by Maxine Dunn
Voice-over is definitely one of the most wonderful careers there is! If you put the passion and the time into it, the rewards are incredible.
But as with any business endeavor, there can be a few things you need to look out for. And I think this can be especially true for those of us who work from home and run our own show. And even though this is an amazing business to be in, being a voice actor also requires a watchful eye for some seductive traps that may be waiting for you.As you move forward in your career, don't fall into these voice-over traps:
Trap #1: Isolating yourself. Voice-over is typically a job you'll be doing alone, in your studio at home. Sure there'll be times when you work in pro studios and engage with audio engineers and other voice talent, but for the most part it's a rather solitary endeavor. Be sure you make time each week to spend time with friends, family, outdoors, in public, and socializing. Don't settle into an isolated lifestyle.
Trap #2: Canceling plans with friends and family. There will be times when an important client has asked for a last-minute recording session or a marathon project is taking a very long time. This may require you to change plans with loved ones on very short notice. It's a given that this can happen if you're a voice actor, just try not to let it happen often. Your family and friends are a cherished part of your life.
Trap #3: Never taking a vacation. Your voice-over career is definitely important but you might find yourself not taking a vacation because you're scared of losing work. No matter when you take a vacation, work may come up. You can either take your equipment with you and record on the road, or, better yet, let your clients know well in advance when you'll be unavailable so they have the option to work around your schedule. Clients appreciate voice talent with a well-balanced lifestyle so don't be scared to take some time off.
Trap #4: Allowing negative comments to affect you. If you read voice-over blogs and forums you'll discover that some voice actors aren't happy with their business and have quite negative things to say. You'll find that reading their negative comments can completely ruin your day. Stay away from indulging in negative talk. You alone are responsible for your business. If you focus on everything YOU can do to make it great, it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing.
Trap #5: Staying in a rut with your business systems. It's easy to continue doing what you're familiar with and just keep doing the "same old same old." After all, there's no learning curve involved in doing what you already know. But if you stay there, the voice-over world may pass you by. There are new changes taking place all the time and it's up to you to stay relevant and well-versed in what's happening in the business. Keep learning and growing.
Trap #6: Lowering your rates. If your voice-over work slows down you might think that lowering your fees is a way to get more work. Wrong! Don't put yourself on sale. Keep your standards high and keep your rates at, or above, industry standards. Stay strong and don't reduce your rates in the hopes of getting more work. (Note: The clients you attract when you do that kind of thing are price shoppers and are not the kind of clients you want to be working with anyway.)
Trap #7: Slackening your payment policies. You might think that allowing clients to "slide" on your payment terms will ingratiate you with them and make them book you for more jobs. Wrong! The more lax your payment policies are the more you'll be taken advantage of. Have firm payment policies and stick to them, no matter what.
Trap #8: Relying on one or two "big" clients. Don't get complacent just because you have a couple of "big" voice-over accounts. You never know when things will change or if they'll decide to use another talent or change their campaign. Always be actively marketing yourself to new clients while taking good care of the ones who you work with regularly.
Trap #9: Taking "casual" dress to the extreme. Be careful about heading down that slippery slope of being ultra-casual when working from home. You may discover that you're working in your pajamas and haven't shaved in over a week. You don't need to dress up of course, but keep yourself clean and tidy and make sure you've got some clean clothes ironed in case you take a client to lunch or get called for a last-minute job at a pro studio.
Trap #10: Leading a largely sedentary lifestyle. So much so, that it starts to negatively affect your health. Voice actors don't move around that much when they're working and when you're busy you may find yourself sitting for many hours a day. Make sure to put exercise on your daily schedule and put healthy foods on your daily menu. Keep an exercise band or a couple of dumbbells near your desk so you can squeeze in some reps while you're waiting for audio files to upload. Keep moving!
Trap #11: Losing sight of your other interests. The danger here is becoming too single focused. Friends can get bored with you because all you ever talk about is voice-overs and you can lose sight of what else is important to you: sports, travel, music, reading, etc. Even though you're passionate about your voice-over career, be sure to stay balanced and take time for the other things that you love too.
Trap #12: Overscheduling yourself. Beware of thinking that you have to accommodate absolutely every voice-over client, just because they ask. (And possibly end up editing audio files, bleary-eyed, at 1:00 am.) When you have a full schedule, be willing to tell clients your turnaround time will be longer. You'll do a better job when you're not max'd out and your clients will appreciate you being honest with them. Don't feel like you have to do everything for everybody, at the expense of your own sanity and professionalism.
Trap #13: Procrastinating on moving forward. Be careful of "the paralysis of analysis." That is, not moving ahead with your voice-over business until everything is "perfect." For example spending month after month (year after year?) working on your voice-over demo or website until it's exactly "right." Just get it out there and you can make changes once you get going. Avoid the seduction of the paralysis of analysis and keep your business moving forward.
A career in voice-overs is a wonderful way to make a living. Just make sure you're keeping an eye on some of the traps that you could fall into, steer clear of them, and make your voice-over business the best it can be.
© 2015 Maxine DunnI always welcome your comments and suggestions. Please let me know how you like my e-zine by sending an email to CBAsuggestions@maxinedunn.com.