A young man I know that’s trying to break into the voiceover business asked me what advice I might give him.

There are a lot of websites that have lots of information on them about this very topic. There is so much information that needs to be considered when you go into this business, and I don’t need to rehash what so many others have already said so well. Google the subject. You’ll find barrels of info.

However, there are five things that I’ve found extremely important as I’ve grown my voiceover business. I’m not being mean here, I’m just stating the brutal truth.

1. It’s a business, not a hobby.

I’m always amazed at the folks who try to make it in this business who treat it as a hobby, yet expect to deal with people for whom it is a business. I mean, think about it. Why would I trust my project that is part of my full-time business effort to a hobbyist?

If you’re going to make it in this business, invest in it! Get some training. Get some decent equipment and learn how to use it. Work hard at it. Treat it as your job.

Or get out of the road.

2. It’s a small person that carries a big grudge.

Let’s face it. Business is tough. You will run in to a lot of people that will take advantage of you if you give them the chance. And sometimes you will get stung. Learn to be smart, aware, and cautious, but don’t let the stings make you bitter and angry. Nobody wants to do business with people like that.

The people that try to take advantage of you are not going to contribute to your success. Quit taking their phone calls and delete their emails.

3. Always drink upstream from the herd.

I often get asked how I manage to get some of the great voice jobs that come my way. The answer is simple: you find them where they are. Looking for them where everyone else is looking for them is herd mentality. Looking for the little jobs that get through the herd…well, that’s just drinking downstream.

But if you go upstream, where the herd hasn’t been, you’ll find lots of fresh opportunities.

4. Plow around the stump.

There are some things you just shouldn’t do. If you’re not a movie trailer voice, quit jumping in that puddle. If you’re not a fluent reader, quit pretending that you can do long-form narrations and audio books. If you don’t know how to act, quit acting like you’re acting.

In other words, do what you do well. Because if you don’t, you’ll get a reputation for not being very good at what you’re not very good at.

And finally,

5. Your biggest problem watches you from your mirror every morning.

You’re the one that’s going to make the right decisions or wrong decisions about your business every day. Your success or failure isn’t up to anyone else.

You’re business isn’t going to make it or fail because of someone else’s choices. If they don’t choose you to do a job, it’s still up to you to find someone that does want your service.

All you’re doing everyday in this business is selling and delivering a product. Regardless of what some sales gurus have taught, your clients aren’t buying you, they’re buying your product. If your product doesn’t measure up to what the client needs, no matter how much they like you, you’re out of work. That means your product has to be exactly what the client is looking for. And that means you need to focus on your best product, go sell it, and deliver it on time.

So, there’s my advice. And it’s only worth what it accomplishes.

Reprinted with permission here by Melanie Haynes