Entitled Wannabees Need Not Reply

man with microphoneOkay, this is for the last freakin’ time, so pay attention.

No. I will not introduce you to my agents.

I refuse to evaluate your kitchen table demo, and critique your dime-a-dozen website.

You don’t get access to my network of contacts which took me years to build.

You cannot pick my brain over a cup of coffee. Who do you think you are? A zombie?

In fact, I don’t even know you, and it is clear that you don’t know me.

Why didn’t you do your homework before you assumed that I would gladly share my thirty-plus years of experience with you? Is that how you intend to operate your business? Taking advantage of people left and right?

In case you’re wondering: I will never send you any work. My voice is for rent. I do not hire anyone, and I won’t put in a good word for you either.

Let me ask you this.

Would you recommend someone you know nothing about; a rude, obnoxious person who thinks it just takes a few free tips to be able to do what I do?

It shows such ignorance and disrespect. I don’t even know where to begin. But here is where it ends. I have better things to do with my time.

There’s a reason why I am busy. I have scripts to narrate. Edits to make. Invoices to send. I need to feed the social media monster, and prepare a presentation.

I also have students to coach who actually pay me for my time and expertise. Imagine that!

Whatever happened to helping a beginner out, you ask. Why am I being so defensive and greedy?

I’ll tell you why.

I’m not defensive. I am protective. I’m protective of the brand that took me years to build, and the knowledge I have accumulated along the way. I value what I have to offer, and so do my clients. Does that make me a selfish money grabber?

Here’s some news for you: I run a for-profit business.

There’s a mortgage to pay, a house to heat, and I drive a thirsty car that loves a full tank. I just ordered new business cards, my computer is on its last legs, and I must make sure there’s enough money in the bank to survive the inevitable dry spells.

I ask you: Who’s going to take care of that? The cheapskates at VoiceBunny, Fiverr, and Upwork, or the scoundrels at Voices dot con?

No way José. They don’t care whether I turn a profit or not. They just care about their bottom line.

You seem puzzled. Why?

Because you’re clueless! You don’t know what it takes, and you don’t have what it takes to run your own business. You may not like your current nine-to-five job, but let’s face it. If your supervisor wouldn’t tell you what to do and when to do it, would you get anything done? And I don’t mean the fun stuff. We all like doing the fun stuff.

Would you, of your own free will, get out of bed and work a twelve-hour day? Would you like to be solely responsible for all advertising, marketing, sales, client acquisition, distribution, accounting, quality control, and customer service, while you create all the products for your company?

You may say that’s unrealistic, but guess what? This is what many freelancers do. Every day. Without any job security, paid sick leave, company-sponsored health insurance, pension plan, or other benefits.

Do you still think that doing voice-overs is about raking in the big bucks by talking into a microphone? Yeah, right. And every idiot with a camera can pretend to be professional photographer. I should buy you a baton, and you could start conducting a symphony orchestra (after you’ve picked someone’s brain over coffee, of course).

Take it from me: if doing voice-overs were that easy, everyone would be famous making a fortune from home because they have such a glorious voice…

Let’s experiment, shall we?

Try reading and recording this blog as if the words just entered your mind. Make it conversational without slurring the lines, without popping your p’s, or taking loud breaths. Give it some energy and character but don’t sound disingenuous. Say it as if you mean it, without overdoing it. In other words: don’t sound like someone pretending to be a voice actor.

Do you even have the space and the equipment to do that?

Can you put down a take without making one mistake? Can you do this faster, slower, higher, lower, warmer, cooler, seductive, instructive, informal, judgmental, frustrated, deflated, sedated, or elated?

I thought so. You’re not even close. And yet, you want me to help you break into a highly competitive business in exchange for a cup of Joe? I feel offended!

Listen, if you want to read up about voice-overs, I’ve written over three hundred articles you can access for free on my website. Buy my book. Do your homework. Take some training. Join an improv group. Build a studio. Read out loud every single day.

Show me that you’re serious.

Once you’ve done all that and you still want to pursue a career in voice-overs, drop me a line.

I might even buy you a double espresso.

You’re gonna need it!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Book, Career, Freelancing, Personal

38 Responses to Entitled Wannabees Need Not Reply

  1. Pat Duke

    Paul, And another thing, wannabes have this false notion that those of us in the VO business are friendly, happy, wealthy people who just want to help them succeed. No, if someone is blowing rainbows up your skirt, they are selling something. Whether it’s classes, coaching, books, it’s a sales technique designed to separate newbies from their money. I could go on, but you nailed it brother.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Pat. The VO-community is very giving and forgiving. I have nothing against those selling services with integrity, and a deep drive to help others succeed. But as you said, some companies and individuals are less ethical, and newcomers need to be on the alert.

    [Reply]

  2. KIm Handysides

    Paul, BANG! Nail on the head.
    Love this post. In fact, I’m pretty much in a solid relationship with all your posts. Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta, my soon-to-be face-to-face friend.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    The countdown to Atlanta has begun, and I look forward to our meeting!

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  3. K

    I saw the FB debacle and I agree with you. I don’t disagree with merits of giving back to the community and helping others but some of those people are well compensated for this (teaching) and most importantly, encouraging people who see voiceover as a quick buck because people told them they have a nice voice only encourages the oversaturation and dilution of rates. People who aren’t serious about this and will jump on the next get rich fix after this just as passionately are also the people underbidding and regardless of whether they get the job will only contribute to the problem.

    I don’t know. I live in LA now where every practice I was taught was disrespectful, rude, unprofessional and desperate is celebrated.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Yeah, let’s not celebrate being disrespectful and rude. That’s never been a solid business strategy, no matter where you live. As usual, many commentators have jumped on the bulk of this story, and forgot the very last lines. They should know better, because many of my stories end with a twist. What the critical commentators don’t realize is that I do my best to support those who take voice acting seriously. I just don’t shout that from the rooftops because I have no inclination to publicly pat myself on the back for doing something we should all strive to do.

    [Reply]

  4. Rueben Marley

    You nailed it, Paul! Excellent as usual. Thanks for sharing.

    Over the years, I’ve also grown weary of wannabes. I typically just let them gush about how cool VO seems, how much fun it must be, the gig economy, #digitalnomad, blah blah blah…

    Then I ask them: “Are you good at SALES and COLD CALLING?”

    Oops! Mic drop. Conversation over.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    What? Sales and cold calling? Do voice-overs do that? I thought it was all about talking into a microphone!

    [Reply]

  5. Barb

    Heh…I always recommend your book as one of the first ones they read. A good dose of reality does a body (and career) good. If it fires them up to go after it with all they’ve got, awesome. If not…well…

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for recommending my book, Barb. It must be a scary read if people decide to give up the idea of a VO career after reading it. Others might never get to it because they think it’s too expensive.

    [Reply]

  6. Robin

    Every since you posted it, my go-to response for when people ask me how to get started is to send them here: https://www.nethervoice.com/2017/09/20/voice-over-newbies-you-have-been-warned/

    Also suggest they purchase your book, Alburger’s book, and give them some FB group suggestions. I finally request they get back to me only when they’ve digested all that. Guess how many have gotten back to me?

    I now have another post to suggest. 😉

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    My guess is… zero? That means your strategy is working! I’m glad I’m a part of your approach. Thanks for sharing those resources.

    Just to clarify: some have suggested that I actively discourage people to pursue a VO career because I don’t want competition. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m happy to educate people who are committed and serious, as opposed to those who are “merely interested in exporing options.”

    Since I have a more European accent, I don’t think U.S.-based talent that wants to take me out for coffee is a potential “threat” to my business. There’s enough work for those who are dedicated to the higest standards. In a field as subjective as voice-overs, I don’t regard my colleagues as competitors at all.

    [Reply]

  7. Paul Boucher, Bilingual Voice Actor

    I had the dreaded coffee meeting the other day. it was fine. Almost 2 hours instead of my planned 1, but got lunch and coffee out of it. My advice might have been worth that and one more cup of coffee -and he took it in and went off to do some of the work. 😉 Although I like to mentor “serious” wanna-bes, if there is such a thing, I definitely say “no” more than ever to these sorts of meetings or conversations, and steer them to classes, or workshops and then…never hear from them again.

    [Reply]

  8. Rowell Gormon

    …MAN…if someone hit one of MY nerves the way someone obviously hit YOURS, I could not have been so coherent, collected, and concise in my reaction! Praise to you, sir. The last time…and I mean the LAST time…I did one of those “coffee” things, the inquiring actress didn’t even offer to get me a cup of WATER!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    What a cheapskate!

    [Reply]

  9. Rick Lance

    Hee, hee, hee…. I’m still chuckling, Paul. Because I say your words so often. With the same lack of patience and insult.
    I come to the same conclusions and it just repeats over and over with the next one who contacts me asking for me to use my magic wand.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to say all of what you wrote… in just one line!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    What, you don’t have a magic wand? Well, here’s a magic word for you: “NO.” Use it whenever someone asks you if they can pick your brain. It’s as concise as it gets.

    [Reply]

  10. Stephen Knight

    Oh yeah! And here’s a caveat for those who think they can get some valuable advice for a cup of coffee – Lee Strasberg used to call that, “coffee cup coaching.” And he would point out that that’s about the value of the advice that you would get, the cost of a cup of coffee… and that’s when a good cup of coffee was $0.25! And even now, with Starbucks prices, it’s still ain’t worth much more than the $0.25 Lee quoted.

    So if you thinking of getting into this business , read out loud everything that you can, everyday, get yourself and pay for a quality coach and it doesn’t have to be private, some of the best advances I’ve made were from listening to other voice overs read and hearing the coaches feedback in a workshop and trying that out in my reads and following blogs like Paul’s, to find out what the community is saying and doing.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Great advice, Stephen. Let’s get a cup of coffee. My treat!

    [Reply]

  11. Peter Drew

    When I get calls from folks looking for free advice, I just throw the 8-letter word at them: business. It’s a business, as you said in your post, Paul. 80 percent sales and back-office stuff versus 20 percent actually doing the “fun” stuff in front of a microphone. All done by your lonesome. After I politely yet forcefully repeat “business” a few times, they usually get the hint and go away. Then, I figure I’ve done my good deed for the day. If the person is serious, they will do the research, get a coach, work hard, scratch the capital together needed to launch their enterprise, and then, after about 8 months to a year of doing that, actually make a demo(s) that might get them some work. Or, they’ll just hang up on me and call another established voice talent, and ask the same bloody questions in their quest for a free ride to fame and fortune.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Now I know what’s going on: after they’ve called you, they’re calling me! Thanks for that, Peter 😉 But seriously, the dreaded 8-letter word is what it’s all about. It takes more time to find the work, than to do the work. This is not a message most people want to hear, and yet they need to hear it. Thank you for spreading the news!

    [Reply]

  12. Mike Harrison

    If any wannabes are reading these comments, here are a couple more cold, hard facts:

    1. You don’t get something for nothing.

    2. Nothing of any value comes easily.

    Voice-over is a PROFESSION, not simply an occupation. You are encouraged to look up any words (profession?) for which you don’t know the exact definition. After all, words are our business.

    Yes, a LOT of us are asked how to “break into” this field. And, too often, they don’t like the answers because they include “time” and “work.”

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for that valuable addition, Mike. I highly recommend beginners to look into what the IRS considers to be a legitimate business and a hobby. There are at least two questions to consider:

    – Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
    – Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?

    Based on those two criteria alone, so many wouldn’t make the cut.

    [Reply]

    Rowell Gormon Reply:

    …i’m of the mindset that if you have to “break in” to something, that means you really aren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

    [Reply]

    Dani States Reply:

    Haha! Best response to that phrase… EVER! Thanks for the chuckle.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    My pleaure, Dani. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

  13. Bob Wood

    Great piece Paul. I am amazed by some on Facebook who ask what should I buy, do?

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Facebook never fails to amaze me, Bob. The other day someone was actually recommending the “Snoball” microphone. That’s their spelling, not mine. Good grief!

    [Reply]

  14. 'Uncle Roy' Yokelson

    Thanks, Paul. I’ll need to share this. As you know, or can imagine, I get this all the time. People think that they can sit with me over lunch (or in my case ‘I’ll buy you a bagel’) and ‘pick my brain’. I get between $ 150 and $ 200 an hour to coach and teach and share such knowledge. A $ 1.00 bagel? That’s what my 40+ year experience is worth to you?! BRAVO, as usual. Sorry to restate your case, but this happens all too often. On the other hand, if you can catch up with me (or Paul) at #voatlanta – there’s a good chance we’ll let you buy us a rib eye steak dinner. LOL See you SOON, Paul!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As a lifelong vegetarian I don’t know about that rib eye steak, but if you’re into tofu we should talk. Thanks for echoing my blog post, BTW. On Facebook someone just called me a “pretentious a-hole” for writing it. I guess it’s impossble to please everyone. Looking forward to seeing you in the South!

    [Reply]

  15. Dave Johnston

    Greetings from the Heartland. All I say Paul,go gett’em, (is that a word) anyhoo now I know that’s a word. Right on!!! to you for addressing what I call voiceover cancer. I am sorry but it’s these certain pay to play sites that eats away any integrity. Again I say kudos to you Paul.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    And I’m pointing the finger right at those people signing up for those P2P sites. They are the ones who are keeping those sites in business. Every single day.

    [Reply]

  16. Lynne Darlington

    The photo says it all:)!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I thought so. It took me a while to find it, but once I had it, I knew it would be perfect.

    [Reply]

  17. Marlene Bertrand

    Paul, I once had a client who hired me after hearing one of my demos. Great, I thought. But, after we got into the project, I started hearing directions like, “Can you read it a little faster, but slower?” What in the world does that mean? As a veteran voice actor, whether the client was able to deliver precise directions or not, I was able to figure out what the client actually wanted, but man-oh-man, is that something you can teach? Experience makes all the difference in the world. This job is considered glamorous, but it is by no means easy. It’s a real job and it requires real talent. I don’t blame you, Paul, for not giving out free advice.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Language can be challenging because the same words mean different things to different people, and they only describe the experience. They are never the experience itself. That’s why we can’t get wet from the word “water.” It’s amazing that we still understand one another… or do we?

    [Reply]

  18. Paul Payton

    Amen, pure and simple. Thank you for this one (although it may not be the last time, he said from experience….).

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I have a feeling you’re right, Paul. Bummer.

    [Reply]

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