Category Archives: voice talent

The 3 F-words That Sabotage Your VO Productivity: Fear, Freezing and Facebook

…or why I probably won’t be wishing you happy birthday on Facebook anymore (unless you are family). Apologies in advance. I love you anyway.

Every Monday Morning, and once a month in two other cases,  I log onto google hangouts and meet with my voiceover mastermind peeps. These groups were born at faffcon and WoVO  and are a huge part of my voiceover business (and, yes, now my personal) life.

break it down...

break it down…

I love these voiceover peeps. We inspire, help, and ground one another. How? By sharing what we have accomplished, what’s next to accomplish, and what’s standing in our way. Also, we support each other (and ourselves) when things go awry – or undone.  Accountability, plus forgiveness. Ahhh. There are, indeed, all sorts of obstacles to putting our plans in action. Some are genuine priority changers (e.g. family matters), others are – well, yeah – pure procrastination.

There are tons of reasons we put stuff off: perfectionism, lack of scheduling, shortage of time, decreased desire. Still, along the way, I’ve noticed three recurring themes in my own procrastination patterns that all begin with the letter F. Hmm. So – a few thoughts and tips.

FEAR – Look at your own voiceover to-do list. What’s on it that keeps getting moved from day to day, month to month, even year to year? (um, cold-contacting potential new clients, perhaps?) Ask yourself:

  • did I just not get around to this, or am I afraid to do it? 

Your own answer may lead you to the next questions:

  • what, exactly, scares me?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Could I handle that?

For inspiration, and solutions, there’s a terrific Tedx Talk about fear that is guiding me to go from “No, Thanks” to “Let Me Try.” I hope it sparks you too!

 

What do you fear?

What do you fear?

the second F-word here is…..

FREEZINGOh, my gosh, so much to do! so many possibilities! I could contact e-learning clients, or maybe it’s time to update my promos demo, or…oh wow I forgot to send a thank-you note to yesterday’s clinet…actually, all the clients from the last three months…or….

And before you know it, you’re eating cookies and binge-watching Taxi on hulu. Something so satisfying about completing an episode.

Hmm, what’s an entrepreneur to do? How to avoid freezing? Especially when you still haven’t completed that business plan that’s supposed to guide your days?

You can still thaw yourself, at least enough to get some stuff done. How?

  • Prioritize. Ideally, you know what matters most today. A project due at End of Day? EASY! That’s an obvious priority. But those important but not urgent tasks? ….schedule them.
  • Schedule. Freezing happens when we don’t schedule our tasks. Guilty as charged…much of the time. But I gotta tell you, when I do schedule a task – assign a day and TIME to do it – it generally gets done.
  • Activation energy. That’s when you leave a visual reminder around that makes it seem like you’ve already begun the task. The sneakers in your car if you plan to walk that day. The guitar on display instead of in the case if you want to practice. The phone number written down on a post-it note and stuck on your phone. The template/script for cold calls or cold e-mails already opened. This helps a lot!

Another great TED Talk, this one on procrastination:

Freeze - or Do?

Freeze – or Do?

The third F-word?

FACEBOOK. Or the likes. Sorry, but it’s true. Man, it’s such an easy distraction. And, according to the Udemy course on Gmail Productivity I just took (and, ahem, completed, thank you very much!), it takes our brains a full 20 minutes to return to task once we’ve distracted ourselves. Oy. So this year I set out to tame the FB time-sucking monster, and it has helped immensely. Strangely enough, my fragile actor’s ego has benefited too. Here’s what worked for me, after trial and error:

Stop or limit scrolling. Set newsfeeds so your close friends and family show up first. And once the “friend” you don’t recognize shows up, stop!  If you do scroll, only do it for recreation, not procrastination. Choose what matters. I love pix of your cute baby, but will not respond to your political opinion. Others will. Know your own priorities.

Check notifications first. For me, this works the best. I get on and off of FB in under a minute this way.  If nothing sparks your interest, get out of there! Mostly I now click on family and close friend posts. I stay off many groups, especially the humble brag stuff. Not saying it’s bad, just saying it’s not the best use of my time to scroll and click away. I want to run my own race.

Happy Birthday in Advance!

Happy Birthday in Advance!

Don’t feel guilty if you skip the Birthday Thing for acquaintances. Or the Linked-In Anniversary thing.  This was fun the first year of facebook, but (sorry!) I’ve mostly eliminated it from my timesheet. If Facebook told me it’s your birthday, it doesn’t seem so special to post it to your timeline – family and close-to-family excepted. And if you skip my birthday this year, I’ll understand. Let’s assume we love each other anyway.

Time I used to spend on FB per day: probably an hour. Time these days: under 5 minutes a day. And I don’t miss much.

Just my few cents. In social media in general, I try only to post if:

  • it might make someone laugh
  • it might be useful to someone (even a tweeted  tidbit from an audiobook I’m narrating)
  • it connects us somehow (we’ll feel less alone)

So I hope you find this useful! And remember another F-word. A nice one. Forgiveness. We’re all just working on this stuff. Practice makes better, not perfect 🙂

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Getting Your “VOJO” Back: Breaking Though When Inertia Hits

Hi, my name is Randye and I’ve lost my VOJO.

(If you haven’t had your caffeine yet this morning and can’t guess, I will define VOJO for you: Voice Over plus Mojo/motivation.

SONY DSCGot it? Now go to Starbucks, already).  We all need VOJO, and we need to reignite it now and again – or daily.

VOJO is not about the easy stuff: meeting the client’s deadline, getting the work done, depositing the checks. VOJO is about the tasks with less-immediate deadlines and results, such as:

  • planting the marketing seeds,
  • making those cold calls,
  • creating a database,
  • submitting an audition,
  • sending those thank-you cards.

We need VOJO to keep our business fluid, active, and progressing. Problem is, for those of us who thrive on immediate return (umm, slight ADD, anyone?), it’s difficult to get motivated and too easy to procrastinate.

blue brace, cane...but harder to stand than it looks!

blue brace, cane…but harder to stand than it looks!

This has been particularly true for me since October 6th, 2014 – the day I was hit by a car while crossing the street (result: broken wrist, injured leg and shoulder). I’d barely gotten the use of my dominant hand back, when a surgery complication of my left hip resulted in a month-long hospital/rehab stay and an extended period of home and outpatient rehab after that. Right now, until things heal more fully (still using a walker/cane and leg brace to get around), I am working from home (feeling very grateful for my “personal studio”) and have only recently begun to drive again – but only to places that are handicap-accessible. So – yeah – though I am meeting my Voiceover clients’ needs, my VOJO for that additional and necessary work has been cut short. Healing saps energy, but I’m finally ready to use a bit of that energy to reclaim my career.

But – I needed a jump-start. If you get stuck, complacent, or discouraged…how do you reignite the VOJO flame?

So, here’s what I did this week – and how it worked. Not about results, but certainly about action – and ACTION felt really good.

It’s as easy as ABC…DE!

Step One: Admit that you’re stuck, and (but don’t spend too much time here) why you’re stuck. Just like in therapy, often the main value in examining “why” is to see how you can (or can’t) fix it. (for me: this means accepting what I currently can, and cannot do. NYC is out for now – but I can increase my marketing to e-learning and other virtual clients. Physical healing is top priority – but after that, returning to some voiceover marketing tasks outranks binge-watching Mad Men.)

Step Two: Break the pattern by doing one constructive thing. (I went through my billables and sent out statements)

Step Three: Make a “Realistic Plus One” Commitment. specific and attainable. What, When, How? (“Each weekday, I will touch five new potential clients – either by sending an audition, or submitting my demo after researching the prospect”)

Step Four: (Yay, Nike) Just Do It…and until it is done, stay away from facebook and the refrigerator.  And keep a record of it. A “Got Done” List can be very motivating. (“Today I auditioned for projects for___________. CHECK!”) Don’t let yourself indulge in the distracting activity until the task is done! For more, check out Insane Productivity. (Thanks, Bobbin Beam, for the input)

Step Five: Evaluate the list and tasks weekly. (are five touches enough? any results? keep doing it, or increase?)

Thy key here is to be realistic – but to push those boundaries just past the comfort zone (which for me, lately, has been with Don Draper and Peggy Olson. Six seasons of Mad Men got me through a lot of pain. But now it’s time to move on and get my self-esteem back – but being proactive again. One step back into VOJO-land. And it feels great!

 

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VoiceOver Copy: Your High School Play, on Speed

There are a lot of surprises for aspiring voice talents who cross my path either as a student via Edge Studio, or just at, say, a party. You know, the ones with “such a nice voice” who need to read Dave Courvoisier’s book ( or any of the other amazing resources I blogged about a few months ago).

The first reality check is, of course, the need to treat this like the business it is. There has been a lot written about that, so again I refer you to those who have busted this myth in their amazing blogs and books. (Derek Chappell, our blog curator, and John Florian, Voiceover Xtra guru, are more great places to start).

The second big myth to bust – and equally as important to know – is that this not a business of “reading in a pretty voice.”  This is a business of communication – and, often (or always), a business of acting.  Maybe there is really no difference – but, whatever you call it, you’ve got to know the story you are telling!

Remember that high school play you were in? Or summer camp? College? Community or Professional Theatre? hs playThink back….whatever role you had, there was a process to follow to get the story from page to stage.  Here’s what probably happened, and what it has to do with voiceover reads.

The Theatre Process, and Voiceovers

1 – Casting. yeah, that.

2 – The cast assembled to do a full read-through of the script. This way, everyone knew the whole story, where it was going, what the overall gestalt and tone of the story was. (Voiceover equivalent: Read through the script – or at least skim the longer ones – before you press record. See what it’s about, where it’s going) Continue reading

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Voice Talents: Go Outside and Play! (and Faffcamp)

Voice Talents spend way too much time indoors. In fact, on certain days (neighbors mowing lawns, airplanes zooming by) we kind of curse the outdoors. Noisy!  Those of us who do this full-time, and primarily from home,  know that when we are not recording and editing we are “supposed” to be still chained to the computer: marketing, researching, attending webinars, adding to databases, flaunting our latest work….and before we know it our brain hurts from activity but our bodies hurt from inactivity.

Plus, unless we’ve been lucky enough to work that day in an outside studio with actual other humans, we are often isolated and mentally locked in. Yes. This has become an occupational hazard.  And while the “Social Media Water Coolers” (facebook groups, video conference calls, blogs, twitter, etc) provide a lovely reminder that we are, indeed, part of a community of others in the same boat (or, rather, booth), they do not take the place of actual physical contact with other real live humans – and the world outside our sound-dampened spaces.

It happens if we want it to happen!

It happens if we want it to happen!

One big fix, of course, is to make room in your budget and schedule to attend some kind of voice over conference. These vary from local meet-up groups to the more national ones like WoVoCon or Faffcon. If you have heard of Faffcon but haven’t been able to get in (attendance is limited) , here is your chance to go to another incredible Faff-event called Faffcamp.  This will happen in March of 2015 but only if enough sign up by tonight! (July 10, 2014)  Newbies, this is your chance. Don’t blow it – take the step now! I can attest that every single time I have attended one of these, my spirit soars and my voiceover business increases. So register today, and if you use this code,  VT9026055 , you’ll get $25 off!

 

Between conferences, however, we need to take care of our mental and physical health as well – every day. So, on a daily basis – what to do?

Voice talents: go outside and play!  It is not something to do “if you have time” – make time. Continue reading

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Voiceovers… and The Lure of “Normal”

When I was 17 years old, I made a vow that I would never work a Monday-Friday 9-to-5 job.

It made sense at the time. I’d just finished ten weeks doing just that in Manhattan, the summer before college, to earn tuition money.  It had seemed like a great opportunity, assisting in the publicity department of a book publisher. Unfortunately, the job mostly entailed typing while facing a blank wall. Well – that, and watching the clock for lunchtime and quitting time. Yuck. Plus, my typing sucks (and btw still does). So I figured the “normal” life was just not for me. And I’ve pretty much kept that vow ever since.

That, my friends, like all vows, can be a curse as well as a blessing. Limiting, sure – but any improv actor can confirm that limitations can unleash lots of creativity. And sometimes we really need it.

Being a full-time voice talent means that no day is exactly the same as the day before. I love that! And yet – sometimes I am tempted by the lure of normal. Are you?

The Temptations of an Everyday Gig

This past month, I’ve spent more time on the air at our local NPR radio affiliate, as they are in the process of hiring a new full-time talent and I’m filling the

Today's Morning Gig

Today’s Morning Gig

gaps until then.  Sure, I thought about applying for the job myself.  Ah, the lure of benefits! a 401k! something stable in my schedule! steady salary!

But ultimately, I didn’t even apply. I’m happier being the understudy here, free to say no if I have big voiceover project to finish, or a business trip planned. So I stay, for now, with the eclectic, uncertain  life I lead as a voice talent (plus extra, related, gigs). A small voice is asking why I made that choice…but I know why. And, if you are an addicted voice talent too, I’ll bet you understand the choice – and also the temptation. Continue reading

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Memories…The Way We (Voice Talents) Were

Listen, oh newbies, and you shall hear

of the way things were for the (…um…) voiceketeer…

(ooh! reserving that domain name right now!)

Whether you’re just starting your career as a voice talent, or have been at it for a few years, you’ve probably heard from some more seasoned talents that “the voiceover  business has changed.”

Yep. True that. Honestly, what business hasn’t changed lately?

But what does that really mean? What was it like, back in the days before twitter and blogposts? And – is anything still relevant from back in the “VO olden times”?

Getting a Voice Over Start, Before the Internet

why I kept business local at first

why I kept business local at first

I started in the business over 25 years ago, when I was a fairly new Mom – a son, then a daughter, both at home with me most of the time.  I began my career with a goal of part-time work, to supplement my husband’s income while being there for my kids until they were old enough for school.  I live about an hour from NYC, but chose to focus on local work in Connecticut – with the occasional stroke of luck (or referral) that led to a gig in the Big Apple.

 

 

Here is what I did:

  • Got some VO coaching to supplement my already-existing skills as an actor (made a living, not famous) in theatre, film,
    yeah. that long ago. theatre headshot

    yeah. that long ago. theatre headshot

    and TV.

  • Learned about the business of voiceover.
  • Found demo copy that suited my voice and delivery.
  • This is a cassette tape.

    This is a cassette tape.

    Hired an active production company to produce my demo, another to make copies of it onto cassettes. Both companiesended up hiring me as a voice talent (I chose their services partly because I knew there was a chance they would hire me after I hired them….one way to get someone to hear your work!)

  • Asked for referrals from my two happy clients.
  • Drew a geographical circle that would cover a 90-minute drive from my home, and researched possible clients there (recording studios, mostly, in those days). Called them for info. Sent demos. Followed up. There was postage involved, and the telephone.
  • Networked with other voice talents – I recommended them, they recommended me. Continue reading

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The Best Laid Plans…are still a good idea

OK, I will admit it. Here it is, January 23rd, with just about a week left in the month, and my monthly VO goals and plans are far from complete (as you can see in the photo below). So, if you want to gloat, feel free. I hope your list looks a bit more, um, checked off than mine.

The Best Laid Plans...may have to be flexible

The Best Laid Plans…may have to be flexible

See, the VO Plan for this month is supposed to be all about e-learning.  But, hey, life happens. And some of it comes in the form of lovely surprises that we didn’t plan on.  Some stuff we help create, some stuff comes to us unexpectedly because of seeds we have planted in the past, or sometimes just plain luck.

Kayaking on Lake WindermereLife flows. And the truth is – sometimes we have the paddle to speed up the process, steer the canoe. And sometimes, we don’t. But the upside of this is that sometimes, when we have taken a breather from navigating, good stuff happens anyway. It just may not be what we had planned.

I suspect that my to-do list this month may stay a bit unchecked. But, ya know, sometimes you gotta look and see how far you’ve come, and what you did accomplish while you were busy fretting about what didn’t happen. For instance, these obstacles/surprises happened so far in January:

  • the local NPR affiliate radio station needed me to fill in some air-shifts while they wait to hire a new announcer. Bonus: I got to get out of the house and work with a team (in person) for a change.
  • a voice-over pal of mine needed a place to record while she was out-of-town (and right near my house) – and I was able to help her out. Bonus: this cemented our often-virtual friendship
  • I gained one new telephony client, one possible “live announce” client, and a promising regular retainer for internet radio work. Sure, I planned on marketing e-learning this month, but I am happy anyway :). Bonus: well, you know.
  • I replied to a facebook post on a whim and am voicing the audiobook of Peter Pan. I finally get to play Peter! and John…and Wendy…and Hook…Bonus: what a lovely book!
  • I gained a new agent – in Germany!
  • and of course there’s family, and friends, and community…having the freedom to choose those over the to-do list? Your married daughter calls and asks if we can “all go see a movie together and have family time”? Yeah. Priceless.

Yes, there’s a limit to procrastination. Can’t blow it all off. Bills must be paid, we all work hard, and it does feel really good to stick with your plan. And, even though I haven’t done everything on my list, the fact that I made the plan, and keep it handy, makes it easy to fill those rare “unplanned” hours productively.

So, hey. Definitely set goals. Definitely break them down into action steps, and don’t let fear get in your way. But if what does get in the way is other good stuff in your life, let that happen. Put down your paddle and let the flow carry you. And -forgive yourself! Look at what you did get done -both on the checklist and off it. Transfer those “un-done” tasks to the next month – and celebrate what happened instead.

By the way, here’s the famous quote – but I disagree with the second half of it. Sometimes the detours bring you promised joy of their own kind. It just, maybe, wasn’t you had planned.

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

(originally, in case you’re a stickler:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!)

Robert BurnsTo a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)

Scottish national poet (1759 – 1796)

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Fascination: A Voice Talent Necessity

When you hear an ad on the radio, do you change the station, or do you listen and evaluate?

  • Believable or fake?
  • Interesting use of technique?
  • The talent’s voice quality, emotional choice, use or pitch?
  • Unusual accent or character?
Fascination is a Key

Fascination is a Key

If you listen actively, and – even better – if you then imitate what you heard to observe how the sounds come out of your instrument – then you probably have the voice-over bug, and you’ve got it bad – and that’s a good thing, if you want to succeed. The quality that keeps us learning, keeps us going, is fascination.   Sure, it takes more than that. The wonderful Maxine Dunn just summed up a lot of the qualities you need to succeed in this issue of her Creative Biz newsletter – beautifully done, so I won’t try to recreate all the qualities she mentions, like commitment, optimism, tenacity, focus (definitely sign up for her newsletter, by the way – she is awesome!) But I will add this quality to the list: fascination. It’s a great quality to have in life, in general. Instead of judgment, try fascination.  Instead of “that’s too hard!” or “that’s just stupid”, what if we asked:

  • “I wonder how that works?”
  • “I wonder why/how he/she did that?”
  • “Isn’t that interesting? I’d like to know more”

Okay, so at a party you’ll make a lot more friends by asking sincere questions about others than by bragging “me, me, I, me.” But this is a voiceover blog – so – huh? So here’s what I’m talking about: Continue reading

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Your Voice Over Business: Why Keep Investing?

(Short answer: Because it pays off!)

Is Your VO business a "dead shark"?

Is Your VO business a “dead shark”?

“Alvy Singer”, in the movie Annie Hall, says:

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

Don’t let your voice over business be a dead shark. There is always more to learn, always ways to get better. And once

VOVirtual

click here to register!

excellent way to do this is to register for Voice-Over Virtual, coming soon.

No, you do not need to save up for plane fare, or hotel rooms! This is a virtual conference (hence the name). But don’t let that fool you…or think you won’t get anything out of it. You will more than make your investment back.

Okay, listen: I’ve been a successful Voice Talent for many years. Sure, “success” keeps getting redefined as my life and ambitions progress, but still. I do make a living communicating someone else’s words into a microphone and into a listener’s ears. Every once in a while I sit back and remember: This is so cool!

A major reason I still work is that I keep investing in my business, and honing my skills.

Example?:Lately I notice my audition-to-booking ratio is getting better (yay!). Why? I invested in some coaching and classes to hone those skills, especially in sounding more “conversational” – and it has paid off.

Another one?: I was feeling frustrated when first learning Twisted Wave app on my iPad. Hated recording while traveling. Felt stupid. The solution? One webinar with George Whittam. bingo! Now I know what to do, and love the app…therefore more likely to send auditions and projects even while on the road, if I choose to. Investment made the obstacle disappear.

So – what’s in your way? Chances are you will be able to dissolve some of those obstacles by investing time – and, yeah, some reasonable bucks – on your VO future.

Whether you’re just starting out in this amazing biz, or working hard to keep current clients while marketing to new sharkones, this remains true: You must invest in your business to keep it alive, to help it grow, to help you to grow – as an artist, a businessperson, a skilled talent in all the forms that this ever-changing business requires.

This is what makes your business thrive – what makes you thrive. Don’t let your business become a “dead shark”. Move ahead! Voice Over Virtual is the best way to get moving – right now. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Full-Time Eclectic Voice Talent: Many Eggs, Several Baskets

When I created my Voice-Over website with the amazing folks at Artist Upgrade, we wrestled with the age-old question (well, for voice talents, anyway):

“Just” a Voice Talent, or  More?

I opted for the latter.

RandyeKaye.com

RandyeKaye.com

Yes, I am a full-time voice talent. My VO clients are my highest work priority. If you book me, the job will be done on time (well, usually before that deadline), at budget, and to your satisfaction.  This is what I do for a living. The only thing standing in the way of your project is a prior commitment to another job – and you will know about that before you book me for your project.

So – does that leave room for the other things in my life? Can I let my clients know that I also do other things? Stage, on-camera, writing, speaking, teaching, broadcasting — or, for that matter, parenting? rock climbing? (well, I don’t actually do that, but you get the point. Maybe you do it!)

You bet.  At least, that’s what we decided. Because every other skill and experience in life makes us better voice talents. Continue reading

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