In the corporate world, a change agent is a person from inside or outside the organization who helps an organization transform itself by focusing on such matters as organizational effectiveness, improvement, and development. The voice over business, my voice over business requires me to be a change agent. My audition technique just 12 months ago is now antiquated because of the training I’ve had since then (development). My marketing efforts, while not bad, were not as effective as they are today. How I handle my financials from my bookings has taken on a whole new tone. In order to be successful in my business, I need to have the willingness to change. As the song says “Everything must change, nothing stays the same”. I can’t teach myself VO, so I hire a coach (improvement). I’ve come to the realization that I need accounting software (keeping the books straight alleviates stress, which can be heard in your audition!). As voice actors, our concentration tends to be on performance, but if I don’t focus on the overall organizational structure of my business, there won’t be any change. It’s all about evolution, dude. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Holidays, birthdays, vacation season, and other special occasions sometimes give me an excuse to “take it down a thousand” and slack off my auditions. Yes, we should allow time for friends, family and fun; after all, that’s one of the reasons we work for; to live a happy, comfortable life. But this time of year, a day or so can easily turn into 3 or 4 days or so. Then, when I finally do begrudgingly get back on the mic, I find myself reading copy and saying “I don’t feel that one right now, I’ll come back to it” (I’ll confess: I’ve actually missed a couple of submission deadlines on a P2P because of this), or even worse, “this doesn’t fit me”, when it really does. Procrastination, or “obstruction of progress”, can fill my mind with all kinds of….excuses. If I don’t audition for 3 or more days, I can actually hear the difference in my read when I finally do. So in the meantime, I practice, either reading spots out of a magazine or paper, or mostly while watching TV, my media drug of choice. There are certain promos, tags, station IDs and commercials I like to practice to (“Only By Bravo”, a personal favorite!). I don’t mimic the VO, but I try it in different tones and styles. It may not seem like much, but it motivates and inspires me to what I might want to do down the road, and I’ve even managed to get off the couch and get on the mic after hearing some of them! How do you get to Carnegie Hall, or in VO-Land, win the job? Practice, Practice, Practice!
I have a little secret I’d like to share: I used to suffer from Impostor Syndrome. It’s a psychological disorder that says incredibly negative things to your brain: “You’ve made some great accomplishments (made a great demo…booked your first paying VO gig …got some great clients, etc., BUT…you’re really not qualified. It was just luck, and you really don’t deserve it.” Cow Manure.
This mental malady manifests in different personality traits. Here are a “mantras” I used to combat them:
I Don’t Know Everything – I will be the first to admit…I dunno.
I’m Not Perfect: Mistakes make you smarter!
I Don’t Try To Do It All: I love commercials and promos. This is my focus right now, and I’m working on being better at them.
I Don’t Need Anyone: I can’t do it alone. I used to (and sometimes still do) have trust issues. This is a crippling characteristic that kept me from developing great business relationships. Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime (channeling Dean Martin). I need training, accountability buddies, and someone to share a pizza with.
The long short of it: What’s going on in your mind, isn’t what’s really going on. You are where you are today because you really do deserve to be there. And by the way…I’m no expert on this subject. 😊
Now that I have your attention: News Flash: There ain’t an easy way to do it. Ok, so I pulled a bait and switch on you, but it needs to be said. As a Business Development professional, i.e., a hunter for new business, I have worked in various industries over the years, and I enjoy the challenge of the hunt: Digging for the decision maker, uncovering the need and of course, gaining and retaining the business. Did every lead turn into a sale? Of course not, but they were armed with the facts about the company, and knew how to reach me when they were ready. However, I must say, business development in the Voice Over business has by far been the hardest part of my job. This industry is a tough nut to crack, because competition is stiff, and I don’t do $5 spots. Besides, I don’t want to call anybody. In a perfect world, I’d be on the mic auditioning and recording jobs all day! Back to reality. I’m still learning about myself as a voice actor, so first I need to make sure I go after the right industries for my specific genre. I only focus on one at a time (currently radio and TV Commercials), so I just stay focused on this….for now. Prospecting is time-consuming, but in the end, once I’m armed with enough information about the company, I’ll know if the need is there. Instead of wasting valuable time emailing aimlessly to companies who happen to have a website with a couple of videos on them, or even worse, wasting even more time complaining to an unsuspecting fellow voice actor about what I don’t have and what I can’t do, I take a marketing classes. TVAS has various classes that I take advantage of; I’ve even take a couple twice – because sometimes, I tend to talk more than I listen, and I miss valuable information. If you’ve already taken a class, take another one, and this time, take the cotton out of your ears, put it in your mouth, and listen. If that doesn’t work, broaden your horizons. There are industry professionals who periodically have training sessions via Skype or Zoom. Just make sure you listen to everything being taught, and ask questions if you don’t understand. Help is out there. There are clients out there looking for your voice. You just have to be willing to WORK for it.
Spring… a time for renewal and regeneration! Time to put up the boots, coats and sweaters, and see if you can fit into last year’s summer clothes, or maybe you stuck to your fitness resolution and they just might be too big? Either way, time to do some refreshing of the home, body and mind. For me, I cleaned out my files. While I’m not exactly a neatnik, I detest clutter, and my first order of the day was to throw out some scripts; hundreds of ‘em! While going through them, I thought about how much fun I had with some of them and kept those, but I was grateful to have the opportunity to audition for all of them. I booked some, and actually enjoy hearing how others interpret the ones that got away on TV and radio. I also cleaned up my “tech drawer”. This wasn’t hard to do, because I’m still somewhat of a technophobe, so I don’t get into buying expensive mics and the latest electronic gizmos that’s supposed to help me produce faster, cleaner, make my room/voice sound better. I use our very own Vegas Voicers FB page to ask questions before I buy anything. Grateful that the TVAS community not only has excellent coaches, but is chockfull of experienced producers and engineers! Most importantly, I make a mental note to do a daily meditation and keep my spiritual house clean and in order. Clean out some old ways of thinking; keep out the negativity, replace old thoughts with new ideas and ideals, and spring forward!
I saw a nasty VO habit coming, and nipped it in the bud before it fully manifested. It will try to creep in slowly and methodically. A week here, a month there, and before you know it, BAM! You’re dependent on your two biggest clients for 80% of your work. This is a cardinal sin in VO; never, ever depend on a client, or even three, to be your main source of revenue. Ever. No matter what they promise you. This is especially true for Pay to Play sites. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but here it is again: They are only “Pay-to-Practice”. [Read more…]
Like it or not, we are business owners. It sounds good when I tell someone “I have my own business”, It gives me a sense of personal fulfillment. I secretly enjoy the kudos I get for having the courage to go rogue. “Dude, I’m the CEO – “Chief of Everything”, no one can fire me!” Independence. I get to put all of my own ideas into action, and I keep all the profits (well, minus taxes and the agency’s cut, if applicable). It’s power. But it’s a power trip that requires a lot of luggage. [Read more…]
Who doesn’t like falling in love? Dating: Collecting data. Is this person a giver or a taker? Do they fit inside my moral and spiritual compass? Do they mix Raisinets with their popcorn at the movies? Are they a good fit for me? All boxes checked, and you’ve found “the one”. They invoke some strong emotions: Euphoria, loss of appetite (or the opposite!), increased energy, anticipation, well, you get it. I get these feelings every time I get a juicy audition, or stumble on a great prospective client. I get it after I’ve completed an audition that I know I have a great chance at booking (we here at TVAS are well trained, so we have a leg up on all auditions…we book work! JMO). To paraphrase a speech I heard a long time ago, my work takes up a large part of my life, so I need to actually do the work that I believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what I do. If “the one” turns out to be “no one”, then keep looking, don’t settle. Voiceover is the one for me; I’m in love!
The holiday rush of last-minute radio and TV spots have subsided. As someone still relatively new to the industry, a thought crossed my mind: Is there ever a slow time for getting voice over work? My answer is no, for one simple reason. I have the ability to pick up the phone. Most days, it’s easy to do, but some days, it weighs over 50 pounds. [Read more…]
Over the years, there have been two camps that become more vocal this time of year: Those who make New Year’s Resolutions, and those who don’t. Even way back in ancient Rome, where at the beginning of each year, the Romans made promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. [Read more…]