Over the last few years, some VO students I’ve known have gone charging ahead, for example, to book an audiobook gig—only to stumble and be surprised. They learned the hard way that their recording space/booth really was not as ready as they thought. They didn’t recognize the bounce in the booth that made it sounds like they were in a culvert or barrel.
Or they discovered that editing and mastering audio requires some knowledge and information they didn’t have yet, like what it really means to have an editing process. Or they posted audio at a website they thought was just fine—except for the really loud hiss in the background, which made their audio sound really bad.
At some point, sure, you’ve got to fledge, and take flight.
But baby birds who leave their nest with only stubby, featherless wings tend to have a one-way-crash kind of trip. So it’s good to make sure you’ve got flight feathers on those wings and that you’ve flapped them a few times, before thinking about soaring off into the wild blue yonder just because you know how to squawk!
How do you know you’re ready? Is it when you can’t think of anymore questions? Well, maybe, but also just maybe you don’t have questions because you don’t know what you don’t know and so can’t ask. Been there, done that, believe me. We all have.
It’s how we learned to walk. Get up, fall down, get up, fall down, cry, get up, and go.
Another way to know if your “wings” are ready for flight, ask yourself:
1) Can I perform as needed in at least one VO genre? Do I know how to breakdown commercial copy and give 2-3 different approaches? Do I know how to pace my read for narration or audiobooks or elearning? Are all my sounds and facial expressions choices that I’ve made or are they just unconscious habits? Are my hands—and my whole body—involved in my performances? Can I respond to the request, “Give me an ABC on that”?
2) Has somebody with audio engineering expertise, in person or online, told me that the audio I record in my home studio is clean and ready for prime time? Is my noise floor at -60 dB or less? Is my mic gain set correctly so that my audio peaks around -4 to -6 dB? Do I even know what the previous two sentences mean? 😉 Do I know how to use my DAWS to edit audio? Do I know what DAWS means? Do I know when to leave breaths in and when and how to take them out?
3) Am I ready to roll as a solo entrepreneur? Do I have at least some basic bookkeeping set up? Do I know what expenses are deductible against my business income? Can I track my “accounts receivable” so I get paid for jobs I book? Do I have a separate account for my business activity? Do I know where I want to go to get auditions? Do I have a nice looking invoice form or process? Do I know about Schedule C? Do I understand recent tax-law changes? Am I ready to keep the records I’ll need for next year’s tax filing? What about state taxes?
So: performance, tech, business. Check? Check? Check?
And, oh yeah, do I have a demo, produced by someone who knows what they’re doing, that sounds like me, that’s not overproduced, that highlights my voice, and that a client can rely on as a true representation of what I can do?
You don’t know what you don’t know—until you do. Happy new wing flapping, happy flying!