Dealing with the no's. Breaking down rejection in the Voiceover World.
How do we deal with rejection? How do we better understand it to help keep ourselves sane? And how do we learn to keep going, in an industry that is competitive, and constantly evolving?
Well, the short answer is - get over it!
But if someone had said that to me a month ago, after I had a bout of rejections and projects fall through, I would have been pretty miffed.
So let's identify rejection in the voiceover world, establish why it's different, and then learn how to not only move on from it, but kick its ass!
For a lot of industries, rejection isn't really a problem, but for creatives, it can be a real hurdle, especially at the beginning of your career, as you develop more of a thick skin, and learn better what you yourself excel at.
Imagine a job where you simply did the work, and never had to worry about being accepted or rejected. Coming from an acting background, I just can't imagine it!
In the voiceover world, we have lots of opportunities for rejection, mainly because we are both constantly reaching out for new work and collaborations, as well as the fact that the voice is a very subjective art form.
Rejections can come from lots of different sources:
- If you audition on pay-to-play sites, not getting the jobs can feel like lots of little rejections.
- If you have repeat clients who ask you for a demo, but decide to go another way.
- If you apply for agents year after year, and never seem to get on anyones books.
- And sending emails to potential new clients who you are excited about working for, and never hear back from.
All of those things, and many more, create a constant back and forth in the VO's daily work life, which means you are surrounded by rejection, in lots of different ways.
But I have established some basic rules for myself when dealing with rejection on a day-to-day basis, and I'm going to share them with you, so hopefully you can plow through the bad feelings, and get back to work.
1. Know it's a part of your job.
As you get into voice acting, it's a great idea to just guard yourself against certain things from the get-go. Just because you don't get a job, doesn't mean you are bad. Just because the client moves another way, doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing. And just because other people "seem" to be successful, doesn't mean that you are not.
Rejection is a part of this life, so know that and embrace it. Because it's going to make you stronger and better at your job.
2. Get Busy
One way I like to deal with bad news is to get busy. Push myself forward with other projects and other areas of my business. Got some bad news, update the website. Received a rejection letter, reach out to 20 more people than you did yesterday. If you feel like you're not getting any of your auditions right, listen back to your demos and work, and evaluate your skills.
There is one good thing about rejection, and that is improvement. Because nothing spurs you to improve, and prove someone wrong, like a rejection.
3. Step Away If You Need To
There is no shame in taking some time to deal with things. This summer I got turned down by a big agency who I was in talks with to join their books. Then a big project I had been penciled for decided to go another way; and to top it all off, I lost a regular client of mine who moved over to another role.
So I took a deep breath and decided to quieten things down, to take some time to reflect on where I was going, and what it meant for my business. I stopped social media, I started to practice my skills again, and I took the time I needed to feel back to myself. This is a blessing, I am aware that not everyone can do this, but if necessary, don't be ashamed, take the time you need.
4. Don't Surround Yourself With No's
Now this one is very simple, if you are checking your website stats, your pay-to-play auditions, your conversion rates, and all those things that help to keep you on track, that's all fine, but maybe don't check them every day. Obsessing over those things, when they are bound to fluctuate naturally, is only going to add to your foreboding sense of failure.
Don't hang on the phone waiting for that client to get back to you. Don't keep evidence of those things that haven't quite worked out. Delete, remove, or burn them, so you can take the time, get busy, and move on.
And while we're on this topic, one thing I used to do a lot when I started out, was to apply for jobs that I was definitely not right for. Things I would have never got in a million years. Don't do it, because it will only mean more rejection. I'm not saying don't stretch your capabilities and try new things, but don't apply for stuff in accents that you think you can do when you can't. Not only is this more rejection, but it doesn't look good on you.
5. Other's Success Is Not Your Rejection
Okay, this is a big one, for lots of different reasons, but the title kind of says it all. We're surrounded by other people's working lives and success stories because that is what people use social media for.
Now granted there is the occasional spattering of reality, self-deprecation, and admitting that you've had a rough time, but predominantly it's a very positive leaning force.
Don't allow the fact that you can see other people doing what you want to be doing, to act as a form of rejection. Stay in line with your goals, and keep working towards them.
6. Remind Yourself
This is something I learned recently when I felt like there was a lot of rejection in my professional life. I decided to have a review, and that led to me reminding myself of all the work I have done. Go over your demos and listen to them with a keen ear. Go over the jobs you've done, and listen to the progress you have made over the years. Take a look at your website, and relish the fact that it is all yours.
Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we are still going.
7. Ask Yourself These Questions
And finally, if you are really struggling with rejection, feeling down about your work, and not knowing how to continue, then ask yourself these questions, and take the necessary action.
Who have I been rejected by, and what does that mean?
Is this actually a rejection? Or just a different opinion?
What does it mean for my business now?
What does it mean for my business tomorrow and in the future?
How do I feel about it personally?
Do I need to take some time away?
What's on the to-do list that can keep me going?
Rejection in any industry, especially one that can be as personal as voiceover, can be really difficult; especially when we feel like we are making headway with our goals. And it's always going to impact different people on different levels.
So I hope that by identifying what type of rejection it is and using the steps above, you're able to look at it objectively, and not take too much time away from all your good work.
Happy voicing folks.