February 22nd, 2011
Just recently I came across yet another website selling an ebook all about how to become a voice actor in no time at all. It had the standard hype: all you need is a computer, some free software, and a microphone! No experience required!
In this post I'd like to shed a little light on these "expert" voice-actor authors and their goods and give you a peek behind the scenes.
How do I know about all of this?
For the past 10 years or so I've also worked part time as a freelance website designer. At one point I decided to look into Search Engine Optimization — SEO — in order to help my clients get better rankings in Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines.
Long story short, I soon found myself inside forums and receiving newsletters from Internet marketers where I discovered all sorts of marketing tactics, quick product creation techniques, "black hat" SEO, and other nasty stuff.
One simple way to make a product
Here's an example of how to make a product without knowing anything about the topic. It's actually quite simple...
Find a real book written by a real professional in the field.
Hire a person working in a developing country — you can find them easily on the Internet. In many places, English is a second language. And although it's spoken with an obvious accent, the people of these countries can write English perfectly.
Pay that person anywhere from $50 to $100 to completely rewrite the real book you found to avoid plagiarism. Now, $50 may not go a long way in the US (for example), but in developing countries $50 is worth a month's salary! (Why do you think so many companies outsource production to these countries?)
With rate "lowballing" becoming a common occurrence on voice over audition websites, any Internet marketer can get a dirt-cheap voice over for their website or product. From time to time I see these jobs posted. The script reads like you (the voice actor) are actually the author of the book, the creator of the software, or something similar. (Kinda makes you want to stop lowballing or auditioning for low-budget projects, doesn't it?)
Pay another person in a developing country a few bucks to build your website and write the sales copy.
You're done! You now have a well written ebook complete with audio that is up for sale on a website. And the Internet marketer didn't do a thing except pay other people to do all the work! (In most cases, less than $400.)
(NOTE: Not all products are done this way. Many are done by people just like you and me rewriting a published book and then selling it online. But these people still may not know a single thing about the topic they write about.)
Do they actually make a profit?
The scary part is some of them actually do, but the work is a lot more than what I described above. There's marketing, approaching affiliates to promote your ebook, lot's of SEO to drive traffic to your website, using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to get the word out, plus advertising.
There really is a lot.
But there are people who have devoted their lives to this quest, and after years of learning the system, they succeed.
The gold rush
The California Gold Rush in the US (1848–1855) sent thousands of people westward in search of fortune. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the "miner 49ers" ended up completely broke. But not everyone went broke. Some people did become rich, but not from finding gold.
The people who made it rich were the ones selling the shovels (and pick axes, and equipment, and the saloon owners selling whisky, etc.) This is the battle cry of many Internet marketers: Sell the shovels! If you are a person interested in becoming a voice actor, then you are a prime target. There is no quick and easy route to becoming a voice actor!
You're smarter than that
As you know, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Be wary of any website that promises quick riches with minimal effort. Yes, a sucker is born every minute, but you're not one of them.
If an ebook or a system sounds good, first put down your credit card. Search the Internet to see what people are saying about the author, and not necessarily the product. Remember, there are thousands and thousands of affiliates (people who make a commission when you buy from their website) who will quickly tell you how great an ebook is just to get you to buy. Many "review websites" are far from legit and contain false testimonials.
Try to find out if the author really is active in that field of work. What are credible sources saying about him or her? Do your homework. Then make an informed purchase.
Is everything on the Internet bad?
The answer is, of course, no. There are good ebooks or regular paperback books written by people who actually practice what they preach. Excellent software, training systems, and so on can also be found. Just do your due diligence before whipping out your credit card.