Saturday, December 17, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Although one of the Voice Over - How To pages on my web site is titled “How To Read Copy”, it is very basic practice information for you and not in any way meant to be a substitute for working with a Professional Voice Over Coach! When I started working as a voice over talent, there weren’t as many people out there coaching voice over. Many voice over performers began as radio personalities or DJs and started doing voice over for commercials that way. Some, like me, came from an acting background and migrated into the world of voice over. And, yes, people had always told me I had a great voice, too, but then, as now, that is not nearly enough to help you become successful as a working voice over talent!
When I produced my first voice over demo, I found ad copy from magazines and other sources including radio station DJs who shared copy they had at the station. I probably even picked up some from Soundworks - known as Cook Sound back then- where I was producing the demo. Not having a coach, I relied on the expert guidance of the audio engineer who produced the demo to direct me. Later, I always created demos from snippets of spots I had actually recorded for clients. At the time, that was what everyone wanted to hear - actual work you had done.
Today, everyone with any experience in voice over will tell you that it’s best to study with a qualified voice over coach and only create your first demo when you are ready. You can waste a lot of money producing a bad demo which may not help your career and could, in fact, end it before it begins! There’s just too much competition out there. Agents will not want to represent you if you present them with a substandard demo, and producers will not want to hire you directly with it either.
So, how do you find a qualified voice over coach? Word of mouth and referrals from working voice over talent are the best means of locating those coaches who can truly give you what you need to succeed. Then, you need to talk with the coaches, which may require paying for a session in some cases, in order to determine whether personality types mesh and to see what kind of a feeling you get for how this coach works and how they plan to help you reach your goals. This is an important investment in your career. Getting into voice over requires an investment, especially if you intend to build your own home studio as well. (More about that in another blog!)
If you’re still not convinced that you need a voice over coach to give yourself the best shot at succeeding in voice over, please know that after over 25 years as a professional working voice over talent, I studied with coach Nancy Wolfson, of Braintracks Audio in order to stay current and in top form. In addition, I have worked with others in workshops and tele-seminars. You always need to keep learning. In my blog post titled “I’m Not a Voice Over Agent”, I list Nancy’s link as well as links to other reputable voice over coaches I know.
I hope this helps you on your journey into voice over!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
While this did put my computer out of commission for a couple of days, we were able to copy all of my files from the hard drive onto another drive before attempting to remove the virus. There was nothing wrong with the hard drive and only minimal files are kept on it. All of my important documents and audio files are stored on my server - which backs up daily to another server. Of course, we had to reload the programs I use, but it did give us the opportunity to do some housecleaning as well.
I have intended for awhile to have another hard drive waiting in the wings to take over in case mine should fail, and this has only emphasized the need to keep a back up with current information ready to go at all times making it even easier and quicker to get up and running in short order.
To further complicate things, I was scheduled to leave town just the day after this happened. Actually, since it's hard for me to leave town knowing I might miss something, it did have the effect of making me feel better about leaving since it was impossible to record on my own anyway. I was still able to record via ISDN before leaving even though I had to read the script from my iPhone! My FAX machine came in handy, too. Where there's a will there's a way to make it happen for dedicated voice over talent!
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have multiple back ups of your hard drive contents and all of your important documents, pictures, and audio files! Keep it all safe, and be prepared.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Almost daily, I receive calls and emails from prospective voice over performers looking for an agent. I'm not a voice over talent agent. I talk about agents in the "How To" pages on my web site and in my blog posts, so I think my voice over talent web site may be picked up by the search engines because of that.
If you are truly interested in pursuing voice over as a career, I'd suggest you read my "How To" pages on my web site and also my blog posts. I hope those pages and my posts will be of some help to you – at least point you in the right direction. I have received many appreciative emails and calls from prospective talent thanking me for the quality and depth of information I have provided free of charge on my web site and blog. I’m happy to help with some basic advice. I do appreciate receiving emails from prospective talent as opposed to phone calls. I spend much of my day recording in my audio booth, and I cannot often take time out of a busy day to go through a step by step process of how to get started in this business. That’s one of the reasons I have provided the information which is accessible at any time on my web site and in my blog posts.
To begin your journey, you need to understand that it's not just about having a great or unusual voice that counts, but what you do with that voice and how you market yourself!
Those of us who work as voice over artists study and work hard continually honing our craft and marketing ourselves just to work and survive in this business. However, there are many talented people who do that and still do not make a living at voice over. Also, realistically, getting started by taking classes, making demos, marketing, building a web site, creating your own voice over studio, etc., requires an outlay of approximately $4,000 - $5,000. All things to be considered......
It is best to work with a voice over coach (in person or via phone!) in order to make sure you are ready to create a demo and start distributing it. The last thing you want to do is create a demo before you are ready. It will not serve you well in trying to get an agent or trying to get work. There are many good voice over coaches out there who are willing to work via telephone if you do not live in their area. Several coaches that I have personal experience with are: Nancy Wolfson, James Alburger & Penny Abshire , Marc Cashman , and Rodney Saulsberry If you contact them, please tell them I referred you. I don’t make any commission for referrals, but I just like them to know that I’m thinking of them!
Do your homework, find a good coach, and dig in! All the best to you in your pursuit of a career in voice over!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Any thoughts on the true effectiveness of emailing newsletters to clients?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Salmagundi "…a hodgepodge or mix of widely disparate things…” usually in relation to a salad presentation, but I was just tired of the word “potpourri”.
You would truly have to be living in a cave to NOT feel the wave of VO information washing over you these days. However, I know there are some social media holdouts among you, so the following is a quick list of links and summaries of some “disparate things” I found on the internet lately that defy categorization other than “VO Salmagundi”.
3) Dan Friedmann of ProComm writes to say: “…Just wanted to announce that SOUNDADVICEVO and SOUNDADVICE – Voiceover have changed to SOUND4VO! He’s referring to his FaceBook page. Dan’s a good one to stay on top of. He’s written a book with great advice about audio production, and he was a big hit at FaffCon2.
4) Stephen James Smith directs your attention to NOLA by saying: TO non-profits worldwide seeking voice actors pro bono for PSAs: NOLA Voice Talent is here to help. Check out the NOLA Voice Talent Foundation. Maybe you can help.
7) Cair0, Egypt-based VO talent Mahmoud Taji posts his Embarrassing Twitter Confessions on VU, which is actually an excellent review of Twitter/Social Media etiquette.
8) A Backstage.com article on whether SAG and AFTRA will finally merge.
9) OK, I think that’s about all I got…Oh!…one final thought: Do you keep a public calendar of your VO appointments so that potential clients can see your availability? That’s a suggestion made to me by the owner of a voice over studio, expressing frustration about scheduling.
Thanks for such a great recap, Dave!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
An excellent article from Dan(Daniel Eduardo) Hurst!
A young man I know that’s trying to break into the voiceover business asked me what advice I might give him.
There are a lot of websites that have lots of information on them about this very topic. There is so much information that needs to be considered when you go into this business, and I don’t need to rehash what so many others have already said so well. Google the subject. You’ll find barrels of info.
However, there are five things that I’ve found extremely important as I’ve grown my voiceover business. I’m not being mean here, I’m just stating the brutal truth.
1. It’s a business, not a hobby.
I’m always amazed at the folks who try to make it in this business who treat it as a hobby, yet expect to deal with people for whom it is a business. I mean, think about it. Why would I trust my project that is part of my full-time business effort to a hobbyist?
If you’re going to make it in this business, invest in it! Get some training. Get some decent equipment and learn how to use it. Work hard at it. Treat it as your job.
Or get out of the road.
2. It’s a small person that carries a big grudge.
Let’s face it. Business is tough. You will run in to a lot of people that will take advantage of you if you give them the chance. And sometimes you will get stung. Learn to be smart, aware, and cautious, but don’t let the stings make you bitter and angry. Nobody wants to do business with people like that.
The people that try to take advantage of you are not going to contribute to your success. Quit taking their phone calls and delete their emails.
3. Always drink upstream from the herd.
I often get asked how I manage to get some of the great voice jobs that come my way. The answer is simple: you find them where they are. Looking for them where everyone else is looking for them is herd mentality. Looking for the little jobs that get through the herd…well, that’s just drinking downstream.
But if you go upstream, where the herd hasn’t been, you’ll find lots of fresh opportunities.
4. Plow around the stump.
There are some things you just shouldn’t do. If you’re not a movie trailer voice, quit jumping in that puddle. If you’re not a fluent reader, quit pretending that you can do long-form narrations and audio books. If you don’t know how to act, quit acting like you’re acting.
In other words, do what you do well. Because if you don’t, you’ll get a reputation for not being very good at what you’re not very good at.
5. Your biggest problem watches you from your mirror every morning.
You’re the one that’s going to make the right decisions or wrong decisions about your business every day. Your success or failure isn’t up to anyone else.
You’re business isn’t going to make it or fail because of someone else’s choices. If they don’t choose you to do a job, it’s still up to you to find someone that does want your service.
All you’re doing everyday in this business is selling and delivering a product. Regardless of what some sales gurus have taught, your clients aren’t buying you, they’re buying your product. If your product doesn’t measure up to what the client needs, no matter how much they like you, you’re out of work. That means your product has to be exactly what the client is looking for. And that means you need to focus on your best product, go sell it, and deliver it on time.
So, there’s my advice. And it’s only worth what it accomplishes.
Reprinted with permission here by Melanie Haynes
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Zombie Alley A meteor falls from Outer Space and Momma, (the moo-moo wearing, shotgun toting, brains of the operation) and Earl (her greasy, dead beat mechanic son), find the rock, discover it has highly addictive properties, take it back to their auto shop and make white trash meth out of it, which starts a zombie apocalypse."
This fun Rock and Roll/Horror/Comedy follows a struggling rock band as they wrestle with drugs, sex, rock and roll…and our own unique twist on Zombies and the monster genre, the mutated Momma, Earl, and their “Juicehead” lackeys as they ravage the town and spread the infection in their attempt to build their Evil Auto Empire.
Yes, I play Momma - quite a departure from my normal persona, of course. Should be fun! Just waiting to hear a few more details before filming starts later this month. If all goes as planned, I'll be working on location for this, and I have my remote audio set up ready to go. So, I'll be able to record voice over work practically from the set! Great deal, huh?
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Anatomy of a Successful Cold Call
by Maxine Dunn
First, let's just get clear: What is a "cold call?" A cold call is a telephone call that you make to someone you do not know to ask for information, make a request, or offer a product or service.
For some reason the term "cold call" has received a bum rap as of late. While it's true that your website should be pre-qualifying leads (customers and clients) for you, I firmly believe that reaching out to people by phone should be an integral part of any entrepreneur's marketing strategy.
Even if you're not interested in creating a branch of your marketing strategy that includes calling prospective clients on the phone, there will still be times in your life where you have to pick up the phone and call someone you don't know to ask for information or help. Knowing how to handle yourself in that situation will be an asset to your business and subsequently to your bottom line.
First, I want you to let go of the idea that the purpose of a cold call is to get an appointment. Forget the "sales objective" training modules that lead you through a step-by-step trajectory to "get the sale." People do business with people they know, like, and trust, and your cold call is opening the door and initiating that relationship. My techniques will make your cold-calling experience easy and fun. You'll be amazed at how much better your prospective clients respond as a result of following these guidelines.
1. Adjust your expectations
Make your cold-calling expectations easy-to-meet. If your expectations are to "make a sale" or actually even reach the person you're calling, you may well be disappointed.
Decide that your #1 goal for the call is simply to have a pleasant conversation with whoever you get on the phone. That's it! Even if you just speak to the receptionist for thirty seconds, your sole objective is to make the conversation pleasant and enjoyable. See how much easier the call is already?
2. Be prepared - part A
Know a lot about who you're calling. Research their website. Watch every demo reel. Read every bio. Read reviews. Know their company's history. What products they make. If they use your type of products or services. Their business hours. Their location. Everything.
Being knowledgeable about the person and company you're calling is not only respectful and professional, you'll be able to ask intelligent, spontaneous questions and give informed responses in your conversation.
3. Be prepared - part B
Write out an outline or a brief "script" of what information you'd like to share and what information you're calling to discover. This is not a "pitch" that you read. Having an outline of the important points you'd like to convey will help keep you succinct, on track, and prevent too many of those fumbling-for-words moments you might experience if nerves take over.
4. Be respectful
If you hear phones ringing in the background or get put on hold immediately by a hurried-sounding receptionist, pay attention! If you can tell it's not a good time to call then get off the phone. You can simply say, "I was calling for Bill Russell but it sounds like you're super busy right now. Would it be better if I call back later?"
You will amazed at how showing empathy for the person on the other end of the phone will immediately soften their tone of voice, allow them to relax momentarily, and will very probably get you transferred right away.
5. Be sincere
I want you to talk into the phone as if your best friend is sitting in front of you. I want you to be totally engaged and present. Do not multi-task when you are on the phone. Listen. Care. People can sense when you're just politely listening and waiting for them to finish so you can speak. They can tell when you're reading from a script and not being sincere. Really, really, listen and respond as if you're responding to a friend you care deeply about.
6. Ask for what you want
After following the previous steps, simply ask for what you want. Simple. Clear. No hidden agenda. Direct, short sentences are best. "Would you prefer to receive my CD in the mail or would you like me to email you the link to my site?" "What do you suggest is the best way to submit my article to your office?" People (even big, C-level corporate types) like short, honest, direct questions with no "salesy" agenda.
7. Get off the phone first
This is self-explanatory. Do not be rambling on so long that your prospective client finally has to say, "...well, I really have to get back to work here..." Make certain you end the call first. That way they'll be more likely to take your calls in the future when they know you won't be taking up too much of their time.
8. Stay organized
During or after your conversation, take detailed notes: The name of the person who answered the phone. The date and time of your call. Details that were mentioned in the call. Did they just get back from vacation? Is the office being remodeled? Did they mention they had a project coming up in six weeks that could use your services? Keep extremely detailed records of your call so you can refer back to talking points if you need to. When you get your prospective client on the phone the second time and you remember to ask how his son's soccer game went, they'll practically faint. Rarely do people remember important information. Stand out. Be organized. And pay attention to the smallest details.
9. Follow up
The fortune is in the follow-up. Remember, you are developing a relationship. And be very patient. Sometimes it can take a couple of weeks or five or more phone calls to reach the person you want to talk to. Make sure you factor in marketing time in your business day for your follow-ups. Keep in touch with your prospective clients by mail, e-mail, fax or phone. If you say you're going to call back next Tuesday at 10:00 am, then call back next Tuesday at 10:00 am. Touch base to see if they have received what you sent, have any questions, or would like any additional information. Send a thank-you note with a Starbuck's gift-card to the receptionist who was so helpful on those five different occasions. Keep in touch!
· change your expectations - make it about having great conversations, not making a sale
· be prepared, Part A - know a lot about who you're calling
· be prepared, Part B - write out an outline or brief script so you can stay on track and not ramble
· soften your approach - be sincere and respectful
· be patient and gently persistent - know that relationship building takes time and be okay with that
· keep highly detailed records - your conversations are gold-mines of information
· follow up, follow up, and then follow up again
I guarantee that if you follow my guidelines you'll discover that not only can cold calls be a wonderful way to introduce yourself to new clients and customers, they are a great way to get you out of your comfort zone while developing a very important entrepreneurial skill-set.
© 2010 Maxine Dunn
Reprinted with her permission by Melanie Haynes
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Do you find, though, that the more experienced you become with editing, the less you worry about making everything perfect with your read? You don't stop and go back to the beginning of a paragraph or even the beginning of a sentence when you make that rare mistake? :) Do you kind of worry that you'll do the things that work for you when you're engineering yourself when you're working in another studio with a "dedicated" audio engineer? Maybe worry isn't the correct word, but after recording so much on my own, I know that I don't have to go back to the beginning of a sentence or even a phrase to make a clean edit. I will often just pickup with a word or a couple of words knowing that I will be able to make a seamless edit when I finish recording and begin the editing process. However, I don't feel that I should do that if I happen to be recording long form narration in another studio. I feel that the other audio engineer may not appreciate the smaller edits. I think the audio engineer may prefer to just pick up a whole clean sentence or even in some cases, a paragraph. So, I ask - "from the top of the sentence or paragraph or slide"? Sometimes, I just start the sentence over whereas if I were in my own studio and editing myself, I would just pick up with a word or phrase.
For some reason, it just seems easier for me to grab that word that begins with a plosive or to just continue the sentence in the same tone even if I've left a large gap and just close it up later than to start from the beginning of the sentence and read it all again. When I'm in another studio, though, I definitely want to be mindful of the preferences of the audio engineer working there. I want to make his or her life as easy as possible by working the way he or she likes to work even if it's not always the way I would do it on my own. And I find that the best engineers, or at least the kindest, always try to make the talent feel comfortable, too. Communication is key in finding that rhythm and style that allows for a smooth session. Of course, a great deal of that also has to do with whether there is also a producer or director from an agency there and their style as well. A great audio engineer will monitor, mediate, and keep the session running smoothly and "have your back" if you happen to have a troublesome client at the session as well!
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
and also this interview: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/05/earlyshow/main7215450.shtml?tag=cbsContent%3BcbsCarousel
Voice over people are the best! They actually care about their own.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a follow up with this guy gainfully employed and staying straight!
Voice over people have such heart. I feel like someone who is in a position to will reach out to help.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I've also heard from a lot of prospective voice over talent who visit my web site and contact me to 1) Find out how to break into the voice over business and/or 2) Want me to be their agent.
As to the first, I always direct everyone to visit my "How To" pages on my web site which contain some basic information for beginning voice over. Many of the things posted there are also found in my blog posts with additional information posted here as the spirit moves me.
As to the second, I am not an agent. I think that the fact that I discuss agents and the business has caused Google to pick up my site and I show up when someone goes looking for voice over agents.
I realize that I am not along in receiving these requests. I'm happy to provide whatever information I can on my web site and in my blog. I'm not always available for extended phone conversations concerning getting started in the business as I spend a lot of time in the booth recording, so I encourage people interested in more information to email me rather than call. Recently, a fellow voice over professional, Paul Strikwerda, created an interesting video geared toward those interested in becoming professional voice over talent. Enjoy....
- ► June (4)
- ► April (6)
- ► March (3)
- ► 2010 (13)
- ► 2008 (21)