If you have been working the voice-over grind for a while, but are struggling to gain traction, this post is for you. If you started out with enthusiasm and energy, but the thrill is gone, this post is for you. Have you ever wondered if things will ever really click for you, and are uncertain about whether you really can succeed, this post is for you. Welcome. I’ll move to the end of the bench here, so you can join me.

I recently read a small book called The Dip, A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), by bestselling author Seth Godin. The book is an easy, quick read which may challenge the way you think about quitting. Quitting might be the best thing you can do. That is something you won’t hear much on VO social media!

Take a look around

Godin talks about how every new project, business or hobby starts out fun. As it progresses, it becomes a lot harder, and not much fun at all. This period could be a “dip”— a temporary setback that will improve if you keep pushing through. It could also be the sign of a dead end; a “this was a nice idea but isn’t for me” realization. The task we are faced with is figuring out whether that project, in this case becoming a full-time voice artist, is worthy of investing more of your time, money, effort, and talent, or if moving on may be your best strategy.

Being the supportive community that voice-over is, most of us are quick to encourage someone that if they just determine not to quit, they will reap success. I applaud it—kindness is awesome! There have been many times when I have needed to hear this very encouragement. If you are ever so inclined as to publicly express self-doubt, you will be flooded with caring memes, affirming t-shirt designs and bumper stickers screaming “Never give up!”, “A winner is a loser who tried one more time”, “You only fail if you stop trying”, and “Don’t give up on your dreams—keep sleeping!”. Admittedly, some are more helpful than others.


But let’s be honest with each other. Is it realistic to believe you can always prevail just by pushing through? Is success always merely a matter of perseverance? We’ve been told since we were young that we can be anything we want simply by trying hard enough. Is that really true? No, it isn’t, and no, we can’t. I will never be the astronaut I once dreamed of being, or the basketball player. I could never master math beyond basic algebra, and my legs are too short. We all have different talents and gifts. We also have different limitations.

Let’s also be honest about this: voice-over is hard. Oh, it sure looks easy from a distance, doesn’t it? So does playing the accordion. Have you seen an accordion? You have the piano-type keys, an overwhelming amount of buttons on both ends whose purpose no one has ever discovered and are afraid to explore because one of them might shoot rockets, plus the whole billowing in-and-out process that looks like you are trying to melt iron… it is so complex that nobody has ever successfully learned to play it. Have you heard an accordion being played? I rest my case.

News flash

Here is a frosty bite of reality: beginning a voice-over career can, and probably will, be expensive. Furthermore, you pay in more than money. Time and sleep turn into increasingly rare commodities. There are so many unexpected things sucking on your resources that your life-long recurring nightmare of successfully becoming an astronaut only to die a horrible death listening to the sounds of a slurping suction as you are pulled into the gaping red maw of a swirling whirlpool space monster begins to feel like it is becoming your everyday life. Or… maybe that’s just me?

It also can also ask a lot of those you live with. The decision you make to quit or not more than likely has an impact on more than just yourself.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So how do we decide whether or not we can succeed by persevering, or whether we should move on?

Okay, so you’ve received a lot of encouragement to not quit. It is an amazing thing to have people care enough to want you to succeed! But take into consideration who it is that is telling you “don’t give up”? How much faith do you have in their ability to assess you? Maybe more importantly, balanced against your self-assessment, does it matter to you what they say?


When considering if you should quit, here are a few questions you should ask:

  • When you started, you had a reason—a “why”—that motivated you. Does this still hold true? Is it realistic?
  • Do you really believe you can succeed if you keep going?
  • In general, does pursuing VO bring you joy or make you miserable?
  • When you are in the booth, how does it make you feel? Do you get energy from it, or does it drain you?
  • Are you afraid of how you will feel about yourself if you quit?
  • Are you worried about what others will think if you quit?
  • Does following your current path keep you from going a different direction which may make you happier?
  • Does thinking about quitting feel like a relief?
  • Even if you want to, do you have the resources necessary to keep going as long as it takes?

That last one is a biggie, because sometimes things are out of our hands. We may want something badly, and have the talent to succeed, but still not be in a position in life to follow our dreams. The timing may just be wrong.

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”
—Newt Gingrich

Staying for now?

Let’s assume you have decided to stick it out. Here are a few things to do to help keep you going:

  • Be kind and forgiving to yourself.
  • Adjust your expectations; Expect it to be hard.
  • Keep your goals, but change your tactics. If what you are doing isn’t working, find another way.
  • Prioritize your activities. Decide what is IMPORTANT to do, and do that.
  • Make a daily schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Make a list each morning and check things off as you do them.
  • Work out. As in exercise. Whaaaat? (Confession: I had to Google this to know what it is.) It only makes sense; the better you feel physically, the more you have to give your career.
  • Remind yourself of what your “whys” are.
  • Review the growth and successes you have had.
  • Don’t go it alone. Find mentors and/or friends who will tell you the truth, and will support you.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Get the help you need, whether it is performance training, business training or a virtual assistant.
  • Get a cat. My girl Stella has pulled me out of a funk many, many times.

Few people want to talk about it, but the truth is that quitting might be the smartest, most strategically sound thing you can do. Knowing when to quit and having the courage to do so is a skill that every highly successful person exercises all the time. Think about it. You shouldn’t be spending your time and resources on an idea that is keeping you from your true opportunities for success.

Quitting may also be the worst thing you can do. It really would be a tragedy if you locked the door just before success came knocking. There is no shame in getting worn out, or losing your motivation. I officially give you permission to take a break and get some rest. But if when you come back that hunger is still in the pit of your stomach… let me encourage you to do whatever you need to do to keep your VO rocket flying… and watch out for space monsters!


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6 Responses

  1. Spot on Jon. It’s tougher than most think. I talk to people every week who are interested in getting in or who have just started and I try to explain that there is a huge learning curve on performance and tech and be prepared for at least 3-5 years of feeling you can’t make it some days. I am sure there is the occasional overnight success… but this is one tough business and we all have to take our own path and work our tails off and learn all we can… and be good to each other!

    • Well said. It isn’t easy. The hardest part may be getting through the internal struggles and the waiting without giving up, not the training, learning, and practicing as we grow. Quitting, if that is what is needed, may be even harder.

  2. I think a lot of people will find this post very useful and practical, helping them figure out not just this VO journey we’re all on, but how to find their way with any career choice.

  3. Love it, Jon. Solid. And I’d say this advice can apply to just about anything in life. If you’re spinning your wheels, spending far too much time and effort and money for no return, or what you’re doing is just making you miserable, it’s okay to stop. It doesn’t have to be the end. Maybe just for now. Give yourself some grace.

    • Thanks, Jen. I thought it might be helpful to broach this subject so that those who might be struggling with these questions would know they aren’t alone, and in a way give them the permission to make the decision they need to make no matter which direction they go.

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