Sunday, July 22, 2007

It Ebbs And It Flows

2007 will be my first full year as a full-time voice actor. I believe it was a wise and wonderful decision for me to take the plunge. I have experienced the joys of being a self-starter and the disappointments of vast competition. There have been chances for me to voice incredible projects and a few not-so exciting vocal moments that at least paid the bills. Times I can't believe how much 'project X' is paying, and times I've had to negotiate for every dollar.

I own my own business...therefore, every success is mine...and every disappointment is mine.

In any business, there are seasonal 'ebbs and flows', certain times when business slows down or speeds up. This will be the year that I figure out when my 'down times' will be. It is vitally important to learn, as it will determine my earning and spending habits for years to come.

July has been my slowest month yet. I have agonized over it, questioning, 'is it me?' Am I not marketing enough, not practicing enough...not- 'sitting at my computer as many hours straight as possible trying to find the next great gig'- enough?

My husband asked me recently, "Why don't you ask some of your friends if they are also experiencing a slow month?" My answer? No one actually admits they aren't working every minute of the day.

This morning I was perusing the message boards of a voice site that recently made some drastic changes. There were a large number of actors worrying about the sudden decrease in jobs and revenue. Most were blaming this particular site for the decrease, but it made me wonder...could this be the average yearly 'ebb' for voice actors?

It certainly makes sense! Most producers / advertisers / agents / etc use the summer months to vacation, July being one of the highest 'travel' months. Even though July is a ratings month for TV stations, it is not looked at as a serious determiner in overall success. Typically, July is the worst month for TV programming, the stations save their best for fall.

Since most of my voice work is for animation, children's programming, TV and radio really does make sense that I would experience a major slow down. Even my most regular clients seem to have taken a break! Actors who regularly voice audiobooks or voice messaging may not experience slow months, but for the rest of us it is inevitable.

As a voice actor, I could certainly throw up my hands, go spend my days in the mountains hiking (where I sometimes prefer to spend my weekends) and decide to also take a break. However, I have decided to quit worrying and use this month as a much needed time to work on my business packaging.

Already I have been working on updating my animation demo, as well as adding a radio imaging demo to my repertoire. I have begun working with a graphic designer to re-do my personal website. I have taken time to go over my books and make sure everything is financially in order, and I am continuing my lessons with Nancy Wolfson, trying to become the best voice actor I can.

However, next week I believe I will take a much needed mini-break. At least one day I plan to spend getting my hair trimmed and a getting a therapeutic massage. Hey- it's summer...if everyone else can slow down...then so can I!

It will be interesting to see when the 'flow' of business returns!

[It occurred to me that I have mentioned my updated animation demo twice without posting it... Let me know what you think!]

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Special Thank You

As I went to log into this site to type a new blog...a news flash jumped onto my screen...Jessica Simpson now has a swimsuit collection. It occurred to me, I hope one day I am successful enough in my job that I can randomly choose other careers to dapple in just because it seems fun.

But I digress...

I've had a flurry of excitement the past 2 days. No, I haven't been cast in any new great shows, and I haven't been hired for some huge commercial gig. Yet, I have been quite busy.

Forgive me for the lack of details with this story, I hope you will bear with me through this. A friend of mine, that I have not known very long, contacted me last week. It seems she had dinner with a voice acting idol of mine at a charity event recently. Someone associated with my idol will be in town this evening and my friend wanted to pass along one of my demo CD's.

Now, I have several people in this business I look up to. Many I stand in awe of on a regular basis. However, only 3 actually drop me to my knees in hope that I will one day be half as great. This person is one of them.

Last night as I went to burn my demos to CD- nothing was good enough! I recently hired a graphic designer to create a new website and demo package for me, but that is weeks from being completed. I know it doesn't really matter, this person only needs a voice sample and will understand my lack of pizazz...and yet...I was suddenly so nervous!

My character demo wasn't good enough. Sure, it's been good enough to get me agents and jobs...but it wasn't good enough for the small possibility that my voice acting idol just might hear it.

So, I set out to recreate...and recreate...and recreate. I very literally worked on this demo up to the minute I had to burn it to disc and pass it along. I am happy with what I did, but still envision many changes down the road. I want to compete with the best. I want my demos to sound as good as the demos on the 'Big Agency' sites.

As I look around me, there are DVD's of past shows and CD's of past work scattered around the room. I ripped audio I had recorded until I could rip no more.

Honestly, there is no real point to this post, only an opportunity to thank the 3 people who were and are willing to listen to my work and offer honest feedback. Brian Haymond, Bob Souer, and DB Cooper. I respect you each immensely, and thank you for your friendship, time, willingness, and wise words.

My advice to other voice actors? Find great people you trust to offer professional and honest opinions. Listen to demos from other actors making the big bucks and try to be competitive...and finally, take any chance (no matter how small) to be heard by the best.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It Comes Full Circle

I was conversing over e-mail with my dear friend Brian Haymond about a project I did recently and he said I should post the story on my blog. He thought it might help to inspire other voice actors, especially those new to the business that are just going out for their first jobs.

Several months ago, I was called in for a group voice over session at a local studio. There were 3 ladies (including me) and one man (the owner of the studio) that were doing a 'cheer' as though we were at a wedding reception. The client was on a phone patch in New York. We had to do this cheer many, many times as the client wasn't happy with what she was hearing. Finally, she asked, "Is it possible for the girl with the really high pitched voice to sit out?"

Of course, I knew she meant me as the other ladies had those beautiful chocolate voices everyone loves. So, I raised my hand, said 'that's me' and sat down. As everyone else looked at me with apologetic faces, I laughed it off saying, 'this voice has paid my bills for years- no harm done'. I didn't pout, I didn't get upset, I just laughed and saw the humor in it. (Of course, knowing I got paid either way didn't hurt!)

Afterwards, I mentioned the story to a few friends, got it off my chest, and forgot all about it.

Fast forward to last week when I was called into the same studio to do a voice over job. As it turns out, the same client from that session had written a radio commercial that was tailored to my voice! It was a character read, where I was the voice of a penny in a man's dream. She said she wrote the spot after hearing me in that session months ago!

In this business, we always hear how important it is to be kind to everyone you work with. You never know where your next job is coming from or who your next dear friend may be. We deal with a lot of rejection...that's why it is such a competitive industry. The more time you can spend laughing...even at yourself...the greater the 'vibes' will be that you send into the universe. At some point, it will come full circle.

Oh, for those interested...this is me as a penny :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Get Ready to Pitch!

60 Second Pitch at

I received an e-mail from Stephanie at telling me about a cool contest they are having...

"We're having a contest at starting this Friday called "The 60 SecondPitch Contest" and thought you might be interested in sharing this informationwith your audience.

There will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes worth over $4000.00 and this contest will prove to be one of the most exciting and educational events that the voice over industry has seen in quite some time.

Entrants can be from any niche of the audio field (voice actors, podcasters,voice over coaches, voice talent agents, etc.) and are invited to submit an MP360 second pitch about who they are, what they do and how their business can serve others."

Sounds like fun! To learn here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Just Checking In

I wish I had some incredible wisdom this week, or at least some great analogy regarding life and voice over. Unfortunately, right now I'm feeling a bit brain dead!

I don't have much time to write, as I'm due to call Nancy Wolfson in half an hour. This is my second session with Nancy (an amazing voice over coach!) and I'm looking forward to learning more. Hopefully my head can fit a few more tidbits in today.

Last week I was in Dallas, TX working on a great (top secret) project. I was able to visit with several fellow voice actors, some of which I hadn't seen in years! What a great time. I was also able to lend my voice to a few very minor characters in a couple of new anime being recorded right now. Outside of work, it was a chance to spend time with my family which is always a blessing.

Upon returning, I literally had to rush from the plane in order to make it to a recording session on time for a children's video. In 2 days, I did 3 different narrations as a teenager, a British nanny, and a thought bubble. Man, I love my job!!

Yesterday, I spent 4 1/2 hours in Florence, SC shooting an infomercial for Auddie Brown. They have a new format with the show and it took a while to figure out all the logistics. I'm still tired.

This morning, a much anticipated package arrived on my doorstep. My Lawson L47 FET!!! Woohoo! I tore into the package only to realize I have the wrong cable to hook it up. After my session with Nancy- I will be headed to Guitar Center to buy the right one.

Then...we're in business baby! Don't cha just love new stuff?

OK, time to go grab the phone!