By Sissy Siero
Let’s be honest – as voice talents, it’s exciting and enlivening to see your booking rate increase, career expand and skill sets deepen.
But conversely, it can also be enervating to be constantly sending out auditions and putting work out there, into the universe, with little or no direction and/or feedback.
I remember how tough it was those first years, as I was just embarking on this journey. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, or how to get the results I wanted, while still keeping a healthy work/life balance. And on that front, perspective is important, as well as staying grounded and keeping a healthy balance between expending energy and conserving it.
Now that I’ve gained experience, I’d love to share insights I’ve gleaned on how to work smarter and more focused to increase revenue (without pouring in more hours).
Don’t Make Auditions too ‘Finished’ or Record Too Much of Each Script
It’s understandable to always want your best quality work out there, especially for auditions. Many voice actors are naturally audiophiles (as you should be!).
But given all of that, it can be difficult to juggle high-quality with the demands on time and effort. No one wants to compromise.
In order to get the best of both worlds, consider developing a software process chain that cleans breaths and enhances the already clean, great sound from your hardware chain, mic and booth.
Without a software-supported process, you can quickly get sucked into an energy ‘black hole,’ as you pump out 10 or more auditions a day.
And on that front, while you’re creating auditions, it’s best to give the listener the ‘meat’ of the script [for long selections]. You’ll find that this is usually around 40 or so seconds of recording. While this may seem shorter than what you’re used to, you have to understand that talent buyers normally decide if your voice is the right one in about 10 seconds or less.
By handing the potential client your best rendition of their material, you’re giving them what they’re looking for (your sound with their words, in a custom audition) – but also avoiding giving yourself a ‘VO hangover’ the next day (e.g. that next day bleariness that follows an intense session of back to back auditions!).
Don’t try to be all voices for all jobs or genres – or even most
It’s a beginner’s mistake to think that one can fit every sound, age group and category (and yet sometimes pros still do it too).
Just like not every person is suited for an onscreen part, not every voice is suited for every voice over job. While at first this may feel like a negative, once you understand your unique talents and strengths, you’re in the best position to rise to the top. Potential clients will find you easier, you’ll audition for roles you’re well-suited to, and everyone will be happier, both in the process and in the end-result. In short, more opportunities will be able to find you, and you’ll be in a stronger competitive position to land the job.
I was recently hired to record, what I thought was a lightly-technical medical infomercial, which turned out to be thick with nearly impossible to pronounce pharma names and medical terms. I was able to pull it off, but only after spending three times the usual amount of work, time, and effort that I would normally be required to commit too. However, it reminded me that there are specialists who do nothing but that genre of recording, and they are very welcome to it! I would never have taken the job had I known that the talent buyer was inexperienced and didn’t realize the details or effort involved either.
So while it’s always possible to find yourself in a gig that isn’t an ideal fit, by understanding where your specialties lie, you’ll be in the best position to strategically grow your business. It’s now rare that I find myself in situations like the above.
Listen for, and to, Your Brand
As we touched on in the above, once you know your brand (or think you do!), trust in it. Trust how the real you is performing the read. Use the energy and emotion of how you feel about the copy, not the fake or forced voice that you could put on, if you were simply trying to sound ‘marketable.’ Instead, believe in your instinct and alignment with your brand and let it guide you.
In my personal experience, it’s taken me a little more than a year with the support of brilliant coaching, and my hard work, to learn to drop effortlessly into my brand, which is my true, authentic sound. But as a result I’m booking more, and better work, and the process is much easier since uncovering and acknowledging my brand.
So if you need help, guidance or training – and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t benefit – get it! By getting a new perspective, building awareness, and applying new skills and technique, you may find that it brings back the spontaneous wonder you had as a kid. In truth, coaching doesn’t pigeonhole you into one area, it sets you free by finding your sound.
There can be a certain amount of frustration that comes along with how we make our living – it can be a tough waiting game sometimes.
This the perfect time to remember why we started doing voiceover – recalling how fortunate we all are to have this amazing talent and skill. It only takes a few minutes to pause, take a deep breath, and plug back into how it use to be to have fun with your voice. – whether that was recording accents, wacky voices or fake commercials into your portable tape deck (yes, I had one of those!). Back then, you may have had more trust in the process of exploration. You put your natural self and your authentic voice on a journey, not to dilute it or change it, but to uncover your strengths and your niche.
Coaching and training has helped me realize that I’m enough exactly as I already am – and I feel confident that it could help you too.
You deserve to infuse your voice over business with a fresh sense of joy – one you bring into the booth with you every time you step in and get to work.
About the Author: Sissy Siero
With over 25 years in the entertainment industry, Sissy Siero has a unique ability to connect with an audience. From her days on tour with seven-time Grammy nominee Joan Osborne, to performing and event emceeing in Austin, Texas, to lending her voice to international brands, she performs with a focus on the listener.
As a voice over artist, she has elevated a wide-variety of brands, from Fortune 100 companies to mom and pop shops, performing roles ranging from international radio/TV commercials to internal instructional videos, and from e-learning courses to company podcasts.
Sissy Siero and her team offer voice over and digital media solutions to help brand reach their target in the most effective way possible, including video, motion graphics, interactive simulations, whiteboard animations and more.