We sat down with Natalie to see what she’s been up to and we were very impressed!
Despite studying theater and drama in college (and always having an interest in the arts), Natalie Donegan never had any desire to be in front of a camera or on stage. At 20 years old, she discovered that voice-overs existed, but didn’t have any space in her busy schedule (she was single, had a mortgage and a very demanding job as a sales manager of a daily newspaper) to pursue a possible career shift into voice-overs. 12 years later, Natalie was married, a mom and she was looking for an outlet that would challenge her creatively. That was when she searched out Such A Voice.
When Natalie was ready to step into the voice-over booth, she was happy to have a trained producer, Heather Costa, from Such A Voice by her side “In an area that I knew nothing about I was happy to have someone so well-versed in recording demos. I had invested in Such A Voice to create my demo because I new I needed to make sure I got the best demo I could. When you have an empty resume that is what you’ll be selling yourself with at the beginning! I was on a tight schedule, very eager to get things done, but also extremely nervous… at this point I had never stepped foot into a recording studio, spoken into a microphone to have my voice recorded or even worn audio headphones. Heather kept me focused and to this day I still remember many of the tips she told me.”
Natalie did a great job marketing herself, she attributes this to the fact that she was in advertising sales for 9 years when she entered the voice-over industry. “I am determined and I know how to sell, I’m just selling my voice now instead of a product. When I first started in the business I created lists of local potential clients: advertising agencies, marketing agencies, TV stations, radio stations, producers, telephone on-hold companies and more! I had no problem picking up the phone and calling them to sell myself and get my demo’s out to as many people as I could.” Natalie has since recorded over 100 voice-over tracks, of which almost 50% of these have been telephone recordings. “I recall that amongst the Such A Voice resources there was a suggestion to find your niche. However I didn’t have to find mine… it found me!” When Natalie started recording voice-over tracks to build her resume she accepted any work that she could get, it appeared a lot of businesses wanted to take advantage of her professional, friendly and genuine British accent to represent their companies on the telephone voice mail and IVR messages. Natalie has now tapped into this niche.
“I found myself sitting at home with this great demo and no idea where to start to get my name out or how to land work. The Such A Voice resources thankfully had step by step guidance for what to do to get going. Everyone has heard of CareerBuilder.com, but until I started working with Such A Voice I had never even heard of voice-over marketplaces. Such A Voice pointed me in the right direction and even gave me a free month on Voice123.com which I have continued to be a member of. The Such A Voice resources also gave me guidance on a business plan, marketing plan and legal tips. I am so glad that I was able to do these things at the point when I set up the business from home. Once up and running these are the essential things that don’t get done if not at the beginning. Otherwise you are a ship sailing without a compass.”
Natalie has voiced for over 100 companies in Asia, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand and the USA on projects that have included Telephone Voice Mail, IVR, On-Hold, Educational and Travel Videos, Corporate Presentations, e-Learning, Video Games, GPS Prompts, Radio Commercials and Competitions, Television Commercials, Internet Videos, Tag Lines, plus more. Natalie specializes in Telephone Voice Mail, IVR and On-Hold messages which can be dry-voice only by hiring Natalie directly or if a client prefers their telephone script prepared, recorded, edited and royalty-free background music added Natalie works with Go On Hold.
To continue with her training on Pro Tools and working towards her goal of running her part-time business as a full time business within 5 years, Natalie is also currently a sophomore studying a Pre-Recording Industry Management degree program. “My goal is within 5 years to have gained my Recording Industry Management degree, to be able to offer complete production pieces from my home studio and to run my voice-over business full time.”
When we asked Natalie what her advice was for aspiring voice-over artists, we couldn’t help but nod emphatically as we listened to her answer: “If you are getting into the industry, get a professional demo cut! Use every avenue you have to promote your name. I requested testimonials from every client I worked with and asked permission to quote their company name. Within a short period of time I had an impressive resume for voiceovers!”
I also took the advice of Robert Sciglimpaglia with his opinion on the benefits of a voice talent incorporating as an LLC, after reading this article. So I am now British Voice Over Talent Natalie Donegan LLC.
Such A Voice is proud to announce “VO Meet and Greet: Learn from the Pros & Agents!” An event that you can attend from the comfort of your home, that includes SIX seminars with nationally renowned voice talents & top-notch agents and THREE complimentary agency auditions! Purchase your pass today to ensure your spot in the event! For more information go to: http://www.suchavoice.com/JumpStart2012
A large aspect of marketing yourself as a voice actor involves networking. Networking not only with potential clients, but also with fellow voice actors. Forming and maintaining relationships with other voice-over artists is important for both your career and for your sanity!
Meeting with other voice actors will give you the opportunity to learn and grow from another person’s experiences, ask for advice, and hopefully get honest feedback on your voice-over technique. In the right setting, a casual group could be the most affordable voice over training out there!
One such voice over group is the Orange County VO Peeps Meet-Up, which started out as a small group of classmates from a local voice over workshop. Anne Ganguzza organizes the group that meets bi-monthly, and it’s as informal as a potluck with a group of friends with a common interest.
“Our group welcomes all talents, from beginners to advanced professionals in the industry,” says Anne Ganguzza. “We strive to educate, motivate, and inspire — hopefully helping members achieve their career goals and go out and get as many voice over jobs as possible!”
The group’s members are comprised of varying backgrounds and levels of experience. They each bring a dish to share, and they take turns reading copy and giving each other feedback as if the script were an actual voice over job. They even featured a special guest, Tim Keenan from Creative Media Recording to give them tips on reading corporate narration copy.
The group has set topics to talk about in the upcoming months as well. On the agenda is everything from marketing to finances, editing auditions to bidding, and writing business plans to working with VO agents.
While Meet-Up groups can be a great source of continuing education for voice-over artists, they aren’t a substitute for traditional voice-over training. Meet-Up groups tend to lend wonderful follow-up support and guidance, as the group can certainly become greater than the sum of the parts! We recommend that you search in your area using meetup.com or networking with other voice-over talent through social sites (facebook voice-over groups, Voice-Over Universe, etc.) for a meet up group to join to improve your networking and career possibilities.
Such A Voice Coach Alan Schwartz has had a very exciting couple of weeks landing jobs for McDonald’s, GE, ExxonMobil, Sam’s Club and Cisco!
Alan Schwartz, a NYC based VO talent, with over eleven years of diversified experience as a voice-over artist, recently landed four exciting jobs with some pretty high profile companies. He was hired to record radio spots for McDonald’s and GE, orientation/employee training videos for Exxon Mobil and Sam’s Club and several branding videos for Cisco!
He secured these jobs from producers who were existing clients of his. Alan reminds us that “establishing ongoing relationships with producers is a wonderful way to not only get reoccurring work, but to receive opportunities to voice some big time projects!”
All of these jobs were recorded in Alan’s home studio, some with the producer directing him over the phone, the others autonomously, a skill that every professional voice talent, even a talent in major market NYC should master.
Congratulations Alan, these clients are lucky to have you!
For voice actors, getting sick is a particular inconvenience. Working freelance has many perks, but paid sick leave sure isn’t one of them!
As tempting as it is to work through your flu-like symptoms, complete a big project for that important client, and tell yourself that you can edit out the stuffy nose sound in post — your efforts are better spent on other areas of your voice over business!
When you get sick, do yourself a favor and simply let your clients know that you may not be able to complete the project by the agreed upon deadline. Send them a sample of their script with your current sound and give them the option, so they don’t think that you’re just using it as an excuse to extend the deadline. Giving your clients as much notice as possible will let them decide whether to hire someone else for the voice job or extend the deadline. Sure, it’s a bummer to pass up a gig, but you should never send your clients less than your best. If you have to pass up on a job that can’t wait for you to get better, keep other VO talents in mind and share the love. If you recommend them for a job, most likely they’ll do the same for you someday!
Don’t despair! Sick days needn’t be wasted on your couch when there are so many creative things to do in your studio.
- Editing work
- Search for new royalty free music and/or SFX for your library
- Marketing – researching clients, sending emails, writing postcards
- Most importantly, however, if you have any vocal strain you should go on vocal rest and only speak when absolutely necessary! Work on the silent VO items instead, such as invoicing, email marketing, social networking, etc.
Use your sick time to catch up on social media posts/tweets/blogs/comments within the voiceover community, make sure your website is up-to-date with a list of projects you are most proud of, work on your newsletters, check out new products for your studio, and check out what your fellow voice talent are up to.
Even if your vocal abilities are temporarily impaired, your ability to organize isn’t! Clean out old files, tidy up your in-box, and balance your work account.
If you’re really under the weather, then surrendering to your jammies and daytime TV for a day or two won’t hurt you either.
Being a voice-over talent is being an entrepreneur, which in turn requires dedication and self-direction in order to succeed. We all know how hard it can be to get yourself to do the important things in life, such as eating properly or turning off the TV to get some exercise… So what is the secret to always making the right choice each day for your professional success? The answer lies in both managing your time and organizing yourself! Here is some advice you will find helpful in creating your own path to success:
1. Hold yourself accountable for the goals that you’re setting!2. Keep yourself organized to make the most of your time. More organization = more productivity.
3. Keep yourself from getting frustrated – already having the time set aside will make it easier to fit it into your life than trying to “fit in VO work whenever you can…”
1. VOs can be done any day of week, any time of day!
2. If you’re worried about meeting your time commitment, plan for less time and then if you surpass it, great! Otherwise if you do not, you won’t feel that you have let yourself down.3. Try to set aside time that you know you won’t be interrupted or have other obligations to deal with.
1. Figure out an amount of time per week that you want to spend on VOs (in general.)
2. Then look at that week’s schedule Monday-Sunday and figure out how to fit in those hours.
3. Break down the time into 4 categories: research, auditioning, initial contacts, and follow-ups.
4. Then the 5th category that you would not necessarily allot time for – actually recording VO jobs! That trumps all of the other categories!
5. Keep track of your success rate at the end of each week.
6. Feel free to switch up each week the time that you’re spending on each category.
7. At the end of the month look back at your success rate per week to see if you can draw conclusions of which break down of time (per category) is the most effective for you.8. Certain things have to be done in a specific time frame. For example, phone calls usually have to be done during business hours, or auditions and jobs with a deadline would require you to fit your schedule around that, but other than those things, you can do it 24/7 – and fit it around your life!
1. If you’re not meeting the allotted time per week, reduce the time so you’re not overextending yourself – keeping realistic expectations and goals will help your overall confidence and productivity.
2. If you’re finding you have more time to spend, extend your time frame!3. If you’re not seeing success, switch up your formula. Take a step back and figure out how you can better utilize your time for categories that you may have been neglecting.
By Such A Voice Coach/Producer Jillian Nielsen
Three projects I have completed recently each have a very different emotional feel to them – I was so glad that my demos show my vocal range, as I was contacted directly from the client after they heard my demos on Voice123.com.
The first is for a company called Run My Process. It is a tour of the workflow apps and integration in the cloud that they provide… something I know nothing about. The director was great to work with and I finally had the “quirky” read that they wanted after 8 takes – whew!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRVSmPr4Vbg
The second is DP Slider an inventor who had a product that he needed a VO to match his video. He wanted a “sexy” read. I would not characterize my voice as “sexy” – but apparently he did and when you see it in conjunction with his video – it is definitely sexy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0oba3tGFk
As he continues to invent new “sliders” he has asked me to voice those videos as well!
The final project is for Right Dental Group – they are a company that uses Groupon to market their dental products and services. The tutorial leads people in how to redeem their vouchers. When contacting me, they said they liked my voice, but wanted it to be “more friendly”… my first thought was, “My voice is nothing if not friendly!” but then I stepped back and realized that what they really wanted was for my pace to speed up, and my smile to be bigger. So here’s the result – click on the play button by the “See How Right Dental Group Works!” title: http://rightdentalgroup.com/index.php
They liked my work so much that they hired me to do all of their voicemail work as well! They have 18 dental services and products, so that translated into quite a lot of work!!!
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!
Think back to when you just started voiceover classes. When you stepped up to the mic, what did you do with your body?
Many students who are practicing to become professional voice actors have subconscious mannerisms that actually inhibit their ability to perform. One bad behavior pattern to break early on is putting your hands in your pockets.
When you put your hands in your pockets, it is nearly impossible to get into character. “If you look happy, you sound happy. If you look like your hands are in your pockets, you sound like your hands are in your pockets,” says Brendan Coyle, Post Engineer.
Not putting your hands in your pockets is part of a greater lesson to learn to relax when you step behind the mic. As soon as you get your home recording studio put together, make sure to spend all of your practice time in it.
The more you practice in front of the mic, the more comfortable you will become. When you feel comfortable behind the mic, you will look and sound comfortable. Your body gestures will sync up with the character and the voiceover job and you will sound like the professional voice actor you want to be!
Sometimes you get to be a part of a project that feels a little more special than just another commercial. I recently booked a radio spot for Connecticut tourism. When I got to the recording studio I learned that CT was the only state to not have had a tourism budget in three years! They were very excited about launching their new 27 million dollar campaign and rebranding CT with the slogan “Still Revolutionary” with an original song recorded alongside the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Just my luck, a week later I was called back to record additional spots for other local CT businesses too!
Click here to listen to the :30 radio spot
Click here to listen to the :60 radio spot
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,
Such A Voice Coach/Producer Steven Wahlberg books a narration job for this years golf course for the US Open!
By: Steven Wahlberg
I received an audition request from Voice123.com for a project that required a narrator to voice copy that would be running underneath a video of aerial shots of a golf course where the US Open is being played this year. After receiving some positive feedback on my audition, I was informed that the client had selected someone else for the job but that they liked my voice enough to consider me for future projects. I’ve only heard that about a gazillion times before so I really didn’t think any more about it. Well, about a month later I received an e-mail from the agency that produced the previous golf video asking if I would be interested in reading a few scripts that outlined the rules of golf for a DVD. I agreed and was fortunate to be hired on the spot. This was the outcome!
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!
I’ve always loved conferences. I’ve been involved in many over the years, both as an attendee and as part of the behind-the-scenes administration. Great opportunity for an industry to come together, share ideas, and advance their business.
This is true for the voiceover industry as well, but for additional reasons. The VOICE Conference (VoiceOver Interactive Creative Experience) gives voiceover talent the chance to get out of the home studio for a while and actually meet their industry colleagues in person, changing virtual / online friendships into real ones. Those involved in voiceovers tend to be talkative and social beings, so this is a real treat!
The event kicked off with a bang with the Red Carpet Reception last night, and the first day of sessions began with a keynote interactive presentation by Pat Fraley, one of the truly great teachers in our industry. What he gives back to the community of voiceover professionals is amazing!
Sadly, the inevitable occurred on the first day, with multiple presentations I wanted to attend scheduled simultaneously! A great problem to have. Diving into topics ranging from Maximizing Your Online Audition Opportunities on Voices.com to Everything You Need To Know About Demos; I already feel empowered, motivated, and enlightened.
Many attendees took advantage of a wonderful private viewing of the spectacular World of Color Water Show at Disney’s California Adventure Park. This was a free event for conference attendees and friends and family were also able to join in on the fun!
Well…that was an exhausting first day! I have already learned a ton of new things, reacquainted with old friends and have already met new friends. I can’t wait for what tomorrow’s events will bring and what memories will be generated.
Look for another recap of my experiences here at VOICE 2012 tomorrow!
– Bill Sleeper
Voice Actor, Coach, Producer
Our Voice-Over Career Consultant Faith Coons recently landed her first on-camera gig for a corporate video for Human eSources! This opportunity led to securing voice-over work for the company since she was able to interact with the owner of the company as well as his creative director who hires all of the talent. Both the owner and creative director were impressed by Faith’s professionalism and "do whatever I can to help" winning attitude. This was a great opportunity to learn what happens behind the scenes of all the videos you end up narrating for, so she was able to see the whole process through. In addition to this, Faith can be currently heard in a radio campaign for OmniTrans in the San Bernardino Valley area. OmniTrans is a repeat satisfied client of Faith’s work and she is always happy to lend her voice to their radio campaigns. Here is the latest feedback she received from them:
"Once again, it was a key step to get your tracks in-hand and at the ready. I know what you deliver will be pro-grade, high quality. Thank you very much for the quick reply and turnaround with the reads. I really appreciate your time, talent, and interest. Onward to the next project."
Congratulations Faith, we look forward to seeing more of your on-camera work as you continue to expand your acting services!