As the voiceover industry continues to grow at an alarming rate, with it come the predators hoping to cash in on the naivete of unsuspecting new voiceover talent.
There are thousands of people that have heard about voiceover and have decided that they want to get in on the fun. And more power to em! This industry definitely IS a fun one. Every day I get to work with clients on a variety of projects ranging from serious to silly. It’s the only place I know of (besides a mental institution) where you can pretend to be a doctor one minute, and a superhero the next.
But the problem with this growing industry is that there are people who have realized that there is also money to be made by taking advantage of all those people who want to be voice artists.
Enter the charlatans - these people don't give a damn about you. They don't care about your dreams, or goals or interests, but they will sure pretend they do. In reality, all they care about is separating you from your money. They are frauds in the truest sense of the word.
How can you spot and protect yourself from being suckered by these con men?
Here are some things to watch out for:
They’re selling a get-rich-quick scheme. “Make hundreds of dollars with only one hour of work per week!” “Learn the secrets the pros don't want you to know!” and other bullshit lines like this. This business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Anyone that’s trying to convince you “This person went from total noob to full time voiceover professional in less than a year!” is selling a dream. Yeah, its possible someone may have been able to become a full time working pro in a short amount of time, but that doesn't mean you'll have the same result.
Their webpage has a video you can't pause or skip through and it's on a page that scrolls FOREVER - filled with thousands and thousands of words telling you about how incredibly, awesomely, extremely, fantastically, terrific their program is, and how you need to ACT NOW to “make your dreams a reality” or something similar. I’m not saying that EVERY website you come across that does this is a fraud, but it’s a good indicator that something fishy is going on. Why can’t I skip forward in the video? Why are they making me read all of this stuff? Why are they working so hard to convince me? Why is the price buried at the bottom of the page in small type?
They charge a lot for common sense information - I know one individual who will - for a nice fee - tell you all the things you can find out on your own for free. There is a lot of great information out there if you just do a little searching.
Consider the source - if you’re seeing someone do the hard sell on their voiceover coaching, look at who that person is as a voiceover artist first. What companies have they worked for? How do THEIR demos sound? Can you find their work online? What does it sound like?
What’s their success rate? Look at the individuals that have gone through the course. Are they making money? Are they even still working in VO, or are they now selling Amway or Scentsy or some other stay-at-home gimmick business? Talk to them. Ask questions about their experience in the VO course. Did they feel it was worthwhile? Take notes.
Look at their marketing - I know one individual who likes to offer these frequent free online seminars (infomercial is a better term) talking about how great their program is. The catch is the videos are all shot on a green screen and the “coach” superimposes an image of a production studio to give the illusion that they're more successful than they really are. It’s OK that you work in your closet. It’s not OK that you are trying to convince me you’re something you’re not.
Also look at HOW they market. Are they putting out posts that are nothing but a collection of self-serving hashtags? One or two tags is fine, but if their entire message is nothing but #BuyMyCrap #TrustMe #PleaseBuyMyCrap #VoiceoverCoaching #NewToVoiceover #ImATotalFraudButIPretendIKnowWhatImDoing etc. avoid them.
As this industry continues to grow, the number of sleazy individuals clamoring to take your money will continue to grow with it. Know how to see the difference between a true professional and someone pretending to be one.
Long story short: Don’t buy the dream, invest in the knowledge and skills that will teach you how to reach that dream.
But remember: If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS.
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.