Today I turn the blog over to one of our industry’s rising stars: Brad Hyland. Brad’s an award-winning, professionally-trained VO with hundreds of high-profile credits under his belt, including as the voice of Santa from Elf of the Shelf. He also coaches, and Brad is one of 2020-2021’s Unicorn Award nominees at VO Atlanta for his contributions to the industry. He stands about 6 foot 11 and is built like a tractor, which is why he’s also the head of the JMC security detail at live sporting events and lobster hunts across America. Check out Brad’s fantastic insights below.
I first wanted to title this blog “NOBODY has hired me today.”
But that sounded too negative, so let’s try this…
“Never give up….and Love your returning customers.”
Those are my eight words of wisdom for the day.
Never give up.
I really don’t need to talk much about never giving up, do I?
But…just in case… Never give up!
It only took me 30 years to finally “never give up “on my dream of being a voice actor.
I will never forget that sunny day in April 2015 while out for a bike ride… yapping incessantly about wanting to be a vo artist…my wife stopped in the middle of the bike path and said, “You have got to do this!”
So, she retired, and I quit my 33 year career to become an entrepreneur.
Now, after five years of being full-time in the business, I can tell you that each day is a new adventure and I am genuinely grateful and happy every day for what I do.
Funny though, even though I was first trained long ago…and went into voice acting as wide-eyed as I thought a person could be… I still wasn’t fully prepared for the ups and downs one goes through on the way to making a real income in voiceovers.
So, if you are struggling in anyway, before you even think about giving up > CONNECT.
Connect with someone in the industry that you trust and respect.
- Michael Collins has always been one of those people for me – as have many others…. like Brigid Reale, Bev Standing, Dana Rizzo, Josh Alexander and Pat Kirchner. Everyone needs folks like these in their corners.
The struggle can be palpable….and the ups and downs are downright freaky at times.
One week you’ll feel like there’s a cash drawer where your underwear drawer used to be… And other weeks are dismally quiet. It’s just part of the territory…. and I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a slow week… wishing I had a dollar.
In 2017 I learned an early lesson about not giving up. I had booked one nice job voicing a spot for Prestone Antifreeze. They loved what I did and I was told I was in line to voice both the fall and winter anthem spots….and maybe be the “Voice of Prestone”. But two days before the session they called and told me I was OUT…because a new creative director had been brought in and he had someone else that he preferred.
Back then, a wise man gently told me, “Get the hell over it man… You were the ribeye steak, and he wanted salmon” (or something very much like that).
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are, they just want something else.
Something else DID come around… Shortly after that, I booked the role of the voice of Santa for Elf on the Shelf. A fabulous customer that I dearly love…and a recurring role each year since then.
My wife has been a huge supporter and is always reminding me that the next great job is just around the corner! Ya got to LOVE being married to your own personal cheerleader :^)
Making a real living wage as a voice actor can be tough for sure, But the benefits are so worth it!
Returning customers are VO gold.
Returning customers always pull me out of a slow time.
My mentor told me one time that getting 100 returning customers can “float” your voiceover boat. That specific number of returning customers will be different for each person, but I’ll tell you… It’s the truth.
In fact, when I do hit a slow couple of days or even a week.… Inevitably, it’s the returning customers that show up in your inbox and shine a little light on your day. So find a way to love and keep every single customer!
Get excited for each new customer interaction.
And ZOOM into great customer relationships.
I try to let every new customer know a few things about my business when we connect to talk about a new project. That’s why I always try to get them on a quick zoom instead of just email or a phone call.
I love to meet new people…and visiting and chatting with people from all around the world on a quick zoom is some of the best time I spend every day. Also, I’ve discovered that my foreign customers are quite fond of WhatsApp.
I have had delightful chats with people all around the world using WhatsApp. It seems like a more conversational and friendly way for them to communicate. They send audio files for pronunciations, and sometimes like to just send me audio notes rather than typing me something.
Also – when you set up them as a new contact in WhatsApp, you will often see their picture as well.
My customers are my lifeline.
I let my customers know how important they are to me, and I never try to get just one job and then move on to the next customer.
I have discovered during (yep, here it comes) “these difficult times” that customers are not only used to using Zoom, but they are also very willing and open to meeting virtually and learning a little bit more about each other. If you are not offering zoom sessions to your customers, I highly recommend you start. Making legitimate and genuine connections with my customers is a very valuable part of my business.
I would love to hear from anybody that has a thought or a personal lesson-learned about “never giving up”.
And if you’re struggling at all, I’d be happy to chat with you!