Don’t Blame the Bird

ThanksgivingHowever you celebrate, surround yourself with the people you love to be with.

Be thankful. Have fun. Stay safe.

And, don’t blame the bird. Scientists say that extra glass of wine, the high-calorie meal or relaxing after a busy work schedule is what makes you drowsy. Turkey isn’t responsible for “food coma.”  So eat until it’s gone. You have no excuse other than not wearing stretchy pants.

Enjoy an amazing Thanksgiving!

Secure Your VO Floatation Device: Are You Sponge Worthy?

Yellow-SpongeThe big VO talent sponge, in which we cling is saturated to the point of being unable to absorb any more. Capacity has hit a limit and any moment now we’ll hear a great big soggy SQUISH!!!

Just thought I’d toss that out there. It’s my opinion.

Welcoming All Comers

Folks out of work are hoping a swing at a voice-over career will get them by. Parents home with kids are looking for some easy-grab money. Even retirees are giving it a go. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve read it’s easy, there’s work for everybody and working in pajamas is super cool!

Polly Anna Would Love Us!

As a group of clear-speaking, well-intending professionals, we put a positive face on and pretend everything is fine and there is room for all. Heck, I welcome any talented individual who has it together enough to jump in the sponge. I wish them well and will provide any advice when asked.

The Low-Ballers

There is this ever-present thing with low-ballers. These folks will do anything on the cheap. That’s outrageous you scream, but they simply don’t care, I reply.

The sad truth is that the low-baller mentality is this bread’s suicide pill. They are in business for a few magical months, and after a time, will most likely decide it’s not so magical and the money amounts to just enough to buy a thimbleful of used breakfast cereal.

So they leave. Only to be replaced by the next wave of Kitchen-Table-Studio-VO-Newbies from the Low-Baller Academy. It never stops!

To use a phrase coined by Elaine from the TV show Seinfeld, they are not “sponge-worthy.”

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I’ve read a number of blog posts from established talent who are feeling the impact of the impending squish. They are finding gigs elusive and are auditioning more and landing fewer jobs.

The letters and messages I’ve received personally and read in a variety of online forums, indicate that instant gratification is at an unattainable level. “How do I get jobs today?” “I wan’t to make good money.” “How come I haven’t landed one job in over a year?” “How come nobody is contacting me?” I don’t have the exact answers for any of them. Do I utter encouragement to keep going? <heavy sigh> …yeah.

I wonder, are we doing our biz a disservice by being so openly optimistic? Shouldn’t we instead be writing and talking about the direction voice-over has taken in precise, laser focused words that everybody can understand?

But WAIT, There’s More!

Voice-over support seems to be in the business for it’s own sake. An increasing number of options for education are popping up. Personal coaching, Online group classes, virtual meet-ups, studio workshops, and a growing number of conferences. Go. Buy. Enjoy. All are tax deductible!

Yeah, they’re all write-offs. When tax time comes around they end up being line item deductions. However, there has to be income to make the expense a tax deduction.


Pay-to-Play sites continue to pop up, offering the chance to audition with 100s of hopeful, (and UN-vetted) new talent. The competition is fierce for these lower paying jobs. It appears to be a race to the bottom for the new voice-over talent coming online to participate. Are they forcing the rates of all gigs down? Could they be creating a VO bubble?

A Possible Direction

On the (not-so) far-fetched side, since the ‘natural’ or ‘conversational’ delivery is the direction more producers ask talent to go, how soon will it be before voice-over is handled in-house by the clients. They sound natural and oh so conversationally convincing, right?

Almost Done…

When a sponge releases water, it’s indiscriminate about which molecules get pushed out.

Are you ready for the squish? What will it take to survive? Will you remain in the talent sponge or be wrung out and looking for someone to buy your gear? Is there anybody safe from the squish?

Your comments are always welcome.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

The Kill Switch: Instant Social Networking Maintenance

The Kill SwitchIs social networking “social”?

Is it really “networking”?

The push behind “social networking” is building a list of relationships and not focus on revenue generating. The goal is to develop a list that includes “influencers” who advocate for you, your brand, your promotion, your method …whatever you are marketing, to their followers who will share the influencers opinion with their followers, hopefully creating a cascade of interest, i.e. “going viral”

It is “social” in the limited sense of sharing information with as many people as are interested. I wonder, are people really that interested in everything an author has to say?

Write It and They Will Come

For example, Jack writes a blog post that brilliantly describes the type of people who will be successful in his line of work. He includes persuasive infographics that clearly show traits of those who’ll be top tier. Jack continues with bullet points to outline the growth prospects of the industry and ends with a five step action-item list for wannabes to complete with little effort.

He tweets on Twitter the link to his genius post, and shares it on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Jack’s post attracts the attention of influencers and it goes viral. Everybody is reading it and becoming aware of Jack.

#OMG #ThisRocks

So, people subscribe to Jack’s blog, Follow him on Twitter, and ask to connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. Before he wrote this fabulous industry breaking post, he had 500 social connections. Now he has over 50,000 connections and the number climbs everyday.

Now, Jack is a rock star and his accumulated list of influencers and followers are waiting for his next hit.

One Hit Wonder

Jack writes again. His connections can’t wait to enjoy another cerebral feast from the keyboard of Jack. This time his post is controversial and leaves a bad after taste with readers. A number of people unsubscribe or stop following him.

The next week, Jack attempts to dig out of the mess he released the previous week. Fewer people are reading his blog. However, his connection number is quite high, now over 75,000 since the post that brought him social media fame.

Bring on the Switch!

What if the measure of social media or networking success was tweaked somewhat? So every time a follower or influencer read a blog or text, they had to click the “Awesome” button if they liked what they read. If they read it and don’t click “Awesome” or don’t read it at all, it’s a lost connection. Similar to the kill switch on a train, where the engineer has to tap a button at a timed interval to keep the train going. No tap, the train stops.

Clicking the “Awesome” button would encourage followers to be more responsible and interactive. Following or liking somebody just because an influencer or advocate does, seems like to much power has been exchanged for laziness.

The Rocket Ride Down

Jack is a busy guy, and finds his time for writing has diminished. So, he reposts his older material, or mindlessly re-blogs other writer’s content. He sets up tweets that fire automatically throughout the day. The tweets point to his blog or have humorous memes and videos of cats doing evil things to dogs.

Very little of Jack is in any of it. Still, since a connection only needs to be made once for free and then nothing required to maintain it, Jack still has an impressive number of “connections.” I think they’re mostly zombies.

What about Jack?

A bit about Jack. He doesn’t know anything about many of his social connections. He’s aware that his connections total over 75,000. How does Jack maintain his relationships with this many people? He doesn’t. How many of these connections are relevant? Who knows?

The “networking” stream is flowing out with very little return. It is definitely one-way. How many of Jack’s million connections reach back to Jack? Why are you following Jack? Did you even read his first post? Did you really like it, or did you think you should because somebody you followed liked it?


Just how “social” is social media? What do you get out of it? Leave your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Increase Your Voice-over Income Potential: One Simple Action

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”
― Jim Rohn,  Entrepreneur, Author and Motivational Speaker

How can you continue to build client relationships and increase your chances of more positive outcomes?

One word: Followup.

A followup e-mail or phone call will tell people you want to work with that you’re still interested and available. Your message or conversation should be short and to the point. They’re busy and so are you.

Following are e-mail and postal mail suggestions about when to follow up and what to write.

Post Quote Request

A potential client has contacted you requesting a quote for a job. You reply with your typical response and rate numbers. After a few days, take a moment to send them a followup e-mail, asking if there are any questions that need to be answered.

“Hello, I’m following up with you to make sure you received the proposal you requested for [voiceover / narration] and to invite you to contact me to answer any questions you might have.”

After Delivering Audio

Your client has the amazing audio you created for them and now you’re waiting for their fat check to arrive. Let them know you’re still interested in their project and send them a quick e-mail asking if they have everything they need.

“I’m checking in to see if you have everything from me for [name of project(s)]. I know sometimes additional audio or changes to what’s been delivered are needed.”

Project Completion

Once you’re satisfied the client has what they need for their project, remind them about getting a copy of the final video or audio for your demo reel and a testimonial.

“Thanks again for booking me to create the [project name] voiceover.

As a reminder, I would still love to receive a copy of the finished project and a testimonial from you. Both validate success for potential clients and feature my collaborative ability and talent. 

Thank you for taking a moment out of your busy day for me. I appreciate it.”

The Missed Payment

Not many people enjoy nagging clients to pay. I’d say the number is higher for folks who enjoy dental exams. When a client is past the due date for paying, be polite and accommodating. An article by Sheldon Nesdale, has what I think is a brilliant approach to the missed payment. The entire article is worth reading.

“I just noticed invoice [invoice number] is a few days overdue. Would you like an extension?”

When Asking for a Referral

It’s been a month or so since you last connected with your client. Followup by thanking them again for the work and to ask for a referral. Type your message on letterhead for an added professional touch and send it through the US mail.

“It was a pleasure working with you on the [insert project name here]. Thank you for using my voice!

When you come across other [producers / directors / professionals] that are looking to hire a voice actor, please feel free to share my name and contact information with them. For convenience, I’ve included two of my business cards with e-mail and phone number.”

Maxine Dunn has created a valuable package of 12 Voice-Over Business Templates and a referral request is included.

You care. You’re available to help. You like to be remembered. All are good additional reasons to Followup!

Do you followup with clients and prospects in other ways? Which one works best for you? Enter it in the comments section below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

photo credit: The Socialist (2/12) via photopin (license)

The Adventure of Finding Missing Clients

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

adventure-forest-nature-1024x683_webA challenge I have maintaining my client list happens when contacts are no longer reachable. Personnel changes occur all the time; most people move from one job to another every two years. After they transition to their next job, my contact information for them is useless.

When a contact goes missing, my business with the company they left behind could potentially come to an unnecessary halt. I work hard to build relationships with clients, so I diligently attempt to get plugged back in to my client’s consciousness.

Think of it as going on an adventure with two positive outcomes in mind.

  1. Getting a New Client
  2. Meeting a New Contact

The Adventure Begins

Here’s the method I use to reconnect with a contact who has moved to another company, and to introduce myself to the person who replaced them.

Previous Contact: the Gateway to a New Client

When you find that a contact has gone wandering (moved to another company or seemed to have dropped off the face of the planet!) do the following.

  1. Locate where your contact landed. LinkedIn is probably the best resource for tracking professional status. Search for the contact’s name and the name of the last known company they worked for.
  2. When you find the name, send them a LinkedIn connection request, if you’re not already connected. Should you not find them, search their name with Google.
  3. Once you’ve established a connection, congratulate them on their move to a new job then ask for their new e-mail address. Offer to follow up with your complete contact details.

Previous Client: Say Hello to a New Contact

When a contact leaves a client company, there’s a hole to fill. Make a point of getting acquainted with the new person.

  1. After you reconnect with your contact who moved to a new company, ask them if they know the name of the person who replaced them at their previous company or the best contact for getting the information.
  2. If you were not able to reconnect with the contact or after reconnecting they didn’t know the name of the new person at their old company, make a call to the company you’re trying to reconnect with.
  3. Ask to talk with the person you want to reach by their title. “Hi, could you connect me to the Marketing Director?” Use whatever title your previous company contact had. Then, explain that you’re a voiceover talent who worked on projects for their company in the past. You’re calling to establish a connection with the new Marketing Director.
  4. Since the new person doesn’t know you, introductions are necessary. Once connected, let the new contact know you worked with their company before and are calling to exchange contact information. Ask for their e-mail address and offer to follow up with your complete contact details.

Adventure’s End

When you send the introductory e-mail with your contact details, ask the recipient to respond with a confirmation that they received your message and ask them to include their contact information in the reply.

If they don’t reply the same day, wait a few days and send them a follow up e-mail, “I’m following up to make sure you received my intro e-mail and contact information. I’d like to have up to date info for you, so please feel free to send your contact details.”

Rest After Your Adventure

It’s some work but the payoff is in the details, and it could be huge. I know from personal experience that the work is worth the time.

Do you have a different process? I’d like to hear about it. I’m looking for ways to improve mine.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

Session Improvement Tips for Producers from Voice Talents

Tips-and-ToolsFill in the blank: “During my last session, I wished the producer would have ________________________.”

Or, if you’re a producer, “During my last session with a voice talent, I wished I would have ________________________.”

The job of a producer is not an easy one. They are part psychologist, part friend and part conductor. One minute, hand-holding a talent through a tricky script read.  The next minute, driving to keep the session from going off the rails.

Good producers want you to perform well and will do what it takes to bring out your best.

At the end of one of my sessions, I was asked by the producer if I had time to chat about working with voice talent. I was the first he’d directed and he felt unsure of his working method.

He was asking about what to do and know before the session begins and how to direct during the session.  I came up with a handful of suggestions, which I shared with the producer.

It Got Me Thinking

Afterwards, I wondered if I may have missed something so I asked the Voice-Over Pros group on Facebook for their thoughts and suggestions.

Their responses were brilliant and clearly came from the perspective of having worked with many producers over several years.

Another producer recently asked me for similar feedback so maybe there are others who would like the same. I think it’s good idea to make the info available to a wider audience.  So, I’ve compiled the best responses from Facebook and removed contributor names since the group is closed.

From The Mouths Of VO Pros

If you’re a producer, consider the things you may be missing. If you’re a voice talent, here’s some useful insight to remember during your next session.

Imagine being at the local pub or coffee joint and overhearing this conversation…

“Keep the sessions light, relaxed and fun where possible. Nobody’s life is on the line.”

“The thing about voice talent, as apposed to actors doing VO, is that we are generally affable and have a desire to fulfill the vision of the producer rather than have the producer conform to our artistic vision…”

“Always compliment them first.”

“Clear communication… From my time in the producer’s chair I found that open clear communication and friendliness got what I needed every time…it’s recording, not rocket science…”

“Keep their confidence high.”

“One safety is appropriate. When a producer asks for SEVERAL safeties then I’ve either not hit the magic spot or I’m totally clueless to what I’m being directed to do. In either situation, those extra takes are really not for safety, it’s more like the director saying, “what else ya got?” Yeah, there are times what a director says and what a talent hears is a mismatch.”

“…cant tell you how many sessions have been saved because of safety takes. Some times there are micro issues in your “good” take that you don’t hear until final processing of the vocals….and many times, the safety take can be even better than the “good” one….because the “pressure” is off the talent. I used that as a technique to get the delivery I wanted on numerous occasions…”

“In a commercial session, time your script before the session starts, and if it’s in danger of being long, have some edits in mind beforehand.”

“Always have the check cut so you can pay the talent when they leave!”

“Be positive, encouraging, and be mindful of the fact you both want the same thing and by working together you’ll accomplish it.”

“Trust the talent to tell the story. Don’t microdirect!”

“I’d never say this to a producer but: Know what you’re looking for before you hear it.”

“Sometimes the talent is not seeing the story the way the producer is hearing the story in their minds. I remember working with a talent once a long time ago in a galaxy far away where I was directing something that I had written. I could not get the talent to inflect the words I wanted inflected. I do this to myself in self-directed sessions. I record, and then during the edit I hear that I inflected the second word in a two-word grouping and send myself back into the booth to redo it. Sometimes by the time I get into the booth and find the script and record it again, I end up doing the same thing.”

“My advice to producers is, don’t settle. If you haven’t gotten exactly what you wanted, explain what you want done differently and go again. And once you do get what you want, say so.

“The moment a Producer makes the vo perp feel welcome, and at home, he/she can lead you a million miles in any direction.”

“It’s challenging working with anyone who isn’t sure what they’re looking for and it seems a bit time consuming coaching a client or producer on how to coach us. In the friendliest way possible, I would tell them to call me when they have a good idea on how they want the script read. Or, if the rate is good and the script is short, I don’t mind doing multiple takes for them and avoiding the live directed session altogether.”

“Know what you want! Be open to possibilities…but know what you want before the talent steps in front of the mic.”

“… remember why you hired this particular talent in the first place. They are trying to essentially interpret what is in your head and give their own spin on it.”

“…be clear in your communication on what you are listening for…. and if you don’t know, let the talent know that you would like to try a few different approaches to the project and even ask for suggestions. Creating a comfortable atmosphere is also a big help…”

“I agree with everyone else and would add: have another person look over your script and make sure it’s at least assumed to be the ‘final’ before you bring in the talent.”

This virtual conversion was priceless and full of suggestions that would help make most sessions a breeze to get through.

My Advice

Adding to what was said by other VO Pros, this is what I shared with my producer:

  1. Make sure the script is final and has been approved by the client.
  2. Keep the session relaxed and offer input when necessary.
  3. Allow the talent some creative freedom.
  4. Keep the momentum of the session moving forward.
  5. Take breaks during long-from narration sessions.
  6. When hearing mouth noises, suggest a water break.
  7. For short sessions with commercial scripts, allow the talent to make it through the script once before taking them in a different direction.

I’m sure there are more that haven’t been mentioned. So, I ask you, what would be the single best thing you would share with a producer or director that would improve their workflow during sessions?

Please leave your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
Five Tips for Better Client/Talent Workflow
Unplugged and Loved It!
The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

How do I become a voice talent? (An Easy-to-Use Answer)

  • 6632470867_ba032a9bf2_o“How does one get started getting work as a person doing voiceovers?”
  • “I have received comments throughout my life about my voice and how it would be great on the radio or TV.”
  • “I’m curious to find out more about what doing voiceovers actually entails.”
  • “Any words of wisdom about voice work for one such as myself?”
  • “I am a theater actress interested in pursuing a career in voice over and was impressed by your credentials and education and thought I’d shoot you an email.”

And so it begins.

Every week, I receive at least one request for information on how to bust into the business of voiceover. Maybe you do too.  So, what is the best way to respond?

I’ve posted my thoughts to many forums -suggesting how to proceed, so I’m pretty sure my name has come up in a Google search. I’m honored! I don’t have a problem with people contacting me for info for a couple of reasons:

  1. Many established voiceover talents received questions from me when I was investigating VO. I got some amazing, helpful answers and guidance. So, I’m paying it forward.
  2. The person asking me for guidance is willing to do some ground work before moving forward. I respect that.

Instead of handcrafting a personalized response every time I’m asked the question, I’ve written what I think is something every person considering a career in voice work should read. I’m so convinced of its usefulness, that I’m sharing it with you today.

Social media has made people who once read in to scanners and verbose content is passed over as too wordy. I deliberately kept my letter brief and to the point so the VO-curious can quickly be on their way.

Please, don’t hesitate to copy and paste verbatim what I’ve written into an e-mail or social media conduit. Or, change it as you see fit. And feel free to link back to my website,

The Letter

Re: How do I become a voice talent?


There is a well written e-book, YouTube videos and a number of blogs that cover getting (back) into voice work, which should answer a number of your questions. My top-level advice is to research the business, talk with many voice talents and keep your day job.

With that said, start with the free e-book, “Voices of Experience,” written by working unnouncer Doug Turkel.

Next, check out Peter K. O’Connell’sThe Voiceover Entrance Exam.”

Professional Voice Talent Paul Strikwerda has made a career in voiceover for over 20-years. His YouTube video, “The Troublesome Truth about a Voice-Over Career” provides educational insight for anybody considering creating voiceovers for a living.

After you’ve read and watched the above and are still set on making voiceover your choice for earning money, read Rachel Fulginiti’sThinking Of A Career In Voice Over? 10 Key Questions To Evaluate Your Potential.”

Audiobooks are a popular segment for many voice talents. If this area interests you, watch narrator Sean Pratt’s video, “So… You Want to Be an Audiobook Narrator?

And then take a look at the following posts, blogs and websites…

Finally, do a Google search on voice-overs, voiceover, “voice over”.

I’m sure you’ll have questions as you read so feel free to contact the article writers for answers or suggestions.

Good luck with your future endeavors and remember, KEEP YOUR DAY JOB!!!

All the best,
J. Christopher Dunn

Does it work?

Specific. Informational. Relevant. This will get them on their way to more research and will have them making their own choices about whether the voiceover universe has room for them.

What do you think? Is this the right message to send to hopefuls? What would you add or change? Please share your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?