Tag Archives: voice

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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Vocal Booth on Tracks: An Option for Space-Challenged Voice Talents

Yahoo! I now have my own recording “room” – and, even better, I can whisk its “walls” aside whenever I need to.

a glimpse into the old booth area

a glimpse into the old booth area

How? I replaced my wardrobe-screen-from-Goodwill-draped-with-quilts (only 5 feet high) with a floor-to-ceiling Vocal Booth on Tracks from vocalboothtogo.com. And it’s great – exactly as promised.

First of all, let me clarify that in a perfect VO world I’d get a sound-PROOF booth – and perhaps someday I will. This is not a WhisperRoom, or StudioBricks booth – and is not offered as such.  This booth, however, delivers exactly what it promises. I love it.

What is a Vocal Booth On Tracks?

What is it? It defines a vocal space where you have none, and provides excellent sound-dampening in the process. Many of us do this with moving blankets, acoustic foam, closet space, even hanging clothes – but it can look unsightly and be a pain to “undo” in case the in-laws are coming over for dinner. Continue reading

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Ask, Show Up, Follow Up: Old-Fashioned Marketing Still Works

Take a look at your last ten voice-over jobs – or, if you are just starting out, think about another business venture you had that was successful, or even your solid friendships.

You may find that the “secret” to that success is as simple as ASF:

  • Ask

  • Show Up

  • Follow Up

business card

Step One?

Sales experts talk frequently about “5-7 Points of Contact”  before we “make a sale” – ooh how I hate that term – so why whine when after one contact we are not hired, especially in a business where the need for our particular service, with our unique sound, has to match at the right time?

Sure, there is a delicate balance between contacting and pestering…but stay helpful, respectful and patient — and then have faith in the process and in what you have to offer.

Here is an example:

A month ago, I received an e-mail from a local chapter of Ladies Who Launch.

Cool name, right?  I looked up the concept, and re-read the e-mail. It was an invite to go to the home of the local chapter Managing Director Kathy McShane  for a “Pot Luck” evening.

ASK: Who? What? But I wrote back to Kathy asking for more info. It Ladies-Who-Launchsounded really interesting: a gathering of local female entrepreneurs, solidifying goals for 2013. So I said yes. Risk? Sure! I knew none of these people. But for $15 and an entree contribution, I asked myself another important question: Why Not?

SHOW UP:  Chicken dish in hand, I went to the event. What a great group of women! After way too much food, we gathered to share what our businesses were about and what our goals were for 2013. Who was there? Realtors, garden designers, hot-dog-truck entrepreneurs, Mary Kay managers, insurance salespeople, interior designers…and not one other Voice Artist.  When it came time to share what I did, I simply told them all that “It’s my business to make your business sound better” – and went on to explain what that meant. Sometimes I play a demo from my SmartPhone, but it didn’t feel right here, so I didn’t. Still – lots of oohs and ahs, as if they’d never heard of a voice talent before. So I was really glad that I showed up.

FOLLOW UP:  Still, that was only one point of contact. Later that week Kathy sent a thank-you note to us all, and (with permissions) shared e-mail addresses. I waited a few days, and followed up with the group to re-introduce myself, share website info (demos)  and offer to help their businesses  make that “sound first impression.” Of the 35 women I contacted, three wrote back to me express interest –  and admiration.  I said thanks, and asked for permission to add them to my contact/mailing list.  They said yes, and now when I follow up with my client/prospect list with an update or newsletter, there will be more points of contact.

And there you go.  Any bookings out of this yet? No. But there might be. and meanwhile I met a really cool group of women!

As I write this, I am sitting in the broadcast booth at WSHU, an NPR affiliate where I get my occasional radio fix as understudy for the classical music hosts, newscasters, and talk-show announcers. How did I get this gig?

  • I asked for a tour after leaving my full-time commercial radio job
  • I showed up for the appointment, on-time and enthusiastic about the opportunity
  • I followed up with a big thank-you, and willingness to learn as many gigs here as possible.

So – how about those last ten bookings? Here’s how mine played out:

  • 1 agent booking
  • 2 from roster listings or P2P (new, but slightly different process)
  • 2 clients who use me monthly – telephone messages, radio imaging
  • 4  repeat clients – the backbone of any business!
  • 1 word-of-mouth referral
faffcon 4

Networking works great too – thanks, Faffy!

In this case, there were no brand-new clients – but all of them were, at one time, new to me. The relationship began with ASF, and continues with the addition of quality work.  Cultivate  your new clients – take that risk! So worth it.

And by the way, the formula works in friendship too 🙂

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Your Voice Over Business: got a Plan?

Imagine you want to lose, say, five pounds. So you make a plan (lower-case p). You decide to give up wine,  to eat fewer carbs, or count points, whatever….yet it somehow doesn’t happen. Things get in the way. You open the fridge and can’t make a decision, so you just grab the Frosted Flakes and milk as usual. And, before you know it, it’s back to deciding to put it all off until tomorrow, or next Monday.

What went wrong?

You had a plan, but not a Plan (with a capital P).

Now imagine a Plan.

You take ten minutes on Sunday to list 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners you

Hard to get the job done without Scaffolding

Hard to get the job done without Scaffolding

love that fit your plan(repeats are fine, too – hey, it’s life), and a few snack ideas.  And, right then, you choose 1 from each list to pencil in for Monday – or, for some, make a rough-out for the week.  Also make sure you have the “tools” you need – and, if not, make that shopping list and plan when you will buy them – or go get them now (preferably when not hungry). Then, place some tools on the counter for breakfast – the measuring cup, whatever will give you “activation energy” to remind you of your plan and make it easy to make the right decision. Continue reading

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The Ta-Da! Voice: Not Always Conversational

“Read it just like you’re talking to someone in conversation”?
In voiceover, it’s a nice plan- but it doesn’t always work.
How many times, in your real life, do you go up to a pal and start an exchange by saying, oh, “Introducing…!”?

Yet, in some narrations, that’s exactly what we are doing – setting up what will soon come (visually or otherwise), and subtly commenting on/closing what has come before. In these cases, we may need to use our “introducing…!” delivery, our our “ta-da!” voice.

When I voice the tracks for live announce shows, for instance, this is a clear choice. The intention is to get attention, and set up what comes next. In movies promos, radio imaging, etc. – sure. same thing – though it still must be sincere within those choices.

In narration, it may be a bit more subtle than promo voice, but your voiceover is still the connective tissue between elements before and after your sentences.

Here’s an example of a narration as connective tissue between elements, courtesy of Action Media.

If possible, it does help to know what those segments are – sometimes the client will provide a description, at least, as part of the script. If not, use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Always, if you can, check out the finished product to see how it all married. This helps next time you do a similar project.

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Voiceover and Social Networking: Online or in person?

wow, remember live people?

Here’s an eye-opening article from PC World that provides a reality check re social media.  Right now I’m working facebook, twitter, and the voiceover boards, since my first session today isn’t until 2 pm. Yep, 80% of the VO business is spent marketing (well, that’s one statistic I heard) – so how much of it do we want to do online? And how effective it is, really?

If I look at the last ten jobs I did – unscientific, I know, but still-

  • five were from frequent-repeat clients initially found through old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals;
  • one was from a new client I met networking in person;
  • two repeat business from clients I’d landed years ago through voice123 (when I was a member);
  • one from a regular customer (my initial contact, by phone, after hearing about them from fellow VO peeps and doing my online research), and
  • one international client who found me online (via a listing on a free site I’d initiated years ago).

So it’s a combo marketing plan, indeed. Still, I believe that a real handshake beats a virtual friend.  How mush time do you spend tweeting, and it is paying off for you?  I love having nearly 500 followers, but maybe I spend too much time there instead of picking up the phone or at least targeting my marketing more personally.

Just sayin‘. Food for thought.

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Proof-listening – take the extra time!

Just finished a corporate/technical narration – at home, so that means editing as well as voicing.  Final product almost 15 minutes.  After the first listen, I corrected a few obvious things (self-direction has its flaws, so then it’s time to take off the narrator hat and put on the director/engineer persona – adding even more confusion to my multiple personalities, but that’s the actor’s story, right?)

 

The point is: finished. Right? Breaths reduced, everything in its place, all alts clearly slated, etc. Almost tempted to send it as is, as at that point I felt I knew the copy by heart – but gave it one final listen.  Yes, 15 minutes of my time.  Tomorrow I’m gonna put a set of hand weights by the mixer so I can at least work on my triceps while my eyes and ears are occupied.

 

And: not finished. I caught two mistakes: “first step” instead of “first stop” and “sanitation” instead of “sanitization.” Amazing what the brain thinks it sees. Sure, the client could have caught it and I’d have done the re-dos for no charge. But how would it have made me look? 

 

Take the extra time when you can. And work on the triceps too!

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Giving Back – even in “102 degree heat index” weather

2010-07-24 16.01.06 2010-07-26

Had the pleasure of announcing names of riders as they bicycled over the finish line yesterday at the Connecticut Challenge for Cancer – I think over $800,000 was raised, thanks to the brave souls who rode 10,12, 25, 50, even 100 miles to raise the dough.  Susan Saks, Elizabeth Chatsworth and I took shifts, trying to find the shade while staying on mike.  What a great day!  Feels great to donate services to such a wonderful cause.2010-07-25

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