Time Out: Weed Your Voice Acting
Garden For A Clear View Ahead
June 25, 2019
By Joe Thomas
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of our businesses. Or to spend time dreaming about a possible future career.
But Voice Acting, like all businesses, requires regular maintenance to ensure we're operating at peak proficiency, not being wasteful, and still on the path to success.
To that end, I think it's important to "Weed Your Voice Acting Garden."
Taking a wider view of where you're headed and what might be standing in the way can help make the long journey to a career easier and more enjoyable.
Here are some areas to consider…
Weeding Yourself: A clear view of yourself, your abilities and limitations, can be invaluable in a business where you are the product.
Asking a few trusted friends or family members may help to identify key areas of potential improvement.
Speech Impediments: These may range from a minor annoyance such as sibilance to more severe speech issues.
It's best to get the help of a doctor or professional speech therapist to address this early in your career path.
Accents or Regional Dialects: A natural accent can be an advantage for local ads and work, but if you'd like to expand your range, this is an area to work on.
Health Issues (Physical and Mental): You've got to be healthy to be at your best, so if you have known issues, seek out a professional who can best put you on the road to a more healthy life.
Finances and Housing: The basics have to be taken care of for you to be able to build a solid career - even if it means putting voice acting on hold while you build up a reserve.
Relationships: Our friends, family and loved ones are the support net we all need to thrive, so resolve any issues as best you can to ensure your emotional security while you're hard at work.
Weeding Associations: Our associations with other industry people, companies, and groups are a key element in any business. Making sure you're associated with ones that advance rather than impede your career can make everything run more smoothly.
Agents: Are you happy with your agent(s)?
You should feel open to having a conversation with them if there are any issues. If you have one or more who aren't working out, it may be time to move on.
Websites: Keep your personal website updated (you do have one, right?), and be sure that any other sites where you are listed are sites you'd be proud to be associated with. Otherwise, reconsider which ones are best for you and your reputation, and jettison the rest.
Groups: Voice acting groups can be a great source of information, support and camaraderie. However, if they're full of ads or negativity, it may be best to trim those from your memberships.
Demos: Just like your personal website (you do have one, right?), your demos need to be kept up to date and show you at your best.
Consider dropping any that are no longer relevant, or getting some new ones made to replace the older tired demos.
Genres: There are a slew of genres in the voice acting world. Although you may be interested in many of them, it may be best to take a hard look at which are working for you and your voice.
The others will still be there if you'd like to pursue them, but that can be more of a back burner project.
Weeding Training: Regular training keeps us sharp, but how much is too much?
Every career and person is different, but it's good to review how much of our time and money is spent on training - and if you're still getting value from the investments.
Coaches: Having coaches for different specialty areas can help you advance more quickly. But be sure which ones line up with your current career path.
Consider taking a break from those who are either not working out for you, or don't match what you'd like to improve.
Classes: Much like coaches, classes can be addictive. Be picky which you'd really like to spend money and time on. If they can help you improve, great. Otherwise, it might be best to skip them.
Workouts: I attend a weekly workout group (although I do skip around a bit). Some of my friends even attend a few per week. Even if they are not a drain on your finances, you may want to think about if they're the best use of your time. Less is more, sometimes.
Conferences: (old man voice) "IN MY DAY WE ONLY HAD ONE VOICE CONFERENCE EVERY TEN YEARS!!! AND THERE WEREN'T ANY PRIZES OR GIFTY BAGS!!! AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!!!" (off old man soap box)
I get it. Conferences have a lot of great things. Getting a sampling of training. Meeting others in the voice acting industry. Seeing the latest toys. They can be a real boost for your career (and ego).
But too much of a good thing isn't always good. Conferences can be really expensive - especially on an actor's budget. Look carefully at what you're getting before you buy the tickets to the conference… and the plane… and the hotel… and the dinner… and the…
Equipment: (seriously, dude… do you *really* need 12 microphones?)
Conclusion: Taking time out of our busy schedule may seem counter-intuitive, but when you keep your Voice Acting Garden weed-free, it may not only grow better, but give you more space to breathe in.
Joe J. Thomas is a Los Angeles-based voice actor working in games, animation, dubbing and commercials. If you've played an online game in the last decade, you've probably killed him. He also writes a weekly creative blog called Joe's Dump.
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