When Your Voice Over Work Suffers
A Drought, Ask These Questions ...
By Steven Lowell
Community Manager, Voice123
All businesses go through highs and lows, and at times have to adjust to different market conditions. So questions must be asked and answered in to help us get through a work drought.
Indeed, change always starts with the person behind the mic, and the world around you changes with each choice you make:
"What is my motivation? Why am I doing this?"And I'm not talking here about acting choices. Rather, I mean finding and rediscovering real reasons ...
Q: 'WHY DO I DO VOICE OVERS?'
Do you really know why you do voice overs? There is not one thing anyone can do to help a person, if they do not know why they want to be in a certain career.
When you find out why you do this, write it down somewhere. During a drought, this gives you a mission statement to live by, when everything else seems horrible. You may even discover that the reasons you do something are not helping you get voice work!
Q: 'AM I BEING MY OWN WORST ENEMY?'
Working online can be a real ego-killer. There is a reason why it happens.
The Internet empowered the little guy/everyman/woman around the world to have an opinion, or try to get work. Now, everyone knows everything, or at least has the confidence to think so.
Working in a sea of brazen opinions means you will hear some hard truths and opinions. You may have had control of an inner-circle in your local market, but online you are vulnerable to how everyone really feels.
If you communicate by leading with your ego-centric nature, the consequences will be simple and quiet. In other words, you will be ignored and not celebrated, or at times complained about in public.
Q: 'AM I TAKING THIS TOO PERSONALLY?'
The entertainment business from A-Z is a business where success is determined by artists creating something that meets approval of strangers for money.
Did you ever get on stage and sing a song, but when you were done, people just stared at you?
It's not a bad dream. It happens. You can defend yourself and say, "The audience is wrong," but the "audience" is paying your bills, so you need to find the audience that wants to pay you.
If you take a creative opinion personally, you have passively told your audience, "I do not care what you think."
If you take every comment personally - or worse, rush to make changes to something you heard in order to meet instant approval - you will turn into a lunatic.
Think of the painter who spills paint on his hands. He knows it will wash off, so he keeps painting. It may be annoying at first, but it is a work hazard he deals with. Imagine now, if you took every rejection personally, and tried to change to make each person happy, after 20 years in the business your head would explode.
Give yourself a steel gut.
If you find yourself saying, "I know, but it's hard when..," well, you just stated you know it's hard.
It is just that simple. It is hard to not take things personally when your voice is the product, but you have to keep your cool.
Q: 'DO I KNOW WHAT PEOPLE REALLY WANT?'
Recently I heard Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre state in an interview, "You are only as good as last week's show. You should spend every minute doing your best to not be boring."
I know exactly what he means because there are days when I have done it, seen others do it, and it happens to everyone. They think they know what people want based on their experience, and as a result, they ignore what was requested and 'phone it in.'
Think about the last time you ordered food at a restaurant. Did the chef come out and give you his resume and prior experience, or did the waiter bring you the food you ordered?
You have to understand what clients are expecting, especially when working with online casting.
Auditioning is not just "auditioning." It is also communicating online in the preferred method of the website.
Q: IS MY MARKETING BORING? EMAIL ETIQUETTE STINK?
If marketing and emailing etiquette becomes boring or aggressive, prospects will assume "you are just one of those people who sound great."
Communicating in a digital atmosphere requires understanding how the other person may view your message, and knowing if that is the way you want to get work or present yourself.
Example: I hated working on Wall Street, but I loved what I learned there about email etiquette. Online marketing, to me, is a blast. It seems to be so fresh and without set rules for creative expression that anything goes. It just has to make sense.
Q: 'AM I BEING TOO NEGATIVE TO ATTEMPT THIS NOW?
Believe me a positive attitude matters. Take golf, for example.
A person swings a club and hits a ball. The ball stays on the club face for .001 seconds. If that golfer is feeling angry, tired, upset, not sure why he is doing it, etc. all of that energy will affect the result of the swing, which will send the ball flying anywhere.
But If a golfer is relaxed and focused, the ball usually ends up where intended.
Don't throw yourself off your game by allowing random negative thoughts to control you.
Q: 'DO I STUDY HOW PEOPLE SUCCEED OR FAIL?'
Hey. Whatever you study, you will perfect.
Q: DO I NEED A BREAK TO CHILL, RELAX, CHILLAX?
If you have to take a break from the game, by all means do it.
It is a chance to absorb what has happened and to organize your thoughts.
Did you notice I did not mention questioning your copy reading skills and audio quality?
Here's why. There is a great deal more competition to deal with today. When everyone has great audio and knows how to read copy, you have to take your career to new levels of thought - and that means getting yourself mentally prepared.
Steven Lowell is a voice actor based in New York City, and Community Manager for Voice123, the online voice over marketplace that provides online auditions and work for its members.
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