Tag Archives: WOVO

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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Parade Magazine – and the Myth of Easy Voiceover Money

So….in page 8 of last week’s Parade magazine, I revealed my almost-6-figure income for all to see:

Parade

Parade

photo (12)

 

This was my 15 seconds of fame for the spring….about how long it takes to turn the page and move on to something else – like, say, how much Beyonce and Sandra Bullock make.

Why did I participate? For fun. For the attention, sure, not gonna lie. But also as another slice in my marketing pie.  As a member of WoVo, (Worldvo.org)  the industry association for international Voice Talents, I want to promote our industry as a field where professional talents are seen – and paid – as the professionals we are.  And my fairly-decent income for 2013 was another way to make that point.

Of course,as you might imagine, I got lots of e-mails, messages, and even a couple of phone calls (one really weird one in the middle of the night from Los Angeles, but he might have had a different, um, agenda) saying “wow! you make so much money just for talking? I have a nice voice!”….well, you get the picture.

How to Get Started in Voice-Overs.

Judy Carter says it beautifully in her book The Comedy Bible (for aspiring comics and comedy writers)The-Comedy-Bible

  • Get good.
  • Get noticed.
  • Get paid.

In that order.

And then, she continues with a terrific book full of chapters with concrete steps to accomplish all that – chapters that most people, sadly, probably don’t read. “Really? I gotta do all that?”

And so it is with Voiceovers.  In the words of Mama Rose (a part which I just auditioned for, and btw, did not get… sad face…but hey that’s show biz. indeed.): “Got the dream, yeah, but not the guts.”  

Got the Guts? Here’s What You Do First:

(In the interest of public service, the contents of the letter I usually send to aspiring talents – tho I do tailor it a bit….

Dear______________ – 

As you might imagine,  I get this question at least 5 times a day!

This is a business that requires you to be self-starter. Get good at it, learn all you can, and then you must build your business.

My best advice is to do the research first – learn what it takes.

Here are some articles to get you started:   http://voiceoverxtra.com/articles.htm?cat=biz%3A+newcomers+to+voice-over

There is also a terrific resource called The Voice-Over Entrance Exam, which spells it all out beautifully

In addition, I highly recommend Edge Studios. They have a 4-hour “Investigate voice-over” class that will answer many of your questions, and it’s a very reasonable rate.  Here is the link to that: http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over-class

regarding audiobooks, some great info is here: https://www.audiopub.org/faq.asp#narrator

There are also some fabulous blogs from the VO community.

additionally, here are some great books :

There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is : A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs  (latest edition)  by Elaine A. Clark. Lots of script examples with detailed discussions.

Art of Voice Acting  by James Fourth edition – an excellent book with CD examples. Complete overview of the business.

Technique Guidebook, available at Edge Studio, www.edgestudio.com-

Sound Advice, by Dan Friedman – clear home studio info from a voice talent/engineer

Voice-Over Garden – Jonathan Tilley (online purchase);

Voices of Experience – Doug Turkel – FREE e-book, how VO superstars got there!

also, look for books by Dave Courvoisier, Paul Strikwerta, Bill DeWees…

That should get you started!

good luck, Randye

 

It is not complete, but it is a place to begin. Feel free to chime in with comments, fellow talents.

Ready, set, go!

Continue reading

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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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Filed under Business of Voice Over, voice acting, voice talent, voiceover, Voiceover, Voice Talent, Voice Acting