Tag 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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Are There Too Many Voice Talents?

Reality check, with a question:

Do you find it more difficult than you’d thought it would be to get, and keep getting, work as a voice talent in 2015?

I’m not one to wax poetic about the past.  Change is, at best, exciting; at the very least, it’s inevitable. And certainly the voiceover business has changed drastically since I joined it over 25 years ago.

Too Many Voice Talents?

Too Many Voice Talents?

Back then, it was a fairly local, and more personal world. You trained until you knew you could deliver the performance, made a demo based on your suitability to the market, and started marketing your services to recording studios, advertising agencies and (possibly, eventually) casting directors and agents. Marketing, word of mouth and referrals were your golden keys to that first chance, and then you hoped to continue to get hired based on the awesome job you did (and keeping in gentle touch).

So far, sounds pretty much the same, yes? Only, back then, your marketing was to your general geographical location, there were post offices and telephones involved, and most of the time you knew your clients more personally, often got to shake their hands in person.

And – fanfare for the truth – there was less competition. Once you were in that “stable” of voice talents a studio or agency could rely upon, the phone kept ringing. That’s how I built my business. And that part of the business still exists. Most of my work is from word of mouth and repeat clients. Believe me, it’s easier for the client re re-hire someone they trust than to go out and start a brand new search.

But, as you know, things are also very different. Many potential clients have a huge database of voice talents to choose from – and, thanks to the internet, all they have to do is post a project and hundreds of auditions will show up in their mailbox. The work, for the client, is not on the front end (listening to demos, sending invites to those who suit their requirements, then choosing from the handful of hand-chosen candidates) but on the back end – easy to post the project, but harder (I imagine) to sort through the hundreds of auditions that may vary widely in quality.  Casting this way must seem easier, but I suspect it often is not, for the client. However, in this new virtual and pervasive climate, they might not know there are other ways to find voices. Continue reading

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The Voice Actor’s “Down Time” – Ha!

In a recent discussion among members and executive board members of the international pro voice actors’ organization WOVO wovo(World Voices), we were sharing the virtues of various technologies to record remotely: ISDN, ip DTL, Source Connect etc. This question then emerged:” isn’t the real issue how do I get enough work to use these technologies?” The response, so beautifully and simply put by our esteemed president Dustin Ebaugh, was this:

My secret to getting the WORK has been doing at least 100 auditions or marketing contacts per week, every week. The work seems to come when I do that. 🙂

So, yes, that’s the answer to the myth of “downtime ” for voice talents, i.e. between bookings: there is none.  Other than vacations and “personal days” we give ourselves  (such nice bosses we have!), the hours other than what an attorney would call “billable”  are really the times we must be building our business and our skills

This will help me explain “loss of work hours” to a lawyer soon – and serve as a reminder that all work hours, whether billable or not, are important hours when you run your own small business.

arm

half of the body language immobilized!

I write this post with one hand – my non-dominant one – due to a car (with distracted driver) vs. pedestrian (me) incident last month. Long story, and not the point here.  I will, eventually and gratefully, be able to use both hands again – at least that’s the plan, and I’m going to work hard until it’s true. But, in the meantime, I find myself musing about what we voice actors do, and how we must spend our “down time” so that our futures contain possibilities.

As I am discovering, there is much that is difficult even within those billable hours with only one usable hand — editing, for one. Effective body language, for two.  Not to mention working through the pain and energy-sap as bones heal.  I’m proud to say that I haven’t disappointed my clients, and have met my deadlines so far. But  still.  I have had to turn down projects due to the need for a little extra time. And while my main priority is to not hurt my body right now, (the leg was injured as well), I can’t help but think about how this may hurt my future business.

Why? Well. that is what the inquiring minds will want to know when I say I have lost work hours due to this injury. “After all, your voice still works, right?” But you and I both know there is so much more to this business than voicing in the booth, or editing the files.

So – what the heck do we do when not technically “earning money” , as voiceover entrepreneurs? Bearing in mind that some of us have related skills and income streams, your list may be different, but basically we are preparing and growing our businesses.  This is as necessary to our work as recording and editing are.

arm leg rkHere is my partial list. What’s on yours?

  • research and contact (phone, e-mail etc) new potential clients
  • send handwritten thank-you notes and reminders
  • shop for client gifts, and send them
  • invoice clients, do the bookkeeping, send out statements
  • write blogposts and articles (for some of us, books)  to increase visibility and outreach
  • practice new genres
  • respond to inquiries
  • send out demos
  • travel to outside-studio gigs, in-person auditions and networking opportunities
  • enter info into databases
  • practice new genres and studio skills
  • update demos and reload them to rosters/agents

What’s on your down-time to-do list?

(And, hopefully, you have two hands to use while you do it.  Dictated to Siri, with gratitude for technology advances)

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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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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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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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Fruits vs. Laurels:The Balanced VO Life

resting on our laurels?

resting on our laurels?

Running a small business is not for sissies. Nor is it for dreamers who don’t take steps toward the dream.

Yeah, yeah. We know that.

We know we can’t just rest on our laurels…but at times, we do need to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Most of my voice-over pals get that first part; we don’t let ourselves rest on past success. Yes, we know…”you’re only as successful as your next booking.” In fact, we’re constantly sharing progress on our never-ending to-do lists (finish the project, register for Faffcon or Voice-Over Virtual, send the audition your agent wants) as well as ongoing projects

fruits of our labors...

fruits of our labors…

(organize clients and prospects clients into a database, write that next blog post, revamp the website and demos) – and, often, we feel we come up short when we look at what we still want to accomplish.

Nope, no resting on laurels here. What we forget to do – or sometimes don’t let ourselves do – is to enjoy some of the fruits of those labors.

Voice-Over Talents: Can a Small Business Owner Take a Break? Continue reading

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Why I Hired My Plumber: How’s Your Voice-Over Business?

Our water heater died last week. Sniff. Not only that, it was kinda leaking everywhere. After two days of hoping my husband’s efforts with the wet-vac would buy us some time (ha!), I knew I had to call in an expert.

plumber

What Does This Profession Tell Us About VO?

So what to do? Audition plumbers? Post a project and consider dozens of prospective plumbers? Yikes. What a pain that would be!

Nope. I did what most of our voice-over clients want to do: Hire someone they trust to do the job professionally, reliably, skillfully – to their satisfaction.

The Odds: Auditioning vs. Marketing

Yep. I firmly believe that many of my VO clients and prospective clients never even listen to a good portion of the auditions they receive.  Would you? Just go to voices.com or voicebank.net and put yourself in the client’s shoes.  Listen to some demos, even the top-rated ones. How quickly have you had enough? Continue reading

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Value Exceeds Cost: The Designer Voice Talent

The project specs say: Client is very budget focused.  Um..okay. But what does that mean? Sure, so you can go on fiverr.com and find someone to read words for, well, five bucks.  But – what’s the value?

Consider this: How long is takes to get the sound and attitude you were looking for, how much creativity the voice talent brings to the project, how easy he/she is to work with, and your satisfaction with the final product.

blue ribbonIf someone calls your phone system, sees your video, takes that virtual tour – what will that potential customer’s first impression be of your product, project or company?  They may not be aware that a sub-par voice created a sub-par first impression, but it will be there.

One recent client told me, at the end of a phone patch session for an awards show, “Working with you guys is always a pleasure because it requires the least amount of intervention on my part.” Thanks!

What does an experienced and/or well-trained newbie voice talent bring to the project? Here are a few of those things:

  • Responsiveness. If you say, “can you make it more authoritative, but still friendly, and just make the tempo a bit faster – oh, except on this line…” – we can do that for you.
  • Creativity. If you ask, “I don’t know. Just try something.” – we can do that for you, too. Five different ways.
  • Fun. We have a professional fee scale because many of our clients are regular customers. Part of that is that we are fun – and easy – to work with. We’ve been at this long enough to bring confidence to the session.
  • Professionalism. We meet deadlines, honor commitments, have spent time and money on home studios, take care of our voices, invest in “continuing VO education” to keep our skills sharp – vocal, technical, and business.
  • Uniqueness. Like every actor.

To paraphrase an old L’Oreal ad (and date myself in the process): Sure, l'orealI’m expensive. But you’re worth it. Designer voice talents make a client’s work easier, and the final product something to be really proud of. And that pays off, in many ways, in the long run. That’s the value.

“Randye ‘gets it.’ She has a way of sensing the right level of assertiveness, compassion, playfulness, sarcasm (or whatever is being called for) on the first take so that subsequent takes are more a matter of fine-tuning. Recommending Randye Kaye to my clients makes me look good!” — Walt Graham Productions, Norwalk, CT

“Randye has worked with Fairview Media on multiple projects with tight deadlines, and rapidly changing requirements. She has always been right with us, through easy clients, and not so easy jobs, remaining on track and on time, giving her expert knowledge of professional voicing to us. Randye is an asset that I will continue to keep in my ranks for the future.” — Eric Oppegaard, Fairview Media

Randye is the consummate storyteller. She is among the best voice actors we’ve ever recorded…a real pro.”

— Daniel M. Welsh, President and Publisher, Spoken Arts Media, NY

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