Is Isolation Killing The Solo-Preneur?

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The best part of being a Solo-Preneur is you work for yourself.

The worst part of being a Solo-Preneur is you work by yourself.

You set your own hours. (Sort of) And you never have to work Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. Unless the money’s really good.

Being self-employed is the ultimate job. I love it. I get to choose who I work with. I get to choose the fees I charge. (Most of the time.) And if I want to play golf or take a 3 or 4 day weekend, I do it. (Most of the time.)

As a Voice Actor, I’m definitely a Solo-Preneur. There aren’t too many gigs that require 2 voices. So 99% of the time it’s just me and my microphone. And that’s okay. My microphone loves my work. She never complains about the hours and she’s always ready to work when I need her.

Okay, this is getting a little weird. Let’s quickly move on…

While there are numerous advantages of being a Solo-Preneur, there are also drawbacks. The most potentially harmful of these being isolation. We work alone. And it can get lonely. Real lonely, if we’re not careful.

As a Voice Actor, I can go 2-3 days without interacting with another human being. No — Email, Facebook and Twitter is not true interaction. Sure I have my cat Toby, but his vocabulary is somewhat limited to meow, Meow and MEOW!

The problem with isolation is – it can lead to physical, psychological and emotional issues. Not necessarily troublesome issues, unless you ignore the warning signs that you’re going too long without human contact. Isolation in any form for any reason is the precursor of depression. Don’t go down that path. Been there down that. No fun.

Even though I get to interact with my wife when she comes home from work, it’s not the same as having contact with other VO people or other Solo-Preneurs. Admit it. We speak a language most 9-5 people just don’t understand.

Every month, 9-5er’s get paychecks. 9-5er’s usually have good health insurance policies and retirement packages. 9-5er’s don’t have to worry about crashing and burning. We Solo-Preneurs are often flying by the seat of our pants or pantsuits financially. It’s the best when all things are working. But it’s hellish when several months of slow business come together. And they sometimes do.

The point is, we need contact and conversation. That need isn’t a weakness. It’s hard-wired into us. Start attending networking meetings, if you’re not already. Join a hiking or biking club. Go to a gym. Get to know some of the people there. Get active in your Church. At least once or twice a month I get together with a Church friend just to get Spiritually re-centered and uplifted. It serves as a reminder to me of what’s really the most important thing.

We were not created to be alone or lonely. We were created to interact with others. To learn from others. To teach others. To help others. To be interested in others. And that’s hard to do when we lock ourselves in our studio or home office for hours or days on end.

Make it a point to get out and about. Our bodies need sun and fresh air, Our brains need the type of visual stimulation four walls can’t provide. Our hearts benefit from being out in nature and with other earthlings. And our minds work more creatively when given a break from the work-a-day routines many of us have inadvertently locked ourselves into.

Make it a point to get out and about. Ask someone out to coffee or lunch. If you’re single go out on a date. Married? Take your spouse out to a dinner. Go on a mini-vacation. Put it on your schedule if necessary.

Hey, we only get one life. Don’t spend it in a dark room or silent office.

Lastly, I want to pass along a line I heard that I urge you to printout and place somewhere you’ll see it often.

“On their deathbeds – nobody ever regrets not spending more time at the office.”

You have much to offer the world. Go out and deliver it!

The Power Of Ideas.

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I think it was the late, great Walt Disney who said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I agree — 1000%.

When an outrageous idea comes into your head, do you dismiss it out of hand or do you stop and write it down? Allow me to suggest the latter. If you’re driving when an idea strikes, pull over and jot it down. If you’re at your desk, make a quick note. No paper? Use one of the Voice App on your phone to record your idea.

Maybe it’ll come to nothing. Maybe you’ll look at it later and say, “What was I thinking?” Or – maybe – you’ll discover a great product or service. Perhaps you’ve stumbled on a thought or action that connects with you in a visceral way. Hint: These are big. Don’t blow these off without purposeful examination.

One thing’s for sure. If you dismiss your idea or thought out-of hand, you’re sure to not benefit from it. And, depending on what the idea is, others will miss the blessing as well. What a shame. For everyone!

So why do we sometimes blow off an idea or a dream that seems to materialize out of thin air? Because as fast as that thought can come to you – there’s that little voice in your head saying, “You can’t do that! That’s crazy! People will laugh when you fail! Great ideas are for others, not you!” Need I go on?

Hey, we all have that voice. And it’s time we silence it once and for all. It is the enemy. It is your enemy. My enemy. Everyone’s enemy.

As I was looking at my goals and dreams today, I noticed that little voice giggling. I immediately shut it off. I counter punched with, “These goals and dreams have come to me for a reason. They have a purpose through me. I have a purpose through them. And I can no longer hear you.”

I’ve been using a terrific goal-setting, life-dreaming app called “Lifetick”. www.lifetick.com. They have a free version you can try and a paid version (very reasonable for what it does) if discover that you like the app. No, I’m not a paid affiliate. Just passing along something I find easy to use and really helpful. Perhaps you will too.

Keep this in mind today and everyday. Ideas come to us for a reason. I believe God sends them as part of His plan for us. So who are we to say, “ I can’t do that!” Or. “That’s a crazy idea!” The fact is – we can do that! And it’s crazy to ignore ideas. Especially the really crazy ones. Hey. What was crazier than the iPhone? Or the Internet?

Our ideas aren’t crazy. What is crazy is to not explore them and act on them. Now, go do what you know in your heart you have to do. What you are meant to do. Dream big. But believe BIGGER!

Developing The Voice Over Mindset

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Your mindset is the most important part of your VO Career. I’ll say that again. Your mindset is the most “important” part of your VO Career.

Why? Because the voice of negativity will creep into your mind and heart everyday. But here’s the good news. You don’t have to listen.

I’m here to tell you that you can do this. You can grow and sustain a successful career in Voice Over.

The Good Lord would never have planted this idea in your head if you didn’t have the talent or the ability to develop the talent you need to succeed. The biggest mental hurdle you must clear today is this. The thinking that there are so many other VO people out there who are better than you. FALSE!

During your first year in Voice Over, every other VO Artist you meet or read about or hear about will have more “Experience” than you. But talent? No! Nobody has more talent and potential than you. Your mindset needs to be this. “I’m the best Voice Over Artist on the planet”.

Plant this mindset deep into the recesses of your heart and consciousness. And promise yourself that you’ll never, ever quit on your dream. Never! Ever!

Don’t Quit Before The Miracle Happens.

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 NKJV

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Tell me if you can relate to this…

I am blessed with a very active mind. I was born an entrepreneur. Business ideas flow through my head like the Mississippi flows through Louisiana. Gallons of thoughts and ideas come flooding in.

Several I see as doable and I get excited. I start planning. Writing down ideas. I start writing down the names of the people I want to involve in the business or project. And then a few obstacles come along (as they always will) and I want to throw in the towel.

Sound familiar? It should. There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who understand what I just said and those who know someone who understands what I just said. Great ideas are always presenting themselves. The problem for some is we don’t see it. Or worse – we see it and get started and then quit at the first sign of difficulty.

There is another group of people I want to introduce. The fighter. He never quits. The freezer. She does nothing until circumstances make the decision for her. And then there’s the flyer. At the first sign of adversity, he quits and fly’s away to greener pastures.

What type are you? Fighter? Freezer? Flyer?

The Fighter stands in an takes the punch, He knows he’s going to win in the end.

The Freezer just stands there. Frozen. He does nothing. And gets exactly that in return.

The Flyer runs at the first sign of trouble, difficulty or hardship. He desperately believes there a greener pasture somewhere. What are you?

The key is to be a Fighter and to never throw in the towel. No matter what.

What are you thinking of quitting today. Your job? Your business? Your marriage? Your life? I’ve faced all of these decisions. And I’m still here to write about it. You see, although I may really want to quit – something stops me. For I know that quitting is the end.

However, I see the other side. Quitting is not without its rewards and that’s what’s so dangerously attractive about it.

With quitting comes instant gratification. Quit a job you hate and the pain of that job stops instantly. Quit a business that’s draining your savings account and the financial bleeding stops instantly. You quit a marriage that isn’t working, and the arguing stops instantly. The emotional and legal pain is just ramming up. Quit your life and all your pain stops instantly. But the pain for those you leave behind – is just beginning. And for them, that pain will last their lifetime. Don’t ever, ever quit on your life.

Why? Why shouldn’t I quit? Great question(s). Here’s why.

Would you quit a job if you knew your mean, cheap, sexist, racist boss was going to be fired at the end of the month?

Would you quit your business if you knew an investor was looking to infuse money into your idea?

And would you end your life if you knew that next week all your troubles and/or heartaches were going to be thing of the past ? No you wouldn’t! And you won’t quit now.

In 1991 I started my Voice Over business. I had no full-time job and no money in the bank to fall back on. It was swim or sink.

Not exactly the smartest way to go into any new venture. But I jumped into the deep end of the talent pool head first anyway.

The first 3 years I struggled. Big-time! I nearly got evicted. I had my car repossessed. I was single., lonely and contemplating suicide. I soon saw myself as the ultimate failure. Fortunately, God didn’t.

One depressing day I sat in my bedroom with a 9mm in my hand. I had a full magazine. 15 bullets. (Was I going to kill myself 15 times?)

All I had to do was load a round into the chamber, fire and all the pain would be gone. Needless to say, God stepped in. If you want to know what God told me send an email to frank@eriksenmedia.com.

He didn’t say that everything would be alright. He didn’t say all my troubles were over. He just said that killing myself was the ultimate act of selfishness and all the good things He had planned for my life would never come to pass. I put down the gun.

A few days went by and out of nowhere came an idea. “I used to create On-Hold messages for a bank in Aspen. What if I could do that here in Boulder?” I started calling possible customers. The first call I made was to my bank. The following is as close to the actual outcome of that first call as I can remember.

Me, “Hello, can I speak to the President?

Receptionist, “Why yes, I’ll put you right through.”

Me, “Hello Mr. Lloyd? I do On-Hold Messages. You know that thing people hear on the phone when you put them on hold? Would you ever want something like that?”

Mr. Lloyd, “Frank, we’ve wanted something like this for months but didn’t know who to call. How soon can you get over here?”

Within one hour – I had my first On-Hold customer. Over the next 3 years my client list grew to over 200 accounts across the country. All because I somehow decided to hang in there for one more day.

Remember, the jobs or careers that have the most upside are the most difficult to get off the ground. (Like Voice Over.) But when you hang in long enough, the pay-off is spectacular!

So… What are you NOT going to quit today? A job? A business? A marriage? A life? Success is waiting. The question is – are you wise enough to wait as well?

Yes! You are!

 

Please leave a comment and share this with someone who might benefit from reading it.

3 Steps To a More Profitable Voice Over Career

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If you’re reading this post or even just glancing through it, it means you’d like to make more money in your VO business/career. Good. You have the most important requirement to success in VO. Desire. You desire to succeed. While success isn’t always defined by the preverbial bottom line, for the sake of this post, let’s agree that it’s “All About The Benjamins.” In other words – Money.

So how do you make more money in Voice Over? Well, marketing is the key. But the best marketing will only get you booked once. The best asset you have or need to improve on isn’t your marketing. It’s you mind set and skill set. And both are intertwined.

So here is Step 1 of 3. Step 2 will be posted on Monday. Step 3 on Wednesday. So subscribe to this site on the home page and you won’t miss any of the valuable Steps to come. Here we go!

Step 1: You Need To Maintain Your Competitive Nature. When I started my VO career in 1990, there was no auditioning from my home studio. The internet was in its infancy. And no one that I knew had their own website.

Instead, I had to go to my Agent’s office or a big recording studio for the casting. When I arrived for the audition, I was summoned to a waiting area. There were all the other Voice Actors who had been called to read for the part/job.

Some VOA’s (Voice Over Actors) were wearing 3 piece suits. Some were dressed casually. Some looked like they’d just rolled out of bed. The reason I share this is I was able to size up the competition. My self talk would go something like this; “I can beat this guy. I know I can beat out old Ralph Smith for this gig, he can barely breath. Or…Geez, David Hart is reading for this? I’m just as good as he is.” And so on. What was good about being in a room with my competition was that seeing these other guys ignited the competitive fire within me. I didn’t just want to win the audition – I wanted to experience the joy of knowing exactly who I was beating out.

Imagine this: Your Agent sends you the script and specs for an audition that’s for a National Brand. It pays $20,000. Right away you start dreaming of how your going to spend that $20,000. What you should be dreaming of is how good it’s gonna feel to win the gig.

Let’s say you get the gig. You feel on top of the world. And then you find out you only beat out 3 other guys who were rank beginners in VO. It would taint my joy somewhat. Until I got the $20,000 check.

But what if your agent told you, not only did you get the gig, but you beat out Jeff Bridges and Donald Sutherland. Now you’re ecstatic!

Next time your in your home studio laying down tracks for an audition, make believe that right after you finish your lines, Jeff Bridges and Donald Sutherland are coming in for the read. If you’re a woman, imagine Susan Sarandon or Julia Roberts are waiting just outside the door for their chance at the gig you really need.

Now if you get the job, and you tell your family or friends that you just booked a gig for $20,000 everyone will be ecstatic along with you. But imagine if you followed up your announcement with “And I beat out Jeff Bridges and Donald Sutherland.” Suddenly, people forget the money and go “You beat out Jeff “Crazy Heart” Bridges and Donald “Hunger Games” Sutherland?

Point to ponder: “A win is so much sweeter when you know who your competition was.”

Today, we all have home studios. So have no idea who were up against. It’s almost like getting into a fight and wearing a blindfold. You start flailing at the darkness hoping you’ll hit something. And that’s the way many of us audition. We lay down a bunch of reads and hope that the client likes one of them.

Think for a moment about how it feels when you leave recording session? Like you just conquered the world, right? The client was delighted with your work, the producer tells you what a great job you did and the Ad Agency people are all smiling because they look good for hiring you. Figuratively speaking, everybody’s “high-fiving” each other. And you feel great.

The more you can tap into that feeling and harness your competitiveness, the better read you’re going to give. And that alone gives you a leg up on every other VO who’s reading and thinking this is just another audition. Also, pretend that the gig pays $20,000. Because in a way – it does. You never know where one gig might lead. It could be a one shot deal, or it could lead to a steady stream of business from this one client, who very well may recommend you to other clients. (Insert the sound of opportunity knocking and doors opening here.)

Get your competitive mindset on. It makes a huge difference.

Voice Mail Jail

Is your phone system helping or hurting your business?

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We’ve all experienced it. I call it Voice Mail Jail!

You call a business and, instead of a human, you get the Auto-Attendant. The Auto-Attendant is a system designed to streamline incoming calls and get callers the help they need as soon as possible. But when you call most businesses that use an Auto-Attendant it’s anything but helpful.

Scenario: Call most businesses and the first thing you hear isn’t hello. It’s “Please listen carefully as our menu has changed.” That’s fine when your menu has changed. But companies leave that message on their Auto-Attendants for weeks, months or years since the message was actually changed, It’s maddening. Don’t do this. I’m going to show you a better way in just a minute.

Then the caller – perhaps a prospective customer – is forced to sit through a litany of prompts and commands that have no baring whatsoever on the reason for their call. Here’s one command that’s are driving your callers crazy and costing you money.

“If your calling from a Rotary Phone, please stay on the line.”

Really? Do you know one person who still has a Rotary Phone? No. So drop that right now. And if, by some bizarre chance, someone calls you on a Rotary Phone, they probably can’t afford your product or service or are so eccentric that you may have to explain what “Next Day Shipping” is.

And please, please, please do not let your receptionist or nephew record your message. Believe it or not, callers can sense your professionalism and sincerity by the tone of the voice and the way that voice delivers your outgoing message.

Whether you’re a one person business or a Fortune 500 Company – your outgoing message should never be longer than 20-25 seconds. While there are exceptions to this rule, after 10 seconds or so the caller is getting bored. Or upset. Or both. Especially if they were upset with your product or service and are calling for support. The best way to resolve this issue is to rearrange your message so the caller gets an answer to their question or (heaven forbid) complaint as quickly as “Humanly” possible.

Okay. I promised to show you a better way to script your outgoing phone message. Time to deliver on that promise. Here’s a sample of an outgoing voice message you can use on your Auto-Attendant that is sure to work better than you one you may be using now.

But first, the number one reason you should change your outgoing voice-mail message or Auto-Attendant is TIME.

By delivering a professional, concise outgoing message you’re showing respect for your customers time. It’s a subtle, but valuable part of your message. What you’re really saying with a well scripted and professionally delivered message is… “We respect your time!”

Feel free to adapt any or all of the message below to your personal needs. Here’s how your message should look/sound. I’m going to break down each part of the message and describe it’s importance or lack thereof.

“Hi and thank you for calling Frank Eriksen Voice Services. We’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Total elapsed time to this point 6.1 seconds) Most callers are just calling to see if you’re open and/or what your hours are. Don’t make them listen to your entire outgoing message to find that out. Tell them right upfront.

To speak to a live operator (or person) press 1. (Total elapsed time to this point 8.5 seconds.) Get the caller to a live person as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner the caller get’s their problem solved or question answered and makes a purchase or gets off the phone, freeing up that line for another call and allowing the person who took the call to get back to work or help another caller/customer.

For Customer Service press 2. (Total elapsed time to this point 10.5 seconds.) Here again, you’re showing respect for the callers time. “You want customer service? Here it is.”

For our sales department, press 3. (Total elapsed time to this point 12.4 seconds.) Callers who want to buy, want to buy right now. Don’t make them wait.

For technical support, press 4. (Total elapsed time to this point 14.2 seconds.) Nothing drives a customer as crazy as when your product or service isn’t doing what they paid for it to do. And nothing makes them crazier than having to sit though a mind-numbing poorly scripted and recorded outgoing message. At this point your callers thinking, “Just put me through to someone who can help me, darn it!”

For all other calls press 4. (Total elapsed time to this point 16.2 seconds.) This is mostly for customers calling in with non-immediate needs. They’re willing to wait, but not long. Get to this call within 10-15 seconds or your customer starts getting testy.

To hear this menu again, press 5. (Total elapsed time to this point 18.2 seconds.) Hey, sometimes your customer/caller gets distracted while calling in and they miss part of the message. Offer a way for them to hear it again.

If you’re calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line and tell us how it’s possible you still have a rotary phone.

Okay forget everything after “press 5”. Just a little levity. But think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t a little levity in your outgoing message go a long way in building your business relationships. Well, not so much if you’re a funeral home. But – if used correctly – and in an appropriate manner – a little fun is like a breath of fresh air when compared to the billions of boring, stale, impersonal, unpleasant, intelligence insulting outgoing messages being pumped into customers ears this very minute. Is it happening to one of your customers right now? If so, I’m here to help.

Also, I want to encourage every business owner to record their own company message. Few do this. Why not? If I’m the CEO of a major company or the owner of a Mom & Pop grocery store, I want my customers to know that I care. And nothing says “I care” better than the voice of the CEO herself/himself answering the call or voicing the outgoing recorded message.

My friend David used to be the CEO of a major medical referral call center. The first day on the job he told the receptionist, ”If anyone calls and asks for me, put them through immediately.” He also instructed his receptionist to never ask any caller, ”Can I tell him what this is about?”. His philosophy was, “If a customer wants to talk to me – I want to talk to them.” What a great attitude for a CEO. Many CEO’s or company Presidents think if they did that they’d spend all day on the phone. Not so. And nothing is more aggravating to a caller than having to explain why they’re calling and/or what they’re calling about.

Again, it’s respect for the callers time. David knew that his customers time was just as , if not more, important than his. His philosophy of “Every Customer Counts” helped him resurrect a dying company. Five years after he took over as CEO, that comatose company was sold for millions! David got a nice chunk of the selling price. All because he put customers first.

Imagine you call a company and have a problem or issue that wasn’t getting solved. So you call the CEO to vent your frustration. In most cases you’d never get through. But if you did speak to the BOSS and he/she solved your problem – would you ever buy that particular product or service from any other company again? You’d be a customer for life. That my friend is the real purpose of “Customer Service” and “Every Customer Counts”. To attract and keep a customer — for life!

So my question to you is this. Is your outgoing message to callers/customers helping them become “Customers For Life?” If not. I’m help to help. Call me (Yes, I actually answer the phone.) and let’s see how we can make your Auto-Attendant and Voice Mail System the best in the business. And keep your customers out of Voice Mail Jail forever.

You can reach me at 303-961-2467. My website is www.frankeriksen.com.

Building Strong Business Relationships

The Power Of The Referral

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The is an excerpt from “Your First Year In Voice Over – And All The Years Thereafter.” My soon to be released E-Book for people new to VO and those who’ve been around for awhile.

“Every one of my big clients came to me as a referral. Someone gave them my name and number. They gave me a glowing recommendation. They convinced the client that I was their best choice for all their Voice Over needs.

In my mind I can never thank these people enough. They helped me launch my career. And I owe them everything. 

Why did they do this for me? Because we had built a relationship that was strong enough where they knew that recommending me would greatly benefit their client. 

They trusted me enough to submit my name and number, knowing that if I messed up, it would reflect on them. But they knew that wouldn’t happen. We had built a relationship on talent, trust and dependability. Nurture your talent. Build trustworthiness . And be dependable. Then, never change!”

Submit your name and email in the box on the right and be among the first to be notified when the book launches. Early August 2015.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored you did that.

4 Time Wasters That Kill Your Productivity.

And How To Eliminate Them.

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If wasting time were money, I’d be a billionaire! I have wasted so much time in my life – that if I could get it all back – I’d only be 18 years old. That’s a lot of time.

I can be very creative in developing ways to waste time. Descaling the coffee maker. Checking Email. Checking Social Media. Checking scores on ESPN. And my all time favorite form of time wasting…Facebook!

How about you? Do you often get to the end of the day and think, “Where did all the time go?” Well, you wasted it. Wasted time is similar to having a hole in your bank account. Each day that you don’t use your time wisely – more money, opportunities, and experiences slip away. Never to return.

Here are 4 universal time wasters that kill your productivity, along with ways to avoid them. Ready?

1. Planning, But Not Really Planning. What? Planning, but not really planning is another word for daydreaming. We have all these amazing ideas in our head of how we’re going to build our client base and take our businesses bottom line from anemic to healthy and vibrant. In our daydreaming state, our phones ring off the hook. Business opportunities drop from the sky into our laps. We see ourselves as successful, happy and healthy. Which is great. The bad part is – we’re only daydreaming. Here’s the cure:  Write down your dreams and take action. The idea that seems goofy or just a pipe dream to you could be the next great concept that revolutionizes your business and/or your life. The key is to stop dreaming and start planning and then… “Drum roll!” TAKE ACTION! The greatest plan in the world will never come to anything positive if it just sits in your head or on your computer or mobile phone. Take action on your idea(s). Always! Take action, NOW! Got it? Good. Now do it.

2. Checking Email. If I’m not careful, checking my email can chew up my day faster than a new puppy can chew up a new pair of Nike’s. It’s insane. I hear that notification sound and I think, “That’s my Agent! I must have been selected for that $20,000 Voice Over for Starbucks. So, I open my email and WHAM! It’s either junk, or some one reminding me that I only have 5 more minutes to buy their online course titled “How To Stop Unwanted Emails”. Here’s the cure: Turn off all notification sounds. If you don’t know an email is waiting in your inbox, you won’t be tempted to check it. Or shut down your email altogether when it’s crunch time or you need to focus on building your business. This is hard. So start with 30 minutes of focus and work your way up from there. Imagine what your business or life could be like if you spent just 30 minutes or 1 hour each day, totally focused on building it? Got it? Good. Now do it.

3. Reading Blogs Like This One. Blogs about your business or skill-set is never really a waste of time unless that’s all you do. Set a specific time each day to read business or field specific blogs and/or listen to podcasts. Listening to a podcast is a great time-saver because you can listen while you’re doing something else. Never listen to a podcast on your computer. It’s a total waste of time. Why? Because while your listening you’ll be tempted to check email, update social media, check sports scores, anything. Instead listen to a business specific podcast while you’re driving, walking the dog, working out, walking the cat, making dinner, mowing the lawn, etc. Imagine how much time you’ll save if you read blogs at a specific time or after hours and listen to podcasts while you’re accomplishing another task? Got it? Good. Now do it.

4. Listening to the wrong voices. Admit it or not, we all have a little voice in our head. It sounds like a friendly voice. But this voice is your enemy. This voice whispers things like, “Don’t make that call now. Your prospect is busy. You’ll interrupt a meeting and make them mad.” Or this one. “It’s too early to make calls. Your prospect just got in. Give her some time to have a cup of coffee. And then there’s this voice – “Daddy was right. I am a failure. I can’t do anything right. Why don’t I drop this pipe dream of being successful in my own business and get a job?” That’s the dream killer right there, my friend. It’s the voice that ever so sweetly tells you it’s okay to just be a cog in the wheel of life. It’s fine to be on a fixed income. You’re not cut for this. You don’t have the talent. This is the voice of lies. When you hear that voice – and you will – turn it off. Refuse to allow it one more micro-second of your valuable time. Because there’s another voice you should be listening to. A voice that won’t waste your time. Ever! That voice tells you to build a new wheel. That your income is only limited by your dreams and actions. That you were born for this. That you have all the skill and talent you need to be successful. This is the voice of truth. Listening to this voice is never a waste of time. Never!

The Cure For Wasting Time? Planning!

Make a schedule. Put the most difficult or scary things you must do at the very top and knock them off first thing in the morning. The empowering feeling you’ll get from this step alone will jettison you through the rest of your day. Maybe your entire week.

You have enormous potential. If you’re not reaching yours, you can change that right now. Make a decision to stop wasting time. Plan your steps to success. And then TAKE ACTION! Action is the key. And when things get a little rough (they usually do from time to time) stop and listen to the Voice Of Truth. That Voice will never, ever, waste your time.

Got it? Good. Now do it!

 

The Truth About A Career In Voice Over.

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The Truth About A Career In Voice Over

I get asked a lot to coach newcomers who want to become Voice Over Artists. The first thing we do is have a conversation about what they expect to do and what they are willing to do to launch their career. How they answer that question tells me whether they’re serious or just dipping a few toes in the water.

The first question I ask is “Why do you want to get into VO? I get the usual responses. “I want to do something else and this seems like fun and it pays well.” Another one is, and you’ve all heard this, “People tell me I have great voice and should be doing commercials.”

Okay.

Then comes the axe. The one that separates the men from the toys, so to speak.” How much are you prepared to invest in launching your new business?” “Huh, what? Invest? I have to spend money?”

“Yes Mr. Howell. You have to spend money on training, recording equipment, a website and a first class demo. And you need all four. Three, two or one just won’t do.

This is when I cut to the chase and tell them that it’s gonna run them somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000-5000 to launch their new business. That’s when eyeballs begin to explode. It’s funny that people will gladly borrow $20-40,000 to buy a new car, but won’t invest a few thousand in themselves.

Many wannabe VO’s fail to understand that Voice Over is a business. It’s not a hobby. Not that hobby’s are cheap – but you’re going to become a business owner and that means spending money to open your store or, in our case, our storefront or website.

Some respond with “Okay let’s go for it.” Then I ask the fatal question. “Are you prepared to sell yourself to get work?” “What? I hate selling. That’s why I’m a (fill-in the blank.)

Yes, Thurston, you have to sell your services. “But I thought that’s what agents do?”  And therein lies one of the biggest myths in the Voice Over Business. The myth that your Agent will get you work. Let me set that record straight.

Agents represent you. They do not go to the office everyday and call everybody in town trying to get you work. Agents post your demo on their website, negotiate rates, bill clients, collect fees, subtract their percentage and send you a check for the balance of the original agreement.

Do you need an Agent? Yes, you do! But you must learn how to market your Voice Over business or you’ll soon be out of the Voice Over business.

Many can’t cut it in VO. And it’s not because they don’t have talent. It’s because they can’t or won’t take the necessary steps to build a rock solid client list. And that involves selling. However, there are many ways to sell/market your VO business without cold calling and getting rejected. Here are a few.

LinkedIn is a great place to market your VO business. In fact, I’m also posting this blog on my LinkedIn page. Most of the time LinkedIn will not generate much income – but then again it might and it serves to remind your connections who you are, what you do and why they should call you when they need a VOA (Voice Over Artist) for a project.

Networking is another must for aspiring as well as veteran VO people. Your local Chamber of Commerce usually has a Networking event 6-12 times a year. Go to them. “But I hate that small talk stuff.” Get over it. Just be you and go with the intention of making new friends. Not getting booked. Hand out cards and ask to meet for coffee. You never know who they may know who may just hire YOU!

A Website. Make it great. Make it easy to find and play your demo files. Make it easy to contact you. I spent several hours creating my website and upon review I discovered I left out a contact page. And please, please, please do not put one of those annoying “CAPTCHA” widgets on your site that make people prove they’re human. I see those and I’m gone! I’d rather deal with the small amount of spam that comes through than send a client to a competitor.

A Steady Paycheck. The only way you’re going to get a steady pay check in VO is if you work for a broadcast company. As a VOA you’re a freelance artist and you need lot’s of clients sending you small checks every single month. Sure you can pray for that big national gig – but it’s the little $200-500 gigs that will sustain you. Pick a number from 0-$500 or more and set that as what you need to bill every day to make it in the Voice Over business. Some months you hit or go over that number. Some months you won’t come close. But if you become determined to build a solid client base, you’ll do very well as a VOA. And have a lot of free time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. And even if you’re in sessions 8 hours a day – you’ll still be doing something you love. And you must love it. Never do something for the money. Do it because you love it and the money will take care of itself. Meaning you love doing what’s necessary to build and maintain your business.

There’s a lot more to this VO thing than what I’ve posted here today and we’ll get into the “other” types of work VOA’s can do other than Commercials and Narrations next time. Until then – Stay Blessed. Stay Humble. Stay Busy!