I have a special treat for you all this month, an article from a dear friend, a protege of mine, and on top of all of that my wonderful assistant, John. Bon appetite!
Finding your niche market.
I am sure that many of us enter the industry with dreams and aspirations for being full time animation and video game talent – I mean, let’s be honest, the thought of getting to be a bad ass villain one day and the hero the next is pretty tempting.
However, many talent, regardless of their tenure, often tend to forget one thing: this is a business. Of course it is you say, but what I mean is that this is YOUR BUSINESS and your method of earning income for yourself. Do you remember how before you even started voice acting you kept your day job until you landed enough gigs to jump in full-time? You probably did that because whether it was to support yourself or your family or even for extra cash while in school, you needed that extra income while finding your footing in the industry.
But once many of us get into the industry we seem to quickly lose steam when we are not booking those coveted jobs that we wanted and for many that means deciding this field is not for them and going back to their old job.
I think it is important to not give up on your dreams, however, I also understand just as much as the next person how important it is to put food on the table and a roof over your head each month. And that is why I am going to suggest something so simple, so obvious, that is seems like no one could overlook it, yet day in and day out people do and miss out on an opportunity to continually move forward toward their goals.
Here is it: be open to working in other areas of the industry. It’s that simple. I love character work too and who wouldn’t love landing a series but the reality of my situation is that I live in a remote area with not a lot of that kind work and many areas of large gaming and animation still want the actors to be able to come in to the studio.
But there is no reason why you cannot create abundance in voice-over in another field and still work toward your ultimate dream job. After all, making a living in a genre other than your chosen one is still closer than working a desk job – you’re in the industry, your building your experience, your clientele and connections and hopefully using extra funds when you have it for equipment and training to improve your skills in general and in the genre of your choice. There are also factors that might be currently beyond your control limiting your work in such areas. They are all small pieces to the puzzle that you will eventually have to sort when assembling the larger picture.
You have to be open to the possibility that you can make a better income with your particular voice in say radio commercials for steady ongoing work. Sure, it might not be as fun as animation to do a commercial for say a furniture spot but there are two important things there: first is obviously you have landed a paying gig and second is that the person you are in that commercial IS a character. It may not be a pirate or leather clad sex vixen but every time that we do a job we are essentially someone else – well, unless you are a celebrity and endorsing something but you get my point.
I can’t say it enough times, regardless of your chosen genre, if audiobooks are your dream, be open to the possibility and trying work in different areas to help your business thrive while still working toward your dream spot.
We are often our own worst critics which is why it is so important to have an outside critique. Having worked as an assistant for two of Canada’s top talent has given me a lot of insight to the industry that most talent normally would not be exposed to and I am going to let you in on a little secret…even the pros call on each other now and then for tips and direction.
My wonderful mentor and long time friend Deb aka Vo Chef Deb is offering a two hour webinar this month on just that too – finding your niche market. You can register and get more information here. If you have never had the chance to work with Deb this would be a great time to start. She has a candid, no holds barred approach to coaching that can really help take your career to the next level.
You might see yourself in medical narration but the Chef might hear you as a great grandmother voice for children’s books. You hear a great voice for PSA’s but Deb thinks that you should be looking into Message On Hold.
There’s only one way to find out and that is to join and have a hands on critique done. By now you are probably thinking “well, I will just work in all areas until I reach my goals and that will cover it.” I will kindly respond that there are honestly very few talent in the industry who can do everything and do it well. An overly broad reach can be detrimental – It’s better to be 80% proficient at one thing than 10% at everything and that proficiency and skill is what will keep your clients coming back to you and sustaining your business while you work toward your dream job. And who knows, you might find that where you settle in is better than where you had imagined yourself.