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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Give Your Voiceover Business a Boost

Building your business is very likely at the top of your list of objectives if you are a voiceover artist.  Working in this field very often requires an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as a strong understanding of business.  If you have honed your voice, but you are still struggling to build a consistent business flow, you may want to consider the following tips.

Offer a Secondary Service One of the biggest pieces of advice offered by those who have been in the business to those who are new and struggling to find their footing is to offer a secondary service.  One of the most commonly mentioned is translation service.  You can’t speak another language?  It’s okay.  Find a company that does and contract their services.  Once the piece has been translated in writing, you can do the voiceover work as usual.  You can draw in more clientele, the translation company gets paid, and so do you.  Other services you might consider, depending on your strengths, are script editing, script writing, or you could even lease out your recording studio (if you have a nice one) at an hourly rate.

Consider Referrals If a voiceover job comes across your desk, but you know that you aren’t really the right fit for it, consider giving a referral.  This can be a very effective way to build connections and a sense of loyalty, if handled in the right manner.  Don’t refer to someone who would be seen as direct competition (i.e. someone with very similar vocal range and skillset) and do make direct contact with the other voiceover artist to let them know that you’ve made the referral and that he or she should expect a call or email.  This doesn’t guarantee that you will receive referrals in return, but it does increase the likelihood that you will.

Clean Up Your Own Work Additional services were mentioned above.  Post-production work wasn’t mentioned, but it is worth considering.  If you can hone your skills on the audio editing software, you can provide the post-production services that will increase your value in the eyes of potential clients.  You may be surprised to find that offering those services, even if they come at an added price, will lead to substantial increase in the number of voiceover jobs you secure.

Stalk the Successes Not literally.  You don't want to get arrested, after all.  However, there is nothing illegal about tracking the behaviors of competitors online.  Pick out proven successes in the voiceover world and watch what they are doing online.  You may find that mimicking their behaviors (to a reasonable degree) will result in a boost to your own business.  After all, they must be doing something right!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why You Should Consider Working with Others

Voiceover is an unusual career path, in that much of your time will be spent alone, especially if you do most of your recording in your home studio.  Even the hiring process can be done entirely via the internet, so you never actually meet the casting director or client in person.  For those who prefer to work alone, that can lead to a very comfortable routine.  However, there are good reasons to branch out and to consider the occasional collaboration.  If you haven’t yet considered it, you may want to look to join forces with another voiceover artist.  Working together can lead to great results.

Gain a Better Understanding of Your Own Objectives It is amazing how simply being forced to talk to someone else about your business plan can bring up points that you hadn’t really considered in depth before.  You will, undoubtedly, gain a better understanding of where you hope to be in the future and how you intend to reach those benchmarks, simply because you have to explain yourself to the person you may partner with.

Share Expenses There are expenses related to establishing an in-home studio.  Those costs rise substantially if you have to rent a space to do your recordings.  Sharing those expenses with another voiceover artist certainly makes sense.

Build Marketing Momentum You both have your own set of social accounts and your own websites.  If you work together, you can double your reach.  The added exposure is one of the most notable benefits of collaboration, and it can make an almost immediate impact.

Offer a Greater Range Some would be hesitant to partner with another voiceover artist, because ‘it’s like working with the competition’.  However, that doesn’t have to be the case.  Of course, if you choose to work with someone who shares similar vocal range and skillset, then it could be a conflict of interest.  But, if you work with someone who has a voice and talents that differ from your own, you can provide a greater range for potential clients by working together.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Voiceover 101: What You Should Know About Slating

If you are new to the voiceover industry, then there are undoubtedly many terms and phrases being thrown at you that are not at all familiar.  Some of those, you will learn as you go, and will be fine to do so.  However, ‘slate’ is a word that should be readily familiar to you from the start, as it is one of the most important ways to build your brand and increase recognition of your name.

Slate: The announcing of a name or assigned number at the start of a recording.  Often includes the name of the character being portrayed as well. 

The slate is helpful for the casting- or directing teams, as it helps them stay organized throughout the process, and ensures that they are crediting a work to the right actor or actress.   However, it can also be very beneficial for the voiceover talent.  This provides the perfect opportunity to put your name (your brand) in the mind of the casting director.  This also ensures that it is clear which part you are reading for or what type of reading you’re are performing.  Finally, it is a great way to ensure that a potential employer has a sample of your natural voice.

It's obvious that slating is good practice, so be sure that you are doing it correctly.  Here are a few things to consider:

Keep it Light This is just an introduction.  It shouldn’t be long, wordy, or stiff.  But, you should also sound professional.

Don’t Speak in Any Voice But Your Own The slate should absolutely be spoken in your own, natural voice.  This applies, regardless of what type of voiceover you will be performing in the recording.

Leave a Pause It is great that you can change your voice, tone, and pitch at a moment’s notice, but you should still leave enough of a pause for the person listening to process what you said.  Therefore, take a breath before you begin the actual take.

Practice There is nothing wrong with practicing slating.  It is important and the first thing the director will hear, so you want it to sound professional.  Give it a take or two (or more) before you do the actual recording.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Voiceover 101: Contending with the Misery of Seasonal Allergies

Read two lines.  Sneeze.  Read two lines.  Sneeze, Sneeze. Read two more lines…

Sound familiar?  The editing on this recording is going to be a nightmare, and you are undoubtedly cursing your family for passing on their seasonal allergy genes.  This is a tough time of year for many voice actors and actresses.  The sneezing, coughing, dry throat, and itchy eyes can make studio time more than a little frustrating.  Worse yet, for some, allergies also cause asthma symptoms, making it extremely difficult to read through a script without gasping for air. 

So, what do you do to put an end to the allergy symptoms?

There are plenty of over-the-counter medications that can be used to treat seasonal allergies.  Don’t be turned off if one of them doesn’t work for you.  The beauty of having several different options is that some may work better for you than others.  However, do read the box or bottle over thoroughly.  Some may cause drowsiness, which would be problematic in this line of work.  Also, in some areas of the country, the allergy medicines with decongestive properties are only found behind the pharmacy counter (for safety reasons).  However, those options can be best for reducing the nasal sound in your voice caused by allergies, so it might be worth asking.

If you simply can’t handle the antihistamines, then consider an anti-inflammatory medication.  You may be surprised to find just how much ibuprofen can help reduce your symptoms, because it will reduce swelling in your nasal passages and airways.  It can even help reduce discomfort in your eyes.

If you are looking for an all-natural solution, there are many recommendations to be found.  A teaspoon of local honey per day is said to stave off allergy symptoms.  Likewise, you can use peppermint oil in a diffuser if you want to naturally break up congestion.  Hot tea (particularly chamomile), lemon, and ginger are also said to help battle congestion and inflammation. And then there's Organic Throat Coat Tea. As a final tip, consider pampering yourself before entering the recording studio.  It has been found that facial- and hand massage can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Concentrate on the area over your sinus cavities, when massaging your face.  This can literally help break up congestion.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Importance of Confidence in a Voiceover Artist

In every profession, there is a need for confidence.  If you spend too much time doubting yourself, you will be more likely to make costly mistakes, and you run the risk of convincing others that you are not worthy of your position, your next scheduled raise, or consideration for promotion.  In this field, though, confidence is even more important.  A lack of it will be heard in your voiceover work, which can immediately turn off potential clients.  Walking into an audition overly nervous is very likely going to lead to a poor outcome.  And, if you lack confidence in yourself, you will miss valuable opportunities to go above and beyond for the clients who will serve as your leading source of recommendations. 

If you want to ensure repeat work with a client, or better yet, a referral to others looking for talent like yours, then you must showcase a supreme level of professionalism.  The ability to properly enunciate, to read with a larger-than-life personality, and to improvise as needed will be strongly rooted in your self-confidence.  If you don’t trust yourself, you will miss out on these opportunities to showcase your true strength as a voiceover artist.

So, how do you find your confidence, when it is lacking?  The greatest piece of advice that I was ever offered, in this regard, was to fake it until it feels real.  Here are a few ways that you can do just that.

Focus on Posture The taller and straighter you stand, the better you will feel, the better you will project, and the more confident you will appear to others.  If you don’t feel comfortable standing while recording voiceover work, then focus on sitting with better posture.

Pamper Yourself When you look good, you feel good.  This is a very true statement and something that most people have already experienced in their lives.  So, take the time to pamper yourself on a regular basis.  For some, this may mean a trip to the barber, the salon, or the spa.  For others, it could simply mean an investment in new additions to the wardrobe.  Although you don’t want to cause yourself financial hardship, it is important to spend a little bit on yourself, so you can feel your very best whenever entering a professional setting.

Follow Your Instincts When pre-reading a script, if you notice a section that simply does not sound natural, regardless how many different ways you attempt to read it, then suggest a minor edit, or just attempt to do that in your first reading. In most cases, this effort will be appreciated (or pleasantly unnoticed) by the client.  In those rare instances when a client is a stickler about wording, there is always the option to do a second reading or to dub it over later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why Your Voiceover Career Will Involve a Lot of Writing

It is amazing how many new voiceover talents come and go from this industry, and the most common reason I hear for their decision not to continue with this line of work is because they did not realize that it would involve so much more than simply reading scripts.  Please, please, please, if you are considering a career in voiceover, understand that it requires far more than your ability to speak into a microphone.  You will have to run the actual business which means a lot of work related to accounting, marketing, and business development.  For instance, if you should start a voiceover business, you should plan to spend a lot of time with your keyboard.  Much of the content you create, you will find, will not involve any audio or video.

There are many reasons why written content can benefit your voiceover business, but for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll focus on marketing content.  For instance, a blog post.  While I do hope that this post benefits you and helps you as you build your own brand, there is another reason why I write these. 

Build a Reputation Online Blog posts, articles, newsletters and other such written content can help you establish yourself as a reliable source of information within the industry.  They can also showcase the level of knowledge that you have compiled as a result of experience as a voiceover artist.

Improve SEO This is yet another thing that you will have to consider as you build your voiceover business. You want people to be able to find your website when they are searching for voiceover artists.  That means that you need to appeal to the search engines that have the power to direct that traffic to your website.  Search engine optimization (SEO) is the way to do that and among the most powerful ways of improving SEO is to have a steady stream of worthwhile, fresh content on your website (i.e. blog posts).

Demonstrate Another Form of Communication While potential clients will undoubtedly be most concerned with your ability to speak fluently, comfortably, and naturally when recording, they will also be looking for evidence that you will be a reliable, professional person to work with. Written content, especially a blog that is regularly updated can demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively.  It can also showcase the level of dedication that you feel for your profession.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mastering Dialects to Make Yourself a More Attractive Voiceover Artist

If you have found that you are having trouble building up your voiceover business, despite many efforts to improve your marketing strategy, then you are likely considering what steps you could take to make yourself more attractive to potential employers.  For some, the decision is to attempt to learn a new language, but that is a very cumbersome and lengthy process.  Instead, you might consider mastering various dialects.  Particularly in recent years, there are many companies and artistic productions that want to hire voiceover artists from other countries, simply to take advantage of the accents in the region.  If they can get the same result without having to leave the country to find a talent, then they will happily do so.  So, become that talent.

If you haven’t learned a new dialect before, then you are undoubtedly overwhelmed at the idea of doing so now.  It is not easy to take on a convincing accent from a region that you have not resided in (or, in some cases, even ever visited).  You will have your work cut out for you.  The good news, however, is that you are not the first to attempt this task, so you will find many helpful references online.  YouTube for one source! There are a few general guidelines for those trying to learn a new dialect.

#1. It’s All About the Vowels In most cases, the biggest differences between your accent and that which you are attempting to master are the sounds of the vowels.  Consonant sounds are consistent throughout most dialects, but there can be quite substantial differences when it comes to the way that the vowels are pronounced.

#2. Research in the Right Places You might, if you are lucky, be able to pick up a bit of the accent by watching marathons of popular movies spoken in that dialect.  However, you aren’t going to master it in this fashion.  You will have to do your research in the right place.  Most importantly, choose video over audio, and select video that will allow you to closely watch the movements of the mouth and cheeks while the person speaks.  That brings me to #3.

#3. Watch While You Listen It isn’t enough, for most people to simply listen to the dialect being spoken.  There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but if you haven’t mastered a new dialect yet, chances are good that you are not among the exceptions to that rule.  So, choose that close-up video and really watch how the mouth, cheeks, teeth, and even the tongue moves as the person speaks.

#4. Practice Finally, once you have gotten grasp of the difference between your accent and that you are attempting to learn, set aside a good amount of time to practice your new learned skill.  Practice, particularly in this case, really does make perfect (or as close as one can get to perfect).  Only through practice, and repeated watching of the videos like that you studied, will you master the dialect well enough to market it to potential clients.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Choosing Your Own Audition Piece

In many cases, when it comes to voiceover work, you will be asked to read a sample of the script that will be used for the job you are auditioning for.  In some cases, it may be a cold read, but it is still pre-selected material that is handed to you.  There are some auditions, though, which will require you to bring your own material, and these can be wonderful opportunities that shouldn’t be missed.  There are many mistakes that a person can make when selecting audition material, however.  Before you go ahead and choose the piece you will read for the casting director, considering the following:

Mistake #1. Choosing something that fails to showcase what makes you unique. 

It is true of you, and it is true of every voiceover talent – within each of us, there is something that makes us different than everyone else in the business.  It is when you recognize that unique part of you that you can really make the most of the auditioning process. Take time to consider what makes you great and then select material that really highlights that.  It might be the ability to shift from one dialect to another seamlessly.  It may be the ability to really portray anguish.  Whatever it is, do your best to draw it out so the casting director has no choice but to fall for you.

Mistake #2. Opting for poorly written material.

Let’s assume that this would only happen because you found out about the audition last minute and in a panic grabbed at whatever material you happened to have lying around.  Because, otherwise, there simply isn’t any excuse.  Even this reason is weak at best.  You should have a good, well-written script always on hand in case such a situation arises.  Well-written material makes your job easier.

Mistake #3. Failing to research the potential client.

It still amazes me that people make this mistake, but they do.  If you walk into an audition completely blind to who you are reading for, how can you possibly showcase the aspects of your talent that will best suit the job?  You can’t.  So, don’t try it.  Take the time to do some research into the client and, if possible, into the type of work they are proposing.