

  • Steven Lowell

    Very true! in addition when people are submitting auditions online and all you have is a name and an audio file to break the ice, you notice things like attitude in a person’s voice and how they may be feeling while reading. by human nature alone we can hear when a person may not be feeling right or maybe feeling great and we can also hear when a person is smiling or frowning.

  • Gary Terzza

    You’re right Steven, it’s all about attitude. For example, a few people feel they have a right to voice over work, just because they have signed up to an agency or pay to play site. They don’t.

    Providing a compelling audition is what every talent should be aspiring to do; once that is done – walk away and move on. If you get the gig, then great – if not, forget about it.

    Improve your performance and develop a professional attitude – it’s the only way to succeed in voice overs.