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CAREER
Getting Bookings - But Not What You Want?
Assess Your Strengths, Row With The Flow

By Roxanne Hernandez Coyne
Voice Actor

Itís easier to row the boat in the direction itís going. 

I heard this quote at a Parent Education class a few years ago. The teacher was telling us to accept our children for who they are. She was telling us to accept and embrace their unique strengths, even if they did not coincide with our original expectations.

This quote applies directly to our work as voice artists. 

How many of us are beating ourselves up on a daily basis trying to row upstream? Itís exhausting. It will lead to burn-out.

Our challenge as voice artists is to know our strengths and embrace them. The problem is that sometimes we donít recognize our own strengths, or even when we do, we donít WANT to go where they are leading us.

NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND ...

Hereís what I mean.

I started out in voice overs with the intention of doing commercial campaigns and animation, the stuff many of us begin to pursue right off the bat. 

The problem was, I kept getting cast in Spanish language commercials and corporate work.  Ewww. Not what I had in mind. 

Spanish? Corporate work?Telephony??? No, no. Not sexy enough. Not why I spent all that money on commercial VO workshops. 

I was able to get an agent Ö who wanted me for SPANISH. I started booking work for GTE and ComCast Ö in SPANISH.

WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?

Things were not going my way. Thatís when I decided to take a long, hard look at myself and my career. 

I was raised speaking two languages and then learned two more as a result of necessity. I never gave much thought to it growing up, and even as an adult, it was more of a curiosity than something I ever thought Iíd use professionally. 

However, other people saw my abilities differently than I did. Other people recognized a unique set of skills that made me a valuable asset to their business. 

I was trying to row my boat to the Atlantic Ocean, when the current was most definitely taking me toward the Pacific.

WHAT ARE YOU BOOKING?

If youíre consistently booking work in one area of voice over and itís not the area that you originally envisioned for yourself, maybe you should reconsider your focus. 

You want to do promos, but youíre booking e-learning gigs. You want to do audiobooks but youíre booking documentaries (we should all be so fortunate, right?).

You want English language commercials, but youíre booking Spanish commercials. Hmmmm.

FOCUS ON YOUR SKILLS

At this point you have a choice to make. Each one of us brings a unique set of skills and personal history to our work as voice artists. Use that history. Donít get hung up on what you think is the only way to succeed in voice over.  

Be open to other possibilities. 

One of my VO friends used to be a flight attendant. Guess what? He now creates educational films for the airlines. 

Another friend is a historian. Sheís producing museum audio tours.

SPOT THE TRENDS

It takes a while to figure out your casting. Unless youíre an overnight success story, you will probably need at least a year or two to book enough work to be able to identify your booking trends. 

Those trends should be a good indication of how others see you.  

Know your strengths. Know your value to your clients. And donít beat yourself up. Youíll move faster and farther if you just let the current take you where it wants to go. 

ABOUT ROXANNE ...

Roxanne Hernandez Coyne  has been working as a voice artist since the mid 1990ís. She works in Spanish, English, and occasionally in Portuguese, voicing telephony, e-learning, medical narration, audiobooks, and Spanish language commercials. She has 8-year-old twins, lives in Los Angeles and is still in search of that elusive English-language commercial campaign.

Email: roxanne@roxannesvoice.com
Web: www.roxannesvoice.com

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Comments (4)
Roxanne Coyne
7/2/2012 at 6:04 PM
Thanks for your feedback, Ken, Rebecca and Elizabeth. We are such a diverse group of people who are doing voiceovers. It's so wonderful when I hear about people who have found or created a niche based on their interests and past careers. Often, the pot of gold is right at our feet and we don't even see it.
Ken Budka
7/2/2012 at 9:59 AM
Thank you Roxanne, nice article, well written and an outstanding reminder on how to focus your energy. Working really hard paddling upstream will provide only a small amount of movement and constant pressure pushing you back. When you go with the flow, the same effort produces double, triple or better results. It's much easier to build your core business and then branch out instead of pushing hard in areas where you may be unfamiliar, learning new skills and competing with folks who already have those key traits and abilities.
LoveThatRebecca
7/2/2012 at 3:02 AM
Roxanne - this is so true... I love the way you wrote this and it's so important for those of us deciding which way to go. One of the things I did was to use my previous business experience in technology and industry to help me get corporate gigs, from eLearning to lots of other jobs for corporate communications. I "get" it so they like that they don't have to explain much. I use my earnings to, among other things, craft my art further and explore the more creative areas to develop the other aspects of my VO career.

Thanks! Great thoughts... like a spiritual adviser says, instead of rowing the boat upstream, pull in your oars and let the flow carry you... I add: you can then put the oars back in to help yourself fine-tune the direction and avoid obstacles... Remember to enjoy the ride!! :0)
Elizabeth Holmes
7/2/2012 at 12:04 AM
Great advice, Roxanne!

Reminds me of lyrics from John Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy" -- "Life's what's happening while you're making other plans."

And what a helpful perspective. (Especially welcome when those 'other plans' don't quite go as planned. :)
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