• Rob Marley

The Tell-tale Signs of the NOOB


Noun - (informal):

a person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet.

OK, so you're a new voiceover artist. And you’ve spent good money on a training program from some guy who calls himself an expert who that told you that marketing is one of the most important parts of your business (they’re right.)

And to be successful and make the big money you dream about making, you need to be prominent in social media and “stay on the radar” for potential clients. And so with the zeal of a person who just got a several hundred dollar pep talk, the noob conceives their marketing plans to blitz social media with their name. The noob quickly searches online and grabs generic stock photos that he thinks will help convey his identity as a voiceover artist to potential clients.

The problem is that the noob uses the exact same photos as every other noob.

Here’s three of the most frequent offenders for generic stock photos (and two are even the same shot):

Known in some circles as “the Elvis mic,”(because there’s lots of photos of Elvis holding it,) audiophiles (and VO geeks) know it as the Shure 55SH. First sold in 1939, the design - with its’ shiny steel and art deco lines - made it visually appealing and strong as a tank. And the fact that it sounded good, made it the go-to microphone for artists and engineers for decades.

It’s the image people think of when they hear the word “microphone.”

But... what does it have to do with YOU?

Are you using this microphone for your voiceover work? (I seriously doubt it). This image vaguely suggests to the viewer that you do something with microphones. But to someone who is a working professional - like a commercial producer or an advertising executive - it suggests that you’re a relic - a fossil in a modern high-tech world. If I was a casting director looking for the next great young voice for my commercial - would I pick someone that uses a 70 year old microphone as their branding image? But the noob voiceover artist doesn’t see it that way. In fact they don’t see much past the end of their noses. So off they go, using programs to automatically spam their marketing message every hour on the hour without ever having to touch it. Now, the hashtags that you might expect to find information on voiceover are littered with advertising: Hire me! Pick me! I’ll work for pennies on the dollar! Choose me!” blah, blah, blah. To the new voiceover artist, they think they’re following their guru’s instructions, but what they’re actually doing is announcing to the universe... over and over again... just how how much of a noob they really are. (Oh and by the way, if you were at someone's professional recording studio and you hung the headphones over the microphone in the manner pictured above, I believe the engineer has the legal right to beat you senseless with the microphone stand. I could be wrong on that legal precedent, so don't quote me. )

My point to all of this is simple: DONT BE A NOOB, even if you are new to VO. Don't follow the herd mentality of grabbing some over-used stock photo, slapping a bunch of industry-related hashtags on your photo and carpet-bombing social media feeds. Instead, spend some time thinking about your marketing strategy. Be honest with yourself: What are your strengths in VO? What genres do you really enjoy working in? What skills do you have to be competitive in those genres? How do you reach the people in those genres that hire voice artists? What's the best way to approach them? Are you contacting the right individual that does the hiring or are you just sending a boiler-plate generic "hire me" email to "" Take the time to plan out your goals, then work that plan methodically and diligently. That's how professionals do it.

Don't be a NOOB.


About Rob Marley - A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin, Texas. Find out more here.