A small miracle?
Are you waiting for that one person to tell you you’re the best, and you should really do this?
It’s the daily drama of the wannabe freelancer. Lots of good intentions. Hopes and dreams galore. Always looking for the key that magically opens all doors.
And when those doors remain closed, be ready for the surprise, the indignation, and the excuses:
“They told me I had talent!”
“They said there would be lots of opportunities.”
“I’m just a beginner. You can’t expect me to know all these things.”
Every new job has a learning curve. That’s a given. But advertising yourself as a pro elicits expectations. Clients expect you to have professional equipment. Clients trust that you have the basic skills to do the job you just bid on. Is that too much to ask?
Yes, there are lots of opportunities, and lots of people are going after those opportunities. People with more experience, better gear, and a better understanding of how things work in this business. They are your competition. Can you compete on more than price?
I have no doubt that you are talented. But talent is nothing but potential. A diamond in the rough looks quite ugly, and needs serious cutting and polishing before it can be sold. Do you have the time, the means, and the patience to listen, learn, and improve?
Do you have enough drive, or do you like to be driven?
You see, this is not a superficial thing. To get to most diamonds, you need to dig deep. Diamonds don’t polish themselves, and doors don’t magically open. Only saints can claim small miracles, and that big break is highly overrated. Some wannabe’s go broke, waiting for that break.
Intentions, hopes, and dreams are figments of the imagination. Clearly defined goals, a solid education, and a willingness to work harder than anyone else, are not.
Here’s the real rub.
If you are waiting for someone or something, you’re doing it wrong.
The key to being successfully self-employed lies in taking massive, positive action. Not because someone told you to. Not because you felt forced.
You get out of bed because you have this burning desire to accomplish something meaningful, whatever it may be.
Step by step.
Day by day.
So, stop whining.
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
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D. Peter Maus says
I’ve been doing this for more than a half century, now, and the one question I get asked, when I’m out with people who figure out what I do, is, “I’ve been told I have a nice voice. Can you teach me how to do voiceovers.”
And, my answer, of late, has become…’Can I? yes. Will I? no.”
And, when the stunned look of amazement fades, and they have the nerve to ask further, I’ll explain…’this is not a hobby. It’s a profession. Having a nice voice doesn’t mean you think it means. Having a nice voice is to voiceover what having a nice socket wrench is to being a race car mechanic. If you don’t know how to use the tool, it doesn’t matter how nice your voice is. More to the point, the guys who are making names for themselves, today, don’t have great voices. But they know how to use them. And, they know that voice is only a small part of the profession. But, if you don’t believe me, here are my keys. That’s a Lotus. Go win LeMans.”
That usually gets me a response of “asshole.”
And, I pick up my keys, get into my Lotus and go back to my studio, where I bust my ass, to get the read, the mic chain, and the editing right.
I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living. Well, except for maybe riverboat captain. I get up every day of the world and sit down in front of a microphone, just as I have for more than a half century, just as excited to get started as I was when I was working in front of a Radio Shack microphone under a blanket shrouded table in my bedroom.
If you don’t have that, your chances of pulling together all the tools to do the work, are slim. Talent will get you a hearing. The skills necessary to use that talent will open a door. You have to have the nerve to walk through it, and you have to have the ability to rise to the needs of the gig, in order to stay in the room. And, all of it, takes time, work, time, commitment, time, willingness to learn, and time.
I can’t imagine doing anything else. But, if I had to look forward at the work, the struggle, the gargantuan expense, and being kicked around for decades…all of which I can see in my rear view…I don’t know that even I would have chosen this path.
Zachary Prusak says
Very well stated, this indeed is a profession, and passion, drive, commitment and professionalism must be components of the work.
Francesco Ventura says
Paul, the French Elvis description and the related anecdotes you’ve reported in this well-written and savvy article perfectly remind me of my Italian Elvis. A real nightmare lasted two years. He was demanding, pompous, smung, always making complaints by using a pseudo-technical jargot in order to impress me and make me feel guilty. His whiny attitude was intended to get a discount or delay the payment. When I reffered him to other websites showing I was applying a fair rate he protested that he knew a competitor who would have provided the same services at a very low affordable rate. In addition to that, he also used to disappear until the next urgent job, exactly like the French Elvis. Enough is enough. So one day I wrote him an email listing a bundle of new regulations, especially the ones related to advanced payment for gigs over a certain “price threshold”. I’ve never heard of him anymore. That’s the case when losing a client is a gain, particularly in term of peace of mind. Quality clients provide us quality time. Your article, Paul, is a real eye-opener. Thank you by a reader of yours (of the book and the blog as well).
Dave Johnston says
Greetings Paul.What can I say as a freelance voiceactor,but thanks for that real kick in the butt.I especially like your statement.”diamonds don’t polish themselves”. I feel that many voiceactors out there donot want to apply the elbow grease it takes to create that luster.Thanks again for sharing such nuggets of truth.
patricia corkum says
Thanks Paul – I always love to read your comments. I tried to share some of this with my 93-year-old father. Even though he’s still trying to fathom WHY I’m so compelled to “do this thing”; he TOTALLY 100% understands if I want to do it – THAT’S for me to do! Thanks for the gloves-off perspective! Kind regards, Patricia
patricia corkum says
Hi Paul! I always love to read your comments. I tried to share some of this with my 93-year-old father since he’s still trying to fathom with all the “rejection” what compels me to do this. BUT he TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS that if I WANT to DO it, it’s up to me to make it happen; he’s always clear! Thank you too for another gloves-off perspective about the business. Kind regards, Patricia