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!
What are the perks of being a voice-over talent? You get to set your own hours, hang out at home in your pajamas, have crazy bedhead and it doesn’t matter, spend time with your kids whenever you want, deduct a portion of your home for taxes and make a wonderful living doing what you love! The downside–you spend most of the time you’re working–by youself with a mic in your face. Personally, I think it’s definitely worth the trade off, but that’s all the more reason to get out and meet up with other voice-over talent every chance you get!
Networking is incredibly powerful. It’s not just about meeting potential clients and agents, it’s also about becoming known in the voice-over industry. It’s about making friends and building a support system. It’s more than just handing out business cards or sending emails with a link to your website, it’s about nurturing those relationships. A good friend of mine, Tom Dheere, said it beautifully “it’s not about who you know, it’s about how you treat who you know.”
Social networking is a great way to start those relationships. It’s the “water cooler” in the virtual office that we all share. When an opportunity arises where you have a chance to meet these people face to face, whether you’re a brand new talent or a seasoned professional, you will want to take advantage of that.
There are many different networking/educational events within the voice-over community such as Faffcon and VOICE and other events that are focused purely on networking like the NYC VO Mixer which I was fortunate enough to attend this past weekend. With an RSVP list of over 500 people that included voice talent, agents and other industry pros–it was a night I’ll never forget. I decided to finally take my own advice and attend a networking event to meet all of these wonderful voice-over friends I’ve known for years! Exchanging hugs and business cards, voice-over stories and connections–it was incredible. I can’t wait to attend the next event- somewhere- with all my voice-over friends and still have the opportunity to make new ones.
I really do love being a voice-over talent- there is nothing quite like it- it is one of the best jobs in the world. Just remember to get out of your PJs and leave your studio every once in a while :)
By Heather Costa
Such A Voice Director of Operations
Our Director of Operations Heather Costa shares a few ideas to help voice-over talent achieve the successful results they are looking for. In this short video, along with the provided worksheet, you will find ideas to help organize your schedule and set realistic goals for yourself. Click here to watch!
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.
An accountabilibuddy is a term coined by the South Park cartoon to describe someone who is assigned to you to keep you accountable. This term was introduced to me at VOICE 2012 (since I don’t watch South Park) when I attended Tom Dheere’s session titled: Goals & Action Plans: Putting it All Together.
While the term accountabilibuddy is new to me, the concept of an accountability partner is not. I have had several in my life and they have always kept me on top of the things that are important and in helping me reach my goals. I have attended and read many books on reaching goals. Being accountable to someone is without a doubt a great way to achieve success. It helps keep you from slacking off or worse yet let a year or two go by without reaching your goals.
Tom’s session was the first on accountability, that I had attended in the context of voice-overs. It was great to be reminded of the importance of having a mission statement, weekly, monthly and yearly goals along with an action plan to reach those but of course it all stems from your mission statement. Your accountabilibuddy is someone you share these things with so they know what to hold you accountable for week after week.
Tom challenged us to go out and find one while we were at VOICE and not to leave without one. Seeing how there were over 400 VO talents there it wasn’t hard to find one. In fact, my accountabilibuddy is someone that I just met at VOICE but we hit it off really well and she approached me and I said YES!
Since then we have met three times. We are meeting on a bi-weekly basis to start off with since we are both pretty busy but it has already helped us to stay focused on the things we want to implement that we learned at VOICE.
So how about you? Ready to find yourself an accountabilibuddy? I hope so. Here are my recommendations on finding one:
- Find someone who lives close to you if at all possible. This will help you foster a strong relationship. If this is not possible don’t fret, the phone or skype work just as good. The only downside is you can’t share a meal together to celebrate reaching big milestones.
- Find someone who you connect well with and won’t be offended, hurt or defensive when they call you out on your excuses or anything of the sort. Of course, the person should also be encouraging but sometimes we need to hear the hard stuff or else we won’t grow or change.
- Find someone who is at the same level as you are or a bit ahead. Otherwise, if the person is significantly ahead of you then it’s more of a mentoring relationship not an accountabilibuddy. Although having a mentor is another great way to learn and achieve your goals. View our mentor program called Career Advisory if you want to add this level to your success as well.
- Be ready to implement not just talk about what you like to do.
- Have fun! Having accountability isn’t all about deadlines and work. It’s work but it should also be fun except when you need a kick in the hiney to get moving : ).
These are just ideas, if nothing else it helps you to think through who can be your accountabilibuddy. Mine doesn’t live close in fact she lives in another state, I just met her so we are not only growing our voice-over business but also building a new relationship, which is fun.
To Your Voice-Over Succes,
Part of marketing yourself is creating your very own brand as a Voice-Over Artist. You see hundreds of brands daily – in the supermarket, on commercials and businesses you pass on the street. Each one is carefully designed to reflect what they are selling, and to attract potential clients all within a few words, colors and designs. So how can you emulate this in order to “sell” your voice? Here are some resources and processes you will find helpful when you tackle this task!
Once you have figured out your niche, write a list of words that describe that niche. Ask your VO coach, friends and family, “How do you hear me?” Then ask, “How do I hear myself?
You will then want to create a logo with these images. Your logo should be unique, distinctive and memorable. Ideally, it will stand out above others and perfectly match your voice! If you are not able to actually create it yourself you may find it helpful to work with a graphic designer to create the logo you envision.
There are many resources out there to help you along your “branding journey.” Here are some articles we have found to be very helpful:
We also found a video that discusses branding specific to Voice-Overs, published by voices.com:
For your listening pleasure, you will also find useful advice on this podcast:
Enjoy the creative process and the confidence you will have once you know you are powerfully representing your voice as a business!
When you feel that your current demo spots aren’t doing you justice anymore, that’s when you should consider creating a completely new demo.
After your initial demo, your voice will continue to develop and you’ll become a more established voice-over talent. If your current demo still sounds like you, showcases you well and is booking you work – then there’s no rush to record a new one. When the time comes that you feel the need or the industry trends have changed so much that your demo has become dated, you can tweak the demo you currently have. Do this by adding a few things such as mock spots and real work (as long as the real jobs truly showcase YOU well and not just the product!) Keep the best parts from your original demo and make sure those spots are right up front. Re-do, shorten and move things around! Even if things are only slightly changed, you can send out "new demo" advertising to clients.
VO work for The Voice of Authority (my “brand”) has continued on a steady and varied pace. I recently had a very interesting experience with a new client. The story begins with a lesson I learned in sales and marketing a long time ago (and one that SAV rightly promotes too): push every button, pull every lever to make yourself known to your market as you try to reach prospects. In this case it was my joining (for only $10!) – New England Actors. Although most of their gigs are for on-camera actors, they do accept voice actors also. The real value I saw, however, was gaining access to their list of audio/video production firms (cloaked until you joined). Cold calling this list of 14 firms has so far resulted in two jobs with 2 different firms, and likely repeat work from both.
The second job, for a production shop called Visual Concepts, is the subject of my experience. I cold called the principal in March and then emailed a link to my SAV personal page and sent demo MP3s. I followed up with him in April, but there was nothing doing. Last week though, I got a call from him saying that he had a client that wanted my voice for a product overview to be introduced in July at a big Las Vegas trade show, to 500 doctors. The product is a kidney dialysis machine made by UltraCare. I won this by ‘electronic audition’ – Visual Concepts presented my narration demo, along with demos of five others to UltraCare, and I was chosen.
I expected to record and FTP the file on my own, as I usually do with jobs like this. But – as both Visual Concepts and UltraCare are local to my office and home studio, my surprise came when the producer said he wanted to come to direct me live. Then, a day later, the end-client at UltraCare, who’d said he wanted to be live by phone patch, announced that he too wanted to be in-studio! While I’ve done studio auditions, this was the first one in my studio. A mad dash ensued to clean my office, remove our dogs and cats, and otherwise “up” the professional image.
I got the scripts an hour in advance, and learned there was ‘politics’ involved – three scripts representing the view of different “factions”. With both men sitting nearby, I read all three and also helped them with some re-writes. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but their direction was minimal as they liked the reads. We were done in a little over an hour, and the best part was that I wasn’t tasked with any edits! The video is in post-production now, so I don’t have access to it yet. Overall, while there were a few ‘curve balls’ thrown along the way, it was a positive learning experience. My sense is that Visual Concepts will be sending me more work.
I’m excited to be attending my first VoiceOver International Creative Experience convention (VOICE) at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The convention officially kicks off with a Red Carpet Reception, Tuesday, June 12th starting at 6pm. VOICE "is an industry-wide convention for anyone involved in voiceover for radio and TV commercials, animation, audio book narration, ADR, film, radio imaging, TV promos, audio production, and the recording arts in general. VOICE brings together performers, coaches, agents, studio engineers, producers, directors, equipment manufacturers and other vendors for the purpose of sharing ideas, enhancing skills and knowledge, and raising awareness of standards and practices of the voiceover industry (voiceacting.com)."
I have been part of the Facebook group VOICE 2012 since December of last year and can tell you that there are a lot of people, both new and past attendees, that are truly excited about coming to this convention so I know I am not alone in having high expectations. I am almost done packing (as a girl can never have too many outfits and shoes) and as I ponder what I’m looking forward to the most, these are the things that stick out:
1) Meeting people who are in the trenches both new and experienced
2) Networking with everyone especially those who hire VO talent
3) Learning! I love to learn and this week proves to have a schedule that will satisfy any mind. The classes I have set out to attend are:
- Maximizing Your Online Casting Opportunities
- Branding and Marketing for the VO Professional Voice Actor
- How to Succeed in Corporate Narration
- Audio Processing
- Business: Simplify how you run it
- Goals and Action Plan: Putting it all together and getting it done
4) Testing out different mics especially the high ends ones so that I know which one is best suited for my voice. I will also get to see what every VO talent does while they are on the road.
Lastly, I am part of the Ambassador team which means that I will be volunteering to help run certain aspects of VOICE. I did this not so much so that I could save a couple hundred dollars on my admission but to be part of a "team" instantly when I arrive.
It is my hope that this upcoming week will prove to be as amazing as I have envisioned it to be for my voice-over career. I also look forward to sharing my insights with you as you take this journey through the eyes of a new attendee of VOICE 2012.
Originally from New Zealand, Marianne Coleman-Hipkins moved to North Carolina 3 years ago. She started doing voice work at the tender age of 11 reciting poetry at the local talent and speech competitions. She was a nurse until a work related back injury forced her retirement 30 years later. During her entire nursing career Marianne continued voice work in the form of musicals, plays, TV roles, and movies. Since she has been in the US, Marianne’s focus has been voice over work. She has a passion for medical reads and related jobs as well as children’s audio books and narration. Her most recent jobs include a part in the latest Tyler Perry movie, “I can do bad all by myself,” an infomercial as an onscreen talent due to be released this month, and a child’s interactive audiovisual story in which she voices 3 characters, 2 children and an adult.
Librivox.org is an extraordinary site, one that relies entirely on volunteers in all aspects of the organization. Let me tell you a little about them and what they do, and how as a voice over student this site can truly benefit you and how you, in turn, can be of much use to them.
Librivox in a nutshell: An open source audio-literary attempt, to harness the power of the many to record and disseminate, in podcast form, books from the public domain. But that simplistic explanation does not do justice to the volunteers and the original organizers of this site and great undertaking.
Librivox has volunteers record books that are all in the public domain; more specifically, books that are at risk of disappearing forever on some dusty shelf, forgotten in the annals of time. It is a truly worthy undertaking for the preservation of some really important books. In translating these books into audio, it allows the visually impaired access to books that they perhaps would not have had access to before. Not only are novels recorded, but poetry, plays, autobiographies, medical and other textbooks, art books….the list goes on!
So you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with me as a voice over student? Plenty! Librivox is a fantastic opportunity for any voice over student to hone their voice skills in many different fields. As a volunteer, you can record chapters from novels and practice your narration and acting skills at the same time. It’s a perfect win-win situation! Not only do you get to practice your voice over, but also your recording and editing skills. It is a fantastic opportunity to help others and by doing so, yourself, along the way.
You also get the added benefit of public exposure, being listed on the search engines under the Librivox banner, and are possibly listened to by possibly hundreds of people. I had only been there for a few weeks when someone heard a poem I read, emailed me, and asked if I would be interested in recording some audio for students learning English as a second language. Also, in every recording you do, at the beginning or at the end, you have the opportunity to promote both yourself and your website.
Another benefit of doing this as a student is that you can see how much you are progressing in your voice over work. When I listen to some of the earlier recordings I did for Librivox, I cringe. However, I can hear how my voice is progressing and I can hear how my editing and recording skills are improving. People at Librivox do not judge your recordings or your voice, they will, however, help you get your recordings to the standard that they set for the site by giving you tips and pointers. They are a very, very nice bunch of volunteers, all totally passionate about the work they are doing.
Did I mention there is no pressure on you whatsoever? None! Record as much or as little as you desire, and if for some reason you are unable to complete a project you started – no problems! They are all volunteers there and realize that sometimes we over-commit ourselves, or life intrudes. Simply let the project controller know, and someone else can take over for you.
There are so many fantastic opportunities that this site offers the voiceover student. The voice over professional can also put the power of their knowledge into a community project that genuinely benefits the world wide community… any language, any country!
What better way to give of your time and voice over talents than in helping preserve some very valuable and old manuscripts for generations to come after us? Join me and hundreds of others to volunteer your talent for a worthy cause? For more information visit www.librivox.org.
I look forward to seeing you there!
P.S. Another thing that Librivox has just done is to create a file of all the different accents from different countries that record there, all recording the same story. If you are looking to hone a foreign accent for your voice over work, then you can use these to practice with. It is a great resource!