Freelance VO Survival: Pt 5 – Push Yourself

Making yourself more marketable and improving your chances for success was covered in my previous post, Freelance VO Survival: Pt 4 – Continuing Education.

Review

  1. You are your best investment. To be ahead of everybody else, learn what that means.
  2. Learn as much as you want. The opportunities for learning more can be as long as a structured class or as short as a YouTube video.
  3. To Group or not to group, it’s your choice. Participation with other freelancers has the benefit of socializing; whereas training on your own grants you a peaceful learning experience.

And So, it Begins

Pushing4You wake up each morning with a feeling of dread. It’s been several weeks since your last booking and you’re starting to question your decision to be a voice actor.

A part of you loves the idea of working with clients who value your talent and trust that you’ll bring their script alive with believable feeling and emotion. The other part of you is nagging about bills, groceries, gas for your car and family responsibilities.

Sitting in your studio, you ask yourself “What am I doing wrong? I don’t know what to do. What should I do?” But, you do nothing. You are stuck.

Comfortably Comfortable

For the past two years, you’ve had a steady income from clients who give you repeat business and referrals. Your day is predictable with scheduled times when you walk into your studio and when you leave for the evening.

You are comfortable, since any job that comes your way is easily handled. The type of work you do is normally the same every day. You’ve found a niche and are performing well within its boundaries.

You often think about what would happen if your repeat clients took their business elsewhere. Marketing or doing anything besides walking into a booth and recording, then handing off finished audio is considered by you unnecessary.

You’d like to reach out to new prospects. But, you do nothing. You are stuck.

No Work Left Undone

At night, you find yourself exhausted from working a 12-hour day that included 4 sessions, one almost 2-hours long. Following that were 5-auditions, 4-hours of editing and preparing invoices for completed bookings. Finally, you sent quote request responses and marketed to prospective clients.

This is a typical day and you work hard to maintain this performance level. You are a success. It means working nonstop with very little of yourself left to give to anything else.

Friends and family invite you to take a break and have some fun. Your son reminds you about his basketball game. Your daughter personally invites you to her choir concert.

You’d like to attend all that you’ve been invited to. But you do nothing. You are stuck.

The Art of Being Stuck

The feeling can be intense or barely noticeable. The need to push forward takes on many faces and each one may be perfectly obvious to an outsider and totally obscure or ignored by you.

As a business owner, pushing forward to ‘what’s next’ is important to the growth and success of your business.

The three instances of being stuck I called out above are probably the most common and the scenarios for each one are on the extreme side, I admit. Each of them requires us to push forward in a different way. Getting past the sticking point is the beginning of the push.

What follows is a look at ways to get unstuck and the positive benefits of moving forward. It’s time to push yourself.

Send an S.O.S

Starting your day bewildered and not knowing how to improve your business is stressful. Don’t spend time processing your feelings of failure. Doing so will not get you where you want to be- a busy, productive, well-paid professional.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There are many professionals who have been at the same exact place you are right now. But, what do you do to get past the morning dreads?

Be ready to work. When asking for help, you are looking for somebody to provide assistance, suggestions, and guidance. Don’t expect somebody to do the work for you.  Nobody can. You need to take the responsibility and ownership of this process so you can benefit from the positive outcomes.

A mentor is a good start. Somebody you can talk with about what you’re currently doing. They may be able to identify problem areas that you’re too close to, to sort out yourself. Your skills as a talent, business acumen, marketing approaches and more are all worth examining.

Neutral, the UN-Gear

Becoming complacent in your career as a voice talent is more dangerous than it seems on the surface. You have consistency with clients you’ve worked with for several years. Bills are being paid. Your income is at a level you can easily maintain.

Work is effortless and the process is automatic. Script in. Audio out. It’s been this way for several years. Congratulations.

Are you challenged? Are you doing new, interesting work? Are you talking with new prospects? Do higher paying clients interest you? Have you attended a workshop or sought out a coach? These are the things that will push your career out of neutral and help grow your business.

Limitless. Regardless of what others say about professional limitations, your opportunities to push your comfort envelope are limitless.

Continuing to listen to what others are calling fixed boundaries keeps you from discovering the stuff you’re made of and prevents you from taking risks. Playing it safe is easy and preferable to many.

Risk is less about being an adrenalin junkie and more about discovering yourself.

For instance, focusing on a single genre for voice-over. If commercials are your specialty and you’re doing well, why consider doing anything else?

What if you push yourself to audition for documentaries or character voices and find that you like them as well? There’s even the possibility your performance is more human, closer to who you are.

Sticking with one genre or style of work could create that stuck feeling. Always thinking about the other possibilities but never taking them on leaves many opportunities untried.

If trying something new requires you to learn, all the better. Continuing education is one sure way to make you more marketable. The increase in what you’re able to handle makes you more valuable. Push yourself out of your cushy performance comfort zone.

Looking Out for Number 1

Taking care of your primary asset has to be at the top of your needs list. Without you, there is no business. Without the business, there is no income. Without income, there is no survival.

Working 10+ hours a day and most of your weekends to meet client needs satisfies exactly one side of the talent and client relationship. Spending vacation time working is great for your clients but probably not exciting for the people you’re with.

Ideally, you want to work with better-paying clients and clock fewer hours. Being stuck in a mode that’s counter to this will shorten your career as a voice talent or at the very least, make it less enjoyable.

Managing clients so you get time to rest your voice and mind is so important. Vocal health should be a primary consideration. Take care of yourself.

Set hours during the day that you’re available to clients. Let them know what your availability is. Push yourself to stick to a healthy schedule. There are people in your life who genuinely want to spend time with you. Restful nights of sleep and eating a healthy diet are important for keeping the talent machine that you are, running in A-1 form.

Earn What You’re Worth

The rate card you’re currently using may be keeping you from making the kind of money you set out to make.

The push begins by evaluating your client load. Are you at full capacity and turning work away? Or, does your schedule have room to fill with work?

The goal is to work less while earning more. It’s not a bad thing and if most people had the choice, they’d work less for more money and not more for less money.

If your skills are top-notch and your business practices are sound, but you’re not attracting clients, try adjusting your rates down incrementally or find ways to add value.

You’re looking for a noticeable improvement. Perhaps a new marketing approach is what’s needed. If you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to get the same results. Change it up!

On the other end of the spectrum is working a full schedule and turning work away from existing clients or refusing to take on new clients. What a great ‘problem’ you have.  You are set for a rate increase.

This is scary territory for some who fear losing clients. That’s OK because you are looking for clients who’ll pay what you’re worth.

Those who don’t see your value will find someone else. New prospects who understand what you have to offer and like your talent will pay your rate.

Confidence Booster

After you’ve made a change that moves you outside your bubble of comfort, a couple of positive things happen.

First, you realize that taking a leap into the murky unknown, was not as bad as you thought. You learned something along the way, maybe picked up a new skill. Most importantly, you discovered something about yourself.

Second, you’ll be better prepared to deal with feeling apprehensive. Remind yourself that you made it through the change and are better for it.

Even results that didn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected can have value. The key is not to give up on yourself when things get crazy.

There will be bumps along the way. You’re making a change or trying something new and it feels awkward and unfamiliar. If you ditch your efforts early, you’ll never learn to navigate.

Understanding the navigation of change is what brings about success.

Naysayer Respect

Why follow the pack when you can set your own standards? You’ve seen and heard many times things like, “It’s always been done this way.” Or “That doesn’t apply to what we do.” Or “The clients will never go for that!”

These statements are limiters and allow people to stay comfortable and unchallenged.  It only takes one person to pierce through the protective coating of complacency.  A different idea or method proves change can happen and is appropriate.

When you hear, “That’s the way it’s done.”, you’ve received a signal, loud and clear, for you to challenge what others are accepting as the norm. Do not be afraid to push forward with your radical ideas. The success or failure of those ideas will never be known if you don’t push forward with them.

Pushing forward is constant. Like the hands on a clock, each is always in motion but at different speeds. The rate of push is less important than the act of moving forward. Sometimes it takes baby steps to get to ‘what’s next.’  Other times, you’ll find a smooth paved superhighway with clear signs to follow. Keep moving forward.

What to Remember

The moment you are comfortable is the precise time to find ways to push yourself.

  1. Moving out of your comfort zone can take many shapes. A small change can have huge results.
  2. Boost confidence with every push. That feeling you get when change has a positive outcome can be repeated and become easier to repeat with every new push.
  3. The negative results of pushing boundaries are valuable. Learn along the way. Discard what didn’t work. Keep what did. Persevere.

There are many examples of professionals who pushed forward with their careers and never looked back. An article written by Renee Jacques, Associate Viral Content Editor for The Huffington Post, calls out 16 individuals who hit obstacles along their journey and found ways of dealing with them. They never settled.

16 Wildly Successful People Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There

How have the moments you pushed resulted in amazing outcomes? What did you learn along the way for those instances of push that didn’t work out? Leave your comments below.

© 2016 J. Christopher Dunn

Freelance VO Survival: Pt 3 – Rejection

 

Rejection_WEB

In Freelance VO Survival: Pt 2 – Motivation, I offered some great tips on how to stay motivated on your way to a successful voice-over career.

Review:

  1. Know your motivator.  It’s that one thing that drives you to do the thing you do.
  2. Being self-motivated is liberating. You decide how to become motivated and develop disciplined to stay on track.
  3. Motivation helpers make it easy. Find activities and develop habits that help keep you motivated. Stick with the ones that work. Be open to new ideas that might work better.

Flashback

If you’ve ever worked a job other than freelancing, you know getting called into the boss’s office to discuss anything negative is deflating. Rejection sucks and being told ambiguously that something needs to be different or better without the benefit of being told what needs improvement can cause a spontaneous head explosion. POP!!!

The Here and Now

When you make the choice to become a voice actor or other freelancer, it’s easy to get blinded by the sheen of unicorns and the brilliance of rainbows when you hear that work is abundant, more than enough for everybody.

It sounds positive and rejection-free. All you do is open up a personal studio and start auditioning or sending out proposals.

Rejection is ongoing for freelancers and it happens in a batch of all new ways.

  • Your quote is over budget.
  • Your style is not what they were looking for.
  • Too old. Too young.
  • Too American.  Not American enough.
  • Decided to use a male instead of a female.  Decided to use a female instead of a male.
  • Prospect decided to go in a different direction (they’ve hired somebody else) and gave no reason.
  • No response to your audition, simple quote or proposal.

Get the point?

Don’t focus on the rejection. It’s not about you personally. Instead learn how to make lemonade out of the lemons that come your way.

You Are in Good Company

There is no one in the business of voice-over, or other freelance work for that matter, who has not been rejected. Let that sink in a moment.

Risk is involved with your choice to freelance. You’ll be meeting knew clients and taking on projects you never thought you would. The way to get what you want is to remember not to be afraid of the word no.

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.”
-Billy Joel

Countless voice talents have gone before you, and had they given up, would not be where they wanted to be, where they saw themselves. The word ‘no’ is part of the freelance equation. If yes was easy to get, everybody would be a freelancer.

It’s About Them

After submitting an audition to a client for consideration, you hear back from them that they’ve found the talent they were looking for–elsewhere. They’ll keep you in mind for future work.

There are a number of things that could have had an effect on that talent seeker’s decision. Their mood because of the speeding ticket earned on the way to work. Their mental state affected by a venti latte they dumped on themselves. They think you sound like their ex-wife or estranged father. The list of potentially pointless craziness is limited only by imagination and there is nothing about you they are attacking.

“If I went by all the rejection I’ve had in my career, I should have given up a long time ago.”
-Mike Myers

Since you’re a pro at what you do, the audition you submitted was amazing. Just because they felt it wasn’t a good fit for what they were looking for, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have worked for somebody else.

Another way to look at it: just because a red car isn’t right for you, doesn’t mean it’s not right for somebody else looking for a car. Make sense?

Keep Going

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”
-Sylvester Stallone

Why are some voice actors booking while others only hear about amazing projects?

Talent aside, are those people being hired better at marketing themselves? Is it because their website and business cards were designed by an award winning studio? Do they take risks and continue to stretch their talents?

Hmmm… Maybe it’s the way they handle rejection.

It takes several ‘no’ prospects to get to a ‘yes’ client. If you give up on yourself before hearing yes, you’ll never understand your potential. It is a good idea to evaluate as you go and make adjustments as needed. Truthfully ask yourself why a high rate of no responses are coming your way. Be willing to make changes. Perseverance is a trait of successful freelancers of any type.

The Delightfulness of Yes

There’s more to yes than landing a gig. What you do after receiving a job is to grow your client’s happiness. That’s what keeps them returning for more.

“Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”
-Marilyn Monroe

Keep on top of communication with your new client. Respond to their e-mail and phone calls in a timely manner. Ask questions when in doubt about something in their script. Be interested in their project. Meet their deadlines. Or better yet, deliver early. Be willing to do what it takes to keep them, within reason of course.

And, follow up with them after delivery of your audio files to make sure they have everything they need.

Avoid reasons for their rejection.

It’s Not Easy

Put yourself in the seat of the producer who listens to dozens of auditions, trying to find the sound that’ll match their project. It’s hard.

“You get used to the rejection and you don’t take it personally.”
-Daniel Craig

Making a choice is difficult when considering several equally talented people. And, nobody enjoys the process of telling everybody else they’ve made a decision that’s favoring another person.

When you’ve been told another talent has been selected for the project, be gracious and thank the producer for their time. Remember, this isn’t about you.

Most often you’ll not hear back when you’re not the one selected. And if you’re told they’ll keep you in mind for other projects, don’t consider it as lip service. I’ve had clients reach out to me for subsequent projects when I was the best fit.

Rejection Happens

Have a thin skin? Make an effort to build one thicker and resilient. And, keep in mind, you can do everything right and still not get booked. Detach and move forward.

What to Remember

  1. Rejection is not about you. Many things will influence a person’s decision not to book you for the job. These are out of your control.
  2. You don’t have an exclusive membership to Club Rejection. Most everyone who freelances has heard ‘no’.
  3. Make an effort to prevent rejection by existing clients. After being booked for a job, deliver on customer service and do what it takes to create a repeat client.

Looking for additional ways of dealing with rejection? Check the article written by Creative Business Coach and Author of “Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success”, Mark McGuinness.

How to Handle Rejection and Criticism as a Freelancer

What are your thoughts about rejection?
How do you handle it when rejection comes your way?
Are there ideas in this post that you’ll consider?

Leave your comments below.

Next time: (Pt 4) Continuing Education

You should know more today about your chosen freelance path than you did yesterday but not as much as you will tomorrow. It’s important for your business to grow and one of the best ways to help with that is education.

© 2016 J. Christopher Dunn

Freelance VO Survival: Pt 2 – Motivation

In Freelance VO Survival: Pt 1 – Find Work, I told you how to get your new freelance business noticed, which leads to getting work.

  1. You are now a hunter! Work used to come to you unavoidably. Now you need to find work so your freelance business thrives.
  2. Tell everybody you’re a freelancer. One of the best methods of getting booked is to tell people you’re available and looking for work.
  3. Use multiple types of networking methods. Social media, e-mail, phone and in-person meetings are all business development tools.
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Unmotivated

What drives you to keep traveling the freelance path?

  • Passion for what you do?
  • To earn money?
  • Meet new clients?
  • The overwhelming desire to please?

In this article, I’ll focus on motivation or the end result you have in mind while doing your thing.

Self-motivation is an important trait to develop for growing your business and becoming a successful freelancer.

The Daily Grind

When you had your reliable, full time gig, the motivation to perform was typically driven by the manager you reported to. This was the person who had the company’s best interests in mind and reminded you constantly what you should do next. Of course you wanted a paycheck as well. Money is a good motivator.

As a freelancer, the weight of motivation falls squarely on your shoulders. You’ll move your focus from performance, which is still important, to survival. Creating a distraction-free environment to do your best work is a start.

Once you find work, you’ll notice immediately you can get more of it done. Working as a freelancer removes corporate diversions and reduces drop-everything-now interruptions.

The Same But Different

Being motivated to stay focused on what needs to get done for yourself is different than working to complete several, unrelated, time-sucking projects on other people’s timelines. Yes, you’ll have clients with needs and schedules and since you’re the boss of your business, you’ll have more say in how those schedules come together. However, the key to working is motivation. You own it now.

Keeping motivation going can be tricky. The discipline to be self-motivated sounds so hard.

I’ve developed motivation helpers that keep me consistent from day to day and allow flexibility to make adjustments when needed.

The Brain Cleanse

My day starts early with a walk. This is ‘me’ time and my motivation is to finish the walk feeling mentally ready for the day. I clear my head of junk that’s distracting. Think about the positive aspects of what I accomplished the day before and day dream about how I’d like to see my business in the future.

Fueled for Performance

My body needs fuel to perform so breakfast is important. Low sugar, high-protein choices are best. Crashing an hour after you eat is not a good thing. Find the foods that keep your body fueled for a couple of hours at least, and have a quick mid-morning nutritional snack that will keep you going until lunch. Keep your body motivated.

Consistent Game Time

Starting your day at a specific time will motivate you to get a good night’s sleep; get out of bed at a realistic hour; and complete your morning ritual. Determine what your core hours will be and surround them with one to three hours of support time. Be ready to do the first thing on your daily list and feel confident you’re going to get it done.

Check Off

One of the best ways for me to get through the day is to make a list of to-dos. I’ve created a boiler plate framework that lets me arrange my schedule and add additional items as needed. I typically plan out my day the night before. This helps me stay on track and motivated to work as efficiently as possible. When I complete an item, I get the satisfaction of checking it off. It feels great!

Work, Reward, Repeat

Starting a project can be its own roadblock. That first effort can be tough to make. You might think about doing something else first, something more enjoyable than the thing you’re putting off doing.

Instead of doing the fun thing first, I recommend you reward yourself with it after you get the task done. This provides motivation to start work with the goal of completion for reward. Plus, if you use a list you get the bonus feeling of checking it off.

Your Personal Guide

If you could put into a short phrase what you set out to do in your freelance business, how would it sound? Mine is,

“Delight customers with ready to use, genuinely human, spoken word audio.”

With that In mind, I’m motivated to deliver consistent results with the target of exceeding my client’s expectations. My business is based on happy clients, who will then be repeat clients. And since they’re happy with what I did for them, they’ll tell other people to use my services.

Friendly Motivation

Nothing beats a good conversation with a peer. Find groups or meetups of people you can have work-related discussions with. Bouncing ideas and issues off other professionals is a great way to brainstorm. Just because you are a freelancer, doesn’t mean you should be isolated and work in a vacuum.

If groups aren’t your thing, set up a 10-minute check-in phone call every morning with somebody to keep each other on track. Share possible solutions to tricky situations. Offer encouragement. Keep each other motivated.

Motivation Could be Right for You

With a few motivation helpers in place, you might find the quality of what you do improves. Keep track of what worked well as a motivator. Was it the walk before you started your day? Maybe it was setting a daily goal of contacting at least one new potential client. What works is the action you should continue.

What to Remember

  1. Know your motivator. You’ll have a least one thing that drives you to do the thing you do.
  2. Being self-motivated is liberating. You decide how to be motivated and become disciplined to stay on track.
  3. Motivation helpers make it easy. Find activities and develop habits that help keep you motivated. Stick with the ones that work. Be open to new ideas that might work better.

Need More?

Looking for additional examples of motivation? An article written by Forbes Contributor, Paul Tassi, features several more ways to consider.

11 Ways To Stay Motivated While Working From Home

Is there something motivating you to continue what you’re doing? Leave your comments below.

Next time: (Pt 3) Rejection

There is no such thing as rejection immunity. But, there are ways to deal with rejection and criticism that will allow you to move forward and not take it personally.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Freelance VO Survival: Pt 1 – Find Work

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“I love doing it!”

“It’s easy to do.”

“It lets me be creative.”

“It’s a perfect work-at-home job.”

“It gives me a chance to do my own thing”

“It” is freelance work and there are many reasons why people decide to move from corporate comforts to a career in (insert any freelance title here). They all sound so positive, filled with dreams of rainbows and unicorns. Why work the 9 to 5 grind when it’s 1-million times easier to work from home? Duh, who would pass that up?

For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you the efforts it takes to work a freelance gig. These are insights discovered by me during my transition from the corporate high-tech cubes to freelance voice actor, plus tips I picked up from other freelancers. They’ll help get your head wrapped around what it takes to freelance.

Day 1 Excitement 

Good bye, full time job. Hello, ‘I get to work whenever I want to’ passion! Calling it a passion makes it sound so… Passiony. Warm, fuzzy and oh so comfortable.  First day excitement will have you full of good intentions. Now it’s time to find, dare I say, WORK.

Before, when you were working a full-time corporate job, work found you and you never felt like you had enough time to get it all done. Now, finding work is a necessity and quite possibly, to begin, you’ll have more time on your hands than work. Finding work takes much effort. Your hunter and gather instincts, which have been dormant for several millennia, need to be shocked back to consciousness.

“Much effort, much prosperity.” –Euripides

Make Some Noise

There is one sure way to find work that outweighs all others and you should use it from day one. Tell everybody you know and meet that you are available for hire. If nobody has a clue what you’re up to, you’ll never work or you’ll work very little. It‘s a numbers game, and the more people who are aware of what you have to offer, the better.

Contacting family, friends, past business connections, peers and acquaintances should be included in your list of people to notify about your new freelance business. Get the word out to as many people as possible.

Don’t be bashful and hide behind the feeling people on your list won’t be interested in hiring you. You may be surprised by those who you thought were long shots when they become your first clients. At the very least, people you contact might be able to introduce you to somebody who is looking for the type of professional freelance services you’re offering. Anyone is a potential client.

Let the Socializing Begin 

The best contact methods to consider are social media, e-mail, phone and in-person.

Establish yourself on LinkedIn and say you’re looking for clients in your profile. Join groups specific to your freelance business. Follow businesses you’d like to work with and start building your professional connections and developing relationships.

Reference the list you created of people you want to let know about your freelance offerings. They are probably on LinkedIn so don’t miss the opportunity to connect.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others should be considered along with LinkedIn. Use those that make the most sense for your business.

Little Black Book

Your address book is full of names and e-mail addresses. Start from A and work your way down through Z. All are potential clients.

Start by creating a boiler plate message about your new freelance business that you can paste into an e-mail and send to everybody.

When creating individual messages, write something personal in the first few sentences. Paste-in your boilerplate message. End with a single sentence personal closing. Keep the entire message brief.

One Phone – Many Numbers

The phone can be your friend. You have many people you talk with on the phone that should know about your decision to go freelance. These might be the people in your inner circle of friends, the ones you feel closest to. Take the opportunity during your conversation to tell them about your freelance business. They’ll have questions and this is the perfect time to practice your answers.

It’s Been a While

Running into old friends, business connections, and people you went to school with are opportunities for catching up face to face and finding out what’s new in each other’s lives. Make sure to have business cards available to hand out wherever you go. You never know whose path you’ll cross.

Listen Up!

The primary point is to let people know your freelance offerings are available. But, remember, it’s not all about you.

Relationships are easier to build when two people are involved. Word of mouth is important because referrals work both ways. Make an effort in your approaches to network and take notes about your connections. Find out what’s going in on in the businesses and lives of the people you contact.

Somebody you connect with may be looking for a web designer and within your contacts you can easily refer the person to someone you know. And likewise, a contact you’ve developed a networking relationship with knows you offer mad skills in the type of freelance work you do and feels comfortable referring people to you.

Once you’re plugged in the good vibes keep on flowing. You want your freelance business to survive so making the effort to continually network is key in building your client list.

More clients = more work = more $$$ = survival = SUCCESS!

What to Remember

  1. You are now a hunter! Work used to come to you unavoidably. Now you need to find work so your freelance business thrives.
  2. Tell everybody you’re a freelancer. One of the best methods of finding work is to tell people you’re available and looking for work.
  3. Use multiple types of networking methods. Social media, e-mail, phone and in person meetings are all business development tools.

For more suggestions on how to build your network and tell people about your freelance business, this post from Freelance Digital Consultant, Ben Matthews is worth a read.

11 Effective Ways to Grow Your Freelancer Contacts

Next time (Pt 2) Motivation

What drives you to keep traveling the freelance path? Next time I’ll focus on motivation. Self motivation is an important trait to develop to grow your business and become a successful freelancer.

© 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