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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Using Twitter to Grow Your Voiceover Business

Social media marketing is a very powerful way to build brand recognition these days.  It is a great way to organically interact with some of the influencers in the business, and even makes it possible to network with casting directors.  However, there are a few golden rules of using Twitter to accomplish these tasks as a voiceover artist.

Always Treat Others With Respect If you don’t agree with something that someone else tweeted, and you can’t respond in a positive, respectful manner, then don’t respond.  That sort of negative interaction will do nothing for your business, except possibly lose you some of your followers who don’t agree with your argument.

Understand the Power of the Tweet It may be just 140 characters, a sentence or two at most, but it can carry great weight.  Remember that for each tweet you could be producing something upon which others will form a first impression.  As we have learned through the years, first impressions are very powerful and often difficult to overcome.  Be sure that you understand that many of those who interact with you online do not know you, other than by the content you share on that platform.

Do For Others More than You Do For You It is true that Twitter can be a great platform for advertising your product or service – in this case, your demo tape – but before you ask others to listen to it or to share it, consider what you have done for others on Twitter.  A good rule is to provide value 75% of the time, and promote yourself the other 25%.  That means that the majority of your time on Twitter should be spent liking, sharing, and commenting on others’ content, or providing content that has value for your audience.  Then, every so often, you can work in information about your demo, or your most recent project, asking others to interact with those announcements.

Do Not Be Impatient Consider all of the people you have met in your life.  Consider how many friends you have made and the people who have entered your family through marriage, birth, or adoption.  That didn’t all happen in a day, a week, or even in a month.  It takes time to build a network.  The same is true when you are building that network online.  Be patient and you can steadily grow a following, which may just help you score that next big voiceover gig.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Three Things You Should Never Do in the Casting Room

If you have to go in for an audition for a role as a voiceover actress or actor, then you definitely want to make a great first impression.  Unfortunately, it is very easy to let our nerves take hold, and that can lead to us saying and doing things that ruin the professional image that we are trying to portray.  So, as you prepare for your next audition, here are a few mistakes that you should aim to avoid:

Making Excuses There are times in life, for nearly everyone, when nerves cause us to apologize – often before we have done anything wrong.  This is a common occurrence in casting rooms, according to stories told by the casting directors.  Avoid this at all costs.  Don’t tell those preparing to hear your audition that you “only got the script that day” or that “your voice is a bit hoarse today”.  And, definitely, don’t ever say something like, “I’m sorry if I don’t do very well.  I’m really nervous.”  Walk into the room with confidence.   Let your audition speak for itself.  Fight the urge to explain yourself, to cast judgement on your own audition, or to make excuses.  You very well may do better than you expect.

Make Faces Remember, you are a voiceover actor or actress.  Don’t make faces that you wouldn’t make in the recording studio.  They are judging your ability to act the part with your voice, not your face.  But, even more importantly, if you make a mistake, don’t let it show in your face.  Keep your calm and overcome the issue.  You’ll win more points for maintaining your composure.

Ask to Read it Again There are exceptions to this rule.  But, as a general principle, the people hearing your audition are also going to hear many other voiceover actors and actresses read the same spot, so they don’t have time in their schedule to let everyone do a second reading.  If the opportunity is offered, then take it, but your goal should really be to do your very best reading the first time.  That also means that you should practice reading it aloud in front of others before you enter that room, which will help you avoid some of the discomfort of auditioning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to Increase Your Chances of Being Found by a Casting Director

If you are a voiceover talent trying to be discovered, you would definitely appreciate the notice of a casting director.  I was reading an article that involved an interview with a leading casting director in the voiceover industry, and I noticed something that seemed to be repeated over and over again – too many voiceover artists are making very costly mistakes without realizing it. So, here are a few simple tips that can help you avoid them.

Showcase Your Talents in Your Demo Obviously, if your demo tape is going to be the first thing the casting director sees of you, then you want it to be as impressive as possible. So, take the time to make it as good as you can.

ü  Do showcase your strengths as a voiceover artist, whether that is the ability to work humor into a script, the ability to speak with a real depth of emotion, or a skill for impersonating celebrities.
Ø  Don’t accept the first take.  Spend some time in the recording booth trying different things with your voice.  Consider working in audio from previous projects, if you are allowed to do so.  And, then take a lot of time editing what you have to get the best possible finished product.
ü  Do invest in this project.  Whether you opt to do just audio or to include video, you should consider hiring studio time to get the most professional product possible.  The investment will pay off, when you get more work as a result of your extremely impressive demo.

Actively Network Be online and be busy online.  In this day and age, taking time out of the day to chat with friends, co-workers, and associates is considered part of the job.  And, it is the best way to be discovered.  The more active you are online – creating content, developing a following, interacting with others, commenting on industry-related content, etc. – the more easy it will be for a casting director to happen upon your profile.

Follow Directions If you are submitting your demo tape to a casting director, be sure that you follow all of the directions.  The instructions are written for a purpose.  Don’t assume that all casting directors want things submitted in the same way.  Each has his or her own method of cataloguing demos, so when one appeals to him or her, contact can be made immediately with the voiceover talent.  Don’t miss out on that call by failing to submit your demo in the right.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Filing Taxes as an Voiceover Artist and Independent Contractor

It’s tax season.  It’s like a curse for many small business owners.  Doing your taxes is rarely fun.  Of course, for some there is the reward of a tax return at the end, which makes it easier to contend with the stress and anxiety.  But, whether you get a return or you don’t, you don’t have to panic just because it’s time to schedule an appointment with the accountant.  There are many advantages that come with living and working in this day and age, which begins with a much easier tax return filing process.

Consider the Free- and Low Cost Tax Assistant Sites Going to an account for the preparation of your tax return certainly comes with its own advantages, but today, the website-based services are very used-friendly, fast, and can often point to deductions that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  In fact, in some states, people earning under a certain amount annually can file for free using government websites.  But, even if you are going to opt to see an accountant, it is worth doing a bit of research on the educational sites.  You can find a great deal of information about write-offs and other deductions available to independent contractors, which is exactly what most voiceover artists are.

File Electronically Unless there is an unavoidable reason why you must file by mail, definitely opt to file electronically.  Doing so greatly reduces the chances of an error, and it can get you your refund money much faster (if you are among the lucky 100+ million people in this country who will receive a refund this year).

Opt for Direct Deposit If you are getting a refund, definitely opt for direct deposit rather than a check.  The money will be in your account much faster, and that means that you’ll be able to invest in new voiceover equipment, a new marketing campaign, or other such items of value sooner.

Check the Status If you are concerned that it has taken too long for the tax return to be processed, rather than panicking or thinking the worst, go online and use the tools available to you.  You can check the status of your return, including the estimated date of delivery of your refund.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Avoiding Damaging Background Noise

There are voiceover projects that will require you to spend weeks or even months in the recording studio.   But, even for the much shorter voiceover spots, there is nothing worse than realizing that all of the work has been ruined because of an excess of background noise.  That is why noise cancellation is such a big part of this job.  For many, this becomes a near-obsession, but that is because we begin to realize just how costly the background noise can be.  It can result in many extra hours of editing, or worse yet, the need to re-record the spot.  Time is money.  Background noise costs time and, therefore, money.  So, what can you do to prevent that?

An Isolated Studio Windows are wonderful for letting in light, but in this industry, they can also be a big job hazard, because they let in the sounds of the outdoors – lawnmowers, dogs barking, cars speeding down the street, birds chirping, etc.  That noise is fine when doing office work, but for recording purposes, you need to avoid it.  That’s why it is such a good idea to have a recording booth or, at very least, a room that is away from the windows and the chaos of the house.

Consider Soundproofing It is possible to invest in soundproof recording booths that can be set up within your home.  Or, you can look into soundproofing techniques for a designated area of your home.  This can be a very worthwhile investment as it will drastically cut down on background noise, which means less editing time, and fewer takes.

Get a High Quality Microphone Many of the nicer microphones on the market today offer noise cancellation.  They can actually reduce the background noise picked up by the recording software.

Consider the Noise of Your Technology The soundproofing efforts can block out the noise outside the space, but they can’t do anything to dampen the noise within.  If you have a noisy computer fan or you bring your cell phone in, then there is a good chance you are still going to be doing a good deal of editing.  Leave the phone outside (or switch off the ringer) the recording space, and remove whatever technology doesn’t absolutely have to be in the space.

Breathe Smarter As a final tip, consider breathing exercises.  There are special techniques that can help you take better control of your breathing, which means fewer gasps and breaths picked up by the recording software.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Creating Your Voiceover Brand

If you are going to break into the voiceover industry, then you are very likely going to spend a lot of time promoting yourself.  Even those fortunate enough to sign a contract with a very notable agent will still have to do self-promotion at times.  This can be an intimidating piece of information for those new to the industry.  The majority of voiceover actors and actresses are naturally introverted.  That innate shyness can make it difficult to network with others, which is essential to building a brand.  The good news is that much of your networking and many of your marketing efforts will take root online.  Introverts, it has been proven, actually find it easier to become a part of the online community than those who are more outgoing in a face-to-face situation.  That said, as you get started building your brand, there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Don’t Limit Your Community to Industry Folks It can be tempting to seek out only those who share your interest in voiceover work, but these connections aren’t always the ones that will lead to more paying work and better brand recognition.  They are important, but you shouldn’t limit yourself.  Gaining exposure online is all about building a community of like-minded individuals, but that includes people who are interested in your hobbies and passions outside of work, as well as the voiceover work.  The more people you interact with on a regular basis, the more your content will be seen, the more your name will be shared, and the more your brand will be recognized.

Have a Budget It may be small at the start.  That is totally understandable, but it is important to understand that there are some investments that are entirely worthwhile when you are working to build brand recognitions.  Paid advertisements and promoted posts, for instance, can put your name, your face, your brand before a much larger audience.

Have a Strategy in Place Before you start spending that budget and putting ample amounts of time to work on building brand recognition, take the time to create a plan.  If you know what you want to accomplish and how you intend to do it, you will have a much easier time gauging how well you are doing along the way.  Your plan should also include some direction regarding the type of content that you want to focus on.  Much of this will likely be voiceover related, but it doesn’t hurt to consider what other interests your audience may share – movies, music, various hobbies.  Broadening your topic range will make you appear better-rounded and likely increase the interactions that you have online.

With some effort, people will begin to connect your name and face to voiceover work.  Ultimately, that sort of recognition can open many doors to you.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Things You Should Know Before You Start Voiceover

Like many “work from home” careers, there has been a lot of interest in voiceover throughout the past decade or longer.  As people become aware of the perks of the job, they naturally express curiosity.  However, there is much that you should be aware of before you quit your job to become a fulltime voiceover talent.  With the perks, there are also frustrations that one must deal with.  That is the case in this- and every professional field.  You just have to be sure that you fully understand what you are getting into and make sure that the perks outweigh the frustrations for you.  Here are a few things that you should definitely be aware of:

#1. Not every voiceover job is a cartoon voiceover or video game gig.  In fact, the majority of the jobs that you will sign as a voiceover talent will likely be short, fairly boring spots.  These could be for training videos, commercials, online advertisements, or other such materials.  And, you’ll likely have to read the same lines multiple times, until it is to the liking of the client.  It can get monotonous at times.

#2.  The pay can be quite meager (or even non-existent) at times.  Especially in the early years of your work as a voiceover actor, you can expect that there will be financially difficult times.  There is a very good chance that you could make much more money by going to a typical 9-5:00 job instead.

#3. The challenge in the voiceover industry is not what most would expect.  Sure, there is a bit of acting involved, and you will have to show a bit of inspiration during auditions, but the real skill is running a business.  The actual voiceover work is like the cherry on top for many working in this industry.  The marketing and accounting are likely to claim more time and attention than the actual voiceover.

#4. Critiques can be nasty!  You’ll often hear famous actors and actresses say that they never read the reviews of their shows.  There is a reason for this.  It can be painful to receive negative feedback, whether it comes in person at auditions or online from your peers.

#5. You are an entrepreneur first and a voiceover talent second.  I already touched on this a bit above, but it should be known that running a business can be tough, and costly.  As you work to gain momentum and recognition in the industry, you will likely profit very little.  Many find that they run out of money.  Essentially, their businesses go bankrupt (even if it does not involve formal documentation) and they have to go get another job in order to support themselves.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from trying voiceover, but rather to be the voice of reality, so you know exactly what you are getting into.  You will work from home and some voiceover work can be a lot of fun.  There is great profit potential and little overhead.  But, there are downsides that you must be prepared to deal with.