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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Can You Do Voiceover Work Part-Time?

Any type of work from home attracts attention. Let’s face it, the majority of people like the idea of being able to roll out from under the covers – pajamas, bed head, and morning breath perfectly intact – and walk to the computer to put in a day’s work, no commute necessary. However, there are different challenges that come with working from home. Many positions, including that of voiceover profession, require the running of a business, because the majority of the work is independently contracted. The need to secure work in order to be paid scares people, for good reason. So, of course, the next best thing to working at home is working at home part time. Keep the paying job while you get the voiceover career rolling, right?

The trouble is that it can be very difficult to manage the demands of a VO career on a part-time basis, especially in the beginning. Why?

5 hours warm up (1 hour per day, five days per week): If you ask any professional VO artist how much time is spent lubricating and warming up his or her voice, and you will likely be told that they spend up to an hour each day, just trying to work the kinks out. You can spend long intervals of time in the recording studio, which is made much easier if your voice is ready to go when you step in the booth. This is something that will be consistently necessary throughout your voiceover career. In may case,  I usually can warm up my voice within 30 minutes each day, however, I find that if I'm not actually recording for a couple of hours, I have to warm up again.

5 hours training:
One of the most frequently recommended methods of improving your skill set and achieving more in the VO profession is to continue taking acting- and improv classes throughout your career. This takes time, five hours per week on average can be spent on training, listening to- and improving upon previous recordings, and just getting a better grasp of what it takes to be great at VO. This is especially true in the beginning, as you are trying to establish yourself.

10 hours marketing and networking:
Ten hours might sound like a lot, but this could be a drastic underestimation of how much time you will need to spend setting up and growing a website, as well as various social media accounts. A lot of your marketing and networking will be done online, but you have to be regularly present in order to respond to others and to grow your community. This can easily claim ten hours per week or more.

Total these figures out and you’ve already accounted for twenty hours – the typical part-time job – and there hasn’t even been time set aside for casting calls or for the recording studio. Treating VO as a part time job can be a big challenge, which is why many who try to do so never get the momentum that they had hoped to build. So, it does take some planning to transition from part time to full time.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

3 Ways a Perfectionist’s Attitude Can Kill Your Voiceover Career

Many would claim that a perfectionist would be the best sort of employee.  This is the person who simply must do the best, be the best at every turn.  However, that desire for absolute perfection can get a person in trouble, not just with co-workers in the traditional office, but also in the voice over industry. 

If you are a perfectionist and attempting to make your market in voice over, then you could be harming your own chances of success. Here are three reasons why:

The Need to Impress Could Impress No One

When you spend every moment trying to impress the client, the sound engineers, and anyone else who may be listening to the recording, you are apt to leave your personality behind. When you get too caught up in making everything perfect, you forget that the characters you portray in the readings are human and, therefore, flawed.

Obsessing Over Every Little Lull in Activity

While it would be wonderful if we, as voiceover artists, could count on a steady flow of work and therefore a steady paycheck, it rarely works that way. Even the best will admit that there are both very busy periods and also slow spells. Rather than panic every time things slow down, you must be able to see these as opportunities to boost other areas of the business (i.e. marketing campaigns, blog writing, demo preparation, etc.). If you allow your perfectionist tendencies to bog you down, you’ll miss such occasions. Particularly within my voice, I find that sometimes technical flaws become a selling point in my performances. ie. cracking, raspiness, pitch change and breaths.

Failing to See Those in Your Cheering Section

It’s true that this is a competitive industry, but that doesn’t mean that you are on your own. A perfectionist can make the mistake of believing that he or she cannot let go of any of the control of each and every scenario encountered. This, however, is a job that will require that you accept the support, encouragement, and, yes, critique of clients, directors, engineers, producers, and more. The good news is, though, that these people want to see you excel, which will, ultimately, serve your personality well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Building a Professional Voiceover Website

If you want to make voiceover work into a career, then you will want to present yourself fin the most professional manner possible when interacting with voice coaches, agents, or casting directors.  

While some will claim that a website is not necessary in this day and age, I argue that your website is your home base and it can set the tone for any of those professionals who may choose to research you.  Therefore, it can, in essence, serve as the first impression for the people who could make or break your career. 

Make a website and make it great, so you can make the very best first impression every time.
It's so easy to send your website link in an email message. Or print it on a business card.

Headshot This should be one of the very first things that a visitor sees on your website, as if walking into a room to shake your hand for the first time. Spend the money to get a professional head shot taken, if you haven’t already.  Even though you will spend the majority of your time behind a microphone, this picture is important because people connect better with images than they do with text. And as we all know, we are NOW a very visual society! Video is king!

Biography Be sure to include a creatively written piece about yourself, your background, your training, your experience, and even a bit about why you chose this career path.  Any marketer will tell you that the ability to tell a story is paramount to making the sale.  You are trying to sell your talents, so tell a great story.  It is generally advised that your write your bio in first person, as if speaking to the person visiting your site.

News There should be a news section on your website.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, it provides the perfect place to showcase new roles and experience that you are gathering.  It also keeps your website fresh, because you are regularly adding new content, which search engines appreciate.  Appeal to the search engines and they’ll send more people your way. Be sure and link your blogs to your website.

Downloads A casting director or agent interested in your work is likely going to want to download your resume, your headshot, and your demo for further consideration.  Make it easy for them to do this.  After all, those downloads could lead to more paying work for you.

Contact Info I suggest that you include contact info (email address and phone number, at very least) on every page of your website.  Whether you include this information in the header, the footer, or simply work it into the page design, it is important that it is easy to find. Also, include a link to your payment ability such as PayPal. And any other links you may find that specifically apply to customer service or other helpful information for the visitor.

Video The final piece of advice that I will offer is that you consider including video demos in addition to audio demos.  Why?  Video is very interactive and many people strongly prefer it to audio.  Even though you will be behind the scenes for the actual work that you do, people will appreciate seeing your facial expression, and will likely feel a stronger bond to you because they can picture you working in the booth.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Approaching a Voice Over Agent

Let me begin this blog post with two clarifiers:

1. Not every voice over talent will require an agent. You may find, especially with the technology available today, that you are able to drum up business on your own. If this is the case, then you may choose to hold off on hiring an agent, or may even choose never to work with one.

2. Not every voiceover talent will appeal to VO agents, and you may have to do a lot of work beforehand in order to get an agent to work with you.  After all, they want to take on talents who are going to appeal to casting directors. 

With that said, there are steps you can take to ensure that you are seen as a good candidate for an agent.

Take the Initiative The agents aren’t going to call on you.  That is a dream that only comes true for the tiniest percent of people.  You will have to seek out agents.  So, do your homework to determine which of these are experienced and most apt to get you paying work.

Read the Instructions Every agent is different and will want to be approached in a slightly different way than others.  Read through the submission instructions so you can be sure to present yourself in the right light.  You don’t want to be ruled out before the agent has even pressed play on your demo.

Avoid the Urge to Reach Out on Social Social media is a beautiful thing and can be a very powerful tool for voice over artists, however, there is a time and place for social networking.  You can certainly try to make a connection with VO agents online, but don’t try to make your submission or a plea via social networking.  In the vast majority of cases, it will be seen as unprofessional.

Highlight Your Experience and Training If you haven’t worked as a VO artist before, but you have made several appearances on stage, taken several acting classes, or have been working with a voiceover coach, be sure to highlight these things in your cover letter.

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.