Do it like a pro!
How to behave like a professional, even when you've just started in voiceover.
In todays busy and saturated markets, many of us who are vying for competitive places in the creative industries, think that in order to make our mark, in order to reach our goals, we have to put in the grunt work. There's an illusion that we have to say yes to everyone that comes our way, to accept the rates they are willing to offer through fear of them not working with us, and follow the formulas of all other people in the same creative field, in order to copy their success.
Well, I just don't believe that is true, and today we're going to talk about how setting yourself up as a professional, and knowing that you can deliver a professional product, will help you circumnavigate some of those annoying baby steps that everyone thinks they have to take.
So lets jump straight in. Many careers are established on the idea that you have to put in certian amounts of time at the bottom of a ladder, doing the worst job you can imagine, in order to suceed. This is a lie. And most of those jobs are inaccesible to the person at the bottom, but thats another debate for later. In the voiceover world, I have come to believe that 'grunt' work, so to speak, is done during your training. Many actors spend years training at stage or drama school, dancers refine their skills over most of their youth, singers not only go through extensive training, but also have to practise their instrument everyday. So why would being a voice artist be any different?
One of the important steps in presenting yourself as a pro early on, is to emphasise your coaching and training. Whether that be 1 on 1 coaching, group coaching, weekend classes, online courses, previous training that is applicable or many of the other methods you can use to prepare for your VO career. Voice acting is a very specific art, and not only do you need to have your technical skills in place, you need to be comfortable in front of the mirophone; and know how to hear your voice objectively. These are all skills that come from coaching. And in industries where the competition is tight, you're going to have to find a way to set youself apart, and one way you can try to do this, is to ensure clients know you have the training to do the job well.
And of course, an important thing to note, is that coaching and training doesn't stop just because you start getting work. I still get coaching and advice from my mentors all the time, and am constantly looking for new skills to build my VO repetoire.
So a client can see that you're educated about what you do, that's fantastic, but what about everything else they can see. Your website, your social media channels, your general online prescence. Consistency is key in many aspects of VO, and your online prescence is certainly one of them. We all do the same thing when we buy things online, we connect with brands because of many things, there look, there message, there website useability. All these elements contribute to how professional something comes across, so don't forget to represent yourself as a brand that you yourself would buy something from. You don't need to have masses of content, but when you do put something out into the world, make sure it represents you. Images that are consistent across all platforms, work specific social media that isn't full of images unrelated to your profession, a logo which is consistent, but can also be adapted to suit specific platforms, even a smart and clear email signature; all these things contribute to being a pro.
Now when it comes to being a professional, it's important that we know we can deliver a professional product. And in order to do that we need to know that our home studio is delivering the best possible quality. I'm not going to go on about your equipment or your DAW, we'll do a more technical blog at a later date. But what is important is that you are confident in your sound, and you've had it reviewed by someone who knows what they are doing. An audio engineer, a coach or a fellow experienced VO can all be of help to you here. You may think your sound is good, but it might not be quite what it could be. And if you're sending out demos to potential clients, then you want to make sure they're going to be impressed with your sound.
This also ties into auditions, many other VO's have said it, but paying for and auditioning on P2P sites before you know your skills and your sound, is a surefire way to get disheartened very quickly. And not only that, you'll be presenting a product that isn't professional, and trust me...people rememeber the bad people, just as much as the good ones.
Ok so you've got some coaching and training under your belt, you've built your brand and online prescence, you've most likely sourced someone to help you create some amazing demo's, and you know you can deliver a great product through your amazing sounding home studio. Trust me, all of this is going to put you in a much greater position than having an endless CV of work you can't show anyone because you weren't up to the task yet. Rememeber, just because you don't have an endless CV or loads of contacts doesn't mean you aren't a professional, nor does it mean you can't demand professional rates.
A small word to the wise, when it comes to starting in VO and getting paid, it may be worth not going full time right away. There is nothing wrong with building your business while you have other work. Being able to say yes to the jobs that are not only going to pay appropriatley, but also advance your career through client connections and material to show off your skills, is going to be far more beneficial than recording low paid jobs that will never see the light of day.
And finally, remember, being a professional is a mindset, just as much as it is about having certian things in place. It's about getting the work done, communicating effectively and showing the world that your business...is ready for business.
If anyone needs a list of coaches, places to train, books to look at or information about getting all your ducks in a row, then feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Singing out, SBVO.