Oprah once said that "luck is preparation meeting opportunity." I strongly believe that. You can be prepared and never get an opportunity (bummer), and you can get an opportunity and not be prepared for it (real bummer). But when you work hard and prepare yourself and that opportunity comes along, then you're ready to take advantage of that "luck" that came your way.
My first professional voice-over job was the result of "luck."
When I met the producer who had handled the media for my first Mayoral campaign, I was in a position to hand him by new business card and ask him to keep me in mind for future work. If I hadn't done the "preparation" part by getting trained, creating my demo, and printing business cards, I wouldn't have been in a position to take advantage of the"opportunity" presented to me by talking with a person who hired voice-over artists. In this case, preparation met opportunity and I received a call a few weeks later from this producer, asking me to do the voice-over for a local car commercial.
If your still waiting for that first VO gig, there are some things you can do to network and hone your skills while working toward your first job.
Stay busy, even if it means volunteering your voice. Now I know there are some voice-over artists who don't agree with me. Your voice is valuable, and you shouldn't lessen its value by doing anything for free, they say.
I respectfully disagree.
Early in your voice-over career, you need to get your name out into the community, and a great way to do that, and to help out a good cause, is to volunteer.
One of the things I did was to contact my local PBS station and volunteer for a wonderful program they offered for the blind and print disabled. Volunteers would go into a recording studio and read local newspapers and magazines live over the air. It was a great way to practice, and to participate in a very worthwhile program.
Another thing I did was join a local film makers group. If there's one in your area, this is a great way to meet other artists and to make connections that could help in the future. I met a man who was producing a stellar documentary. He and his partners were still in the filming stages and looking for further funding. I helped out with some fund raising and volunteered my services to voice a short trailer they were using to promote their documentary (I even got a small on-camera role!)
So remember - stay busy, volunteer, expand your network, and always be prepared for that opportunity that's just around the corner.
All the best!
Mike Lenz is an entrepreneur, professional voice actor, audio book narrator, author, podcast host, husband and father. His ebook, Paid To Talk, is available on amazon.com, and his podcast, Mike Lenz Voice – A Journey Into Voice Acting, can be heard on iTunes. Mike is passionate about sharing stories from amazing and inspiring people from all areas of the voice-over industry, as well as sharing his insights with aspiring voice actors around the world. You can find out more information at his website mikelenzvoice.com. Mike lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife and 4 children.