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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Beauty of Voiceover for Entertainment




If you like acting, then you may just love voiceover work.  There are many differences between stage acting and voiceover acting, of course, but many of those differences favor voiceover.  Consider the following advantages:

Hide Behind an Animated Character There is a sort of joy that comes from working on voiceover for a cartoon or other animated work.  This is true for the writers and for the voiceover actor alike. When your face is not linked to the words of the characters in the minds of the viewers, then the writer can feel free to write more evocatively then he or she might otherwise.  Similarly, your inhibitions can be drastically lowered, because you are, in essence, hiding behind an animated mask.  There is most definitely a sense of freedom that comes from knowing that.

Hire One Person for Multiple Roles For the casting director, the ability to pay one salary to have multiple characters cast is certainly a reason to celebrate.  For the voiceover artist able to secure such a job, it is a wonderful opportunity to explore the various reaches of his or her voice.  Of course, the chances of securing multiple roles within the same script are much greater for those voiceover artists willing to practice, train, and challenge themselves.

Physical Appearance Plays a Less Significant Part Like it or not, many stage roles are going to require a specific appearance.  This means that you can be ruled out before you have even auditioned, simply because your face, skin, hair, or stature doesn’t fit the character.  Voiceover eliminates this variable.  As long as you can give a convincing voice to the character, it doesn’t matter what you look like.  I won’t go so far as to say that physical appearance doesn’t matter at all.  We are humans, and as such, we cannot help but form certain judgments based on another person’s appearance.  Casting directors are human as well.

Ease of Scheduling For everyone involved, there is some joy to be found in the knowledge that scheduling doesn’t have to be a nightmare when it comes to recording voiceover.  In fact, most working voiceover talents have recording booths in their own homes, which means that they don’t even have to rely on studio booking.  The recording can be done early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends, or at whatever times work best for the artist, so long as the deadlines are met.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Describe Your Voiceover Style in Four Words



If you visit my Facebook Page, under the About tab, you can find a short biography, including information about my career as a voiceover talent.  In the additional information section, there is an even shorter bio.  This is the perfect place to test out your ability to give your elevator pitch.  After all, you are only allowed a small amount of space to tell your story, and to give potential clients a feel for what your voice can do.
Whether you are doing this exercise for the purpose of creating a better Facebook bio, or because you want to be able to promote yourself, even if only provided the time that it takes to ride up a couple of floors on an elevator, then you’ll find that it is a bit more difficult than it sounds.
The key is to select adjectives that really describe your voice.  We’ve all seen (and likely written) the resumes that describe the person as driven, motivated, hard-working.  This really doesn’t tell the potential employer much about the person at all, but I like to think that the following four adjectives tell you (and potential clients) a great deal about my voice:

  • Warm
  • Real
  • Rugged
  • Rural

My aim was to describe the sound of my voice in as few words as possible.  Take a listen to my demos and I think you’ll agree that I did that quite well, but it took me some time to determine the best descriptors to use.  I do have four tips for you as you come up with your own four adjectives:

1.  Listen to your own recordings and jot down ideas as they come to you. Listening to the recordings while brainstorming will help you hear yourself as others would.
2. Keep in mind the type of voiceover work that you most enjoy doing. You may not be able to narrow down to that niche just yet, but describing yourself in the right way can help you appeal to that particular segment.
3. Consider nicknames and adjectives others have used to describe you in the past. Your voiceover work is just an extension of you.
4. Ask friends or family members to describe your voice in four words. You may not wind up using any of these, but it can lead you in the right direction.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Are You Podcasting Yet?


It is the perfect answer for voiceover artists, and if you aren’t doing it yet, you might be missing out on a fantastic opportunity.  Podcasting is something that many professionals expected to come and go.  That, however, is not what happened.  The trend stuck and there are many businesses that are profiting from their podcasting efforts right now.  For voiceover talents, it is the perfect form of media.  Just consider the advantages.

Garner Useful Information for Your Business Believe it or not, it is not just the audience member who can learn something from your podcast.  If you are wise enough to recruit interviewees who have been in the business longer than you have, you’ll likely learn a great deal too. 

Practice Your Voiceover Hosting a regular podcast is also a great way to ensure that you are continually honing your voice.  While entertaining and informing others, you’ll also be practicing speed, enunciation, and pronunciation.  Great exercise for the growing voiceover actor.

Get Exposure If you want to be discovered by the voiceover casting directors, then you have to make yourself discoverable.  A regularly airing podcast is a great way to improve your website SEO, to meet more people within the industry, and to make yourself stand out in the minds of potential employers.

Create Content for Marketing Purposes As already mentioned, the podcast is also a form of content.  When you create regular content (especially content of value) you have something to share with your online community.  Post the audio file to your website, share it from there, and get others to comment on-, like-, and share it.  You’re search engine ranking will begin to improve.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

So You’re Starting a Voice Over Career…


Undoubtedly, you are filled with nervous anxiety, hope, and a lot of questions.  That is perfectly normal.  This is a great industry and it can provide a wonderful career, but there are some obstacles that you will have to overcome along the way.  The first of those is getting past the potential predators of the industry.  Unfortunately, there are some who would love to take advantage of new talent in the field.

Many of the lurking predators wear the title of “Voiceover Coach” or “Casting Agent”.  This, it is important to note, is not all-encompassing.  There are voiceover coaches who have helped some of the best in the industry become even better.  They have established themselves in the industry, just as you must, and they have truly valuable information to pass along to you.  The same is true of many agents.  However, there is one difference between the legitimate and the predator – the promises they make.

A legitimate coach or agent isn’t going to promise to turn you into a star overnight.  They aren’t going to promise you a fortune in your future.  What they will promise is the education, the information, and the insight that can help you begin to establish yourself in a very competitive industry. Remember, talent agents simply present you with opportunities through auditions.

If you are hearing or reading things such as “you have such a great voice, such promise” or “anybody can do it”, beware.  The truth is that not just anybody can do this work, because it does require a strict level of dedication.  That is why promises such as “take just this ONE class”, or “pay for just this ONE demo” should not be believed.  This isn’t a one-and-done kind of profession.  You must keep working, keep learning, keep growing if you wish success as a voiceover professional.

Many look at this career path as the ‘dream job’ and it can be, for the right person.  You have to decide now if you are pursuing this because you want to get rich quick while working in your pajamas, or if you are doing this because you believe you can create a worthwhile, respectable career from it.  Do expect this to be a fulltime job.  Undoubtedly, if you hope to earn fulltime pay, then there will be times when you will work more than forty hours per week, will answer calls after hours, and will spend a week in the recording booth.  You can do this.  Rise above the nerves, take control of your future, and work hard for what you want.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Will you Make a Good Voiceover Artist?

In the vast majority of cases, we cannot say with any certainty, even upon meeting, that you will- or won’t make a good voiceover artist.  However, there are certain traits that most of the successful voiceover talents share in common.  So, perhaps by considering this list of those characteristics, you will get a better feel for whether or not this line of work is for you.

1.    Interesting Voice An interesting voice doesn’t mean that a person must be able to mimic various dialects, take on the voice of a cartoon character at a moment’s notice, or even must possess a sexy gravel to his voice.  It simply means that your voice is easy to listen to.  Does this mean that you are ruled out simply because you don’t have the most attractive voice?  No.  But, that will make the job harder for you.

2.    Flexibility of Schedule Do not make the mistake of believing that voiceover work can be completely arranged to fit your desired work schedule.  The fact of the matter is that there are times that you will be asked to be out the door in the early hours of the morning to meet with a casting director, and there are times when you will have to work late into the evening, in order to meet a tight deadline.  Therefore, flexibility of schedule will increase the likelihood that you succeed in this field.

3.    Malleable Personality While it would be brilliant if you could get the most desired voiceover work from the start, chances are that you are going to have to take a wide variety of different work in order to get your start as a voiceover actor.  That means that you must be malleable, able to shift from a playful script to a dry, purely informative piece.

4.    Enjoys Performance The best voiceover actors generally share one thing in common – a love of performance.  They’ve had their own fair share of acting classes.  Most of them have performed on stage in the past, or even continue to do so.  But, they don’t just enjoy doing it, they also enjoy watching others perform.  This is important, because we learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t by watching and listening to others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep it Friendly with the Voiceover Engineers

While appealing to casting directors may get you the job, keeping it friendly with the voiceover engineers will ensure you keep it.  You want the voiceover engineers to speak in favor of you as a voiceover artist, but just as importantly, by keeping the peace with the engineers, you will better ensure that the time spent in the recording booth will be pleasant.  So, here are a few tips to make sure that you win over the engineers.
     
Don’t Touch the Mic Keep your hands away from the microphone. Once the recording starts, you absolutely shouldn’t touch the mic for any reason, or else you risk the wrath of the engineers. Each touch means more editing of the final recording.

Don’t Wear a Lot of Jewelry and Accessories This may sound silly, but jewelry often causes background noise. Wearing multiple bracelets can mean jangling every time you move your arm. Chunky rings can clink against various surfaces when you set your hand down. Even clothing like polyester can create unwanted noise while moving. Wear soft cotton, wool, etc... noiseless clothing.

Don’t Jump in Too Early Keep yourself cool and calm, and be sure to allow a little time between your lines and the lines of other voiceover actors. This is most important, obviously, when there are multiple speakers, but it is a good idea to always remain conscious of future editing that may occur.

Do Keep the Page Shuffling to a Minimum Flipping and re-stacking pages creates a lot of noise that must then be removed from the recording. If you've had time, transfer the script to your tablet device and read from that.

Do Silence Your Devices This one is obvious, but don’t stop at your phone. Be sure your smartwatch, any tablets or computers in your bag, or other such devices are silenced as well.

Do Give a Good Level When asked to provide a level, be sure that it is actually at the volume that you will be speaking throughout the recording. Just read a bit from the script ...in character.

Do Maintain a Good Distance from the Mic Too close and the microphone will pick up every mouth noise. Too far from the mic and the delicacies of your voice may be lost. Bring along mouth moistener to help eliminate dry mouth and clicks.

Do Bring a Bottle of Water A dry mouth is your enemy when working in voiceover. It’ll cause trouble for you, and it will also result in a lot more mouth noise – crackling, popping, etc. -- for the engineers to edit out of the recording. Green apples are also a good remedy for dry mouth. Just about every studio keeps them around.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Difference Between Positive- and Negative Client Personas

As a voiceover professional, chances are very good that you are also operating as an entrepreneur.  You are running your own business, building up your own brand, and establishing your own client base.  That means that you must understand basic marketing principles in order to ensure continued success for your company.  One of the most important things that marketers do, as they work to build up the brand reputation and the consumer base, is to create personas for their customers.

Customers are real.  Personas are a representation of what those customers share in common.  For instance, when a clothing line is asked who they are advertising their goods to, they may answer “Females between the ages of 14 and 21 who are enrolled in schooling and are likely to have financial support from their parents.”  This is a persona.  Great marketers will often go even more in depth, with personas that draw upon emotions, habits, likes, dislikes, and more.  They will create two sorts of personas as well – one for the customer they want to attract and one for the customer who will add little value to the brand.

As a voiceover artist, your consumer base is different, but the principle is the same.  You should know who you are trying to appeal to, and which potential clients you would do best to avoid.  For instance, a potential client who has worked with voiceover artists before, understands what is to be expected from the voiceover artist versus the voiceover engineers, and who feels a sense of loyalty to artists he or she has worked with before, is a very appealing prospect.  You can narrow your list of potentials down even further by dictating which area of voiceover work you wish to work in – corporate, audio books, animation, training videos, e-learning, etc.  On the other hand, you don’t want to waste your time with the prospective client who fails to return phone calls or emails, has never worked with voiceover artists in the past, who makes you wonder about his or her ability to pay when the work is completed, and who is unlikely to be seeking voiceover work again in the future.

Know the personas and market your brand accordingly.  You may be amazed at how much further your efforts get you when you have that sort of direction.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Approaching Your First Casting Call

For voiceover actors and actresses, there are jobs that will not involve a true casting call.  Talent demos or talent audition demos are used to gauge the ability of the voiceover professional, and there may be a telephone interview that serves as an opportunity for the casting director to get a good feel for who you are as a person.  However, that is not always the case.  You may be asked to come in for a casting call or studio audition, especially when working for local brands, shows, or series.  It can be a very intimidating, nerve-racking experience for anyone.  However, if you enter the room in the right mindset, you will have a leg up on the competition, so to speak.

The first thing that you should know is that much of the vetting of candidates happens before the casting call.  The information that you were required to provide in order to apply for the spot is used.  They look (and listen) through that material for many candidates and weed out all of those who simply won’t suit for the job.  Therefore, if you’ve received a casting call, then you already have a much greater chance of receiving the part.  Casting directors and their teams don’t want to sit in a stuffy room, meeting with people, and listening to the same lines over and over again, if they don’t have to.  Therefore, a casting call is usually only issued to those candidates that are extremely likely to fit the role. This goes for voice acting audition sessions as well.

When you go in, you can present a much more professional image if you are well equipped.  That is to say that you should dress to impress, carry a resume of past experience, and maybe your demo CD with you.  It is essential that these materials appropriately represent you and your talents.  If you cannot reproduce the voice (tone, pitch, etc.) used on the demo, then it shouldn’t be on that demo.  When you have received a casting call it is because something on that demo appealed to the casting director.  If you cannot live up to what is on the recording, then you aren’t likely to get the job, and you could also leave a bad impression upon that casting director, potentially ruining your future chances. This happens a lot, according to casting directors/directors and it really irritates them since time is money and auditions are gruelling enough already for everyone involved.

The most important thing is that you are prepared, confident, and relaxed when you walk in.  Enjoy the opportunity, the experience, and don’t worry about what comes next.  Treat the casting director and others to a show, so they can see just how much you love what you do. In other words, treat it as another chance to perform and not something you should dread.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Creating an Editorial Calendar to Keep Your Voiceover Business on Track

Calendars, even in the digital age, are a very powerful tool to have on hand.  Of course, they have changed form a bit, in this era, but they serve the same purpose as they always have – helping you avoid double-booking, and ensuring that you meet deadlines.  An editorial calendar is not overly different than your average calendar, but it is focused entirely on growing your business, and can, in fact, offer a sort of road map to reaching your goals.

There are three things that your voiceover editorial calendar should be doing for you:

1. Ensure that your marketing objectives are managed in a timely manner.

2. Help you keep track of important deadlines

3. Allow you to make time for important tasks, meetings, or casting calls

Digital calendars – like those in your smartphone or attached to your email server – are valuable, especially because they can provide alerts and reminders.  Furthermore, you can sync your calendar with co-workers, partners, or your spouse to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be done and when you will be tied up.  The calendars of this day and age are also great because they allow you to color code events, so you can block out your day more effectively.

For instance, you should set aside time each day to check in on social media and email, so you maintain a regular presence and reply to questions and concerns in a timely manner.  This may be deemed a marketing objective and therefore may be recorded in green.  Later in the day, you may have a casting call, which is business development and may be recorded in blue.  Invoicing and bill paying time can be blocked out in red, as a general business practice.  And, the time spent in the studio is recording time, to be recorded in black.  By color coding blocks of time each day, you can easily see where most of your time is being spent, and, if necessary, adjust your time management accordingly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Creating an Audiobook? A Few Things to Consider

If you are thinking about creating an audio book to correspond with your novel, then there are undoubtedly a lot of questions circling your brain.  However, there are a few that are more important than the others.  The following is a list of essential considerations for those producing audio books:

#1. Determine the Niche Before you do anything else, take some time to investigate the success of other audio books in your particular niche.  There are some types of books that perform very well as audio books – those most likely to read them are just as apt, or perhaps more so, to listen to them.  Other niches will prove less than accommodating for audio books.  For instance, there isn’t as large a market for children’s audio books as there is for action-adventure audio books.  Know your niche and determine how successful an audio book could be within that category.

#2. Define the Audience It’s not enough to define the niche.  You must also understand the readers seeking books (and audiobooks) in that genre.  Understanding when, where, and how they prefer to read and listen to books can really help you create a plan of action for the creation of your audiobook.
 
#3. Know Your Budget There are costs associated with creating an audiobook.  You should be perfectly aware of how much you can afford to spend on this project, so you don’t get yourself into a situation that would make it nearly impossible to turn a profit (or worse, to finish the project). And be sure to give your narrator plenty of lead time to complete the book. Considering the time needed for pre-reading, research and final editing, besides the recording itself.

#4. Hire the Right Voice Over Artist Your choice of voiceover artist can really make or break the potential success of your audiobook.  A voice that is deemed annoying, monotone, or uncomfortable to listen to can turn people away before they have even heard your story.  However, the right voice can bring readers (listeners) back over and over again.  So, look for a voiceover talent who is experienced in your niche, who will appeal to your audience, and who can provide the right ‘feel’ for your audiobook.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Still Having Trouble Building Your Voice Over Brand?

Voice over work sounds like a great deal of fun to many people.  There certainly are a lot of advantages.  Most voice over performers are able to do a lot of their work out of their homes, which means making their own schedules and not having to contend with a daily commute.  There is also a lot of fun to be found in the work, which can be both animated and informative at times.  However, just as is the case with every other job, voice over work is not all sunshine and rainbows.

One of the most difficult aspects of the voice over profession is coming to understand how much self-marketing is involved.  This is the number one cause of failed voice over careers.  Building a business is not easy, and voiceover is no exception to that rule.  You may have the best, most enticing voice in the world, but if you don’t know how to market your skills, then it is essentially worthless.

So, how do you take your business from stagnant to stellar? The first thing you must do is build up a product that you believe in.  If you have self- doubt and don’t trust yourself to be the best candidate for the voiceover job, then you don’t stand a chance of convincing the potential employer that you are just that.  So, be sure that you have armed yourself well.  Create a great demo that showcases all of your strengths.  Read the advice of the pros and take as much as you can from them, so you avoid rookie mistakes.  Take acting classes, which will serve you well in the recording studio, but also improve your confidence at casting calls.  And, practice.  Practice regularly.  When business is slow, don’t play games on your computer, watch the telephone, or call a friend to complain.  This is the time that you should be using to hone your skills and to seek out potential voice over opportunities.

Once you are feeling confident about your skills and your abilities, it’s time to get creative.  You must have a marketing strategy, a road map of sorts.  This will change over time, undoubtedly, but you should lay out your goals, your budget, and your plans for the short term, so you have direction when you invest in marketing campaigns.  Look to services like Facebook- and Google Ads.  These can be inexpensive ways to get your name in front of potential customers. 

Also, call on connections that may be willing to introduce you to some of the big players in the field (after all, it’s all in who you know, right?).  Create content and ads that people can’t ignore, and you will find that your name is mentioned more often, hopefully in the right circles.  But, don’t just create content, comment on others’ articles, social posts, etc.  Share, comment, and like your way into new relationships.  And once a common thread is discovered, keep the conversation going because this is how loyalty is established.  Once those relationships are formed, those people will be more apt to recommend you when someone mentions the need for a voice over talent.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why You Should be Acting Out Your Lines in the Studio



 There is a horrible misconception that surrounds the voice over industry, which suggests that those doing voice over work could never cut it on stage.  That, of course, is an absolutely incorrect assumption in the vast majority of cases.  Many of the voice over artists currently working in this field started their careers on stage.  And, an even greater percentage have taken multiple acting classes to hone their skills.  In fact, the best voice over talents are acting every day… in the studio… with or without an audience.

Why should you be acting out your lines, just as a stage- or screen performer would?  Your body language (even the smile on your face) can have a drastic impact on your pitch, tone, and impact of your speech. You should address the microphone as you would when addressing a person. I'm sure you would be moving your body, your hands, making facial grimaces and just being real. Do the same at the mic, just keep in mind that you still need to maintain proper mic proximity for recording.

Of course, there are many degrees of acting.   Some voice over artists will do very little physical movement while recording, relying almost entirely on voice and facial expression to ensure a great finished product.  On the other hand, some will stand in the studio at a standing microphone, so they can move more freely and really put on a performance. 

It’s true that many will prefer the final recording of the latter voice over actor.  The movement can actually be detected in the voice, providing more realistic vocal expression, and even provides the realistic change in voice that comes with partaking in physical activity.  For instance, reading the lines of a ninja, in the midst of battle, is going to sound much more realistic if the voice over actor is a bit winded, breathing a little harder than normal.

Does that mean that you have to stand up and perform for all of the recording you do each day?  Not necessarily.  Some scripts require less acting than others, and for those sitting may make you more comfortable and therefore more apt to put in a great performance.  But, if you have found that your recordings are sounding a bit flat, then it may be time to consider how physically acting out the lines could improve the final product.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Looking to the Future of Voice Over

This is an industry that has seen a lot of change in recent years. Technology has driven a lot of the growth that the industry has seen, making it possible to work from home, send in demo tapes instantly, and to connect with potential clients even from hundreds of miles away.  This growth isn’t expected to slow any time soon, but there will be increased competition among those doing voiceover work. Why is that?  Because all of that convenience means that more people want to break into this line of work.  With more new voices joining the profession each day, the level of competition is going to undoubtedly get stiffer.  That simply means that you must be prepared to face off against other talents, making yourself the more attractive candidate.

Before you Read, Try to Understand the Writer If you can get into the head of the script writer (figuratively speaking, of course), then you will be much better prepared to give a winning reading of the script.  After all, there is a tone, an approach that the writer and the team had in mind, even if they didn’t realize it initially.  Understand their vision and you can give them the winning voiceover.

Create a Winning Home Studio A home studio is fairly essential these days.  Once upon a time, a voiceover talent had to commute to a professional studio each time her or she had work to do.  That has changed.  Home studios – in large part because of better technology – are more than adequate for creating professional sounding recordings.  It will require, though, that you do a bit of work to create a sound-proof space, with a good microphone and the right recording software.  The most important thing is that you block out as much background noise as possible, to prevent excessive editing. Of course, I'm simplifying a bit but there is lots of information out there about building a great home studio.

Select the Right Voice Coach A voice coach can be a powerful ally, helping you to continually improve your talent, helping you find valuable acting classes, and even leading you in the direction of casting calls.  You have to choose a voice coach, though, that will stick with you through the long haul, one that is becoming- or has become a fixture in the voiceover industry.

With healthy doses of intelligence, talent, and effort, you can continue your climb to the top of the voiceover industry, despite increased competition. You just have to be dedicated to what you are doing and persistently going after VO work to be taken seriously and stand out from the crowd.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Voiceover Professional

There is a great deal of value that can be added when you employ the right voice for your voiceover work.  The right talent can infuse life into your videos, website, social posts, commercials, correspondences and more.  The wrong voice, though, can be costly, in many ways. 

Why is it dangerous to select a voiceover talent at random?

ü  Inexperienced, unprofessional voice over artists can drastically slow your production time.  That means it takes longer to get your message to the customer, client, or employee. 

ü  There are some voices, whether because of a monotone nature, because of tone, or pitch, that are perceived as unattractive to many listeners.  You can imagine how quickly such a voice would cause a person to stop listening.

It’s not just about avoiding the wrong voice, it is also about finding the right one.  So, here are some questions that you should be asking before you hire anyone for the job.

?         What sort of message am I trying to get across to my audience?  There are certain voices that are better for certain types of messages.  For instance, most people believe that male voices better evoke force.  On the other hand, a female voice may be the better option if trying to sell a feeling of comfort, as they tend to be perceived as more soothing.

?         Who is your intended target? Obviously, the message is going to be different if directed at a new employee than if you are reaching out to a potential customer.  However, you should be even more specific than that.  If you are speaking, for instance, to a region of the country that has a noted accent, then you may want to consider a voiceover artist who shares that accent.

?         What do you know about the voiceover artist’s background? It can be tempting, when hearing a voice that sounds perfect for your intended message, to hire as soon as the demo has finished playing.  However, there are a few things that you should know about the artist before hiring.  How long has this person been working as a voiceover artist?  How many jobs of this nature has he or she done?  How long does he or she expect it to take to put together a great, finished recording?

Ask the right questions and you are much more apt to get the finished product that you desire, complete with excellent voice over.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to Turn Daily Transactions into Voiceover Work

Most days, the majority of people will have some level of interaction with another person.  This could be the unexpected cold call on a lazy day around the house, or it could be the numerous people doing a multitude of tasks related to the errands that you run on an average day.  Any one of these interactions could lead to a new professional connection, but you’ll never know the possibility unless you actively pursue it.  Am I saying that you should introduce yourself and talk about your choice of profession with every person you come across on a given day?  No.  Of course not.  However, there are many opportunities to boost business that entrepreneurs, like you (and me), miss out on every day.  So, before you start your day, consider your objectives and how they may double as business building prospects.

Running into an Old Friend You run out of the recording studio to grab a quick bite to eat, you make your way to the grocery story to pick up a few things needed around the house, or you stop to check your mail.  These are all normal activities that people do on a regular basis, and they often lead to small-talk-situations.  You may come across an old neighbor in the aisle of the grocery store.  A former high school classmate may be managing the restaurant where you stop to have lunch.  Or, you may run into your prior colleague in the post office.  The best question to ask?  “Where are you working these days?”  “How’s work treating you?”  Questions like these can be easy transitions into talk about your own profession, which is exactly the aim should be.

Going to the Doctor Appointments are one of the best times to grow your business.  As soon as you leave the office, check the website of the practice (doctor, dentist, masseuse, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc.) and look for areas that could benefit from voiceover work.  Then, simply write a note to the office, suggesting that you had a recent visit that went really well, that you followed this up with a look at the website, and that you would be willing to offer your voiceover services if they wanted to add some script to their existing videos.

Establishing New Friendships on Social Media Perhaps because there are computer- (or handheld device) screens between you, social media is often the easiest place to share info about your profession and to offer up your services.  Just don’t forget, when you make a new connection on a social network, invite that person to like your professional page as well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tips for Voiceover Actors Trying to Master Dialects

There is a measure of advantage that comes with being able to offer a variety of services as a voiceover artist, so learning a new dialect is a great idea.  It can open up new doors for you, which is a great thing, but it can also require a great deal of dedication.  It is not overly easy to really master a new dialect, however with these few tips, you may just be able to accomplish this goal and sign some new voiceover work in the near future.

1.    Pronunciation is Just One Piece of the Puzzle The first thing that most people will do when trying to learn a new dialect is to mimic the accent of those they hear speaking it.  That is perfectly understandable, and not an altogether wrong approach to learning.   You must understand, though, that mastering the pronunciation isn’t all that goes into mastering the dialect.  Focusing too much on the pronunciation can make your voiceover sound stiff and forced.  You must maintain that human element, the rise and fall of natural speech.

2.    Learning a Dialect is Not the Same as Learning an Accent A dialect, according to most dictionaries, is a form of speech that is unique to an area, region or particular segment of the population.  Accent generally refers only to the pronunciation of the words, while learning a dialect means learning the distinctive phrases and slang terms used within that area, region, or social group.

3.    Immerse Yourself Perhaps you can’t travel to England, in order to learn the British dialect, or to Ireland to speak with an authentic Irish Brogue, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t immerse yourself.  There is a seemingly endless supply of music, video, television, and movies available on the internet today.  Find everything you can featuring the dialect that you hope to master, then watch and listen as often as possible.

I     I learned a Scottish dialect to be eligible to get a great part in the play "1776." Another in the play was actually Scottish and he recorded all my lines with his dialect. I practiced very carefully repeating each line many time... I got the part in an incredible musical play!

I

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Many Actors and Actresses Like Voiceover Work at Certain Ages

In recent years, I have read many articles related to the entertainment industry, which all suggest ideas for those actors and actresses looking to find work in their ‘gap years’.  What are the gap years?  They vary for different artists, depending upon when those individuals break into the industry.  For those who start very young, the gap years can occur multiple times.  There are some ages at which there are simply more casting calls.  Generally, it is the “between generations” span that can be difficult.  Consider that most shows and movies feature people that can fit into the stereotypical roles of “grandparent”, “parent”, “young adult/teen”, or “child”.  While an actor or actresses is of an age that doesn’t allow him or her to clearly fit into one of those categories, he or she may find it difficult to find work.

These are the gap years that the previously mentioned advice-articles refer to.  There are many suggestions given for those in their gap years, including getting a side job, taking more acting classes, or stepping outside one’s comfort area.  However, there is something else – or perhaps a combination of these tips – that many actors and actresses have found success with.

Voiceover work allows for all of those well-honed acting skills to be put to use, but without the pressure of “looking” the part.  Therefore, the gap years can be filled with paying work that allows the person to continue growing within the industry.  It also keeps him or her involved with others working in the entertainment field, which means more doors may open, and fewer are shut while he or she passed from one age category to another.

There are, of course, a few differences between the type of acting done for stage or screen, versus that done before a microphone.  Therefore, it is worth taking some classes or practicing voiceover acting before trying to make the jump.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Should You Hire One- or More Voiceover Talents for Audiobooks?

There are a lot of audiobooks on the market, but not all are frequent downloads.  In fact, only a small percentage of authors will see real success in the audio book market.  The rest will be lucky to make a little money after paying for the related expenses.  There are a number of factors that can determine whether or not an audio book is successful.  These include, of course, the status of the author, the topic of the book, and the marketing skills of the author and those working for him or her.  There is one other, big factor to consider though – the quality of the voiceover work. 

Many, many times, customers will completely pass by an audio book or buy it only to immediately “return” it because the voiceover work is not appealing to them. Most people know what it is like to listen to awkward audio.  It could be just the tone or the pitch of the voice that is troubling to the listener.  It could be that the voiceover artist has a tendency to sound monotone after reading for a period of time.  Or, it could be that the story is too hard to follow before there is only one voice and multiple characters in the book.

All of these situations can be very frustrating for the author, but all are preventable.  For the sake of this article, let us consider the latter – the need for multiple voices.  This can be managed in two ways:

#1. Hiring Multiple Voiceover Artists: They can work together in the same recording studio or all make their recordings separately, to have them digitally combined later.  Either way, you wind up with a distinct voice for each character.  For novels that feature many characters, this can be a good way to go, because it really can be difficult for a single voice actor to manage all of the voices while ensuring that the lister can discern one from another.

#2. Have One Artist that Can Speak in Many Voices There are many voiceover talents that can seemly transition from one style of speaking to another, allowing them to give a distinct voice to each of the characters in the book.

It is also possible to combine these methods.  For instance, some authors choose to hire both a female- and a male voiceover artist.  The female speaks for all female characters, while the male manages all masculine parts.  So, the answer to the initial question is “no” because there are multiple methods of managing the problem.  You don’t have to hire more than one voiceover talent, but you may want to consider it, if you think it will provide a more enjoyable listening experience for the consumer.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Get Customers Talking to Build Corporate Voiceover Business

Have you ever been to an art opening with just one or two people walking around the space?  Have you ever witnessed a free concert that had almost no one in attendance?  Such failures don't just occur in the art world.  On a regular basis, in this country, and surely in other areas of the world, businesses face disappointment when sales, promotions, and other marketing schemes fall flat.  In the voice over industry, a failed attempt to reach potential clients can be very costly.  The good news is that many of those failures suffered by artists, musicians, retailers, and voiceover artists in the past were likely preventable.  How do you avoid such a disappointment?  You rely on the longest standing marketing principle – word of mouth.

The era of social media has made word of mouth more powerful than ever before.  People have greater reach when they want to share their reviews of businesses and performers.  They can spread the word without even leaving their own homes.  But, how do you get your former clients, friends, and others talking about your brand?

Encourage Reviews Often, all you have to do is ask, and a former client or customer will happily write up a review that can be shared on your website, as well as on your social media feeds.

Get Chatty The best way to get a conversation going about your business is to be the one to start the conversation.  Don’t forget that the primary purpose of social media is to be social.  Really take the time to speak with former customers as well as potential future clients.  Above all else, always take the time to respond to comments or messages from others.  Not only can this turn a simple comment into an actual conversation, it will also showcase your professional nature, and make that person more likely to say a kind word about you to others.

Offer Up a Reward When someone has done you the kindness of referring you to potential customers or clients, take the time to return the kindness.  Send a thank you note, provide a small gift, or offer a reasonable discount on his or her next project.  You can be sure that this will increase the likelihood that they refer your services again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Getting Your Talented Child into the Voiceover Studio

If you have a child who has shown a lot of interest in acting, then you might be considering getting him or her into voiceover work.  While it certainly differs from stage acting, many young, creative children have done very well in the recording studio.  There are a few things that you should consider if you are trying to break into the industry on behalf of your child.

Age Though personality and maturity will be gauged above all else, many casting directors will have an age cut-off (on both ends).  Although there is an awareness that working with children is not quite the same as working with adults, the client is most concerned with getting a good recording, and will, therefore, stipulate an age range most likely to fulfill those needs while in the studio.

Training It is not impossible to land a voiceover job without professional training, but your child is going to be much better off if he has something to put on his resume.  Stage experience is great, professional training is even better.  Acting classes are offered all over the country, many devoted to young children.  There are also professional voiceover coaches, although these professionals are more commonly found in large cities (where live auditions are most likely to take place).

Making the Transition A voice over coach will be able to provide additional input on where to look for audition and casting opportunities.  There are also websites devoted to voiceover work, where you can upload your child’s resume and demo reel.  Another option is to seek the assistance of a talent agent.  You, as the parent, will also have to take responsibility for the other end of the voiceover business – the marketing, accounting, and time management concerns, for instance. And check online for other opportunities.

With a bit of luck and the investment of some of your time, your children can start a voiceover career at a very young age.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Many Misconceptions About Voiceover

If you are new to the voiceover industry, or you are considering changing career paths in order to give your voice the chance to shine, you will want to be very careful to avoid the many myths and misconceptions related to this field.  There are many of them, but here we will touch on a few that could be very misleading and cause your new career to fail in no time.

It’s Not About the Imitations There are so many people who come into this industry who believe that the name of the game is to be able to mimic the stars and cartoon characters well known to people throughout the country.  They create entire demo reels showcasing their ability to mimic others.  This is not what voiceover is about and, in fact, that sort of demo reel can actually hurt your chances to sign with potential clients.  Why?  In most cases, the casting directors want to hear your voice, not someone else’s.  A little bit of imitation work can be beneficial, but the majority of your work will be done in your own voice.

It’s More Than Audiobooks and Cartoons While it is true that audiobooks and animation have been a source of income for many voiceover artists, they are not the only forms of voiceover work.  In fact, they don’t even represent the majority of the work.  Be sure that you aren’t limiting yourself as a VO professional.  There is work to be had recording for commercials, internet spots, video games, narration, training videos, introduction videos, and other corporate work.

Not Everyone Can Do Voiceover Anyone with a voice can be recorded, right?  While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that the recording will be worth anything.  And, more importantly, there is much more involved with working as a voiceover artist than speaking into a microphone.  You will be operating your own business, which means marketing, accounting, time management, and much more.  Not everyone can make it as a voiceover artist.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Things That Make Voiceover Script Great

Just as not all voiceover artists are created equally, not all voiceover scripts are of the same caliber.  Whether you are a VO artist or you are preparing a script, there are a few things that you should be considering to determine whether it is a script worth reading.  These are the five things that you should be seeking as you do a first read through:

1.    A Consistent Message Whether it is a training video, a commercial, or an audio book, there should be a consistency to the writing.  No one is going to be happy with the recording – especially the intended audience – if the message isn’t clear or the script is difficult to follow.  Be sure, as the writer, that you know what you want to convey and keep to that theme throughout.  As a VO artist, avoid scripts that are confusing or difficult to understand, if possible. At least seek clarification before recording.

2.    Proper Formatting This is especially important if there is dialogue occurring within the script.  Whether there is one VO artist or multiple readers, the ability of the voiceover talents will be greatly hindered if the formatting is wrong or inconsistent.

3.    Easy Reading We’ve touched on this a little, but it is worth saying again.  When doing a final readthrough, as the writer, or an initial readthrough, as the VO artist, be sure that you read aloud.  This can help you pick out tricky spots.  If you can’t comfortably read the majority of script clearly the first time, it is probably not worth taking into the studio. And DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS! All caps are "visually" hard on the eyes! They also don't allow room for emphasis to be placed on any particular words or phrases. So, use upper and lower case in complete sentences.

4.    No Slashes, but Many Contractions Unless this is an extremely formal script, chances are that the VO artist and the client are going to be happier if contractions are used in voicing the script.  It will sound more natural and pleasant that way, so write the contractions in, rather than expecting the VO artist to mentally make those changes in the studio.  Similarly, avoid confusion created with symbols like a slash (i.e. he/she).  The script should be written as it is to be read (i.e. he or she).  These may seem like little issues, but when they come up many times throughout the script, they can make the recording process a much bigger challenge for the VO artist.

5.    Client Notes There should be notes included with all scripts.  Undoubtedly, there will be words, names, or concepts that must be explained.  As a VO artist, you should be carefully considering those notes (or lack thereof).  For instance, if, when reading the script, you come across multiple names that are difficult to pronounce, but there are no notes provided offering pronunciation, that should send up a mental red flag.  You certainly don’t want to have your pronunciation corrected after you have spent hours in the recording studio.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Build Your Resume – Help Friends Create Winning Websites

Throughout the country, marketing managers have made the switch from focusing on written content and pictures, to placing much more emphasis on video.  All over the web, articles have popped up about the advantages of including video on company websites.

Google Loves Video Actually, it’s not so much that Google loves video as much as it is that the Google algorithm values time, as in the amount of time that the average visitors stays at a website once arriving.  Video, of course, gives visitors something to linger over, which means the average time spent at the website increases, and so does the Google ranking.

Great Way to Make the Brand Approachable Though marketers talk a lot about brand loyalty, in truth people are far more apt to feel loyalty for other people than they are to have loyalty for a brand.  Give the brand a face and a personality, and people are more likely to remember it when they are ready to buy.  Video can provide that.

Video Appeals to Mobile Users It is much easier to watch a video on a small screen than it is to scroll side-to-side, up-and-down to read the same information. Consumers spend a great deal of time on mobile devices these days.

Show the Products in Action Very often, it is difficult to really portray how great a product is in a photo.  Video may be the answer, providing potential customers a real vision of how the product would make life easier or more enjoyable.

These are just some of the advantages that you should be mentioning to friends and family members who own or operate a business.  All of the video is going to call for some voiceover work.  Offer your services at a discount, provide them a professional-sounding video for their companies, and get yourself some new additions to your VO resume. And of course, get your voice out there!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Why You Should be Writing as a Voiceover Artist

Although you may be tempted to believe that there is little need for voiceover artists to spend any time writing when their time would be better spent in the recording studio, that is a misconception.  There are many good reasons to set aside time each week to spend with your keyboard. 

Although many people would tell you that the blogging movement has died, that is most definitely not the truth.  Many businesses – even those consisting of only one or two people – have already discovered the power of content marketing.  You may consider yourself only a voiceover talent, but if you are finding- and securing your own work, if you are reporting self-employment income each year, you are much more than a voiceover actor or actress.  You are a business owner.  In order to continue to grow that business and, therefore, your income, you should most definitely consider content marketing.  Here are three great reasons why you should do so:

#1.Content is Shared Social media is now a way of life.  People spend hours each day checking in and sharing things that interest them.  Create the content that appeals to others and they will happily share it, which means your brand appears before a larger audience – perhaps some who will become your future clients.

#2. Requires Only a Modest Budget Content marketing doesn’t require a big budget, as many other forms of marketing do.  You can get away with a very modest budget if you are willing to put in the time and energy to create regular, worthwhile content.  Perhaps you may pay to boost a social post upon sharing your content or you may pay a small fee to procure photos to match your written work, but the expenses are minimal.

#3. One More Way to Establish Your VO Reputation If you want to really concrete your place in this business, the best way to do so is to establish a reputation of industry expert.  How do you do that?  You keep signing VO jobs, you read and comment on articles related to the industry, and you write your own pieces that make It clear that you are well-informed and experienced.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Good and Bad of Personality

As a voiceover artist, you are most likely working as an independent contractor.  That is to say that you are running your own business.  That makes you a small business owner and puts you in charge of your fate. For some, this is an easy role to accept, but for others, personality traits get in the way of success.  There are certain traits that can make it harder to make it as a voiceover artist, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible.  If you are aware of this personality flaw, you can work to make it better.  On the other hand, if you have a winning personality trait, you can make the most of it to help your career along.

The Good Let’s first look at the traits often shared by the country’s leading businessmen.

Courageous Some might call it foolish to take chances, but you can’t build a business if you don’t accept the risk of starting the process.  Risk taking, as long as it is done with forethought, can be a very rewarding trait to possess as a business owner.

Confident Do not confuse this with conceit.  Confidence is the knowledge that you can accomplish your goal, but that it will require a certain level of humility. You must believe in your talents and your ability to grow a business, or else you'll be doomed to failure.

MalleableThough life would be easier if everything went our way all of the time, but no one ever said life would be easy.  You will have to make changes, make exceptions, and make concessions in order to successfully work with others.  Clients won’t always have the same vision as you do, and you must be flexible if you hope to continue to build strong relationships in the industry.

The Bad On the other hand, of course, there are those personality traits that could stand in your way, if you don’t recognize them and work to overcome them.

Narcissist The business may be all yours, but your success will depend on many.  Don’t get too caught up in yourself.  This is a business that will involve putting the wishes of others before your own from time to time.  Narcissism could cost your dearly.

Lackadaisical Self-motivation is one of the most important things you can possess when starting and operating your own business. If you are too easily persuaded to sit on the couch or to laze, you will undoubtedly miss the opportunities to grow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Do You Stand a Chance Against a Big Name?

There has certainly been on a long-lasting trend in the voiceover industry of clients opting to pay big bucks in order to get a recognizable voice behind their work.  Those recognizable voices, of course, belong to the famous on-screen performers that we have all grown to love through their various movies or TV shows.  So, what chance do you stand of scoring a good job when there are movie and television performers willing to take on the additional work?  The truth is that your chances may not be as bad as you believe.

There are reasons, of course, to consider the big name with the recognizable voice.  For animated films, the names can help sell the movie (especially when those individuals are willing to go on promotional tours).  However, there are also major benefits for those willing to hire a voiceover professional rather than the screen actor/actress:

1.    The Cost The big name usually commands a big price tag, and that means that the client is going to pay dearly for that recognizable voice.  In many cases, the celebrity isn’t going to bring enough added fanfare to make the investment worthwhile.

2.    The Experience Surely, that television or movie star has an extensive resume and more than ample acting experience.  However, he or she is less likely to have spent much time behind the microphone.  There are big differences between screen acting and voiceover work.  You’ve already had the training and experience.  You know how to bring a character to life despite sitting along in a recording studio.  The big name may present bigger challenges.

3.    Repeat Recording There is another big risk when it comes to bringing a big name into the studio – future projects.  Hiring a great voiceover talent like you means the chance to have the same great quality recordings for future projects.  However, just because a one-time relationship has been built with the famous voice doesn’t mean that it will be possible to sign that person on for future work, especially if he or she is in big demand for TV or film.

The morale of this story is simple – don’t be afraid to try!  Even if you have heard rumors that the client is trying to bring in a famous figure, it doesn’t hurt to submit your demo.  Don’t undersell yourself.  After all, you may be far more desirable than you believe.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Using Humor to Help Your Voiceover Career

I’ve written many times about the many different roles that the average voiceover artist must fulfill in order to keep his or her career on the desired path.  In most instances, this does involve the actual business operations, because most voiceover actors and actresses are self-employed and contracted by clients to record.  This also means that there is a need for a healthy understanding of marketing.  In this day and age, much of the marketing will be done online, and this blog post is going to look at how humor can play a big role in that arena.

The inspiration for this blog post comes from an article featured in a sports publication, believe it or not.  The story, though, had a lot to do with voiceover because it was about the humorous efforts of one voiceover talent to put a spin on the OJ Simpson parole hearing.  This involved a lot of questionable humor, of course, including language that would not appeal to all.  However, for those who have been wound up in the Simpson drama since the release of the documentary not long ago, the footage is being widely shared and discussed.

Whether you love it or hate it, you must admit that the voiceover work was a spot of genius from a marketing standpoint.  It showcased the artist’s ability to show emotion, to time his recording to match the video, and to infuse humor in his work.  More importantly, it gained him a lot of exposure as the video has been viewed more than 19,000 times (at the time that this is being written) and has received more than 400 comments.

The fact is that people appreciate humor, which is something that is important to remember as you market your own brand.  You will, undoubtedly, want to release samples of your voiceover work, but not all have to be straightforward works.  There is value in engaging audiences in other ways.  People are more apt to share and engage with your content if they feel that they are getting something out of it, so give them a laugh.  And that OJ video with the VO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRfIiui9Qxw  WARNING: Foul language

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Casting Director Gives Input on Role of Social Media




Backstage released this video nearly a year ago, but it is worth bringing to the forefront again.  If there is one topic that remains a constant source of controversy in this industry, it is the role of social media.  I've written about it numerous times on this blog, suggesting over and over again that it is not something that can be ignored.  The value of social media for building a voiceover business cannot be denied any longer, yet there are so many trying to make it in this market who don’t use social media, or don’t use it well.  Now, I'm no expert but Benton Whitley explains, very well, the importance of media marketing and gives several tips that are worth consideration.

Casting Directors are On Social Media As a voiceover artist, you would be foolish to avoid social media.  This is one of the best places to make direct connections with the potential clients who may wish to hire you in the future.  They aren’t just on social media for professional reasons.  Most are also using social media on a personal level, which means that you have the opportunity to truly entertain and engage them.  Create content that will showcase your talents, but also provides some value to the individual.

Avoid Negativity This is a point made in the video that should not be ignored.  There are a lot of people, as Whitley points out, who are prone to use their social accounts to rant about the things that are bothering them.  Often, these rants pertain to their work.  It is important to remember who you are trying to appeal to online.  Complaints, criticisms, and other such negativity can turn the casting directors and potential clients away very quickly.

Keep the Content Fresh Whitley also points out the importance of adding new video and content on a regular basis.  You don’t want him (or potential client) searching your name online only to find the same videos that they were seeing a decade earlier.  He suggests cleaning out old content that no longer shows you to your best advantage.  Posting regular, fresh content can assist your career in many ways.  One of those, of course, is giving the casting directors something new to look at.  Another is providing fans something to share and engage with.  The more they see of your name, the more they hear of your voice, the more likely they are to remember you and associate you with the voiceover industry.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Designing Your Voiceover Logo


When you make the decision to follow through with your dream to become a voice actor, you are essentially embracing the life of a business owner.  For the vast majority of voiceover artists, it is necessary to work on a contract basis, which means that you will operate as a self-employed talent.  That also means that you will likely spend a lot of time and energy advertising your brand.  One great way to spread brand awareness is to create a business logo that can be used to create a consistent appearance across all platforms – website, social media, letterhead, email, resume, demo cover, etc.  There are a few things to keep in mind, though, as you set out to create that logo.

Keep It Simple This is important for many reasons.  Take a moment to think of some of the most successful logos – Nike, Apple, Pepsi, Chevrolet, etc.  All are very simple and could almost be drawn from memory.  That is what you want for your own brand.  You want others to be able to easily call to mind exactly what your logo looks like.  Simplicity is also important for the purpose of being able to manage consistency.  Large enough for a banner or small enough for an Instagram profile pic, your logo must be able to be clean, clear, and easily detected at any size.

Involve the Theme If possible, consider hinting at the type of work that you do.  That doesn’t have to be as involved as a microphone in your logo, but there are ways to give a taste of the purpose of your business.  Think about IBM and how their logo gives a hint of their legacy in the computer industry.  When you look close enough, you see it, but they didn’t include computer screen in the logo.

Attempt to Make it Timeless What is trendy today will most definitely not be trendy five years from now.  Do your best to ignore that compulsion to stick with what is currently popular and aim to create something simple that will be relevant on your business’ 20th anniversary.

Consider Hiring a Logo Designer  Hiring a good designer can be fruitful since they are used to finding the subtle nuances of specific businesses and bringing them forward into a impactful design. For voice over talent we want to show personality, brand, signature sound and experience. A good designer will know what to do when you give him/her as much information as possible about your talent and business.