5 Reasons Why People Tell Me They Quit Voice Overs

In almost any profession there is usually a set schedule for when people retire, but voice overs is different. You can leave the industry, recharge your own love for the business, and come back again.

But there are those people who try voice overs, and after a year or two scratch it off their bucket list and never come back. Over the years I have gotten to know people through social media and customer service. When I have those “Where are they now?” moments and reach out to voice talents to see why they disappeared, at times they respond and tell me exactly why they left voice overs. They claim they have, “left for good and will never go back.”

Granted, this is what they tell me, and I have told myself this as well, but if you were ever hit with the voice over bug you know it is not an easy profession to quit.

5 Reasons They Tell Me They Quit

  1. “The jobs were not what I expected”

Many people fall in love with voice overs because of the big ticket jobs we see such as movie trailers, animated features, and national commercials. However, this type of work is still not readily available online, if at all. New voice talent may go into the business expecting the online work to lead to the next job as the GEICO camel, Disney cartoon, or star at the next Comic Con.

The truth is that these jobs are still cast using traditional methods. Voice talents expecting auditions to big ticket work, but instead get invited  to a truck load of explainer videos or small radio promos may find themselves disappointed enough to not continue.

This also explains why, out of 100,000 voice actors with online profiles, only about 5000 of them can get work daily. Some can argue that number, but those who know “work is work and that leads to more work” usually last longest.

  1. “I got a second job and it paid better, so I don’t do it anymore”

Simply put, there are some who are just too pragmatic for voice overs. This is a business you have to be in for the “love” and not “the love of money”. To be on a career level where you are paid well takes years of network building, trial, error, and sacrifice.

Back in college an acting teacher told me, “If you REALLY want to work in this industry, and I mean REALLY REALLY want to, there will be a job out there for you in entertainment, if you stay committed, but it is very rare people become wealthy in this profession. If you do you are the exception and not the rule“.

He was right. What he did not say was that finding these alternative jobs within voice overs or entertainment becomes more difficult the less you involve yourself in the industry’s culture. It is not easy to network with people whose mindsets you simply do not understand.

  1. “I can do so much more than I am doing right now. I needed to see what’s out there.”

Voice talents have expressed to me the industry was too “simple” for them. I see it this way: The moment a voice talent discovers the industry requires “95% perspiration + 5% inspiration” the voice talent must make a decision: Do they go forward with this business or not?

When it comes down to reality, voice overs is a simple business made very hard by its competitive nature and global exposure. Still, a voice actor auditions by reading scripts to hopefully get hired to get paid. Everything else is marketing, communications, and networking to hopefully achieve the same result. Sure, the industry has changed and now voice actors may need to record from anywhere, but if a voice is desired the recording session can be worked out.

Over the years I have watched voice actors go on to become authors, teachers, public figures, life coaches, and business owners. Auditioning for work did not provide the same “buzz” it once did.

  1. “Everyone is too cut-throat for me”

I actually saw this response several times in a survey I did in the past year and had to ask the person to elaborate on his meaning of “too negative”. He responded that he took issue with people doing the following:

  • Insulting each other in social media
  • Publicly arguing that people did or did not deserve successes
  • Industry in-fighting

When I see such responses it causes me to survey my own behavior because I went to school for theatre and voice overs at the same time. I will never forget the first time I landed a role and heard a good friend say out loud, “Why him? He is not even that good!” It was a wake-up call that there would be days when I could not count on people for acknowledgement. Interestingly enough, the majority of voice talents working online fall in the demographic of ages 35-55, and were exposed to the true cut-throat nature of the business, before they started working online.

With all the changes in technology, this is one aspect of the business that has not evolved.

  1. ”I ran out of money!”

All businesses run this risk, be it a voice actor, start-up, Fortune 500 companies, or sometimes even a country. The joke I used to hear was this, “The key to success in entertainment is to marry a rich person.” Today, I hear the reason why people ran out of money is because they “did not do the math” or “did not plan well”.

The fact is that when you are just starting out it is helpful to have two income sources. It does not make you less of a voice talent. It makes you smart. There are times when you have to be creative (behind the mic) and times when you have to detach yourself from what people say and think like a business.

That said, doing the following may cause you to run out of money before you gave yourself a chance to succeed:

  • Paying for expensive demos, coaching, or websites, before you feel ready to work
  • Making financial decisions based on emotional opinions found in online content
  • Not planning ahead and trusting “You never know” cosmic results
  • Listening to the wrong people for advice

Simply put, we live in an age of data science, sharing economies, and global connectivity. There is no room for guess-work. You can find an answer to every question you have, and when you do, make sure you are listening to the right people for what they do best. For example, I never give advice on recording from home because I am not an audio engineer, so do not ask me. My answer may cost you money you cannot spend.

This is the #1 reason because more fail for going all in, before they were ready and jumped into a new profession blindly with wallets wide open.

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.

  • Steven Lowell

    Don, I was actually referring to all forms of getting jobs agents included.

    To use a bit of a playful example, when I was younger I always wanted to do voices from those poorly dubbed kung fu flicks from the 70s.

    Of course when I started in voice overs I was often hired from my very youthful real sound and I had no place in certain forms of the industry I was a big fan of. My first job paid $100 and it was a test job for me from an agent. That was in 1995.

    I wish everybody would come out of the gate in their careers being paid top dollar but it does not work that way

  • Don Costello Parnall

    I’m coming back after many years, but I do see the need for “Real” agents and not these pay for play characters that seem to be computer generated soulless money grabbers with no intent of providing a real service….just saying… and yes I am looking for real representation.

  • Nataleyna

    Thank you for your interesting post!

    I started my voice over career when I had a pool of translation customers already. Probably this helped me not to give up. I feel much more confident when I know that I have two different sources of income. It makes me think that it will be really hard to stay without any projects at all.