As we continue our "New Years Resolutions" series during January, let's talk about a good thing to resolve to get rid of. I'm calling it, "I've Got This Syndrome."
Just because you do freelancing through commissioned or pay to play sites online doesn't mean you work in the fast food industry. If you've let it turn you into a burger flipper, you're missing out on a lot of the joy of the work, and on a lot of potential business. Note: while this article refers to voiceovers, it can apply equally well to any service offered on sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and the like.
The Dangers of "I've Got This" Syndrome
If you freelance long enough, you may eventually reach a level of proficiency, artistically and technically, that you can do a lot of your work on autopilot. An order comes in, you open the script, and start reading into the mic. Instinct tells you the approximate style to use, and past experience assures you that what comes out of your mouth is likely to be adequate to satisfy the needs of the typical buyer/client. So you fly through each job, save it, and deliver it. You're accustomed to getting five stars, so you're not surprised when you do. And it's on to the next!
In case this sounds like you, let me admit that it was starting to sound like me too. When someone has been doing voiceovers for quite awhile, their rote skills burned into memory allow you to function largely on autopilot when fulfilling the little narration jobs that roll in on Fiverr and similar platforms.
"Danger, Will Robinson!"
(cue the "Lost in Space" robot, waving its arms in frantic warning).
There's real peril in allowing this to happen (as it can, too easily, not just when doing voiceovers, or working on Fiverr, but in ANY work-related scenario). Once we hit our stride and reach a comfort level in our work tasks, it's the easiest thing in the world to just glide along, serving up the equivalent of "fast food" to our customers. And not even particularly neat fast food. Our ego says (as McDonalds probably also says) that the customer likes our product...so if the bun's crooked, and the lettuce is hanging out the side, and it doesn't quite look like the gorgeous photos in our ads (or in the case of voiceover people, like the samples in our demos), it'll still probably taste good. After all, haven't our customers proven in the past that they're willing to put up with it?
Why do I say "danger?" Because that kind of "satisfied complacency" is a great way for you, and your business, to stagnate. Here are the issues:
1. The corner cutting will eventually come back to bite you. Customers will eventually become nonplussed if they sense you're not really giving their projects your all. With the exception of customers who are equally complacent about their own finished product, they will fall away, one by one. Repeat business lost! If you're doing "just ok" work because it saves you time, you may wind up with more spare time on your hands than you know what to do with.
2. Your self image will take a hit. Despite the freeing feeling "I've Got This Syndrome" gives you, it will also leave you feeling flat, and without much satisfaction in your work. The blahs will set in, and a potentially fascinating occupation will begin to lose its charm.
3. You'll stagnate, artistically. Liking yourself is great, but being completely satisfied with yourself is another matter. When "good enough" becomes good enough, you're in a bad place. You won't progress much as a voiceover artist. You and I need to be constantly improving, polishing, and becoming greater at what we do, every day of our lives.