If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I caused quite a stir last week, when I called out a voice over coach for telling his YouTube followers that anyone can make it in voice overs as long as they’re polite and hustle, even if they suck. Let me add that this particular coach is a big fan of Fiverr.
To me, this warranted a more in-depth conversation on coaching and on low budget platforms in our industry. So, I turned to my friend and colleague Terry Daniel who has built quite a reputation as a successful VO Coach who’s not afraid to speak his mind.
So, Terry, let’s forget about last week’s incident for a moment. That was just an example of what I see as a bigger challenge in the voice over market: the existence of low-budget marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr.
Now, there is a school of thought that cream rises to the top, and we should let people who use these platforms just be. If folks want to buy what they are selling, that’s their prerogative. What do you say?
Terry: Paul Strikwerda stoking the fire? This is so out of character for you. J/K! Look, there is no question that there are many paths to success in this business but I take issue with the “worry about your business and not other people’s businesses” argument. Why? Because more and more predatorial coaches are coming out of the woodwork selling snake oil to vulnerable newcomers and it’s concerning.
I’m also concerned that this “Selling the dream” methodology reflects badly on the voice over coaching community as a whole… especially when attacks come from behind the safety of a social media account. It’s all too easy to be tarred with the same brush!
You know me well, Paul. I’ve always believed that good coaching is vital for one’s VO career. And that’s especially true today when people can find so much unfiltered information with a quick Google search. Working with a vetted, experienced team of coaches can make all the difference.
At UVT Coaching, our students appreciate our honesty and that we never talk about money or make outlandish income guarantees. We provide the tools and a compass. One of the most significant assets to working with our team is that we’re all full-time voice actors, so our talents learn from our own successes and failures. We didn’t book a gig in 1992 and then decide to teach for money.
As far as pushback when you or other talents call out questionable teachings? Professional voice actors should stay true to the standards our agents hold regarding voiceover rates and the advice we give to others. I agree that there is more pushback these days when one’s slippery shenanigans are questioned. However, when did it become acceptable to support those who lure vulnerable newcomers into questionable courses by making it sound like VO is SO easy and you don’t need a lot of talent? Some even stoop to the level of making promises of six-figure incomes. Is this the community we’ve become? When did mediocrity and gaslighting become acceptable?
Paul: You’ve been coaching for how long?
Terry: I’ve been coaching for about a week because I heard this was a great way to make some extra money. Kidding! I’ve been a voice actor for 30 years and a coach since 2006. I was trying to do everything myself and when things got busy, I brought in a team of coaches. It was important to me to add respected voice over talent whom I trusted and had known for a long time. I also wanted to bring a variety of expertise to my students.
Paul: Who do you work with as fellow coaches, and based on what did you pick them?
Terry: My team consists of Trish Basanyi, Rob Marley, Garnet Williams, Jan Anderson and yours truly! We’re like a tight rock band over here. Everyone has a different personality but we gel as a team and each coach brings a different perspective to their sessions. Our students get the best out of our programs when they get a good dose of all of us!
We can all do a killer script analysis and performance session but we have coaches who specialize in specific categories of our curriculum. Trish Basanyi is a marketing mastermind, so she covers most of our sessions on marketing. Jan Anderson is the audio engineer of our staff, so he assists our students with home studio setup sessions. Garnet Williams is our best animation coach, and Rob Marley wears several hats. He directs demo sessions and coaches. I am the staff’s demo producer, and I also host the group classes.
Paul: Contrast the approach of your team with the Fiverr coaches of the world. What are you teaching that they are not?
Terry: UVT Coaching is different because of our multiple years in the business and we’re all successful voice actors. Both as independent contractors and through agencies. I’m not a Fiverr hater, but we don’t include low rate dumpster site strategy in our curriculum. We also don’t make any claims that VO is easy. Our students understand this. We aim higher and believe that voice talents deserve agency standard rates for their projects.
Paul: Do you follow a specific path as a coach, or are all sessions custom made and needs based?
Terry: We have a standard curriculum but can also customize our programs to fit each student’s needs.
Paul: Do you take everyone with a credit card, or do you pre-select your students? If you pre-select, what are you looking for, and who doesn’t make the cut?
Terry: We do an initial consultation with the potential student and then we have them record a few scripts in order to measure their current skill set. We love working with passionate talents but we do turn some away as well. We’re not the coaching team that takes anyone with a credit card. We also don’t work with talents who look at VO as a quick fix for a financial issue. As I mentioned above, our students know this will take some time and hard work.
Paul: Can you guarantee success, as a VO coach?
Terry: We NEVER guarantee success and the only promise we make is that as a team, we will do our very best to give the talent the best chance to succeed. We don’t discuss money and we certainly don’t make outlandish income guarantees. We provide the tools and guidance. It’s up to the talent to use the tools and put in the work and we’re here to support them. We don’t vanish once their program has been completed. We provide a lifetime of customer service and are always available to help with an audition, tech issue, or advice.
Paul: The big thing most coaches run into, is resistance from the student to do certain things they don’t feel like doing. What are some of the things some students resist, and how do you get them to do it anyway?
Terry: Some students are resistant to the marketing process. At times, it can be overwhelming, but nothing will happen unless you get your demos in front of the ears of VO buyers and agents. This is one of the reasons we put a great deal of attention on marketing in our top beginner’s course.
Paul: As a coach, what’s your measure of success?
Terry: Success can mean different things. When you’re new at VO, it can mean finding that first client or getting signed by that first talent agent. However, once you get a little mileage under your belt, it can mean 6-10 clients who come back to you regularly, whether it’s through an agency or from your direct marketing efforts.
Paul: I think it’s important for coaches to keep on learning and be inspired. Who or what inspires you, and what are you doing to future-proof your business?
Terry: Coaches should get coaching! We all do. It’s essential that we stay on top of the trends and that our own performance skills don’t wane.
My VO friends and colleagues inspire me. It’s fun to see how they’ve all developed in the past several years. Many of us started at the same time. My agents and clients inspire me as well. They are some of the hardest-working people on the planet!
Paul: Do you see yourself coaching, ten years from now? Why will there still be a VO business, with artificial intelligence getting better and better at imitating and cloning the human voice?
Terry: Will I be coaching ten years from now? Insert belly laughter! No seriously, even though I have been coaching for a long time, I will take this one year at a time. Eventually, it will be time to move on to something else but for now, the love of teaching is real and there is nothing better than getting that phone call at night from a student who just got signed by a big-time talent agent or got their first client!
I don’t lose sleep on AI voices. This technology has been around for years but with social media comes alarmists. I only focus on what I can control. Not what I can’t. While I have lost a couple of eLearning narration clients to AI services, I’ve been hired by several new clients who paid for an AI service and were unhappy, so it goes both ways. My advice is to keep working on being the best talent possible while providing outstanding customer service. The need for authentic human voices will never go away.
Now If you’ll excuse me, Paul…I need to block you on Instagram! Seriously, thank you for taking the time to chat. While I know you have your critics, I appreciate your candor and what you do for the VO community.
Paul: The feeling is entirely mutual, Terry. Thank you, and keep on preaching your voice over sermons!
Click here if you’re interested in being coached by Terry and his team.