Friday, April 23, 2010

Survival Tips for Remote Voice Over Talent

Each day, voice over talent from around the world wake up and go to the Internet to find job opportunities. If you think back, just 10 to 15 years ago, the most common way to get voice over work was to commute to a job, or audition.

In 2010, more and more voice talent have the opportunity to work from home either full-time, or part-time. On the surface, this sounds absolutely wonderful, but still there are some things to consider once you have made that commitment to a voice over career. This week, we wish to offer Voice Over Survival Tips for the Remote Voice Talent.

Survival Tip #1: Create a routine that 'feels' like a 'commute to work'.
  • This may sound silly, but when the commute to work becomes 'going from the shower to the studio', what gets lost is that built up 'sense of urgency'. What 'pavement pounding' to auditions did for many voice talent I know was it gave them a physical boost, and time to mentally prepare for the audition. It was a 'trip to think about it, and maybe walk it off, or celebrate.' You can imagine that waking up, going to the kitchen, and then the studio in your house, the physical effort may be missing, and the walk sure is not happening.
  • Before working from home each day, create a fake commute such as, taking a walk to the store before you allow yourself to start auditioning. The physical effort wakes the mind up, gets the blood flowing, and gets the body prepared.
Survival Tip #2: Isolate where you audition away from the rest of your domestic responsibilities.
  • Again, this is psychological, but very important. If you are reading copy in full view of that laundry you did not do, or those bills you did not pay, the mind cannot always focus 100% on the task of 'getting work'. Auditioning involves interpreting copy, requiring that you sound 'in the moment'. If you are distracted by your surroundings, whether you know it or not, others may simply feel you are not connected to the script, and that alone, is enough to sink an audition.
  • Do your best to create a separate space for yourself, where you know you can focus on work, and not what you did not do around the house.
Survival Tip #3: Get out of the house!
  • Voice talent are very dedicated and competitive, but there comes a point where dedication becomes unhealthy; usually happens when one starts to believe they do not need to eat, drink, get sunlight, or fresh air. Working online can create the illusion that you must sit in front of a computer all day to survive because you have to submit faster than everyone for when that one big job comes along. However, to perform at your highest level, the body must always regenerate.
  • Things like Wi-Fi, blackberries, iPhones etc. allow for people to work on the go. It is a good idea to get out once in a while, and network face-to-face. When you travel, find hotels that offer Wi-Fi, or Internet service, to put your mind at ease. Traveling is good life experience, and great in a global market. Since 'acting' is always 'the performance of life', spend time getting to know life beyond the home studio.
Survival Tip#4: Dress for success, even if only for yourself.
  • It is statistically proven that people who shower, shave, and dress nicely, as if going to work in an office, have more productive days than on days when they rolled out of bed, straight in front of the laptop.
Survival Tip#5: Understand that 'deciding to work from home' is 'relocating a business'.
  • 'Working from home' is the decision to relocate a way you used to get work, to another place. When you commit to this 'relocation', you cannot expect the rules of 'how you once worked' to stay the same. Treating auditions online like they are offline auditions, or practice, is a mistake; one I made myself. You cannot cross up different methods of getting work between markets. Online is its own market, and so is offline.
  • For example, you cannot sell a newspaper on the street by advertising on the Internet. Why? The Internet cuts out usage of paper, so heavy Internet users wont buy newspapers. Now, the way news is presented and spread on the Internet has changed as well.
  • Working from home, you cut out middlemen that were once hired to find talent. You are now a 'DIY' voice talent (do-it-yourself voice talent) finding work on your own, and others are looking for you will be using new methods, too. Keep that in mind. Being your own business means you follow your own rules. Whether or not people are buying them will tell you if these rules are working, or if something else must be tried.
A letter from my 'trenches',

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's Blog
Twitter: @stevenNYC123


Higbee said...

I'm a little surprised that no one has popped on here to say how RIGHT these comments are! If you are a remote vo talent, these aren't merely suggestions but words to live by IMO. Thanks as always Steven!

- Gabriel Guyer

Jeremy Ryan Creative said...

Hey Steven, Great tips! You sound like my wife, and you are both absolutely right. I'm printing out this article and stapling it to my studio door. Thanks for the reminders. There actually is life outside of the booth. Keep up the great work!

ednixon said...

This is one of the more idiotic things I've ever read.
When I look to someone who has actually been successful in voiceover, I look to Shotgun Tom Kelly.
Sure, Tom gets out, has fun, and is a great guy, but he DOES NOT ever "Dress for Success" when doing voiceover, or radio. Other than his trademark Drill Corps Sargent hat.

And he hasn't shaved in 30 years.

Sorry, this post is an embarrassment to the author, who thinks successful talent is shaved, plucked, and in the gym all the time.
That couldn't be further from the truth, out there in real life.

Thank you,
Frank Martin

Bob Souer said...


Excellent suggestions. Thank you.

Be well,

Philip said...

Good one, Steven! These are the little things you don't always think of, but which can make a big difference.
I know I can feel very different on different days when I get behind the mic, but it's not always obvious why sometimes you can feel fresh and creative, and other times dull and flat.
Thanks for the advice!
Philip Rose

Professeur des ecoles said...

Great post! I have been neglecting #4...

hughgalyean said...

That was excellent advice and a wonderful column. Thank you for the continued support, guidance and assistance.

Anonymous said...

"Survival tip #3 - Get out of the house" is key! I find that if I can't "nail" a script the way I'd like to, a short walk with the dog or just a small amount of time outside can recharge my batteries just enough to freshen up my energy & delivery. Can't always do that in a traditional work environment, can you?

Bob Rusnock
Blue Stream Voice + Imaging

The Voice123 Team said...

I apologize for the late attention paid to the blog comments.

This was my fault.

I do invite Ed Nixon to consider that I was strictly referring to people working from home.

'Dressing for success' is not the survival tip. The survival tip is doing something in the morning to make yourself feel good about yourself, and remind yourself that do have a job. In Tom's case, he puts on a drill sergeant hat. Great.

I am not embarrassed by what I write.

I appreciate the constructive criticism.

Thanks everyone!

ednixon said...

I guess I was too rough on you for your suggestion that I have to shave to be successful in doing voice over at home.

Still, the biggest talent, and I mean real talent, like Norman Rose, Ken Nordine, and Mr. Kelly that I mentioned earlier rises above the facile cosmetic look in the mirror.
It's voice work, not Television.
Shotgun has made more $$$ in his underwear with his hat on than most will ever see.

Chacko said...

Thank you for this. Very true for any work from home, not just voice over. Makes a lot of sense.