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6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!

MrGoogle2The Google search box begs me to type in a question whenever I pop open a browser. The code-smiths of Google have spent years creating and refining their cornerstone service. Of the search engines available, Google is by far the most robust and powerful answer retriever available.

Google made search non-geeky by allowing the use of simple phrases. That’s helpful to me when I’m working in my studio; I’d rather reserve my brain power for creativeness behind the mic. Here are a few tools I use regularly that you should try.

Say WHAT?!

Whenever I get a script that has a word I don’t know how to pronounce, my go to helper is Google. The results include entries from several sources including Forvo.com, howjsay.com and others. This comes in handy for audition scripts when the client isn’t available. And, it’s particularly helpful for audiobook production. In the search bar type in…

How do you pronounce [word I’d like pronounced]
(How do you pronounce discombobulated)

At the Tone, the Time is…

I’ve got clients all over the planet and the multiple time zones are difficult to keep straight. A quick way to check current time info is to ask Google. The current time, date, and time zone displays taking the guess work out of calling a client at an appropriate time. Type in…

What time is it in [City] [State] or [Zip Code]
(What time is it in Pie Town NM) 

City and State, Please.

When I’m crafting one-off marketing e-mail to clients, I like to check out what’s going on in their town so I can personalize my message. Google makes getting quick details a snap! I get the basics, including time and current weather, plus points of interest, upcoming events and more. Type in…

[City] [State]
(Poughkeepsie NY)

It’s How Far?

Got a gig at a studio in another town? When your travel expenses include mileage and you need a quick way to calculate the distance, Google is the undisputed source for speed. Type in…

[Starting point] to [Ending point]
(Left Hand WV to West Thumb WY)

Convert this!

With clients all over the globe, I occasionally have one that want’s to pay me in their local currency. Google has a mind for conversion and has no problem returning a value based on the current exchange rate. Type in…

[Amount] [Currency 1] to [Currency 2]
(1500 USD to GBP)

Let Me Google That for You

Could an answer be just a Google search away? You probably know somebody who asks questions that trigger you to think, “Why don’t you just Google it?” To help them see the laziness of their ways, use LMGTFY to create a search and send it for them to use.

This is my fav… http://lmgtfy.com/?q=How+do+I+become+a+voice+talent%3F

 

Those are the ones I use the most, and of course there are many more Google tips and tricks to discover. What is your favorite Google shortcut or tool—one you couldn’t get along without in your studio?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

10 Tips for a Healthy Studio

October 14, 2014 3 comments

LittleSneezeI sat in a restaurant the other day and watched a grade-school sized child endure a massive coughing and sneezing fit. By massive, I mean a series of sneezes followed by a volley of gurgle filled coughs and then more sneezing. While I felt sorry for the tyke, all filled with snotty goo, I was happy to leave her behind as I walked out the door into fresh air.

According to Weather.com Cold and Flu Facts, cases increase during the fall and winter months, then taper off in March and April. Homes with children are more susceptible to these seasonal visitors and women have more colds than men. If you’re a 60-something, your chance of having a cold drops considerably, less than once a year on average.

If you work from home in your personal studio, your chances of coming into contact with a cold or flu carrier is lower, significantly lower if you live by yourself. And, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get ill if you live in a cave. Some caves have good ‘coustics!

However, if you are a parental unit with a spouse and kids, your chances are pretty good that you’re going to get exposed to somebody who is beta testing the latest strain of cold or flu. You’ll have what they’re having and you’ll pass it on to your studio.

Your studio is the money maker. Sure, you’ve got the pipes and sound super cool when you’re recording whatever it is that gets producers to write you a check. But, without your studio you’d be reduced to using string and cans or traveling to somebody else’s hood to record.

Think of your studio as a living being, one that you have a symbiotic relationship with. You both rely on each other for survival and just a bit of common sense will help keep your studio free from nasty cold and flu bugs.

With that in mind, here are some tips to keep your studio in healthy, usable shape through the season.

Maintain a Perimeter – Your studio is sacred and should only be accessible by the truly healthy. Reduce the potential of ill-inducing germs getting in your way by limiting or eliminating access to anybody who has symptoms. That includes you. If you’re sick and only working because you “feel” you should, don’t. Take time to repair, stay away from the sickos.

“…give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.”

Clean Equipment – Once a week, give your studio a cleaning. Clean you monitor, wipe down your keyboard and mouse. Use an electronics-friendly cleaner and a soft cloth on your other pieces of gear such as speakers, audio interface and control surfaces. Finally, give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.

“…when I get congested I sound like poo.”

Work Station – Dust makes me sneeze and when I sneeze I get congested and when I get congested I sound like poo. Use a clean cloth and surface cleaner to pick up the week’s accumulation of micro-particles. Your studio will appreciate your hands-on approach to keeping its surfaces clean.

“…stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.”

Studio Area – Stress is more than happy to give cold and flu a hand when it comes to plying their ickiness. Keep stress to a minimum whenever possible. Keeping your area organized and clutter free will reduce stress and even make you feel more on top of your game. With you studio in order, stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.

“…wash your hands first before heading into your studio.”

Wash Your Paws – During my early years in school at Belgrade Elementary, the teachers were constantly reminding me to wash my hands. Not just reminding me actually, but everybody. At the time I thought it was a dumb idea and a big time-waster. There were more interesting things to do.

OK, so, now I get it. Washing hands reduces germs. When you come in from the outside world (that’s any place that’s not your studio) wash your hands first before heading into your studio. If you find yourself hand washing a lot, use cooler water. Hot water strips away oils that keep your hands from getting chapped. Regardless of water temperature, make sure to use a hand soap you like. Maybe a nice vanilla almond or lavender.

“…their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high.”

Garbage Patrol – It’s like washing your hands. Nobody enjoys emptying the garbage can. It’s just one of those things that you have to do. Remember to keep your perimeter up and empty it yourself. While one of your child slaves might have the weekly duty, their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high. Don’t allow them to pollute your space.

“Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in.”

Be polite, Cover Your Pie-hole – You’ve done everything I’ve suggested in this list of paranoia and still managed to get sick. Now you’re taking it easy to recover so you can get back into your pristine studio. Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in. Do what you can to reduce that from happening. When spontaneous histamine triggered expelling occurs, do it into a fresh tissue and then toss the entire mess away. No tissue in  sight? Sneeze or cough into your shirt sleeve, at the crook of your elbow.

“…they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.”

Don’t Stick Your Fingers in Your Eyes, Mouth and Nose – This should be obvious. In case it’s not, your hands collect a lot of garbage, hence the hand washing. If you stick a finger or your small one sticks a finger in any of the above mention places, you’ve just released the hounds on your immune system and they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.

“When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important.”

Stay hydrated – Drinking several ounces of water a day is just part of what we do. It keeps our pipes in working fashion, reduces mouth clicks and keeps our thirst at bay. When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important. Your body uses the water for everything and when you’re sick, it uses more of it.

“Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.”

Feel Better – While you’re recovering, there are a few things you can do to feel better. Hot drinks with honey and lemon are a start. There are some home remedies that suggest adding a shot of your favorite spirits to a cuppa something. While it sounds good on the surface, alcohol is a dehydrator, which will work against your hydration process. I’m a fan of the herbal tea ThroatCoat or something a bit wilder like Bengal Spice or Orange Spice. And, your body will benefit nicely from extra rest and sleep. It’s working hard to get you back in the studio so give it a chance with some time. Also, keep warm and comfortable during recovery. Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.

Start counting down the days until warmer, more humid weather. Mark the first day of spring as the un-congested light at the end of the cold and flu tunnel. Then you and your studio can relax. Until then, can I offer you a vitamin C or zinc tablet?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Watch and Learn – 6 Video Series for Voice Talents

September 23, 2014 4 comments

Are You A Watcher or A Listener?

It’s possible you prefer one over the other when learning or discovering new ideas and methods. I’m more of a watcher and appreciate professionals who take the time to produce enjoyable content.

In my three prior posts 12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss (Part 1, Part 2) and 5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss I gave you a number of podcast choices that related in some way to the business of voiceover. I received comments about several video selections that people enjoyed as well, and that is the subject of this post. Watch and learn.

 

VO_Buzz_WeeklyBy far, the watchable with the most recommendations was VO Buzz Weekly, hosted by Demo Producer/Director Chuck Duran and Voice Actor/TV host, Stacey J. Aswad. Each weekly episode features entertaining guests and deep-dive interviews. You’ll be fascinated with the backgrounds and journeys that many top voiceover professionals have made. Past shows include Townsend Coleman, the man behind the voice of TMNT Michelangelo; voiceover educator and active voice actor; Pat Fraley and voiceover coach Nancy Wolfson.
VO Buzz Weekly on YouTube

 

East West Audio Body ShopConsistent and unpredictable (in a good way!) best describes East West Audio Body Shop. Almost every Monday (6PT/9ET) The Home Studio Master, Dan Lenard and VO Studio Tech, George Whittam host a live 90-minute webcast that covers a wide range of interesting VO topics. From audio processing, hardware selection and mic technique to interviews with established audio and voice talent professionals. Recent shows covered demos, new voiceover awards and a fan roundtable. As an added feature, a chat room gives you instant access to the hosts where they can read your questions, comments and opinions.
East West Audio Body Shop on YouTube

 

2011-George_Whittam-headshot

When your voiceover appetite is leaning towards something more geeky and technology based, George Whittam has you covered with Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World. George is the go-to guy when it comes to the studio side of your voiceover business. Each week he discusses a specific topic in depth and provides real world advice and suggestions about how to get the most out of your personal studio. George is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Audio Technology, which makes him a welcome specialist.
Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World, on YouTube

 

AMY-WALKER-LOGO-AWOLfinal21

There are days when a voiceover pick-me-up is called for. Amy Walker delivers with a fun, sometimes quirky weekly video. She’s talented and has no hesitation going over the top with her brand of entertainment. Known for several videos featuring convincing accents, Amy is also a comedian, a singer, and a motivational spirit. Her latest submission is a Joan Rivers tribute and Amy does an amazing job of channeling the energy of the recently passed comedian. Her videos are like a good bag of chips without the nasty calories. Once you watch one, you want to watch another.
Amy Walker on YouTube

 

Bill DeWees

Could it be possible to know so much about the voiceover business that creating an ongoing, weekly without repeating content appears effortless? Check out Bill DeWees from Voice-Over-Training.org. Each week Bill reaches into his bag of experience and pulls from it an interesting observation on just about any aspect of a voiceover business. Suggestions on dropping the announcer sound in favor of creating a real sounding voice is one of his most popular videos, along with building a money saving home studio, and a tip about reducing narration mistakes. Many hours of voiceover education from the convenience of your computer screen. The second best part is it’s free.
Bill DeWees, The Voice Over Expert, on YouTube

 

music-radio-creative-radio

Do you use Adobe Audition? Would you like to dabble in production? Mike Russell will teach you how to get more out of Audition and encourage you to go beyond just recording your voice. The series of Music Radio Crative videos expertly covers many areas of Audition you may not have considered. Several episodes cover podcasting and production tips and tricks to use with your studio recordings. Make your voice sound better; general Adobe Tutorials, and adding effects to voiceovers are a few from the list of Mike’s most popular videos.
Music Radio Creative on YouTube

These are only a tiny number of mind expanding videos related to voiceover and I’m sure there’re more. What one video do you watch that’s been a huge help for your voiceover business? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know about your recommendations.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

podcast largeThe previous two posts (12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss Part 1 and Part 2) focused on podcasts I thought would be interesting for your voiceover business. Listenable, VO goodness easily enjoyed by strapping on a pair of earbuds.

Recommendations you left in the comment section of those posts and other social forums opened my eyes to new content. Most I’d not heard of, so I was eager to give them a listen. I was presently surprised.

Here are the recommendations readers provided, complete with a link to each podcast. I hope find one or two that’ll be perfect additions to your podcast list.

Andy Boyns, suggests The Person Behind the Voice. This podcast is a series of conversational interviews with voice artists and others involved in the voiceover industry. Conversations highlight the many different ways people have advanced in their chosen profession, and serve to remind us when challenging the demons within that others have probably had similar experiences. Andy is the producer of this entertaining series.

 

From Canada, Garnet Williams recommends the podcast he and fellow voice artists Dave McRae and Mike Pongracz produce, called The AmiVOs & Friends “Super-Funtastic-Happy-Hour VOdcast.” The 3 AmiVOs offer entertaining and educational episodes in a delivery that’s informative while laid back. Expect a smorgasbord of news, tips, interviews and humor. Each show offers a 3AmiVO’s Iceberg Tip or Fun Fact!

 

Mike Broderick thinks highly of the 3AmiVOs as well, saying their podcast is “hilarious!” He also highly recommends Love That VoiceOver with Rebecca Michaels. Reader, Justin, also suggests Love That VoiceOver, commenting, “Rebecca interviews folks from all parts of the industry, and I’ve found her interviews with agents and producers to be professionally informative, and her interviews with talent to be inspirational as well as entertaining.”

 

Trisha Beausaert, Voices.com Public Relations Manager, let me know about VoxTalk, which is back from a 5 year hiatus. This podcast is described as valuable programming for both aspiring and professional talents. Each multi-segment episode features guest contributors and covers business, news, technology and many other areas relative to the voiceover profession. The repository of previous episodes contains many gems and is worth investigating.

 

One of my new Facebook friends, Joseph Bevilacqua, produces The Voice Actor Show podcast, and he recommends that you check it out. In the most recent episode, Joe and his wife Lorie interviewed voice actor Fred Frees, and featured a number of clips of voice acting geniuses from the past several decades. Included in the mix are cuts from several popular radio drams and comedies.

 

It was fun to hear from so many readers who had comments about what I’d recommended and to hear about new podcasts I hadn’t considered. There was one other suggestion and I’m going to use it as the seed for an upcoming blog post.

If I’ve missed a podcast related to voiceover, directly or indirectly, I’d like to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Are You Available?

 

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

MouthShot_150x150Early yesterday morning I discovered my voice had checked out. Speaking was no longer possible.

Concerned, I opened my mouth and the attempt to say what was in my head, “Hey, what’s going on here?” was futile. I laid there silent. My heart was making up for the lack of sound with hard pounding in my ears. Shaking my entire body, it felt like it might jump right out of my chest.

Thinking maybe I was parched and my vocal cords needed a splash of lubrication, I got up from bed and went to the kitchen for a drink of water.  After the drink, I formed a small question in my mind and then engaged in what I hoped to be my first words of the morning, “Have I lost my voice?”

Silence. Still nothing. My ability to speak was gone.

Concern ratcheted up to full-blown panic as multiple, unanswered questions raced through my mind. Since I rely on the use of my voice to make a living, the biggest question was, “What am I going to do, now?”

With a refill of water, I moved over to the kitchen table, grabbed a chair and sat. My head in my hands and fingers running through my hair, I made a mental list of tasks to take care of when the rest of the world is up and moving. Call the doctor being the first.

I downed the second glass of water and tried to speak again. “What am I going to do!?” I heard the words in my head but my outside voice was gone. Checked out.

If my primary tool to earn a living went AWOL, what other skill or talent could I rely on to put food on the table? I came up with a number of freelance possibilities including audiobook editor, photographer, blogger, personal cook, weed puller, dog walker and mime.

They all seemed somewhat pale in comparison to being a voice actor. I’ve learned to express emotions through my voice. Now the best I could do is facially emote and gesticulate, two things I do well in the booth. But, take those talents outside the booth, I know I’d be tossed into the house of crazy.

What seemed like hours had only been moments at most. My head was still full of questions like, “What have I done?”

The kitchen blurred and then dissolved as I found myself in bed, looking at the dresser on the other side of the room. My heart was still loud in my ears and continued to shake my body. After a moment, the fog cleared and I uttered in a whisper, “It was only a dream.”

Could you reach deep inside and find something worth your attention and passion if you lost your voice, or the primary tool for making your living? What would you do?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn
Image by patricia m

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

Five Ways to be Remembered by Your Clients

Are You Available?

The Magic Phrase that Pays

 

 

magical moneyThere is a small two-word phrase that carries much force. The utterance of these words could make you a hero in a child’s’ eyes. Saying these words to big macho men could melt their hearts. If you said this to your mom, she’d smile, knowing that she taught you well. Telling this phrase to your clients will let them know you appreciate their business.

Imagine a scenario where you work hard to get the business of a recognized client. You establish a professional relationship, and find that working with them is nothing short of amazing. They appreciate your creativeness and suggestions, then give you glowing praise for your finished audio. You work hard throughout the process and get paid exactly what you quoted.

You then move on to your next conquests. You’re feeling good about the growth your client list has experienced. You notice, however, that your business is not really growing much. Your revenue compared to last year is the same. No growth. Hmmm… You worked hard to get new clients, but what happened after project completion?

Did you forget about those clients you worked so hard to get? Did you say the magic phrase that pays? You know, Thank You! That’s right, THANK YOU. Most people like to be thanked, and your clients are people. Showing your gratitude for doing business with them will help keep you in mind for their next project.

There are a number of ways to say thank you. The easiest is to send a note card with a short, handwritten message telling your client how much you appreciated being hired to do the voiceover or narration for their project. Easy. It doesn’t have to be huge, one or two sentences will get your message across.

If writer’s block is getting in the way of sending a thank you card, check out any of the following four sites for inspiration.

Thank You Note Examples & Note Writing Tips

The Letter Barn\Thank You Letters

Thank You Notes

Thank You Note Samples

A thank you card could be one of the first follow-ups you make with your client after completing a project. I recommend sending it about a week after they’ve received final audio.

Another way to express thanks is a note of appreciation to clients for their interest and consideration in using your voice in their projects. Maybe send this four to six months later, either e-mail or traditional USPO mail. Keep them thinking of you. Stamp out client neglect.

Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate it. The magic phrase is Thank You! Help spread the phrase.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn


 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Delicious Taste of Frog

Are You Available?

The Delicious Taste of Frog

Froggy

In a previous post, I detailed a method on how to work through the items in your e-mail inbox. If you missed it, the link below will take you to the article.

Your Inbox Needs a Timeout!

After spending time in your inbox, identify the one item you need to do today no matter what, and do it. This could be your most important or most difficult task. A project you need to finish.

Doing the most difficult thing in the morning will make the rest of your day breeze by with what seems like less effort. “Eat That Frog!” is the title of self-help guru Brian Tracy’s book, which details the strategy of taking care of the most important task before tackling the rest of your day.

Difficult could have multiple meanings. The task could be difficult because of complexity. On the other hand, a task that you don’t want to do and dread even the thought of, could be another meaning. Important tasks have a level of stress attached to them and with that, could become a difficult task to start. Whatever the hesitation, this is the thing you want to work on first. Maybe, think of it like when you were a youngster and were told that you had to eat your veggies before you could enjoy your dessert. Make sense?

My time for eating the frog is right after I finish processing my e-mail. I take 30-minutes and do everything I can to complete the task. Depending on how much of the task is left, and if completion is not necessary on the same day, I’ll do as much as I can and work on it again the following day. Some frogs are bigger than others.

My frogs will look different from yours but here are a few I swallowed this past week.

  • Monday – Followup phone call to slow paying client
  • Tuesday – Cold call to prospective client from a major corporation
  • Wednesday – Pay studio bills
  • Thursday – Compile business performance data for the month
  • Friday – migrate archived work from the past 4-years to a new backup drive

Fortunately, these were on the small side and none hopped over to the following day. Each of them, however, had me feeling anxious and wanting to postpone the task.

Imagine completing that nasty list item first thing in the morning and how relaxed and less stressed you’ll feel the rest of the day. Your mind will be free to contemplate other, more enjoyable parts of your day. You’ll feel like a big helium balloon has lifted your creative spirit to a new height.

There are going to be things you just don’t want to do on any given day. Like these tasks, eating a frog doesn’t sound like much fun. Of course, the alternative is to ignore the frogs until they’ve managed to multiply and take over your life with their incessant croaking. You’re much better off to eat the frog before that happens.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn
Photo by bethcoll

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

Five Ways to be Remembered by Your Clients

Are You Available?

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