In this podcast interview, fresh from receiving the VOICE Community Award, John Florian talks about his journey into voiceover, and how this passion combined with his background in journalism led him to develop the industry news resource, VoiceOverXtra.
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Transcript of conversation with John Florian
Andy: We’re just here at the end of VOICE 2010, and I’m delighted to have… to be sitting with John Florian now. Hi John.
John: How are you, Andy. It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Andy: John is the owner of VoiceOverXtra.com – we were hoping to chat a couple of days ago, but because the conference was so busy we didn’t have time to sit down. Actually this has been a good thing, because you had some exciting news last night at the banquet.
John: It’s amazing, and I’m really thrilled because you… the technology that you are using now. I am floating on the ceiling and so you’ve had to suspend yourself next to me to be able to get the recording…
Andy: That’s right.
John: It’s amazing.
Andy: We’re six foot off the ground.
John: Last night at the banquet I was given the VOICE 2010 Community Service Award, and I’m just thrilled about that.
Andy: OK. Well before we come back to talk about the voice over community, can I ask about you? What is you background?
John: Publishing, and I’ve been a voice actor for about ten years and before that, about two decades, I was in business magazine publishing – and some consumer magazines too – and basically I would create magazines. Write them. Edit them. And I had a partner who was in the business angle – business end – and that went on for almost two decades. And then when that partnership ended I was on my own freelancing, and I got into voice acting, and I missed the packaging aspect, the putting things together and serving a niche community with a publication.
Andy: OK. So what’s the jump between publishing as print format and voice acting? How did that happen?
John: Oh. Voice… It’s just that I had a radio show years and years and years ago. You know, people say “You should get into voice”, “your voice”, and that kind of thing, and so I took a course in it and did a first demo and then did other demos and marketed. So I went through the routine and got in that. The publishing and voice acting didn’t have anything to do together until I put them together.
Andy: OK. So why were you interested in using your voice?
John: It’s fun! It’s fun. In high school I was in plays and announcing things, and then college. I was actually, after college, I wanted to become the next – this dates me, of course – but the next Walter Cronkite – broadcast news. And I got in the service, and the military. And then I had a radio show in the evening and they said you want broadcast journalism you got to get into journalism. So I went to the newspaper and became a city reporter, corporate reporter going to the police every day. Stuff like that. And it just evolved, and I got into magazines… consumer magazines, guidebooks, and business magazines. I loved it. I’ve loved my career. And I love now what I put together with the publishing. It’s the type of thing I’ve got to get up at 6am, because I love it. And I’ve got to pull myself away in the evening, for a couple of hours – of course before I go to bed, go back and check… see what’s there. I just… It’s the passion.
Andy: One of the really interesting things about meeting folks here – both here at VOICE 2010 and online – is just finding out the sheer diversity of backgrounds of people. But there’s one common element, which is the passion you just mentioned. You keep hearing, “I’m having fun doing this, and I’m being paid for it!” But the key…
John: Just like you. You’ve got the passion.
Andy: The key element is the desire to perform, which is wonderful. So… you’re a voice artist, yourself, and with the publishing background that let you on to create VoiceOverXtra. Is that right?
Andy: What actually… what service does VoiceOverXtra.com – your website – what service does that perform?
John: Well, when I was searching around for something to do, publishing wise – before I even came up with, say, using voice acting as the topic for it, firstly think of the medium. Do I do a newsletter? Do I do a print publication? And this was back in 2002, I’m thinking this. And the print, I’d been through that. I created in the 1980s a newsletter for magazine editors, and this was a print, and I’d… I think I bought… no, I did buy the first personal computer. I had the… it was an Osborne computer, and I wrote it on that. Printed it out with offset printing, and printed the newsletter, but mailing and addressing, and everything, it cost so much. I mean, I made a little bit of money, but I think I needed something cheaper. And the internet was coming along in the year 2002, so I said it has to be online. It has to be web based. And so it evolved. With a business coach, he brainstormed with me and said, “Well, you’ve got to do what you love”. And I said, “Alright. It’s going to be voice acting”. And then I was afraid to do it. I said, “I don’t know if it will succeed. So I went into another business for about three, four years… And then I went to another business coach and got all fired up. I went to a week long conference where you’re doing all kinds of things… You are climbing mountains, and you’re on trapezes, and you’re walking through coals – hot coals – all this stuff. Oh! It was amazing. You come out of there, and you’re going “Yes! I can do anything!”.
So, I quit the job, and started developing VoiceOverXtra… and around that time too was VOICE 2007. So I came and told Jim and Penny about it, and Don la Fontaine, and everybody said “Yeah! Do it! Do it!”. About four months later I told my web developer, “OK. It’s time to do it. Push the button. Start it. get it live”. All this time putting it together with articles and directories, and every thing like that, and I said, “OK” – on the phone with the web developer – “Press the button”. And it goes live! And I sit back! And I’m waiting for the income, and the subscribers, and I find out you’ve got to work a little bit more…
Andy: So it doesn’t happen like that.
John: It doesn’t It doesn’t happen like that, but it’s been an awful lot of fun. And doing this gets me into so many situations, and learning. Meeting so many people, like you contacted me… By the way, I’ve got to tell you. I admire you. Your persistence. Your passion for what you’re doing, and fast you’ve become known in this industry.
Andy: Well, Thank you.
John: Yeah. It’s tremendous. It’s an inspiration to a lot of people.
Andy: Well, that’s something I didn’t expect. Thank you.
John: You’re very welcome.
Andy: But I think that I’m nothing special. I’m just somebody who believes in what I am doing, and if you sit on your backside and do nothing, nothing happens. So, everybody can make a niche for themselves….
John: If they find what they are passionate about.
John: Or overcome the obstacles to that. Overcome… they may be passionate about something, and then there’s this wall… there’s a shyness. Like for me, four years I said “I’m not going to make it. I can’t make it with this type of thing… Yes, I can! Because I believe in it”.
Andy: So if I were to… Let’s image I don’t know anything about VoiceOverXtra.com
Andy: Why would I go to your website?
John: Well, for one thing, everything is free there. It’s a virtual library of…
Andy: That’s a good reason!
John: … how to information, which divided – very conveniently divided up – into “home studio”, “voice acting”, “business information”, “coming events” for industry. The home page delineates all this stuff, and for each of those sections I have about ten of the most recent articles, and then links into the virtual library of hundreds and hundreds of other articles. And I also have blue tabs on the left hand side of the web page leading to an industry directory, calendar of events, classified ads, articles index… all kinds of things. When I created this, it was like my mentality, my mindset was an on-line trade magazine. This is what a trade magazine does. Of course, now, media is just so blurred and all kind of things, I can’t think that way any more. In fact when I was putting it together my web developer kept saying, “John, you can’t think in the linear, print way any more. And it took me a while to get it. You know, the links and the clicks, and all that kind of stuff. But it’s free. It’s just tremendous information source, and I call it the online… “the voice-over industry’s online resource for news, education and resources”.
Andy: Well, it’s a phenomenal resource and many people are linking to you because you are generous as well in linking back to other people, and you’ve developed a tremendous credibility. Credibility overflows into the fact that yesterday you had the recognition from the voice over community with the Community Award, so that must have – seeing your face, yesterday – that was a big surprise for you.
John: Oh, my goodness. It was… I am glad there were chairs along the way, when I went up to the stage, because I had to grab on to them. And then I felt so… you know, now you second guess, or you think back, this was what I should have done. I’m up on that stage, and all I could say, “Wow. Wow. Wow.” I got up there, what else did I say? I’m writing an article…
Andy: You said, “Wow”.
Andy: Actually, that wasn’t… not a very good experience for a voice artist. You really were speechless, last night.
John: Oh, gosh.
Andy: But let’s hope that soon wears off, and you find your voice again. But Zurek was the first Community Award winner for the great stuff that he did with VoiceoverUniverse.com and really VoiceOverXtra is in the same field, but from a different angle…
John: Well, I’m not social media, so…
Andy: You’re not social media, but in terms of connectivity and paying back, because Zurek is paying back, you’re paying back by sharing the tremendous resources that you have. And that really marks our industry apart from all others, I think, because there is this great willingness to connect, and it’s wonderful to have the chance to meet you.
John: Thank you so much, Andy. Good to meet you, too.
Andy: Thanks very much, John. Until we meet online later this week.
John: You betcha.
Andy: Thank you.
John: Did you hear that hand shake? OK.
About John Florian
John Florian is the founder and webmaster of VoiceOverXtra (www.VoiceOverXtra.com), the voice-over industry’s daily online news, education and resource center. He is also a voice actor specializing in voice-over narrations, including medical podcasts.
As a former business magazine writer and editor, John combined two career passions with creation of the VoiceOverXtra web site in 2007.
He spends most of his time digging up and posting voice-over industry how-to content, news and resources for VoiceOverXtra – including an industry directory, calendar of events, and many links. Many thousands subscribe to VoiceOverXtra’s free career newsletters, and the web site itself receives many hundreds of daily visitors.
The advice on VoiceOverXtra helps newcomers get started and continue on a successful career. Many seasoned pros also check in, saying they learn something new with every visit.
VoiceOverXtra also presents online voice-over training webinars and live workshops, led by many of the industry’s top coaches.
John began his voice-over career in 1999, and early on, used marketing techniques from his years in the magazine industry to quickly establish personal relationships with voice seekers and ongoing work.