Tag Archive for voiceover

The Faffcon Community

I wrote this a while ago. By the time this posts, registration for Faff 9 will have already happened, but I wanted to share the love of my ‘tribe’ here on my blog. 

Every time Faffcon approaches, I can’t help but find myself thinking about my history with this unconference, and everything it has meant to me. Faffcon was the spark that started my business, the reason that I’m sitting here writing to you, and one of the catalysts that changed my life.

Six years ago, I was working in a grocery store chain in NC, living with my brother Eric Souer. To make a long story short, this was a store that put profits over people, and although I made okay money, I was never happy there. I’m not their ideal type of worker-physically fast and efficient-so it was not the best situation all around. Our Dad, Bob Souer came to visit, and he said, “Eric and Karen, you’re coming with me to Faffcon.”

I had no idea what this Faffcon thing was. And I remember feeling very uncertain about the whole situation, I was going to a place where I didn’t know anyone, had no idea what was going to happen, and Dad had just said that maybe people would hire me to do the sorts of things that I had always helped him with. (A little writing, a little editing, that kind of thing.)

My biggest memory from that first Faffcon (Faffcon 2 in Atlanta) was the kindness that people showed me. None of them knew who I was. (Some people had met Eric, but I’d never met any of them.) But all greeted me enthusiastically, and were interested in who I was and what I had to say. I remember going home from the event, on fire and excited to see where I could take this brainful of ideas that I had. Fast forward to the present day, and I am a different, much happier person, enjoying a reasonable amount of success.

But over the years, the thing that truly astonished me was the community that developed from the conference. Friendships were created, businesses grew one another, many people lifted one another up through challenges in both work and personal life. There are strong divisive, dividing elements in our society today, and it has been truly astonishing to see the kind of strong, communal vibe that has developed.

In 2012, after Faffcon 5, Lori Taylor created a Facebook group, Faffcon friends. This group has had a strong element in keeping the community together, and bringing folks together to tap group knowledge, share, or to ask questions. It gives people a place to talk to one another between events, and it’s been a pleasure to watch all the positive interaction. Lori eventually turned the administrator role in the group over to me, and it’s been an interesting job, to say the least!

I decided early on to limit the group to people that have already attended a Faffcon. The reason for that is the intensely personal stuff that is often shared in the group-health struggles, life issues, and the like. I wanted anyone in the group to understand the nature of a Faffcon, the lowering of barriers, to keep it unlike other groups, to folks that “get it”.

One of the phrases often used at Faffcon is ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. The community is proof of that, and it has been a valuable experience to get to watch it grow over the last five years, and change with the addition of new members with new ideas. My hope for the future is that it can continue to be a place where the good of the group is a big part of what goes on. Through Amy and Lauren, Connie and Pam and everyone who’s ever attended, we have created something unique, in terms of the community, and that it should be nurtured and taken care of, even 2 years from now when the event is no longer happening. Our industry doesn’t have water coolers or company picnics, so what we have is something to hold on to. May it always endure, and continue to spread and bring in new people.

The Deets on Faff 9

Have you ever wished you could learn things that are directly applicable to your life as a pro-VO? Are you tired of the famous talking heads that although they’re awesome, don’t always have the down and dirty for the daily grind?

You need to go to Faffcon.

What is Faffcon? From the website: “FaffCon: the voiceover unconference, is a participant-driven professional development event for working voiceover industry pros. Its highly-interactive, peer-to-peer learning environment is consistently credited with helping establish VO-industry pros take their careers to the next level. Prospective participants must meet certain criteria and apply to attend. FaffCon sells out very fast, every time. To be sure to get the registration alert, please join our low-volume email list! We’ve committed to producing a total of 10 FaffCon unconferences.”

Personally, I’ve been to every Faffcon since 2, and every experience has been both valuable in a career and a personal sense. I’ve made incredible business connections and amazing friendships over the last 5 years, and I’ve written about it in my blog a lot. I strongly believe it can and will be valuable to any talent that approaches it with an open mind. There is diverse content, ranging from performance based classes, to business classes, and ‘techie’ content as well. Plus, you’re welcome to ask questions, and even lead a session yourself!

The atmosphere is as singular as any event I’ve been to in my lifetime, and one of the best benefits to the conference. People are open, eager to learn, and it’s a cardinal rule to leave egos at the door. You can come and go from sessions as you need to, so that you can maximize your learning time amongst everything there is on offer. Plus there is always time with other VO’s after hours, and plenty of meal and break opportunities to get to know people-and trust me, they are a very welcoming bunch!

Faffcon 9 is a great opportunity to jump in and join our Faff-family. There will only be 10 events total, and this event will allow first or second time Faffers to register early. The event has sold out in literal seconds, so this registration has some new rules to make life easier for everyone. You can find all the info, and join the mailing list here on the website.

Outsourcing Survey Responses

Quite a while ago, I took a survey of voice talent to ask them about outsourcing. It occurred to me that I had a lot of theories about why people did or didn’t hire out, and that it would do me a lot of good to ask, instead of just wonder! So I went to SurveyMonkey and created a free survey. (It’s a great site if you ever want to ask a whole bunch of people something.)

It’s taken me quite a while to get to my write up, but I wanted to share my experiences with you! In this post, I’m going to discuss my first couple questions and their answers.

Question 1- Are you interested in Outsourcing?

The first thing that surprised me was the sheer number of people-78% of respondents-that wanted to use outsourcing. Over the years, I’d run into enough people that told me they wanted to handle everything themselves that I expected that number to be much lower. To be sure, there were those folks, but only 8%. Another 8% said that they were not interested in outsourcing at all, and 16% said they’d have to know more about it first. (Understandable.)

Question 2-If you don’t outsource currently, what is holding you back?

A third of respondents already outsourced. 41% said money was their biggest worry-which I do understand, although I think it’s important to evaluate that question based on your future business goals. 7% said time held them back-it is hard to find the time sometimes. 19.5% told me they had a hard time letting go. Believe it or not, I do understand. When I’ve used outsourcing myself, it’s a struggle to allow someone else to handle parts of your business. Very much a trust act. 15% loved the idea of outsourcing, but they didn’t know what they needed, and the last 11% of folks said that their jobs didn’t really require it. I’ve talked to a lot of people who do mostly short form work who’ve told me that.


I loved getting in touch with my client base, and digging into how they saw me and people like me. It was an awesome eye opener to learn that there were a lot more people out there who were interested in outsourcing in the first place than I thought there were. I tried hard to give people a lot of answers to each question, so that I could pick up as many nuances as possible. I want to connect with and understand voice talent and the voice industry to the fullest extent I can, and to hopefully learn how I can better serve them along the way!

 

Outsourcing from the Voice Talent Perspective 2

I’ve enjoyed collecting these quotes from my talent friends. It’s awesome to see how much good outsourcing has done for people’s lives and careers. And it’s fascinating to see how people’s answers are similar, and different. Each person approaches the topic from a unique angle and has an interesting answer.
My hope for this series is to give people a different perspective on this topic, if they haven’t chosen to make the jump to outsourcing yet. It’s easy to limit yourself and your career by thinking you can’t do something, and I want to show people that more is possible! 🙂
Outsourcing has:
-made audiobooks fun again
-allowed me to have a life away from the computer screen
-improved my focus on performance
-become well worth the money
I think the single most important thing to understand about outsourcing is that you don’t want to wait until you are busy enough to starting outsourcing. Start outsourcing now and you will be amazed at how busy you get with work that fills up that available time.
When I began my transition to pursuing voice-over work full-time I practiced daily at not only becoming a better talent but also learning to be an engineer, studio designer, producer, director, etc. The industry was moving to home-studios and I felt I need to be an expert in everything! I learned a lot from trying to wear all those hats but the last, and more important, lesson I learned is that I’m better when I surround myself with people who are better at those things than I am. 
 
Outsourcing also taught me to be a better service provider to my clients. I want to hire the best people to work with me but if a subcontractor doesn’t communicate well or I can’t trust them to get the work done when I need it, then I look bad for my client and they don’t get hired again. So now I’m always thinking about what are my client’s real needs? How can I make them look good to their client/boss/customers?

Outsourcing from the Voice Talent Perspective

In the past several entries, I’ve talked about the benefits of outsourcing. But my perspective is useful, but incomplete. I wanted to bring in some of your fellow voice talent to talk about where outsourcing has already taken them. Check out the people below and the benefits that outsourcing has already brought to their careers.

 

“Outsourcing is a staple of my business.  I can’t do everything – and I certainly can’t do everything *well*.  So if I can hire people who do specific jobs better than I can, and free myself up to do more of what I’m really *good* at – why wouldn’t I?  It doesn’t cost nearly as much as you think.  And really – what is your time worth?  What is it worth to not have to edit a four hour audio project so that you can move on to the next project more quickly?  If you’re not a graphic designer or web designer – or perhaps not *great* at such things, hiring someone to use their brilliance on your behalf – isn’t just time saving.  It’s *money making*.  And kind of like the idea that you shouldn’t do your own demos, at a certain point, you’re *too close to what you’re editing/creating*.  That second pair (or more) of eyeballs can be really helpful to catch errors you missed, or provide a different way of thinking that can help you realize your vision even more spectacularly.  I outsource regularly and am not afraid to admit that my expertise lies elsewhere.  It makes me more productive.  And it make me look really good to my clients (and potential clients!) too.”

-Jodi Krangle

 

“It’s all about the cost of lost opportunities. I am a narrator, my talent lies in translating and author’s thoughts into the spoken word. On the other hand, I suck at editing/mastering. Every minute I spend on something I don’t do well is a minute I can’t spend on something where I shine. One hour of editing equals at least one audition. When I outsource, I can do more more of what will get me closer to my goal.”

-Jim Seybert

 

“When you’re first starting out, or even if you’re a seasoned pro who has gotten out of the habit…curating new leads is CRITICAL to continue to grow and be successful as a business.

The key is to find someone who can realistically work with the budget you have and the goals you want to achieve.
While I knew I was effective at finding leads on my own, it wasn’t exactly how I WANTED to spend all my time, and also wasn’t something I needed to do MYSELF. So even though I didn’t have the budget to hire someone for a constant stream of new leads, I did know that I could hire someone to find me a specific amount of good, quality leads that would lead to more work which would lead to being able to hire someone to do more work for me, and so forth.  And it WORKED! I’m now in the position that I can hire a part-time employee to do that work for me year round, along with other research that I don’t have time (or the desire to do myself).
The same goes for outsourcing your post-production audiobook or even eLearning work. If you are voice talent, YOUR job is to VOICE…not to EDIT, PROOF, and MASTER your audio. There are professionals that are way more skilled and efficient at that work. The added stress is not worth the money you “save.” In reality, you would have more time to look for more work, audition for and record actual projects if you weren’t bogged down in the post-production side. It’s WORTH the additional cost, and honestly you should be quoting with your post-production costs in mind. If someone isn’t willing to pay you enough to cover your narration AND post-production then perhaps it’s not a project worth your time. Plus, those are all costs you can write off for taxes. “

 

Outsourcing Benefits from 2 Coaches

So as all of you know, there are plenty of coaches for the performance aspect of voiceover. For this series, I wanted to find coaches who work on the business and organization aspects of VO, and both of these gentlemen seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Marc caught my eye quite a while ago on Twitter with his blog posts. I was struck by the amount of actionable content he offered, and his common sense approach. When he moved into coaching, he kept his info along just the same lines. So he was a natural here! Tom I’ve known for ages through the awesomeness of Faffcon. He’s always been a lover of planning and organizing, and I was not surprised to see him take on the mantle of The VO Strategist! He’s given lots of webinars for Edge Studios, and was another perfect voice for this post. So take it away guys!

 

It doesn’t matter who you are or how good you are, you simply can’t do everything that needs to be done. To keep your business running efficiently and effectively, you have to be willing to outsource certain tasks to your team. Team, to be clear, doesn’t have to mean regular paid employees.

Agents, accountants, lawyers, editors, producers, web developers, coaches… all of the people in these roles can become valuable and trusted members of your team. A common quote in entrepreneurship circles states, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When it comes to choosing your team, choose carefully and wisely!

Marc
[email protected]
http://marcscottcoaching.com

 

All successful businesses think long-term. Outsourcing is a perfect example. It is a powerful tool that will save you time, money, and energy. Delegating time-consuming tasks like editing or data mining lets you focus on your marketing, your training, contributing to the community, and more. Spending money now on outsourcing will save you money later. If you can’t or won’t invest in outsourcing, you may want to re-examine your business model.” Tom Dheere, The VO Strategist www.VOStrategist.com

What Should You Outsource?

This is the third installment in my series on outsourcing. Previously I’ve covered why and who you should outsource to.

When it comes to things like editing and proofing, when you reach that very individual quantity of ‘enough’, most people want to take the work off their plate. Some people prefer to do it themselves, and others are a bit too self conscious to share their flubs with others. (I’m sure I’m not the only editor who can tell you, we’ve heard it all before. It’s okay, I promise.) And of course there’s those who do mostly or all shorter work, and so therefore choose to keep it to themselves. I’m of the opinion that if you can afford the rate, there’s very little you shouldn’t send out. In freelance, there’s always something else you can be doing to improve your business!

But there’s the clerical things, the harder-to-define things that most people would love to send out, but aren’t sure where to begin. I’ve often talked people through defining their project enough that I’m able to help them. For example, I’ve had more than one person want me to help them find ‘new clients.’ I have to ask them questions like what kind of clients? Where do you want me to look? How much are you prepared to spend? The more parameters you’re able to come up with, the quicker and better I’ll be able to help. And, the more you’ll be able to know what things will cost!

Sitting down and having a brainstorming session will help you define the kind of work that you’re looking for, and give you some ideas of what you need. If you’d like to expand your social media presence, what types of accounts do you want to focus on? Or do you need help to figure out where your posts could have the most impact? Do you want someone to write posts for you? What exactly do you want to say? (Inspirational pictures? Links to projects? Blog post ideas? A consistent message will help you achieve your goals more than a scattershot effort.)

Overall, unless there are elements you’d prefer to handle on your own, in my opinion much of the work that goes into maintaining a business like ours can be outsourced. Yes, money is always a concern, but the benefits can make up the initial ROI, and over time, the financial ROI will follow as you have more ability to record and reach out to new clients. The more you automate, the more time you have for not only the recording that makes you money, but the at-home things that can give you energy and renewal for the next session behind the mic.

The previous post in this series, Who to Outsource to?, is here.

Who to Outsource to?

Welcome to my second installment about outsourcing! Last week, I covered why you should outsource in the first place. Now, I’d like to talk about how to find someone, who you should outsource to, as well as what to look for.

When looking for someone specific, many people consider family members. They’re right there, they already have at least some basic familiarity, as they’re aware of your career, and you may not have to pay them professional rates. The major downside is that they are family. It can be difficult to separate work needs from a personal relationship, and it can cause stress and upset if you’re not very careful. Insisting that your child or spouse finish work on the same type of schedule that we freelancers sometimes take is not always easy or wise. I’m not saying it’s impossible–some of you may know my Dad, Bob Souer has and does work with family members–it’s just best to be aware of the challenges involved.

Once you’re ready to get out there and find someone to work with, there’s a very important consideration to start with. Do you want someone local, or virtual? Some people are far more comfortable with an assistant they can meet with regularly, face to face, and can oversee on a personal level. Others don’t mind distance and time zones in between, but it’s a good idea to be aware of which you’d prefer before you begin. If you’re looking local, there are many ways to find someone, and I plan on covering that in a future post. Looking online, word of mouth is a great way to find connections that are already known to others in our industry, and to hear exactly how and what someone did for another voice talent.

Lastly, here are some things you should look for when you first begin work. The first and most important thing to remember when looking for someone to outsource to is the need for trust. Regardless of the project type, you have to at least have that basic bond of trust with your outsource person, whatever level of which you need to feel comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s important to ask yourself where it’s coming from. Is this a temporary thing, because you’re new to outsourcing and you’re not used to the feeling of letting go yet? Or is it a deeper reaction, arising from your gut that is possibly responding to some kind of warning signal? One of the easiest methods to use when evaluating someone is to match their words and actions. If they say something, do they follow through? If they don’t, how do they communicate about it, and is something then taken care of in a reasonable amount of time? Considering this can help you make a clear eyed decision, should you need to do so. Firing someone is never pleasant, but if you’re not getting what you’ve paid for, it can be needed to do so.

Another vital thing to decide on is exactly what you need. I know this sounds obvious, but I’ve had more than one person approach me with very amorphous projects in mind. Sometimes I can help them, but the more details they have, the easier we can get moving.

The previous post in this series, Why Outsource?, is here, and the next, What to Outsource?, is here.

It’s Been a Year

Polar Bear Poking Credit Dailmail UKA few days ago, I was given the Facebook notification that my last blog post has been posted a year ago. That caught me by surprise, to say the least. I feel like both I’ve been stopped a lot longer, and a lot shorter periods of time. So I thought I’d poke my head in here and tell you all what I’ve been up to! I’ve been writing–I want to start a newsletter, so that I can still regularly write to people, but there’s not the pressure of a weekly blog. I know that I often have things to say, but my creative well tends to run dry if I feel like I’ve exhausted a topic.

I’m also wanting to do more with the idea of organization, time management, and goal setting. I’ve often had VO’s come to me and look for plans or tactics to help get themselves more together, and I figure-if people keep asking for it, why not right? I know as well as all of your how hard it can be to maintain and set a schedule and stay organized in our world. Not to mention, people’s circumstances differ so much, there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all plan’. Plus, I know that it’s something that can do a lot of genuine good in people’s lives. That has always been one of the huge benefits to my work, and one of the reason I keep doing what I’m doing–I get to make people’s lives better and easier! Anyways, I’ll be around with more news on that soon.

And lastly, I of course have been editing, proofing, and virtual assisting all over the place. This year I was able to  go to the annual audiobook conference, APAC in May in Chicago, and I had a great time, as well as learning a lot about the upper echelons of that very interesting and individual segment of our industry. I met lots of famous folks, and was greeted as ‘the famous Karen Souer’ which was not only very flattering, but also completely hilarious. Next month (ack! so soon?) I’ll be heading to Minnesota for the 8th edition of the voiceover unconference, Faffcon, and I am working on a session idea for that fine space.

So I’m still here, learning, growing, and working my tail off like usual. As always, I’d love to hear from anyone–feel free to email me at [email protected] If you’ve read this far, thanks so much for staying with me, and I am proud and grateful to continue to serve the voiceover industry, for the past 5 years!

All Good Things…

ncc1701d_allgoodthings_GWCI hope my readers will forgive me borrowing a Star Trek title. 🙂

But, like that particular episode, I’ve got an announcement. This will be the last regular blog post here for some time.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching about my writing here. I do enjoy the challenge of coming up with content twice a week, but as the weeks have passed, it’s become more and more of a struggle. I’ve always wanted to have interesting, educational content, from my ‘next to voiceover’ perspective. I wanted to point out the things I see or would suggest from all my reading, my experience, and things I think people would find useful.

This has recently become harder and harder, for a lot of reasons. There’s been a lot of personal things that have happened in my life, and a professional re-evaluation that has happened as well. Coming up with this business, I really had no idea what I was doing and learned on the fly. The last few years have taught me a great deal about far more than just running a business, and I feel that it’s time for me to take a step back, and concentrate on some different things. I need to work on taking my skills to the next level, and not just resting on my laurels. It’s easy enough for me to stay relatively busy doing certain kinds of work, but if I ever want to truly expand what I do-to take my own advice and take it to the next level-then I need to better myself, and take stock of my efforts, return, and polish my skills.

If I have something to say, be sure I’ll be back. I know that I’m not doing writing for and about voiceover. I just want to be sure to end this on a good note, rather than when I’m buzzing my lips talking about nonsense, or have to take further hiatuses because I can’t think of anything productive to say.

As always, please feel free to contact me via phone or email-I’m always happy to hear from friends, clients, readers, and voice talent in general. Be well all of you, and thanks for reading.

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