Fair warning: This one may ruffle some feathers here and there. And while I can claim that’s not the intent, I know its going to happen. So to those folks that may get ruffled. I simply ask that before you pull out your flamethrower to burn me to a crisp. You take a step back and really think about what I’m saying here. So let’s talk about coaches and coaching and advice from working pros in -insert industry here-.
Specifically I’m going to relate this to voice over. I do think this applies to almost any endeavor that has coaching and coaches and pros that work with newbies though. We go to coaches for their expertise and their experience. We follow the pros on social media and look for those pearls of wisdom that will make our journey easier. After all, those folks have been doing what we want to do for longer than we have. So what’s the problem with that?
Well, it is a problem and it isn’t. Their wisdom and experience is valuable. I want to make that clear. At the same time, I think that most coaches and working pros have a pretty big blind spot. And I think that can cause problems for the folks getting the coaching and the advice.
So what is that problem?
Their years of experience.
Hear me out. If you have a coach or even a pro that has been in the business for 15 years. They have 15 years of experience under their belts. They are also 15 years away from when they started. And the industry and the business has changed a lot in that 15 years. What worked for them to get started 15 years ago may not even be relevant anymore.
So why bother coaching?
Now that hypothetical coach with 15 years of experience is useful and necessary. They understand performance, they are usually still working in the business so they know what the “Clients” are looking for. And they have developed an ear for what works and what doesn’t. That sort of coaching advice is useful and necessary.
To be clear. I coach with respected folks in the industry. I also recommend to EVERYONE that I meet that wants to get into this industry that they will need coaching.
Coaching is not optional. It’s a requirement if you want to build your skills, and grow within the industry.
*As a side note, I think that newer folks need to be extra careful when selecting a coach. As there are folks that derive most of their income these days from coaching. To me that’s a bit of a conflict. Since their income becomes dependent on feeding the pipeline of new “students” to keep the money flowing in. Also, if the majority of their time is spent coaching. They are not as active in the industry as they probably should be to keep up with the changing trends. (But that’s going to be a separate post for another day.)
So what’s the problem?
When it comes to actually “getting” into the industry. The ‘breaking in” part, I think that’s a little more murky. We constantly hear coaches tell us that everyone’s path is different, and that’s true. That’s also true for the “getting in” to the business process as a newbie.
What works for one person to get their foot into the industry, may not work for everyone. (Or anyone else for that matter.) I see recommendations from coaches to sign up for specific websites, and recommendations for specific subscriptions to purchase. And I think some of those recommendations can be less than helpful. Site X may have worked for the coach back when they were brand new. (And when the site was brand new) but things are probably different on that site now.
Also, new folks needs to be very careful. You have to do a research on your own before you commit to ANY specific path recommended by a coach. I’ve seen coaches that recommend joining specific websites to start making money right up front. And those sites will absolutely torpedo your chances of ever going beyond a specific level in this industry. If you have no desire to eventually work at the highest levels of the industry. Then you have a lot more options available to you. But even that choice comes with risks.
Plan for the future as early as you can.
If you DO want any chance in the future of working at the higher levels of the industry. You need to start planning as early in your journey as you can. The internet is forever. And ANY site that you post a profile on and do work on will leave a trail. There are gatekeepers at the higher levels of the industry that WILL look at your social media. Those gatekeepers will search to see if you show up on any of “those” sites. And if you do show up, the odds are good that they will keep on moving right past your submission. (Also a topic for another post)
Now I understand that at the beginning of your journey into voice over you don’t know what you don’t know. Which is why we go to coaches to begin with. And that uncertainty does make it hard to map out a long term path. I’m still going to recommend that if you have any aspirations of “future you” working on any sort of major national work. You should tread carefully from as early in your career as you can.
Any coach that recommends that you join a site to make some “quick money” NOW without worrying about the potential impact to where you want to be working in 5-10 years. Well, that’s a red flag for me. In 5 years that coach will have already gotten your money from you for for their “advice”. But you will be the one stuck with the bad reputation when you try to take your career to the next level.
So what should you look for in a coach?
In my opinion, you want a coach that does the following:
- Dives deep with you up front to determine what you really want to do in the industry.
- Works with you one on one and tailors the coaching to your specific goals.
- Doesn’t necessarily work full time as a coach. You really want to work with someone that does the work you want to do so you can learn what’s currently working in the industry.
- Doesn’t push specific websites or marketing plans that worked for them. Because one size fits all programs may not work well for you.
- Supports and encourages the path that you have identified for your career.
- Knows when to refer you to the next level of coach to keep your skills growing.
You absolutely need coaching to move forward. But you need good quality coaching. And you need ethical and relevant coaching to what YOU want to do with your career. So ask lots of questions, see how you get along with a potential coach, and try them out for a session or two before committing to anything more. Their job is to guide you and help you get to where you want to be.
You have to take that guidance and use that to create the success that you want in the industry.