If you’ve decided that working with a coach is a part of your voice over career path, then be prepared to do some homework! Finding a coach who is a good fit is a process. Let me rephrase that... finding the right coach should be a process. There are many talented salespeople masquerading as voice acting coaches. And while I’m not suggesting spending forever and a day researching, putting in the legwork before you make your choice can help you avoid many pitfalls!
Five Red Flags To Watch For
Pushy Sales Tactics - Were you looking for voice-over training or a used car? A coach shouldn’t be pestering or pressuring you to sign up with them. After nearly ten years of being a business owner, I still firmly believe that your product should speak for itself. Coaches should want to work with you if they feel they can actually help you. Not every student is going to match with every coach. If you feel like a coach is trying to talk you into something as opposed to seeing if you’re a good fit to work together...run. If they're spending a surprising amount of time messaging you because "my classes fill up fast, I only have a few spots left, buy now," they just want your card digits.
After You Pay, They Go Away - If they’re sending you multiple messages a day and suddenly clam up once the check for classes clears … they’re just a salesperson, not a mentor. While nobody will (or should) ever care about your career as much as you do, your coach should have a vested interest in you. Otherwise, they weren't excited about working with you in the first place!
They’re Curt - We all know this guy! They make you feel bad for their mistakes (i.e.- they told you your demo would be done a month ago and somehow it’s your fault that they're lagging on production). You’re nervous about asking questions because they're irritated you dare disturb their busy schedule. You worry that they'll get you blacklisted. Your coach should be there to support you. That’s not to say your coach shouldn’t be blunt about your progress or challenge you... but they shouldn’t be a jerk either.
They Have A Ton Of Students - Unless it’s a group class, your coach should only have so many students at one time. I personally think it’s impossible to be working intensively with 20+ students at once and ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. Your coach should develop and maintain a personal relationship with you!
Guaranteed Demo In A Set Time Frame - One of my favorite phrases is, “Your mileage WILL vary.” The vast majority of new voice-over talents need a lot of training and practice before they’re demo ready. If a demo is guaranteed at the end of a three-month/six-month/nine-month training program, you may have found what is sometimes called a “demo mill.” Demo mills are organizations that crank out a demo for anyone, regardless of their skill set. These often don’t sound as professional as they should and won't get you work!
Three Tips For Avoiding Predatory Coaches
References - Ask for references. Even better? Utilize Facebook groups and other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram for coaching recommendations from your fellow voice over talents. The voice acting community is very giving!
Payment Policy - Is their payment policy listed on their website? In their contract? Did the coach even provide a contract? If not, you may have trouble getting your money refunded if the coach in question doesn’t deliver what was promised. Do they ask for everything upfront or can you pay as you go? While it’s perfectly normal to give a deal to students for upfront payment, large training packages (as in $1000+) have often disincentivized coaches to follow through on their promises (this relates to the “After You Pay, They Go Away,” point stated above).
Go With Your Gut - We don’t talk about this enough! If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. You don’t need to have a reason, it doesn’t need to make sense, and you aren’t a bad person if you have a weird feeling about giving your money to someone. There will be other opportunities and you won’t miss out on anything.
Have you ever had a less than fantastic experience with a consultant or coach? What would you add to the list of what to look out for? Let me know in the comments below!