In an old photo album of my Grandma Ruby’s, there is a picture of me taken when I was very young, probably around two- or three-years old. The backdrop is my grandparent’s ranch in Bozeman, Montana. I’m wearing OshKosh zip-up overalls with the sleeves rolled up, it must be late spring or sometime in the summer. Bozeman gets close to 9-months of snow each year. The captured moment shows my little blond self, holding the big end of a willow branch up to my mouth. It looks like I’m talking into a microphone connected to a long cable. I’m sure I didn’t know then I would have a career in voiceover, but subconsciously this was probably the beginning.
That imaginary voiceover occupation became reality in 1986 when KQQQ, a small-market radio station in Pullman, Washington, hired me as Production Assistant. I wrote, voiced, and produced several hundred commercials and tried to make each one of them sound unique. I used a Tascam cassette 4-track along with two reel-to-reel decks, 70s sounding production music, and SFX library to create the magic. After several years in radio production, I left the voiceover world behind and entered corporate employment.
Fast forward to January 2010. After many years in technology and e-commerce, I got the chance to reinvent myself. I wanted to combine my experiences from three unique professions, voiceover & production, tech and marketing. During the first six-months of 2010, I worked with a well-known voice coach, built my studio, designed a website, and had two demos professionally produced. In June, I opened my studio for full time business.
Shortly after the demos and my website went live, I submitted an audition to Voices123. It was for a voiceover to be used in a wedding slideshow. I felt so confident that I’d nailed the audition that not getting the gig wasn’t even a thought. I decided to not audition again until I heard back from my first client on Voices123. Results came a few days later. I didn’t get the gig. What? I did everything right! My audition was flawless! You mean, there was somebody better than me? How could that be? I discovered I could do everything right in an audition and still not book the gig.
It’s a good thing that I didn’t let my first dip in the audition pool turn into a career crusher. I fluffed my ego, thickened my skin, and continued on my journey, landing a large web-demo project within a few days.
The market is saturated with folks who want voiceover as their business of choice. This flood of talent provides potential clients the opportunity to shop for the right voice or the right price. I’m serious about my voiceover business, and determined to be more successful every day. My approach to overcoming the talent flood is to give the customer what they’re looking for and provide great customer service before, during, and after delivery of the voiceover.
It’s up to me to make the magic happen and to distinguish myself from the other voiceover professionals. I treat new contacts with respect and promptly answer their questions. If they are unfamiliar with the hiring of voice-talent, I guide them through the process. If I know that I’m not a good fit for their project, I’ll tell them up front and offer to suggest a talent that might be more suitable.
Being flexible enough to work within the confines of client schedules is super important. Sometimes that means working over the weekend or during the evening.
I maintain contact with my established clients regularly and continue to remind potential clients that I’m still interested in working with them and earning their business. I do both through conventional mail, e-mail, and phone calls.
My voice has traveled to many states in the US and to several countries including India, Germany, China and Canada so far. Working with clients from all over the globe is by far the most pleasurable aspect of my business. I’ve worked through language barriers by asking questions, providing clear answers and being patient. I want our time together to be productive.
My voiceover peeps are by far the best tool in my VO utility belt. The openness most professionals have in this business is amazing. I’m extremely thankful for the guidance I’ve received over the years. There have been times when I am stumped about an aspect of the business, and I’ve been able to send a quick e-mail to a few VO peeps who have years more of experience than me, asking for suggestions. Their responses are nothing short of awesome. A big thanks to those who’ve helped me along the way!