Back in 2011 I wrote a blog post called “Why you are boring me to death.” It went something like this:
You’d think that voice over pros always have something to talk about, but what happens when someone’s not feeding them any lines? Would they still have something interesting to say, or would they be less vocal without a mic and a script?
Well, judging by the many voice over blogs, vlogs, and podcasts you can find online, we can’t seem to shut up.
Take me, for instance. You know I can’t stop yammering, and I realize I’m not alone. Why is that? Is there really that much to blabber and blog about?
Yes, there isn’t!
I have come to the conclusion that VO-Pros and cows have one thing in common: they are ruminants.
Cows have four stomachs. The first stomach chamber (the “rumen”) is the chamber in which large amounts of food are stored and softened. Once it is processed, it is regurgitated and chewed and digested again in different chambers.
At the end there’s only one thing left:
What I just described is the recycling of supposedly “hot voice over topics” you and I like to ruminate about. Year after year, the same issues and trends resurface on social media, and they are milked and milked until there’s nothing left but utter claptrap.
Here is my personal shortlist of some of the most boring and often regurgitated issues in our business:
• How do I get started in the business?
• How do I find an agent?
• Where can I find a good coach?
• Where and how do I find work?
• Fiverr, yes or no?
• PC or Mac?
• Are Pay-to-Plays worth the money?
• ProTools: must-have or overkill?
• Recording with headphones or no headphones?
• Do you perform better while sitting, standing up, or laying down?
• Could a headshot help or hurt your voice over career?
• Which microphone, preamplifier, headphones, studio monitors, DAW is the best? (PS, I’m on a budget)
• Union or Non-Union?
• Should I slate or watermark my demo?
• What did J. Michael Collins have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
• Voice Over conferences: waste of money, or essential for your career?
• How to succeed in voice-overs without really trying.
• What would Don LaFontaine do?
• Remedies for mouth noise, sore throat, sibilance, bad acoustics, loud neighbors, or annoying colleagues.
• Do egg cartons really help soundproof a room?
• Are celebrities stealing our business?
• Is it “voice-over,” ”voice over,” or “voiceover”?
• Why isn’t there an Oscar or Emmy for Best Narrator?
• Is Artificial Intelligence coming for our jobs?
• What the heck is “neutral English”?
• How much should I charge?
• What to do when a client doesn’t pay.
• Who wants to evaluate my demo?
• Look at the client I just landed and/or the project I just completed!
I will be the first to admit that I have sinned by writing about some of these topics myself. That’s why I solemnly vow not to behave like a cow. For my own sanity and yours, I will seek out greener pastures and find more exciting things to write about, and I challenge you to do the same.
Rumination might be good for our bovine friends, but Yale University psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema has this to say about it:
“Obsessive or abnormal reflection upon an idea or deliberation may lead to depression in humans. Rumination may also weaken thinking and problem-solving, and drive away critical social support.”
In other words, by chewing over the stories from the past, we might actually un-enlighten and isolate ourselves. That must be the last thing any serious blogger, vlogger, or podcaster would hope to achieve.
Ruminating is not illuminating.
IT’S STILL RELEVANT
I can’t believe I wrote that story in 2011. And you know what’s even more remarkable?
Some ten years later, NOTHING has changed!
At last count I belong to at least fifteen VO Facebook groups. I follow over three thousand VO colleagues on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn… and I’m still reading the same old stuff.
Why am I wasting my time?
Of course there should be a place on social media where newbies can ask basic questions. That’s why I became a member of these social media groups so I could help other people out. That way they wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes I once made. But in the last five years I noticed a disturbing trend.
Friendly advice from experienced colleagues is ridiculed as old-school thinking. Instead of thanking an expert for chiming in, he or she is challenged as in:
“Of course you can use a dynamic mic for VO. Rappers use them too, and they are doing just fine.”
That’s just one example of the nonsense you’ll find, next to the advice from someone who has won a Grammy for audio engineering.
We have too many pretentious quacks on social media who are ready to prescribe a ridiculous cure without even diagnosing the patient.
Since I’m not a moderator of a FB group, it’s not up to me to curate the comments. But as a consumer of information and a part-time contributor, I do have a choice to make. Do I stay a member of the groups I have problems with, or do I leave?
As a blogger it would be foolish to leave these groups because I also use them to share my stories. Over fifty percent of all traffic to this blog comes directly from social media. That’s a huge chunk!
A NEW APPROACH
A few weeks ago I wrote about the ways I am simplifying my life since coming to Vermont (click here to read that story). I’m removing the clutter and distractions so I can focus on what really matters in life. So, starting in 2022, I am leaving a good number of Facebook groups that only offer more of the same and “look at me” content. This way I also avoid posting the same story in different groups which in itself is repetitive.
If you’ve been relying on these groups to find my weekly contributions, there’s one thing you can do to make sure you won’t ever miss a story:
SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG
If you’re on a computer, you’ll find the subscribe field in the top right-hand corner. If you’re on your phone, simply scroll down to find the field. As the author of this blog, I consider it the ultimate compliment when readers become subscribers.
Rest assured that you’ll never end up on a mailing list. I don’t send out newsletters, and I will never try to sell you anything. You can unsubscribe any time.
On top of that you could start following me on Instagram (@nethervoice) and read a new story every day. Over 4,200 people are already doing that, and most of them are creative freelancers like you and me.
If you are one of those Instagram followers, you may have noticed that my stories have changed from being totally voice over focused, to being relevant to almost any type of creative freelancer.
So, instead of being a ruminator, I hope you’ll give me a try in the new year. As one of my readers recently commented: “It’s like having a free personal coach to start my day with.”
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!