Risk is inherent in progress and growth and is an integral component of doing business. Companies take risks, calculated risks, investing considerable time and money developing the products and services they offer and bringing them to the market. As voice talents, we are sometimes part of the product (narration, animation, video games), part of the service (telephony, p.a. announcements), or part of the promotion of the product or service (commercials, radio imaging). Regardless of our role, what we do is an instrumental element of their strategic plan. So what’s your strategic value? Are you worth the risk? Of all voice talents vying for the job, why choose you?
Fair questions, all of them.
Effectively removing the risk of doing business with you requires a new vantage point, that of the client. Simply put, if you were to hire a voice talent for a multi-million dollar investment, would you hire you or someone else?
Here are some points to ponder.
Your performance is paramount! Preparation is key! You must be able to deliver the script in such a way that the intended audience not only hears it, but takes it in and acts upon it. The client is looking for a return on investment; give it to them with your delivery.
Demos are your resume and should showcase the versatility of your range. Make sure your demos are a professionally produced, current, and accurate representation of your abilities as a voice over talent. The client wants to hire a professional and your demos should reflect your professionalism.
Image and reputation count. Spending time developing both is crucial. Post client testimonials on your website. Network to increase your exposure as a voice over talent. Contribute to charitable causes by donating your voice. Collaborate with other voice talents. Share your knowledge and experience with others by blogging about information relevant to the industry. Leverage the power of social media marketing. Be a person of your word. Become known as a person they need to know.
Listen and take direction well. Then implement it! This may require a sense of humor and some creativity, especially when the client’s direction is unclear or contradictory; however, your willingness to get it right and do the extra takes necessary, is a reflection of your commitment to the client. Having a positive attitude and being easy to work with is important. Make it easy for the client to do business with you!
You are the product. You are the service. You are the total package. Companies take a risk when choosing a voice over talent – eliminate the risk and get the job!
It all comes down to professionalism….which in this world seems to be lacking a bit. There is so much competition in the marketplace in our industry as well as others, that we all need to pay particular attention to our professionalism. Give a great product, and you will get and keep getting work.
Well siad, Terry.
Part of the risk for the client is choosing from the VO demo. It helps to make sure your demo is truly representative of your skills and abilities – like don’t include accents unless you can sustain them for an hour long session, etc. Clients don’t want any bait & switch VO sessions because time is money!
Well stated, Terry. The whole “risk” concept jogged my memory. A while back, I wrote a blog piece titled “The Art Of Risk”. ..Kind of a different approach to the concept of “taking a risk” to acheive a greater result in your reads, and being OK with it all, because art (including being a vocal artist) is in an of itself, a risky business. I’m copying it here for you and your readers. Enjoy!
Best, Bobbin Beam
How many auditions does the average actor perform to nail a single job? How many times do you “put yourself out there”, and see nothing come of it?
Good question. Obviously the answer varies, depending on so many factors, which would be difficult to quantify into a solid statistic. It is the question as well as the answer that makes me wonder.
In general, it would be safe to assume that you are in the majority if you take the risk of performing on any level, you run a risk of not booking the job more often than not;
Risk of failure. Risk of rejection, Risk of “de-selection”. Think about the Oscars. So many actors auditioned for the films and just so many got the job. Only so many many films or actors were nominated, and just a few select won the “golden ticket”.
Being in this business is like the supreme roller coaster ride of your life. If you wanna ride, better strap yourself in. You may have exhilarating highs one week or one day, and have all the air let out of your balloon the next.
In voice-over acting, we are at a grander disadvantage. At least on a film or video shoot, you’re interacting with other human beings. Not so in voiceover, unless you enjoy the rare occasion where you’re booked into a studio for a double or an ensemble gig. Even so, many times you end up perhaps with just the director, and or the engineer to record the session.
So most of the time, we work in a very isolated environment, and take our daily risks. We operate in a vacuum, and in so doing, we risk it all. We spill out our best, (we think), and can still fall flat on our face.
Working through this “art” of the process is challenging at times. It can be quite painful, to risk and lose, as it can be incredibly heady in getting the recognition or landing a gig.
When we suffer losses, we must train ourselves to place them into perspective. You do this any way you can. But it helps to have practical training and experience to weather them. Where we can get into trouble is when we allow our emotions and ego to take off on a self-absorbed”pity party”. Many of us do this because we are actors, we are competitive, and have innate and trained sensitivity, combined with a healthy ego. For those who can’t get this aspect of it simply give up.
That’s when it’s time for a break from the business. Really, take a break! Keep doing things you love and surround yourself with people who love you, and get back in touch with what truly matters.
Know it’s not your fault that you’ve been rejected, ignored, dissed, overlooked, under-appreciated, low-rated, or the latest industry buzzword, “de-selected”. Don’t let this stop you.
It’s ok to take the risk, while giving permission to others not to hire you for whatever reason that is not in your control. All you can do is control your own performance and spill it out there.
And next time, take the risk and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Great article Terry. I know in my continued quest to grow as a voice actor it has required risk. I have taken projects at times that required risk on my part because it was something that I hadn’t done before or worried that because I didn’t yet have the top of the line equipment that I might not fully meet the clients expectations. These stretches, while scary, have helped me to continue to grow and improve my craft. I am committed succeeding and it is helpful to learn from seasoned pros like yourself who are always willing to share.
A good reminder to put myself in the client’s shoes…always good to remember! Thanks Terry…
Definitely agree on the importance of professionalism, both for finding jobs and to keep getting offers. Leave the person who hired you completely satisfied with your voice and also with your way of working, they will look again for you…
Also keep implementing ways to market your voice, use the internet, specially on these hard times when you can find yourself without work, make your own website and upload some demos…
Great read! Risk is an intregal part of of the business, and must be dealt with. It is how we deal with these risks that will define us as professional voice actors, or just someone wanting to dabble in a hobby. Thanks for the insight, it is appreciated.
Your words really resonated with me. You have a thoughtful way of articulating your ideas. Risk is inherent with every audition, but putting yourself inside the mind of the client (as best as you can) is a valuable piece of advice, Terry. You have to believe in yourself before others will believe in you. It truly does comes out in your voice. If your professionalism helps the client sell a product or tell a story, then that is a perfect match.
All year ’round, it’s important to remember that surrounding yourself with people who love you makes the time and isolation of the sound booth tolerable. You can’t hug a microphone. Well, I guess you could, but that would just be pretty weird! A microphone can never hug you back! lol
The way I really look at VO work is, it’s all about connecting with real people, and that means taking that risk!
Simply put… very well said, Terry!
Wonderfully phrased tips! What you’ve said resonates well and is certainly applicable for all voice over professionals… for that matter, anyone who is working freelance!
There is still much for artists to learn about being attractive businesspeople in addition to having well-trained voices and acting skills. Thank you for helping to reinforce information that people should know, adhere to and put into practice!
Applauding you from Canada,
Your post is stuffed with great reminders that are sometimes easy to forget. I also appreciate the follow up that Bobbin posted. Good reads!
This kind of advice never gets old….it’s timeless…..I’m struck by the direct link between personal integrity and personal success. You can’t fake what is good and right. People will know at some level that you are not authentic. Thanks, Terry, for this great piece.
Excellent piece Terry!
I am technically a “Newbie”, but as I have said before within the Passed 4 months, I have done over 20 spots and they are still coming. Just because you are a “Professional” means that you get Paid for a service. But there are Good Pros and Bad Pros. I have been in music most of my adult life and the thing that set my music apart from other Bands is that I put my very, very best into it. The same goes for everything if you want the work. People choose the one person that stands above the rest in what they are looking for, and with that said, I want to thank you for all these great pieces of Info you send us. It literally got me to think very seriously about How to do this and what I need to do next! Kudos!
“…the risk of ____.” You fill in the blank. Terry and Bobbin are right on the mark. But let’s consider the risk of success. What’s at risk with success at our beck and call? Everything, and nothing. Your ego is always on the chopping block, but every time you put a quality audition together the odds of success go way up. This is like a lot of things in life; it’s a numbers game.
A mentor of mine was quick to point out one time that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every so often. The key is to keep hunting, to keep looking, to keep practicing, to keep working, to keep getting better at your trade no matter how long you’ve been at it. Keep moving forward.
Listen to your inner voice. Let your insides guide your progress. Frankly, If you don,t love voice over acting, go sell shoes. It must be a passion to be your calling in life. Clients can tell the difference between the folks in it for the money and those who have a passion for being the best they can be. In the end, passion pays off for everybody.
Good article. Good article by Bobbin Beam, “The Art of Risk”. Wow! two articles to keep me on track and to remind me to leave the ego at the door.
Who makes professional Demos? Directions, please.
I am very new to voiceover term ive heard at a meetup group was newbie.I have worked parttime in radio and some commercial work.Over the last 30 years I have been in the newspaper industry.All high risk businesses.There have been ups and downs and I always enjoyed the challenge of regrouping and starting over and always strifing to do my best for my clients and employer.I believe that kept me working when others were let go.I see that in this profession as well work hard,train,seek out professional help,give 100 percent plus,Relax breath and learn from our failures.I may or may not succeed in this profession but I gurantee it wont be fear of the risk that holds me back.Sorry for the sermon.Enjoy the blogs Terry THANS !!!