With the start of 2013, be sure to have a list of New Year’s resolutions to focus on over the next year. Not only should these resolutions be fun and important to you, but they should be attainable. To really make the most of this multi-decade tradition, start with a few different areas of your life that you want to improve upon and build your list from there.
Ask yourself some questions to help inspire your resolutions list. Are you happy with your career? Have you been saying for months (or years!) that you want to do something different? Are you currently pursuing something that needs an additional push to get it moving in the right direction? What about your health or your family? Or your hobbies? Be inspired and make a list that counts!
Here’s a Voice-Over Resolutions list to get you started:
– Get the best education possible for your craft. Work with someone who is qualified, flexible, accomplished and is a practicing voice-over professional. Someone who truly loves not only being a voice actor, but also educating others. And don’t forget about your continuing education–as your skills grow your knowledge needs to grow along with it. You never stop learning!
– Be proud of your demos! If it’s been years and you’re using the same demos and not seeing the results you’ve been looking for–or you’re ready to take it to that next level, then it’s time to reassess! If your voice and skill level are more advanced than the product you’re using to market yourself, then it’s time to record a new one.
– Have a solid marketing plan in place. Make a list of businesses that fit your niche, companies that you want to contact. Follow-up with contacts and clients you’ve already made. Focus on your collateral: website, business cards, postcards, etc. Establish your branding!
– Make goals for yourself and stick to them! Where do you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, a year? These can be financial goals, number of clients goals, landing that first TV commercial–you name it, the opportunities are endless.
– Get involved in social and in-person networking. Find (or create) a voice-over meetup group in your area. Join the voice-over Facebook groups, online voice-over forums, attend networking & educational events that are available throughout the country.
– Have fun! As they say, “if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.”
Find something that inspires you this year–that engages you creatively and mentally. Whether it be starting a new career, or fine tuning your current one. Find that challenge that you’ve been seeking and go after it!
“My wife made me do it!” Phil Williams tells us… and now that he has found repeated success, it turns out to have been as good a reason as any to get into the voice-over industry!
When we asked Phil what made him want to get into voice-overs, we received an unusual response, “Truly, the real answer is my wife made me do it.” We found his honesty and humor both intriguing and inspirational. “I never had some secret, long-held desire to be in radio, or images of Don LaFontaine running through my brain for years ahead of time.” He elaborates, “Quite simply, the opportunity to attend one of the introductory ‘You’re on the Air!’ classes came up in a local college class list, and my wife firmly announced, ‘You’re going.’ We actually drove back early from New Orleans so that I could make the 7:00 PM start time. The 2 hours in that classroom were just pure fun… I came home, told my wife that I thought I’d found a new interest and after some financial considerations were nailed down I signed up a few months later!”
While it sounds a little simple, the truth is that Phil possesses many of the skills that students don’t often realize are vital to voice-over success. Knowing what your strengths are can be key to finding your personal success story. Yes he does have a stunning voice (click here to listen to some samples), but he also has a technical background. This knowledge has helped him to master the needed audio recording and editing skills voice-over artists must learn. He even created his own website and built his own sound booth with a soundless ventilation system- wow! With some basics already nailed down, Phil continued to search for his strengths within the industry by identifying a niche for himself.
“I’ve tried commercials, phone recording, and one time presentations, and finally tried audiobooks… and what I discovered about myself was that more than the money, I was looking for a lasting effect. Audiobooks seem to give me that effect.” Phil shared more details about his most recent success. “My latest audiobook, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life has been very successful and a lot of people have downloaded it in a short period of time. With royalty work, that kind of result works quite well. It also makes me feel like I’m making a difference. I’ve even gotten a hold of the author and we’re planning to get together sometime later this year. He’s submitted another work and he likes what I did with the Rewire book so much that he’s hoping I’ll do his next one. Talk about pumping up your enthusiasm!”
Phil has also voiced corporate video narrations, a speech recognition project, an NPR piece and two audiobooks in addition to this project. He is clearly enjoying his new career and offers some insights to his fellow aspiring artists, “Overnight success is probably not on your plate. It only happens once in a while.” He further recommends, “Use every tool in your arsenal. Talk to everybody and anybody who’ll listen, because, like any other job interview, you never know if that person at the super market might be a booking agent, or know one! Have your 30-second self-promotion piece nailed so that you can capture their attention with your capability. Shameless self-promotion is recognized as a strength- NOT a character flaw! My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to try different types of VO work. Everybody said ‘Find your own niche!’ You’re never going to know if you are good at certain types of voice work unless you just try them, and then try them again.”
Phil has also found both networking and continuing education to be crucial in pursuing voice-overs. Plus, remember that inspiration he had to get started in the first place? “My wife… Yeah, remember where you came from, and who helped put you there. Give back! Now that the audiobook niche is helping us, we go out a lot more, and she likes that!”
Best wishes to you Phil! We look forward to hearing about your continued success in the years to come.
SAV Director of Operations Heather Costa, Records Hundreds of Radio & TV Spots for Carrier and Cub Cadet Quarterly!
I have been very fortunate that each quarter, for the past two years, I have been hired to record hundreds of radio and TV spots for Carrier AC & Heating and Cub Cadet, a lawn and garden manufacturer. These spots air all throughout the United States. Back in May 2010 I was approached by a Florida based production company who had found my website while doing an online search. The relationship started out with just a few commercials here and there. Then within a month, they sent me the first large project requesting 44 radio spots and 133 commercial spots for Carrier AC & Heating! I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was very excited for the opportunity and provided my best work possible with a quick turnaround. With each project since, the number of spots have increased.
I record commercials with this production company on a regular basis (ranging from 5 second tags to 60 second spots,) however, I can always count on receiving those big bulk projects for both Carrier & Cub Cadet once a quarter as the seasons change and it’s time to revamp their marketing!
Carrier uses this production company to create commercials for many of their distributors, such as Mike Morello, Air Pro Services, Baxter Oil Company and more! Cub Cadet does the same, so the projects I record are again for distributors such as Hoyt’s AG Supply, Clermont County Equipment and Gossett Farm Equipment, among others.
I’ve also had the opportunity to record numerous car dealership commercials for them and believe it or not, motorcycles too! I never would have pegged this as a niche for myself, but the client apparently did! It’s wonderful having outstanding relationships with production companies that rely on you and you on them as well. It’s also a great opportunity to share the jobs with other VO talents. I’ll occasionally be asked for referral recommendations for different types of voices that I obviously can’t provide, such as male, Spanish, etc. After all, VO success doesn’t just include booking jobs, it’s also about building relationships.
Click here for some Carrier & Cub Cadet spots that Heather recently voiced:
Larry Beier always knew he had a very pleasing and versatile sounding voice, but what he didn’t know was that voice-overs would be an exciting job to utilize his natural talents…. Until one day in a recording studio for his music work, he had the opportunity to listen to Joe Namath record one of his Flex-all 454 commercials. Thinking to himself, “Man, that would be a cool job to have!” Larry decided to pursue adding voice-overs to his resume!
As his first step, Larry signed up with Such A Voice to begin his one-on-one coaching with Michelle Falzon. He quickly learned that although he had quite an advantage in being a singer and having recording experience, there is a lot more to becoming a successful voice-over talent than just having a great voice! Larry applied himself and took all of his lessons with Michelle very seriously, saying about the program, “The truth is that no matter how nice your voice stands, there is a lot more to the VO business that needs to be learned. Things like script analysis, inflection techniques, how to market yourself, and information on how to set up and run your own legal production company. Such A Voice gives you the tools and resources you need. All you need to do is apply them.”
Upon completing his voice-over training program, Larry launched his own production company called “Voice Force One Productions LLC” and within only three months he landed his first paying gig! “It was a radio commercial in the LA area for LA Boxing,” he informed us. “I played the male caller role. We did a skype session and I was coached by the director. A lot of fun!” Thrilled with this early piece of success Larry continues to line up work with new businesses and has also donated his voice services to the Red Cross. Larry continues to aspire with dreams of becoming a national talent and voicing movie trailers one day. Keep us posted Larry, we know you will see those dreams come to fruition!
In a competitive industry like voice overs, it is important to go the extra mile to impress your clients. The more icing you put on the cake, the better chance you’ll have of landing another gig with them or be recommended to another potential client. There are tons of ways you can add that extra special something to really impress them, and here are just a few!
1. Make sure that you are able to deliver the services you offer, but if you can’t, recommend someone in your network who can! Recommending someone else for a voice job you landed shows integrity and respect for the client’s needs. They will probably come back to you because they trust your intentions.
2. Serve your clients not just with your talent, but build a relationship with them that could potentially get you more work. Be sensitive to their needs and be aware of their work ethic.
3. A speedy turnaround is also very important. As soon as your client asks for a spot, record it as soon as possible and send it to them. Same-day delivery shows dedication and really sets you above the rest. If you’re not confident that you can do a fast turnaround, don’t commit that you can, it could end up backfiring. If you think you can do it within 12 hours, but you’re not positive, say 24 hours and impress them by sending it back early. Don’t stress it if a 24 hour turnaround would be difficult for you, not every job has that urgency.
4. Show that you value your clients. The relationship with your client is a two-way street. Just as you would hope your client would refer business to you, be on the lookout for opportunities or contacts they might want to network with. If you hear of an opportunity that will benefit their business, share it with them! They’ll appreciate your interest in their business even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.
5. Send your clients a note during the holidays, even if you haven’t worked with them in a while. The note or card should wish them a happy holiday, and it will also remind them that you would like to continue doing business with them.
Leigh Laird has found a multitude of success since her initial decision back in late 2010 to pursue a voice-over career! Now having booked several jobs local to her as well as 6 jobs through Voices.com, Leigh is enjoying these beginning stages of fulfilling her dream to work from home – while still having the time to focus on her three children! In fact, it was that desire which originally inspired her to pursue voice-overs. Having an extensive background in radio, Leigh thought back to those years and recalled the incidents where people recommended that she voice commercials…. after doing her homework on the voice-over industry, she then decided that this was the right opportunity, at the right time! Leigh chose to study with Such A Voice and several months later began to market herself with her demo.
While Leigh attributes much of her success to the beautiful, natural and conversational tone her voice carries, she also gives a great deal of credit to her training. She continues to work with her Such A Voice Coach Lisa Foster today and raves about her experience, “I LOVE working with Lisa! She is such an encourager and I thrive on that! She has a wealth of resources and knowledge in all things voiceover and is always willing to share that…. Plus, she keeps it fun!”
Leigh followed a direct path to her success and hopes to help other aspiring talent to follow in her footsteps with a bit of advice, “1) Find a company, like SAV, that provides good training and a good demo. Your product needs to be showcased well. 2) Know your VO strengths and pursue jobs, initially, that play to those strengths. As you win jobs, that will give you the confidence to branch out later.”
We are so proud of you and all your success Leigh! We hope you continue to dazzle the ears of listeners with your lovely voice for years to come.
It is always a pleasure and gives us a great sense of pride when we hear about the professional advances our students have made. We recently asked Susie some questions to let us know a little more about her success:
Q: What inspired you to want to get into voiceovers?
A: I was a big fan as a kid of programs like You Are There, Victory at Sea, etc. I loved Alexander Scourby’s voice and thought he had the very best job in the world. When I started college at the University of Michigan in 1968, I planned on studying theatre and I wanted to learn how to be a voiceover talent—but the times being what they were, I was actively discouraged by my advisors. “Now, dearie, that’s a MAN’s job and a UNION job and your eventual husband won’t want you to travel that much.” My own feminism hadn’t blossomed yet so I meekly accepted their opinions as truth. Many years later (like about five years ago), I was chatting with a friend who is a very experienced sound engineer with a theatrical background like mine. I said I’d always wanted to record and that I loved audiobooks. Next thing I knew, he and I were recording public domain material and trying to market it on CDs. Not so successfully, I fear—too many costs, too many CDs rolling around, but we got a nibble from a company that was licensing such works online and we started selling our works through this site. Then Audible.com came along and, whoopee! We were audiobook artists, but I still had the voiceover bug.
Q: Who was your instructor at Such A Voice & what about that person made them a good fit for you?
A: Nick Kaiser was my instructor and we hit it off immediately! We had a lot of common experiences, being of the same generation and our personalities just meshed. Nick told me that my theatrical background meant that I already had a head start on a lot of voiceover hopefuls and encouraged me—for the first time in my life!!—to release my inner ham and have fun with VO. He also was a strong force against the old voices from my past and kept gently urging me on, letting me know I could do this and finally live my dream. He’s my best cheerleader!
Q: What do you see as your own VO strengths and why you will continue to succeed at this?
A: I love, love, love narration and will continue to seek out audiobook opportunities. I’ve got a million accents and characters in my repertoire, all just waiting to bust out. I’ve also learned that I enjoy commercial work—my first VO job, which kind of walked into my office while I was still getting coaching from Nick, was a website promo for a machine vision company so I got my feet wet early. Since then, I’ve done audio for some physical therapy videos produced by a young friend and have a monthly gig with an English as a Second Language testing company. All of this was just from personal contact and a little bit of networking. Then I landed my first job through Voice 123, using only my narration demo. It’s the first one that came my way through an audition, using the wonderful demos produced by Tom Force (the Michigan radio maestro) and Marshall Block (a great engineer with a rock and roll history that is nothing short of incredible). The client is in Montpellier, France.
Q: What did you take away from Such A Voice that will be the most beneficial to your career?
A: Confidence, confidence, confidence. I always thought I had a good voice but Nick, Tom and Marshall told me I had a GREAT voice so I’m feeling that there’s nothing in the VO area I can’t try. I’m not as swift with recording myself but I’m trying hard and I have some wonderful friends who are helping me. I learned that there are people who love to help you achieve whatever you dream of and I’d like to pass that along to other people like me.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring voice talent?
A: My best advice is don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it! If you’ve got a voice, get good training (there’s this company called Such A Voice that I can’t say enough good things about!) and practice, practice, practice. Do community theatre. Record yourself. Just get out there and do it and don’t waste a huge portion of your life letting someone else’s outmoded ideas hold you back!!
Congratulations Susie, we are thrilled that you shared this experience with us!