Archive for February 2014

Content Context

Personal-Blogging-Hullabaloo-All-the-WayDo you write a voice over blog? There are quite a few of us who do. But my question for you is do you realize what you’re saying? When you write, is it just to share your thoughts with the community? It’s important when you write to have a purpose for doing so, and to know what that purpose is. Otherwise, why do it? There’s so much for each of us to do that it’s a good idea to consider and focus each of our efforts.

What content are we creating?
Why are we creating it?
What is the goal of this content?
Are we achieving this goal with what we write or share?

If you just want to talk about the cool things you’ve done, well that’s a purpose of a blog, although it’s pretty unlikely that anyone’s going to want to read it. Interspersing this with cool things that other people have done or are doing you may garner some more interest as you’re not just talking about yourself. If your purpose is just to put your name out there, you can get some traction with that, but the type of content creation that will really get you attention is almost another full time job. Rather than writing fitfully and without direction, perhaps delete that extra page on your website and focus yourself on marketing in a different avenue.

Everything we do is connected. What’s the context of your writing in your other personal promotion and marketing efforts? Does what you’re doing, what you’re writing about make sense and fit in with everything else? Make yourself into a lean mean effective use of time machine, focus your efforts, and measure the totality of what you’re doing against where you want to go with your business.

Your Client’s Ears

earYou’re probably wondering why I’m writing about something like a part of your client’s anatomy. But your client’s ears are something important for you to keep in mind, and one that I’ve found recently my clients tend to misunderstand or not take into account all too often.

Most voice talent I know are perfectionists of one kind or another. They want everything to be ‘just so’ and are particular about how things get to be that way. I can understand this as I am the same way in many areas, but it’s also important to learn how to let go. It’s very easy to get caught up in the picky details of our work and to waste time and energy that could be more productively spent elsewhere worrying about things.

This particularly applies to editing work. I’ve heard moaned from many a talent, some new, some old in the game, that they obsess over every mouth click, every sibilant, every plosive, and want the audio to be at it’s best, shiniest, and cleanest before they send it on to their client. They spend hours slaving over a few minutes of waveform and give themselves both headaches and a case of being heartily sick of the sound of their own voice. This phenomena can be particularly deadly with long form narration.

But I have news for you. Remember that in order to do what you do, you’ve had to develop a set of professional equipment. Your recording space, your microphone, your software, website, and your voice training are all part of this. There’s a part of you you’re forgetting when you run through this list in your head, however.

Your ears.

Whether it’s conscious or not, you’ve trained your ears to a certain extent. You hear everything about your voice, the defects both perceived and actual, the noise, the fact that you shouldn’t have had that soda or latte before you turned on the mic, everything. Here’s the important thing to remember, though.

Most of the time, your client hears none of this.

There are exceptions, there are people who notice and want that sort of thing cleaned up, and if there’s something particularly noisy, of course it should be cleaned up. But the soft sounds, the little things, the medium sounds? You really can let them go by. Remember your client’s ears. Remember that they’re lacking that crucial piece of professional equipment before you spend more time worrying over the fact that you forgot your green apples this morning.

The Power is in You

waterThere’s a frequent misunderstanding I run into with clients for the ‘virtual assistant’ side of my business. (As opposed to the editing.) Sometimes people think that I have the ability to create an organizational system for them that will get everything in their business in order. The fundamental problem with that idea is that if I create something for you (not that I have the ability to do that) then the system likely won’t stick. You may work with it for a while, but eventually things will lapse because the source of your organization is coming from the wrong place.

Some people are naturally of an ordering, planning, creating mindset. To be quite honest, I’m not, or at least I haven’t been in the past. The business I’ve built, the contacts I’ve created have been created counter to the way that my nature tends. My credo for a while now has been to do the opposite of my instinct on things, to do the thing that I rationalize my way towards not doing. To go for the things that scare me, and to conquer them.

As an easy example, I did not keep very detailed track of my finances. Once my business really got rolling and tax time came around, I discovered how much that lack was going to cost me, and how much money I could be saving in deductions, if I had figures that I’d not bothered to keep track of. So at the beginning of 2013, I started keeping a Google Drive spreadsheet with all of my expenses, kept track of money going in, and tax time this year is going to be a lot easier.

But if someone else had tried to tell or show me what to do, even if it was really awesome, it would be their plan. It wouldn’t be best tailored to my needs, experience, temperament, and the little tricks I use to help me remember things. They wouldn’t know how my day is run moment to moment or the things I need to do because it would be their perception of my needs and my day.

So in 2014, no matter how disorganized you tell yourself you are, no matter how long you’ve spent not being where you need to be as far as the business side of things, remember that it’s not too late to change. Experiment, test, re-test, and stick to it, and find something that works for you. There’s a system out there that can help with a little willpower and effort on your part. Don’t spend another year behind, frustrated, or unable to do something as well as you could, take and make the time. Get organized! It’s your year.

The Importance of Holidays

Happy-HolidaysIn past years, I never took a break from my work. I worked seven days a week, whenever there was something to do, and to whatever hour it took me to finish my work. And frankly, I never had time for myself and wasn’t particularly happy.

More recently I decided to regulate my working hours. I get up at the same time every day, work until 5pm, and have the evening hours to myself. This doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t work outside of that time, but I make an effort to get everything done within my typical working day. The ability to have a few hours free every day is great incentive to get more work done. I also take weekends off and use the time to catch up on chores and pursue my personal and artistic projects. (I paint, for example.)

The fact that I do these things causes astonishment, and in some cases derision from people that I talk to. I fully recognize that my schedule would not work for many people who have full time jobs, families and children to care for. I would never intimate that what works for me is required for someone else–however, the importance of taking a break, of having some time away from the microphone and the DAW is absolutely vital. Giving your mind, fingers, and vocal cords a break (even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block) will give you a chance to refresh on all levels and make your next piece or section of work better, and you’ll feel better about it, which is worth those few moments, don’t you think?

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