My recent re-entry to the world of voice-over has been fraught with several opportunities to separate me from my money. Some I have deemed necessary like spending the big bucks on a demo, buying a quality mic, and signing up with a few P2P sites. The one thing I haven't done is hire a "coach," or "attend" a webinar (seminar held over the internet) put on by a "coach."
Now, before I begin to sound too cynical (I'm trying to keep things positive), I have invested in reading materials that have given me several good ideas about continuing my education in the VO world. Such advice like taking acting classes, volunteering, and getting feedback from professionals, I've either done or am planning on doing soon. Other advice, like signing up for every "webinar" or "teleseminar" offered by a "coach," I haven't done.
I'm all for training. I've coached several teams in several different sports over the years, and the one piece of advice I give all my players is to practice, practice, practice. If possible, I encourage them to take lessons; whether it's seeking out a good batting coach, personal trainer, or guru, getting that little extra will separate the motivated player from the one whose parents have forced him/her onto the field. So really, it should be no different for me. After all, as an attorney, I tell all prospective clients, "The man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client," so the VO actor who tries to be his own coach is working with an idiot.
That brings me to the real reason I decided to write today: just who do you believe when it comes to "coaches?" I am bombarded with e-mails from various sites offering costly workshops (the priciest was over $1300 for 3 days) both in-person and over the web. The problem I have is deciding who's credible, and who's just trying to pry my wallet open. One thing I look at is the number of "seminars" the person puts on in a given period of time. One "coach" has sent me about 10 different e-mails offering a wide variety of classes. When someone has the time to offer so many classes, I begin to think they have too much time on their hands. In other words, is this person a true working professional, or a full-time coach? The answer may or may not be important to you, but to me, I'd rather go with someone who is still plying his/her trade over the person who has not consistently booked in the past 3 years and is now a "coach."
Maybe my cynicism is getting the best of me, but I really can't help it. There are plenty of good people out there doing good work who are also willing to share and help. It's what sets the VO world apart from the rest of the entertainment business (and the rest of the professional world for that matter). With entire websites devoted to this branch of VO commerce, the only piece of advice I can impart is, "Let the buyer beware."