At some point in your voiceover journey, you’re going to start auditioning and booking jobs. You’ll be producing audio files—remember to record, edit, and process in .wav or .aiff formats—not in mp3—you may deliver an mp3 to the client, but your work is in one of the two high quality formats.

And so what do you do with those audio files after you hit “submit”? Well, what would you do if a client replies to an audition by saying, “We loved it! We’ll use your audition. Just send it to us in a FLAC format.” Or what if in two years a client comes back and says, “Hey, we want to change the phone number in that commercial you did for us, but keep the rest the same.”

What if you just want to listen to yourself in 3 years to see how you’ve changed?

It’s a good idea to think now about how to organize your computer files, how much data you want to keep or “archive,” and how you’ll backup.

Some jobs will involve a raw recording cleaned up only a bit, but some, like audiobooks, will involve several copies of the raw files, created as you move through your processing, and many chapters. You could quickly start to have a lot of files and data to deal with.

Then there’s this little piece of computer wisdom: “Data doesn’t exist unless it’s in at least three places.” (Yeah, I know data are plural, but nobody says it that way anymore.)

So first you need to organize your auditions. Do whatever works for your brain, but make sure you can easily find auditions by agency or pay-to-play site, by year, and maybe even by genre and title.

Next, how much should you keep? Well, maybe for commercials where you don’t process, keep the file you created the deliverable from and the deliverable itself. (A “deliverable” is the thing you actually deliver to the client, so in this case you might have a final .wav file and an mp3 you delivered.)

What about audiobooks? You might want to keep all the samples of the characters you voiced—might be a handy source of ideas for future characters in other books or video games—along with the final .wav or .aiff files plus the mp3s.

Now, backup. Too many of us don’t backup. And then one day POOF! your hard drive has a major malfunction and the data are gone, baby. Like it never happened. My wife experienced that a few years ago. Her one and only backup drive fell and broke and the backup she thought she had at work had glitched and all she had were empty folders there. “Gasp” doesn’t begin to describe how all that felt to lose 8 years of her professional life. She’s recovered some of it since, but not all of it. Some is just gone, gone for good.

Backup media (external hard drives, cloud services) are cheap compared to losing it all. So backup to an external drive—or two. Your PC or Mac (Time Machine or SuperDuper are two for Mac) likely has a backup program. Use it/them. And then there’s cloud storage. When you can afford it, backup your computer there, too. External drives fail, stuff happens to houses and apartments, and so keeping your old audio files on the cloud buys some peace of mind.

Keeping your audio files organized will help you respond like a pro, with “Yes, I can do that! When do you want it?!”