It’s been quite a while again since my last post. When I started this blog over 11 years ago, my goal was to write about one of my greatest passions: voiceover work. At the time I still had a corporate job, one that I mostly enjoyed. Nothing is ever completely perfect, of course. I had to travel quite a bit more than I wanted, though the upside of all that travel turned out to be opportunities to connect with a bunch of my co-travelers in the world of voiceover and to do so in person rather than just online.
The VO-BB was a wonderful resource for arranging those in-person connections, and it’s still one of my favorite corners of the Internet. A quiet little spot where folks of all sorts of levels of experience in voiceover hang out and exchange thoughts, ideas, encouragement and, well, most than a little fun.
Of course, in the 11+ years since this blog started, Facebook has grown to its massive size and reach and you’ll find lots of voiceover related groups there. Some are quite helpful. Some, not so much. Since different people have different opinions about which are which, I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind on that question. Much the same can be said about the various voiceover groups on LinkedIn, though I would suggest the percentage of “not so much” is somewhat higher there.
Back when I started there were just a tiny group of us blogging about voiceover. Now, the number is legion and climbing. When I started, I tried to keep an up-to-date blogroll of every voiceover blog. But a few years ago, I realized that not only was that becoming an impossible task, I couldn’t even keep up with which of the links in my current blogroll are dead or very nearly so. It’s long past time that I make a thorough clearing of the underbrush.
My goal of writing about voiceover remains. My desire to get back to posting on a more regular basis has been growing of late so I will do my best to be more regular about these posts. And, to wrap up these thoughts for today, here’s one last thing I’d like to suggest. Whatever else you do in your interactions with your voiceover co-travelers, don’t be a dick.
I honestly wish I had a nickle for every time I’ve an individual I’ve just met comment about “how often someone says they have a nice voice.” The sound of your voice may eventually have something to do with whether or not you get hired for a specific role or job or project; but it’s way at the end of the series of questions that lead those people who are hiring to make their final decisions.
As Marice Tobias so brilliantly points out in her post The “Nice Voice” Myth, assuming that because you have a nice voice means you’re ready to start working in voiceover is a little like assuming that buying a piano will make you a musical virtuoso. You can have the most wonderful sounding piano on the planet, but if you don’t put in the necessary time studying (for years and years!), you’re not going to be making your debut at Carnegie Hall any time soon. (Thank you for the brilliant word picture, Marice!)
The old joke goes “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!”
But the real key is the kind of practice you do. Spending 20 years perfecting scales and Chopsticks still won’t get you to Carnegie Hall. It takes study with great coaches, like Marice. And then applying what you’ve learned. And studying some more. And applying some more.
I’ve written previously about my 26 year journey from the start of my professional voiceover journey until I was finally able to go to work exclusively in voiceover. It’s doesn’t have to take you 26 years, or 16 or even 6. But it does take a serious commitment to stop thinking you have this whole voiceover thing nailed because of how many people tell you what a nice voice you have.
To refer again to Marice’s post The “Nice Voice” Myth, are any of those people telling you that you have a nice voice hiring you? If not, then those comments are worth exactly what you’re paying for them. Nothing.
Do the work. Save up your money to study with a truly great coach. And no, don’t go knocking on Marice’s door just yet. She only works with established pros. If you work hard enough and long enough, you’ll get there. Spend some time reading what other working voice actors are saying about the various coaches. Pick one with a truly great reputation and start working with her. Or him. Then invest in some quality equipment and in treating your recording space and in some more study and in a truly knockout demo. And then another. And another. And by that time, you’ll be well on your way.
You may or may not have seen my friend Kelley Buttrick’s post on her site about Jeep. It’s an arresting and original campaign by Kelley to position herself as the logical choice as the next voice for the Jeep brand. Here is just one example from her site:
Kelley’s campaign is brilliant on so many levels. Focused. Original. Audacious. And yet respectful and highly professional. I have no doubt that, even if Kelley doesn’t end up as the voice of the Jeep brand, the benefits of this marketing campaign are going to redound positively for her for years to come.
It’s all ready gained her exposure in a highly visible spot, as her story is featured in Ad Week.
Kudos to you Kelley! May your star shine long and bright.
The bread and butter part of the voiceover business for many people making a comfortable living doing voiceovers these days is long-form narration of one kind or another. This is where I live and where many of my friends live. So, how do you get a handle on this wide-ranging set of voiceover categories and sub-categories?
My suggestion would be to get in touch with Pat Fraley and check our his new home study course on narration work. It’s a very modestly priced $200 for the 5 week course. (By the way, I get no commission or any other benefit from telling you about this course. I should also note that Pat asked me to offer some thoughts that he has included in this course. But again, I’m not getting any commission or kick-back or fee of any kind for telling you about this course.)
When you learn the answer to a question you have puzzled over for some time, the thing to do is to take action on the answer. Yes, you can always investigate further. (Indeed I would strongly recommend you never just take my word for something. Did into things yourself.) But if you really did find the answer to your question, then it’s time to take action.
If you have watched even just one of the three videos I have shared with you over the last several days, you’ve learned at least some of what you’ve been searching for about how to get started working as an audiobook narrator. There are lots of people who will give you lots of conflicting advice, but Dan O’Day and David H. Lawrence XVII do have a program that works.
As the title of this post makes clear, the time to act is now. Click through to ACXMasterClass.com and sign up to take the class. Or don’t. You get to decide. But if you do sign up, you’re taking positive action in the direction you all ready want to go. (Of course, if you have never wanted to be an audiobook narrator, then please feel free to ignore this post completely.)
You’re also going to learn a way to edit audiobooks that works uniquely well. I know it does because one of my very best friends took this class a year ago and all I have heard since is how this editing method was transformative.
Registration is now open at ACXMasterClass.com. And if you decide to sign up for the ACX MasterClass, Dan and David are offering $1000 worth of person consulting “early action bonuses.” And if you sign up today, you’ll get an extra bonus worth $500. But that’s only if you actually take action. Today.
By the way, there’s a comments field near the end of the registration process, I think you’ll find it when you’re at Step 4. If you decide to put my name in that box, Dan and David will pay me a most commission for sending you their way. If you don’t want me to get a commission, then don’t tell them I helped you decide to talk the class. It’s a simple as that.
The third and last of the three videos that Dan O’Day and David H. Lawrence XVII have done in anticipation of their ACX Masterclass for 2016 is now released. It kicks off with a self-assessment quiz for you to take that will help you determine whether or not you should pursue being an audiobook narrator. You can watch this video on Dan’s site by clicking here.
As I said several days ago, my first audiobook narration job was recording the entire Bible, in other words I jumped into the deep end of the pool and had to ‘learn to swim in the audiobook world” the hardest way possible. That is not the right way to get into audiobook narration. Please trust me on this. You do not want to follow in my footsteps.
As you’ll see when you watch Dan and David’s video, there is a much better way. It’s not the only way, but for sure it’s a good way. You’ll see what I mean when you watch.
One more time, I want to mention that if you tell Dan and/or David that you signed up for the ACX Masterclass because of coming through my blog, they will pay me a modest commission. If you don’t want me to get that commission, then don’t mention me or my blog.
Meanwhile, I wish you all the best as you pursue your dream of being an audiobook narrator.
By sound, in this post, I mean the sound of your home studio. What is the part of the puzzle that has the greatest effect on your sound? Your microphone? Your pre-amp? Your audio interface or A/D converter?
Having a good microphone is important. The same is true for your pre-amp and your audio interface. No question, having good quality gear in your signal chain is very important. But, as my friend Lance Blair reminds us in his recent post Voice Over Signal Chain, the single most important ingredient is your room.
Cut down on the early reflections in your room with sound absorbing panels and/or diffusion. Tame the boominess of your room with bass traps in the corners. Don’t forget about the ceiling and floor. Reflections come from those surfaces too. There’s a ton of useful information on the Internet and a lot of, shall we say, “hot air” too. Spending your equipment dollars on room treatment will give you much more bang for your buck in improving your sound than buying a new microphone or pre-amp will.
I might be the world’s worst golfer. If not, I’m certainly in the bottom 10 of all time. Don’t believe me? I once 20 putted a green. Yes, my friends with whom I was playing at the time, were very patient with me.
None of this has anything to do with voiceover, of course; but my friend Jeffrey Tobin draws a very interesting analogy between the business world and the world of golf in his recent post Practice Makes Par-fect. The translation to our world of voiceover should be pretty clear.
I warmly commend Jeff’s post to you as a good place to kick off your thinking, while we’re still in the first month of this new year of 2016, about moving forward in your voiceover business. After all, staying in the same place is most certainly not making progress. It’s at best, staying in one place; more probably while everyone else is making progress, you are losing ground.
What are the specific, measurable goals you have or need to set for yourself? Who do you know with whom you can establish an accountability relationship? (She or he doesn’t need to be in the same city as you. This can be done over Skype or the phone.) Once you’ve set up that relationship, and established a pattern to when and where you are going to meet, it’s just a matter of (returning to a theme here) doing the thing.
Think about it. Plan for it. I would even encourage you to pray about it. But then, put it in practice.
By the way, this accountability relationship doesn’t have to be limited to one person. Both Faffcon and WoVO provide means to join a group who will help you report on and evaluate your progress.
Star Wars fans will recognize the title of this post as a partial quote from a line Yoda says to Luke Skywalker. It’s relevant to what I’m writing today because you can spend all the time you want thinking about the idea of narrating audiobooks, but until you actually take steps to be a narrator, to actually do the thing, you’re going to stay stuck and frustrated and “trying.”
You’ll find all kinds of advice from many different sources about how best to pursue your goal of being an audiobook narrator. But, if you’ll take the time to watch the second video from Dan O’Day introducing the ACX Masterclass he and David H. Lawrence XVII are teaching again this year, and then follow through on what you learn in this video, you’ll be much closer to your goal that you were when you started reading this post.
By the way, in this video Dan offers some very good news for narrators in the UK along with a bunch of other helpful information and a whole bunch of testimonials from people who have taken Dan and David’s ACX Masterclass.
Now, as I mentioned when I wrote about Dan’s first video this year, he’s going to pay me a modest commission if you watch this new video on the ACX Masterclass, and then end up joining this year’s class. So, if you don’t want me to get a commission, don’t mention that you learned about it from me.
Meanwhile, I wish you well as you go from “trying” to “doing.”
Resilience might be the single most important thing that has to be true about you if you are going to succeed in voiceover. This post, by the way, was prompted by a Seth Godin blog post from a few days ago, and my thoughts have been percolating on the back burner ever since.
I was once asked by an interviewer what I thought was the single biggest key to success in voiceover. My answer?
If you are going to be successful in pursuing your goal of working full-time in voiceover, the one thing you cannot do is quit. You have to keep driving toward that goal. And past it. That’s not a guarantee of success. No one can give you that. You might get there eventually (it took me 26 years!) or you might not. But you for sure will not get there if you quit.
Which is where resilience comes in. Your journey will have its ups and downs. Lots of downs. For a long time. And if you can’t shake off the disappointment and bounce back and get right back on the road to your goal, you will end up quitting. If you are not resilient, if you are no good at bouncing back from disappointment, then do quit. Now. Save yourself a world of heartache. Find something else you enjoy doing and pursue that.
But, if you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back on the road to your goal of working full-time in voiceover … then you just might make it. And very likely it will take you a lot less than the 26 years it took me.
I don’t recommend starting your audiobook journey the way I did. While I have now narrated somewhat over 100 audiobooks, my first narration job was for Thomas Nelson Publishers. If you have never heard of them, they are the world’s largest publisher of English language Bibles. And yes, I narrated the Bible for them. The whole thing. All 774,000 words. In other words, I jumped into the deep end of the pool and learned to swim (as it were) the hard way.
With half of the first month of 2016 almost completed, where are you in your quest to become an audiobook narrator? If this is something you’re thinking about, then you might want to take a few minutes to check out a video from Dan O’Day called The 3 Biggest Roadblocks to having a successful audiobook career. If you watch Dan’s video you’re going to get advice that will guide you on a journey that will be much more appealing and beneficial for you than the path I took.
In fact, I will tell you honestly that I wish the kind of information Dan is providing in his video was available to me back when I was starting. I’m pretty sure I could have avoided a bunch of mistakes.
Now, it’s important for you to know that if you mention to Dan that you have decided to watch his video on The 3 Biggest Roadblocks to audiobook narrator success because you read about it here, I may receive a modest commission. I mention this because it’s vitally important to me that I am always transparent about anything that happens on this blog that could result in income to me. I didn’t start this blog over 10 years ago as a way to troll for money from you, my readers and I won’t let it go that way now.
On the other hand, I do want to pass along information I think is valuable and worthwhile. Thus this post and a few others you’ll see in the coming days. Meanwhile, I wish you all the best and you continue to pursue your goals.
I know it’s not terribly sensitive of me to offer a greeting that applies to only some of you. I hope those for whom “Merry Christmas” means little or nothing will indulge my seasonal throw-back. Recently my friends with MVO: The Voice-Over Guys (of whom I am one) got together to offer a greeting for the season. I hope you enjoy listening to the post on our site.
Not everyone gets to do what they love for a living. I am grateful to be one of those who does. I love, I mean I truly and deeply love narrating stories for my clients. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most dry treatise on contraindications for a medication or a ripping good episode from the history of the Civil War. I love it all.
The other day I was thinking about this very subject in the back of my mind while I was narrating a long eLearning project on various kinds of concrete pavement techniques. As I was sitting in my studio, taking a swallow of water in between paragraphs of this material that, honestly, isn’t the most gripping story ever written, I actually reached over and pinched my arm just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I can hardly believe I get to do what I love so much and get paid for it. But I do. And if you’re working in voiceover on a regular basis, I hope you feel the same way.
Truly, voiceover is way better than working for a living!
This morning I had my semi-annual dental visit and teeth cleaning. Since it’s been several years since I’ve had a mustache, I had forgotten how strange it feels to have a hairy upper lip while getting my teeth cleaned. It was a slightly strange experience, but not all together unpleasant. Since it’s November 30th today, here is my final Movember mustache photo update:
I’ve gone back to the full-face photo for today, as you can see. Also, with this being the last day of our Movember campaign, I’m pleased to say I did reach my goal of $400 and the MVO Movember team got to $1841. Thank you very much for your support through this month.
We’ll return to writing about voiceover topics in the coming days. I promise.
With only one day left in November 2015, this is one of my very last Movember posts. That might represent a very good piece of news. I imagine you might very well be tired of seeing photos of my upper lip, like this one from yesterday:
I tried a slightly different angle for the two photos I’m posting today, concentrating right on the mustache itself as much as possible. Here is today’s version:
With all the ridiculous “selfie” shots, my hope has been to raise as much money as possible for the Movember efforts to battle prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. That has gone pretty well. I’ve raised my goal from it’s original $100, 3 times now. First to $200. Then to $300 and now to $400. In fact we’re closing in on that goal, too. There are just $15 needed to push through that barrier. I would be grateful for your help either on my page or on the page of our entire MVO Movember team.
Whether you are tired of the photos or not, I am grateful you have stayed with me. And thank you for your support!
Certainly not the most impressive showing, but it’s what it is … the best that I can do in 27 days. Regardless of the level of hair on my upper lip, I am very grateful for the contributions made to the Movember cause whether through my page or through the MVO Movember team page.
Have a safe and healthy weekend and thank you for your support!
Like many people who live in the USA, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I suppose it has a lot to do with the simplicity of the day. There’s no pressure to find the right gifts, no worrying about spending too much or not enough and all the rest that goes with the Christmas holiday or other December celebrations. You just have to show up, maybe bringing along something to contribute to the feast, and remember to be grateful.
For my part, along with a host of blessings in my life and family, I am grateful to be able to take part in the Movember event this year, and especially to the many who have contributed. Here is my upper lip on day 25:
Once again my goal has been reached and exceeded. This time it was $300. And our MVO Movember team as a whole has raised $1250!
Speaking of Thanksgiving Day, I’m pretty sure I got all of the turkey gravy out of my mustache before I took this shot:
I’m so grateful for your support in the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues! May the rest of your weekend continue to be filled with a spirit of gratitude.
My wife Cinda and I had wings for dinner today, taking advance of a special day at one of our favorite restaurants. This reminded me that having a mustache while eating these tasty little delicacies includes an extra challenge. I used up at least two entire napkins wiping my upper lip as Cinda and I powered our way together through our basket of wings. But it was very much worth the effort, both for the delicious food and the lovely company. Here’s the Movember upper lip after washing my face to clean all of the remaining evidence away:
As of today I am just 9 dollars short of my revised goal of $300 for this Movember project, raising funds to fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. I hope someone will step up to help me get over that milestone. And as always, if you’d rather donate to our entire MVO Movember team, please do so.
Here is the view of my Movember mustache yesterday, November 22nd:
And today, November 23rd:
I realize most of your are reading this post on November 24th, because of how late in the day I am posting this; but that’s the way it is sometimes. Please help the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues through either my Movember page or through our MVO Movember team page.
Do you ever take a moment to think about how fragile is the thread on which your (my) voiceover business hangs? By using that metaphor I am not trying to imply that everything is about to collapse on you, but here’s reality. Any one of us could wake up tomorrow unable to speak. We could be involved in an accident that takes away our ability to see. Or walk. Thousands upon thousands of people, some of whom we know personally, are fighting cancer or heart disease or a myriad of other challenges.
I don’t mean for this post to be such a downer. I simply want to encourage you to take a moment to feel the fear as Seth Godin reminds us in his post this morning.
By taking a moment to feel that fear, we can turn our attention to the important matters that are buried in the everyday flurry of our lives.
Here’s an example, I was thinking over the weekend about a former client. Someone with whom I worked on a regular basis for several years. I did a search in my email archives and discovered to my shame that I haven’t connected with this guy in 3 years. So, I reached out to him with an email this weekend. Just checking to see if all is well with him.
Staying in touch with clients you value and who value you, this is one of the most important things we do. Yet, in the hustle of daily activity it’s easy to let something like that slip. For 3 years!
Now, is this fellow going to become a client again? I have no idea. But, what’s important is to stay in touch unless and until we’re told to “go away and don’t bother me again.”
As I’m writing this post, I’m also remembering another potential client who asked me to touch base with him once a month because he’s confident he’ll have something for me, but needs a reminder so when that opportunity is ready he’ll remember to reach out to me.
Take a few minutes to feel the fear that is holding you back, the fear that is buried in the busyness of life. And then turn your attention to the important matters that come to mind as a result. And have a great week!
Three weeks in to the Movember 2015 experience and things are starting to take shape:
I mentioned earlier in the month that my father is currently battling prostate cancer. When he told me several months ago that he had been diagnosed he said that his doctor had given him pretty good news because his tumor is slow growing. My Dad is 84 now and when I talk with him he sounds good and says he mostly feels good.
Needless to say, all of this has brought home to me how important it is to continue the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues so I hope you’ll contribute to the Movember campaign. If you prefer to give to our entire MVO Movember team, please do that instead.
The last couple of days have been filled with lots of little activities that always take more time than was planned; thus we’re combining the Movember posts for these 2 days. Here is the day 19 photo:
My daughter Karen and I were talking yesterday about the fact that my mustache doesn’t look all that full. We both agreed it’s largely because there are enough grey hairs in there that it makes my upper lip still look more like I need a good wash than it does like a full-fledged mustache. I look forward to the end of the month when we’ll see if it’s become something more visible or not.
The angle and the lighting don’t help all that much.
While my wife Cinda and I were at the bank making a deposit today, she commented again that she’s not a big fan of the mustache because of how prickly it makes my upper lip. But she’s with me in support of the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues and thus the goal of this whole enterprise.
By the way, I did increase my personal fund-raising goal to $300, since we’ve smashed through the $100 and $200 goals set earlier. Remember, you’re always welcome to continue to the entire MVO Movember team, if you would rather do so.
This morning my youngest son Brian and I, with some help from my wife Cinda, raked all the leaves from our front yard down to the edge of the street that runs in front of our house. We then made a long windrow of those leaves about 4 feet wide so that next Tuesday a truck with a huge vacuum hose can drive by and remove all those leaves from our property. It feels good to get something important completed, which is how we all felt when we wrapped things up just about lunch time.
The month of November is over half-finished, but Movember continues all the way until the 30th of this month. Here is today’s photo:
The upper lip just keeps getting more fuzzy by the day. It’s still not the most robust mustache ever seen, but it is what it is. The best that I can manage in my efforts to help fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. Thanks to some generous contributions I have again passed my goal (originally $100, updated to $200) so I think I’m going to raise it to $300 today.
I encourage you to contribute to the entire Male Voice Over Movember team, if that is your preference. Whatever you choose, including doing nothing if that’s what you’d rather, thank you for your support.
How about this? A post about something other than Movember! I received a very nice note from Cromerty York a few days ago, asking if I would be willing to add her blog to my blogroll. I have done that very thing today.
Several years ago when our our younger two sons were little, I grew a mustache. With my Movember mustache is starting to resemble an actual mustache and not just look like I forgot to wash my face, I’m remembering some things. In particular I remember needing to brush out my mustache multiple times each day, making sure it stayed in place and didn’t accumulate various bits of this and that. Here is today’s photo:
I had originally set out to personally raise $100 for the Movember cause, but thanks to several generous friends who have contributed to our entire MVO Movember team I have raised my goal to $200. As I am writing this post, I am currently $4 short of that updated goal. I am confident that we’ll get over that number in the next few days. Who knows? I may have to raise my goal again?
And as always, thank you for your support in the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.
Yesterday was one of those days where every time I started to sit down to write my Movember update blog post, something would come up to distract me so I didn’t get this photo posted:
I really was a very full day, full to a small amount of travel, taking part in our church service (I love the Sundays when I get to be the lay reader of the lessons of the day) and then various family moments plus a nap to partially make up for a very short night.
Now it must be said, the short night was totally worth it. Cinda and I drove up to Cleveland for the food show and to visit with our friend Yeni Alvarez. We also got to meet her husband Mark DiCarlo for the first time. It was such a fun afternoon and evening and ended well after midnight. Then we had to be up very early in the morning to make our drive back home. Thus, the Sunday afternoon nap was very welcome.
But that was yesterday. Today I decided to try something different and took a shot of my face using the mirror. I think it came out okay and with a pretty good look at how things are developing on my upper lip.
I am very grateful to everyone who has contributed to this Movember campaign to fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. If you would rather contribute to the entire MVO Movember team, that’s fine too.
As I make this post this morning, I know that later today Cinda and I are going to get to hang out with fellow Faffcon alumnus Yeni Alvarez; something to which we are both very much looking forward.
Meanwhile, the upper lip continues to grow:
I’m growing this mustache as part of the Movember effort to fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. I’m a member of the MVO Movember group, so if you’d rather you can give to the group as a whole.
One of the things I do every day to keep my voice in tip-top shape is to drink a cup of throat coat tea, whether I feel like it or not. This morning as I was sipping my tea, I remembered why I don’t normally have a mustache. Here, by the way, is the shot for day 13:
Having my mustache dip into my tea is a minor inconvenience, nothing like the major challenges a lot of men are dealing with.
What we’re doing with Movember is to help fight prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. I hope you’ll click through on my Movember link and contribute what you can. If you’d rather give to our entire MVO Movember group, you’re welcome to do that instead.
My wife Cinda said to me a couple of days ago: “I can’t wait for December 1st.” It turns out that while she supports my taking part in Movember, she’s not so enthusiastic about kissing me when my mustache is at this prickly stage.
We can certainly use your help in the fight against prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. Click through on the Movember link to make a contribution today.