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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

May 16, 2023

Anne & Lau answer a question many have about the voice over industry: "how long will it take?" The truth is, becoming a successful voiceover artist takes time, discipline, and dedication. There is no set timeline for success, and it is important to have realistic expectations. Investing in coaching and training is essential, but it is equally important to be selective about where and how to invest. Building a recognizable brand identity and having a viable business is important. Respecting the voiceover industry as a business is crucial. Hard work, commitment, and effort increase the chances of success, but there are no shortcuts. Success is not only measured financially but also in time and commitment to your voice over business. 
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast and the BOSS Superpower series. I'm your host, Anne Ganguzza, and I'm here today with the lovely and most wonderful BOSS, co-host, Lau Lapides. Hey BOSS. 
Lau: Hey BOSS. How are you? 
Anne: I'm doing great. How about yourself? 
Lau: I'm doing good. Feeling BOSSy today. 
Anne: Today I think we should answer a very common question that is asked, I think, both of myself and you, I can imagine. And that is for people just starting out in this industry, how long will it take for me to become a voiceover artist? Or how long will I have to spend coaching or training so that I can do voiceover? 
Lau: Hmm. Gotta get my calculator out for that one. So I can just do different variables, different scenarios, right? 
Anne: Yeah. 
Lau: Variations on the theme. That's a biggie. 
Anne: Is it gonna take me, okay, in three months I wanna be able to make $10,000 a month, and I want to be able to secure 20 new clients, right? So it's very hard for people when they're first starting out. Again, we had another podcast all about this, like, you don't know what you don't know yet. So how long will it take? Well, let's see. Where's my crystal ball? 
Lau: (laughs) Where do you start? Where do you start?
Anne: Where’s my crystal ball? How do even I start? 
Lau: Where do you start? 
Anne: Boy, it depends on so many things, Lau. 
Lau: Mm. There's tons of variables involved with that. That's not even possible to answer that question. One could Google and look up, okay, voiceover talent, 2023, North America, what's the average? But it's really not going to tell you what is going on in individual scenarios and situations that can cause a tremendous amount of loss and a tremendous amount of gain. 
Anne: Yeah. Well, maybe let's start with how long will it take if somebody's just starting out in the industry, right? 
Lau: Wait, can I do my theater moment? Can I do my like, wait, give me six months. I gotta do jazz hands. I will give you a VO career. 
Anne: Woohoo!
Lau: Did you like that? Did that sound credible to anyone? 
Anne: Wait, I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you. I was running fast and far away from that.
Lau: (laughs) 
Anne: From that claim. 
Lau: You know, I had a colleague one time, he told the greatest stories, and he said, listen, would you go to a dentist who did a weekend workshop? Or who even did a one-year certificate program to become a dentist? Would you do that? And everyone laughs at that. 
Anne: Would you get your tooth drilled from that dentist? Mm. 
Lau: Probably not. Probably not. 
Anne: Yeah. 
Lau: Because not just about the physical pain of it, but the idea that, how could they become a dentist in six months or one year? There's a lot to learn. There's a lot to delve into, right? 
Anne: Oh my gosh, yes. Absolutely. Such a great point. And I think that's like one of the first things that I'm always saying. My gosh, we go to school for years to learn a craft. Like doctors go for eight years minimum, I think, right? Dentists as well. And maybe not even doctors and dentists. I mean, just back in the day, okay, now I'm starting to sound my age, but I had a four-year program in college that I went to for a bachelor's or a two-year program for an associate, whatever it is, right? We go to elementary school for so many years to learn all of these things. 
So why is voiceover any different? Like, I'm not saying we need to spend 12 years, but in reality, we probably are continually honing our craft and spending our entire lives being a student. But why would you think it would only take two months or three months even, or even a couple of sessions before you're ready to make that demo? You have to just sit back and does that make logical sense? 
Lau: I think it could only make logical sense if I am really invested in the media blitz of our society and having very quick images and sounds about being in entertainment, being in the entertainment industry, which looks to us on the outside as very fast and very polished and very rich and very quick. When we know on the inside, on the other side of it, it takes years and years oftentimes to get to that place of what you're seeing in that media image. 
Anne: Sure.
Lau: So I mean, that's kind of like the collateral damage of being in this whole entertainment industry under that umbrella is that you have whole generations now that think and feel like, if I jump on TikTok or if I jump on this social media channel, I'm instantly this, I'm instantly that. It's like stir and mix, you know? Pull it off the shelf, stir and mix, and you're instantly a star. 
Anne: Yeah, yeah. 
Lau: We have to combat that because we know for longevity in careers, it's just never that. It's always a, an investment, a creating, a recreating, a re-envisioning throughout your life. This is a craft. 
Anne: Yeah. And it doesn't happen overnight, for sure. Does not happen. If it looks easy, well, yeah, it probably took us, what if that overnight success was 40 years in the making? 
Lau: Yes. We were a 40-year overnight success. You like it? (laughs) 
Anne: And everybody is different. Now, of course, you might have a different story. Maybe you've been an actor all your life, and you've turned to voiceover, and you got hired because maybe you're a little bit of a celebrity, right? And people know you and they know your brand, and so you were able to lock in a big video game right away, or a national campaign. And so that is where I think people, they look at it and go, oh my gosh, I should be be able to do this. You know, if I set my goals, I should be able to do this in three months or six months. But honestly, BOSSes out there, I mean, to really be a BOSS, I think that there has to be some longevity. There has to be some due diligence. There has to be some hard work, some sweat, blood, tears, mistakes. We just had a whole podcast on mistakes -- that really make that career a possibility. And it does not typically happen in two to three months. 
So with that being said, the other question is, how much is this going to cost? Well, it's going to cost, right, whatever you're going to invest in your coaching and training. And I don't mean to be impatient, but it's so many times I get people who come to me thinking that it'll cost them much less to get that demo so that they can get working and be successful as a voiceover actor. And somehow they're thinking, well, just a few hundred dollars, maybe a thousand, and I'll be good to go, and I'll be able to make some money. Lau?
Lau: I almost don't know what to say to that though. We always have to have something to say to that.
Anne: Right? We do. We do. 
Lau: One of the first things I always say is, what you put into it, what you invest is exactly what you're going to get out of it. So be careful how you invest. And how much you invest and what you invest. You have to really sit down with a master plan and think, okay, maybe I don't know much. I'm in my first year. Now I'm in my third year. I know a lot more. And you have to invest and reinvest in, what are my goals per quarter? What do I want to achieve? What is achievable? What is realistic? I always joke with my clients and say, I may want to be a 22-year-old Scandinavian supermodel, but that ain't happening. 
Anne: (laughs)
Lau: Can I just say? And I'm glad it's not happening, ‘cause that leaves me room to be what I can be, what I want to be, and what is possible for me. 
Anne: Love it. Sure.
Lau: So I don't look at that as a limitation. I look at that as opening the door to spending the energy and time and everything that I should be investing in. 
Anne: Yes. 
Lau: Just because I have money and I can invest doesn't mean I should invest in that. I have to be very specific. I have to be very goal-oriented, and I have to be reasonable. I have to be realistic and pragmatic in my goal. There's a difference between a dream and a goal, right? Who is the famous person who said this? I have to look this up. A goal is just a dream with a deadline. But it's more than that. It's something that is realistic for my talent, for my skillset, for my time, for my money. It's like a whole portfolio. You sat down with a financial advisor, they're not just gonna say, hey, how much money do you have? No. They're gonna look at you and build a portfolio on who you are, what your background is, what you're capable of, what you want, and really come up with scenarios and variables that are reasonable in terms of it not being a gamble, but being an investment, a calculated risk. 
Anne: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. I feel like we say this so much, but I feel like we, we need to say it. There is an investment here. There is an investment here. It's not going to come — can you learn voiceover on YouTube? Can you learn voiceover from reading books? Can you learn voiceover from Googling? There's a lot that you can take from that. But then there's also so much more that you can garner by investing some money into a good coach. This is all about you and your voice and your acting. And so it really helps to work with someone who specializes in taking your voice and teaching you techniques and principles of acting so that you can showcase the very best for your potential clients. And so that's going to cost money. 
And I always think, if you are invested enough to want to create a business selling your voice, well, you have to also understand that as a business, you respect other businesses, right? Other businesses, coaches are out there. They have to charge for their services. It's not like I can exist just on my good heart, which I do have a wonderful heart, and Lau, you too. 
Lau: You do. You do. 
Anne: I can't just spend my hours every day giving away voice lessons. And so there has to be some semblance of a business there. And I always have to say to myself that I need to present a good example of a voiceover business. I've got policies. If they can't make their lesson, if they don't notify me in a certain amount of time, I can't fill that spot again. So that costs me money. So there are things that need to be enforced in business, which I think as a student, right, or as somebody entering into this industry, wanting to be a business, that you also have to learn about and also respect and understand. 
Lau: You said a total mouthful too, when you said, you know, respecting the businesses that are in your business. I mean, we wanna respect everyone in the world, but when we're talking about our industry, like be respectful of others’ businesses that are working alongside you, with you, and for you to help you create and grow a business. Their time is valuable. Their time is money, in essence, right? We don't like to think of it that way, but we never wanna apologize for having value monetarily. You have to have value. 
Sure, you can do pro bono work. Sure, you can do projects without getting paid. Sure, you can do all of that. But it has to live alongside a paradigm of career and really building something that is viable, meaning I'm getting my return, and I'm also investing, and I'm also having some luxury of profit. And that is called building a business. And so when we come out to people, we say, oh, well, how much is this gonna be? Well, that's expensive. Well, I can't afford that. You're automatically unintentionally disrespecting that person's not just time and effort, but their education. You're paying for their history, their value -- 
Anne: Their experience.
Lau: -- their schooling, all the connections they have and know, their studio. I mean, on and on it goes. You are paying for that. It's not just about a product; it's about a a process. And so really just making sure people understand that. If you feel like someone is charging you too much money, that's fine. Then walk away from it and don't spend it. But just know they're basing their value off what they think their value is based in all those areas. It isn't just, oh, I'm slapping on a price tag of this. It's like I'm bringing this to the table and guess what? I'm not 20 or 30, I'm 50, I'm 60. So I'm bringing you all those years of knowledge and wisdom.
Anne: Experience. Absolutely. Absolutely. And yeah, respect the business. Respect the people that are in the business that are helping you get into the business. And also expecting things to be easy or cheap, I would say educate yourself enough about the industry to know that with anything, right, you're going to have to make an investment. I wish that there weren't people out there selling the dream, but I think you're gonna have that for just about anything, not just voiceover, right? There's gonna be, I'm gonna sell you the dream. Gosh, there were so many and there probably still are infomercials on, come to my seminar. You too can flip a house and make thousands of dollars, and you can make thousands of dollars in, in a short amount of time. So that whole selling the dream, if it seems too good to be true, typically it is.
Lau: (laughs)
Anne: And so that's something to be aware of. So how long will it take me? This is the other question, how long will it take me to get a return on my investment? 
Lau: That's a really tough question to answer. It really is. And I, I just have to say to your point for people to remember --I had a colleague that gave me this really adorable sign one time from my birthday. It was like a mechanic with this old fashioned truck, and he was fixing the truck, and it said on it, good work ain't cheap and cheap work ain't good. 
Anne: Yeah. 
Lau: And I never forgot. 
Anne: Yep. I love that love. 
Lau: I don't know if I have the signs still, but I never forgot that. I thought it was funny and kitchy, but it's so true. Like you get what you pay for oftentimes. You really, really do. Not always, but much of the time, that principle is really true. And to be perfectly honest with everyone and all your peeps, I'm gonna be honest with, I don't feel I can give you an answer to that question of what am I gonna make and how much time I'm gonna make it in, and when am I gonna be successful? That really is an individual's journey and choice as to how much time, effort, investment, heart, soul, blood, tears, whatever you're gonna put into this. The harder you run at it, the more you put into it, the more you focus and intensify, the more opportunities tend to come because there's that work breeds work kind of energy that you're putting into the world. Like, I'm working, I know you're this way, Anne. If someone says, are you busy? Are you bored?  Say there's no such thing. Bored is not in your vocabulary. 
Anne: Never, never. 
Lau: Because you're always working, you're working. Whether you're being paid or not, you're always working. And that energy, that mystical energy goes into the world, and people are attracted to that. There's an attraction to that. It's not just being busy, it's being engaged, it's being excited. It's being enthralled by things. People want to magnetically latch onto that. So I would say in order to get that success, whatever that is that you're looking for, get busy. Get busy on being busy and get engaged. And the more you're engaged, the more potential outcomes that are pleasing you are gonna happen. 
Anne: Well, I think return on your investment, okay. So investment, usually when people say that to you, or they're asking you that question, when will I get a return on my investment? They're talking about their money. And in reality, what you've just wrapped all into, besides the money, is your effort. Right? And your time and what you put into it. So in reality, when you're asking me, when will I get a return on my investment? Well, I will come right back to you and say, well, how committed are you to investing your time, your energy into making this a success? And a lot of it does depend on you. 
Now, if you're gonna sink a few thousand dollars into some coaching and a demo, then you expect to get a job how long after? A lot of times two people will say, all right, now that I got my demo, how long will it take for me to get my first voiceover job? And again, that really shows up into your effort in terms of how are you going to go out and get that job? Because you can have the best voice in the world, you have the best demo in the world, but if nobody knows about it, they can't hire you, and they can't pay you for it. 
Lau: And aren't you and I constantly breaking down the map biology of, okay, I will answer that question with a question, which no one likes, but okay, let's break down your day. Can we break down your week? Can we look at actually what you're investing day to day and week to week? And then all of a sudden, the door opens of knowledge, and sometimes it's like what you don't wanna see of Pandora's box coming out. Like, oh, I'm only doing this. I don't have time to do this. Or this is harder for me.
Anne: Or I don't have time to do the homework. I give my students homework. And I'll be like, okay, so I saw that you were able to record a couple of pieces of copy , and I'll just say it like that. Okay. So they'll be like, well, okay, so am I ready for my demo? And I'll say, well, I noticed that you only recorded two out of your 20 pieces of copy. And so if I'm giving you too much homework, you just let me know. But I will say that you need to invest the time in doing this, and I give you homework not to make you cry or not to overwhelm you. It's to kind of get you in a discipline where you can be working. 
This is what it's going to be like to be working every day. This is what it's going to take for you to record this, edit it, prep it as if you were doing an audition, and just store it in that Dropbox and name it appropriately. Right? So all of these things that I'm giving for homework are really lessons in, here's what a voiceover artist does in their day. I'm submitting an audition, I'm naming it correctly, I'm uploading it on time. And so, most of the time I'll come back and say, I really need you to put in this time. Or they'll reschedule lesson after lesson after lesson, and then it will be like six months before I see them again. And I'm like, we've lost the momentum. 
Lau: That's right. And it's like, can you see the forest through the trees? 
Anne: Yeah. 
Lau: Like is there logic to your line of, is there reasoning even to your line of thinking? 
Anne: Yeah. 
Lau: Like one of my coaches recently, an anecdote, one of my coaches said to me, I'm frustrated because this person wants to get on the demo track and wants to do the demo and is quickly, doesn't have money, da, da, da, but is not doing the homework and is coming to the table and just using a lot of excuses as to why they could not prepare for the session. 
Anne: Yeah, exactly.
Lau: And he said, said simply, he was frustrated, but he said, do they realize they're going into voiceover? Do they even know what that profession is? And I said, no, they haven't made that connection yet. It's for us to do the teaching moments and making the connection that what you're going into is extremely demanding, and very fast, and crazy hours and blah, blah, blah, all this stuff. But a lot of our clients, Anne, I think you could say the same thing, right? They're not seeing the forest through the trees where they're seeing this overview of what they think the industry is, but the weeds, getting really into the weeds of what it is the coaching is simulating, trying to simulate what a work experience might be like. So if it's hard for you to do your homework, then it'll be near impossible for you to do the auditions and jobs. 
Anne: Yeah. Oh, I teach a lot of long format narration, right? So when I give homework, they are the full spots. They'll be two to four minutes, sometimes even longer if it's e-learning. And they'll say, okay, but that was a really long spot. And I'm like, well, that's the reality of it, right? And so I need to make sure that you as an actor are completely committed to that script three quarters of the way through. Three minutes in, are you still as committed as you were in the beginning? And I want you to edit that entire thing as if it were an audition. So they're like, well, do I have to edit? And I'm like, I'm kind of giving it to you all at once so that you can understand what it takes, right, to put out a job that is a four-minute job. How long will it take you to edit that? And I want you to get better at it. I want you to get faster at it. 
Lau: It's a simulated journey of --
Anne: Exactly. 
Lau: It's a journey that you pay for to invest so that you can go with very little to no stakes. Right? To go into a high stake situation. 
Anne: Yeah. And if you're working with me, right? And you wanna know how long it will take before you can do voiceover -- I mean, if you're just gonna meet with me once a week, then that's an hour out of your week that you've spent doing voiceover. You're gonna progress an hour at a time. And if you're gonna ask me 10 weeks later, I'm like, well, you've spent exactly 10 hours with me. And in a given workday, we might work eight hours a day or 10 hours a day, or we work a 40-hour work week. You've only worked with me for 10 hours total of your lifetime, and you wanna know if you're ready for a demo. Now, does that make sense? Does that make sense? 
Lau: There's no sense to it. But then again, there's no understanding of the logic of what actually goes into it. Right? Like they literally may not get just yet what goes into building a career and building voiceover. And if someone is coming to me, which I get a lot; a client saying, I'm frustrated Lau because I'm already doing an hour or two a week of this. I can't put any more time into it, this is where I have to be kind and say, um, I get that. And you're busy and you work full-time, you have — I get that. But just continually regroup. And is your vision clear, understandable, and realistic about what you're going into? 
Anne: Sure. Absolutely. 
Lau: Because what you're going into is going to demand that you give as much as you can to it. 
Anne: Yeah. Yeah. It is the hardest thing. And I will be the first to admit, because when I worked part-time and voiceover when I was working a full-time job, a family, a full-time job, and voiceover is tough. There's so much focus that has to go into voiceover. Because remember, people, this is our business. It is. We are entrepreneurs. And unless your full-time job is your other full-time business, and it's yours, you are typically also navigating an unfamiliar world of, oh, I have my own business. I have to generate my own business. I have to market myself. I have to put on a trillion different hats. And so there's more than just getting in the studio and recording and editing. Now there is all the marketing, there's all the --I've gotta have a website. I've gotta be able to do auditions so that I can present myself with opportunities so that I can get work. So there's a lot, in addition to just doing voiceover in your booth.
Lau: We're like one man bands. One woman bands. We really are. It's like putting on hats, hats, hats, hats. You have to own a lot of hats to be in this profession, because you're always gonna be shifting your hat. Any kind of business owner, if you're a solopreneur and you work alone, you're always shifting the hats. I think also too, Anne, we're fighting against the new mantra of teaching business leaders or teaching people who wanna be BOSSes that you can work for two or three hours a week and then sit on a beach for the rest of that time. That's like this new mantra that's out there in marketing. Like make six figures, make even seven figures. Lay on that beach with your children and just work a couple hours a week. 
Anne: Couple hours a day. Yeah. If that, yeah. 
Lau: I'm not gonna say it's a lie. I'm not gonna say that, but I am going to say there's a slight fabrication, maybe even an embellishment in that, because I know for a fact that even the tech billionaires are working all the time. And why are they working all the time? Because people who own stuff, run stuff, and lead stuff are innovators. They're inquisitive, they're interested. Whether you like what they do or agree with it is another thing. I'm just saying, they're invested in it. Their whole life is that. Even after they sell it sometimes. 
Anne: Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, that is the definition. 
Lau: Entrepreneurs.
Anne: Of an entrepreneur, Lau. 
Lau: Yeah. We have a very, very well-known furniture company in New England that has been around for ages like 40 years. And they were run by two brothers, and they were constantly on TV together, constantly. The face --
Anne: Oh, who? Do I remember them? 
Lau: Jordan's Furniture. 
Anne: Oh yeah. Okay. 
Lau: One of the brothers sold his piece years ago. Well, guess what? We never see the brother that owns it. We only see that brother on tv. And he's constantly there. And I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe he's the one who still has the shares. I mean, they sold the whole company now. They've been in business for a long time. But the point is, I still see him. He's on all the time because he's the face of the company. He's the feel of the company. He's much older now. He still does all the commercial campaigns. He could say, hey, I'll be on the beach. Good luck. Good luck. He made his money, he made millions. 
Anne: That's true. 
Lau: Doesn't matter. His heart and his feel as a human being is to wanna stay connected to the company, to wanna stay connected to where it's going. So my point is, is like, are we ever laying back doing nothing to build a company? No. That's false. 
Anne: Yes. Yeah. My return on investment, I mean, honestly, right? Investment is so much more than money. So I want you guys to really think in terms outside of money -- blood, sweat, tears, effort, practice, and of course money when you're investing money too. But that investment falls not just in your wallet, but in your time and in your commitment. And how long will it take? I think that that really is entirely up to you, (laughs). How long will it take to get a return on investment? And will you get a return on your investment? 
I wish I could guarantee people things. And I always say, honestly, if you put the work in and you're committed, and as long as I can understand what you're saying, right? There's so much out there. Do I have the voice for voiceover? We all do. We all have our own unique voice, and it's beautiful, and it's beautiful to people in different ways. And so yeah, sure. It's not about the voice, to be honest with you. It's not really about the voice.
Lau: And sometimes there's just no real rhyme or reason. You could call it fate, you could call it mystical, you could call it whatever you want, as to what jobs are coming to you. In the same day, I mean, when I do my agent work, I'll get a $400 job in perpetuity with nothing residual or whatever, and okay. And then in the same day, I'll get a $15,000 job, which doesn't take a whole lot more time to record or a whole lot more effort. It's just the nature of it is very, very different. And the usage is very different, and the client is very different. And how they came to me and us, sometimes it's just fate. And other times it's the hard work of your branding, your marketing, your staying with it year after year that your name just floats into the universe and they get it.
Anne: Sure. And it just becomes a known brand. Yeah. So how much will I make (laughs)? Will I get a return on my investment and how long? BOSSes, it's up to you. It's up to you. So, and we have all the faith that you can absolutely do it. So, ah, good conversation. Good conversation. 
Lau: I love that. I love that. So empowering. 
Anne: So BOSSes, here's a chance, not only to be a BOSS at your own business, but here's a chance for you to use your voice to make an immediate difference in our world and give back to the communities that give to you. Visit to commit. And a big shout-out to our favorite ipDTL sponsor. You too can connect and network like BOSSes. Find out more at You guys have an amazing week, and we'll see you next week. 
Lau: See you next week, bye.
Anne: Bye.
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