Archive for March 2015

Mixing Groceries with Editing

bc_bagger_cHey folks. Recently I’ve had to get another job, besides the editing/proofing/virtual assistance work that I do now. I’m working in a local grocery store. This might sound crazy, because I do a reasonable amount of work, and I’m working on a good marketing tactic to increase my reach.

But I’ve been faced with the financial fact that it’s not enough, to do the things I want to do, to go the places in my life that I hope for. So I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and re-entered the “regular” working world. Now, I know this doesn’t make me unusual in any way-I know very many talents that have a ‘day job’. The point I wanted to draw, however, was that I didn’t want to do this. It meant dusting off skills I haven’t used in years. It meant a more challenging schedule, and having to work harder to keep everything in balance. I’ve put it off for a long time, and come up with reason after reason why I didn’t want to or shouldn’t just at that moment.

It meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I think that most people struggle with this at one time or another in their life. We get into ruts, comfortable and familiar, like the pair of shoes or blue jeans that you’ve worn for years, and despite the fact that your goals and dreams mean putting on the metaphorical high heels or suit and tie, we don’t do it. It’s hard, and it’s scary, and there are endless reasons and excuses why we can’t.

But, despite all the oncoming challenges, I’m looking forward to this job. I’m looking forward to the new/old experiences, and for a chance to push myself further along the path to my goals. I encourage everyone who reads this to stop thinking why and how you ‘can’t’ do something, and start thinking about how you CAN.

Archive Thursdays: The Internet Is Watching You

1206564626633666494sarxos_Magnifying_Glass.svg.medHey everyone! So I’ve decided to take Thursday of every week for the next while and dip into my post archives for some previously seen gems. This post was originally published on March 19th, 2012.

There are dozens of examples from every job field. Someone said something thoughtless, crude, rude, or some kind of “ist” and got caught doing it, and got lots of bad PR. When posting something, regardless of where or when, you need to consider the world you are entering into. There are no boundaries here. It doesn’t matter if what you’re posting is on a “Personal Account”. If it can be connected to your name, people can find it. Everything you put out there combines to create an internet persona, a picture people have of you.

This picture has its limitations. The internet is like a permanent first impression. There are no smiles, shadings of tone, pleasant voices, or any other mitigating factors to make up for the solely text based impression of what you say. What can affect this?

Do you post a lot? Even different, substantive posts? Send out a lot of emails? Be careful that you don’t come across as a spammer. Nothing will turn people off faster.

Do you post a lot about personal matters? There’s nothing wrong with sharing things with your friends and co workers, but consider how some of these things might look to potential clients or business partners. Pictures matter.

Do you have a lot of strongly held beliefs? Again, nothing wrong with this, but think about whether you’d be willing to turn down work because someone saw you upholding said beliefs with strong words.

Watch your language! I’m not only talking about cursing, but also about poor spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and so on. I know phones are horrible about this with autocorrect, but take all the care you can to keep your impression as an intelligent adult. Also, name calling, any kind of name calling, is dangerous. No matter whom or what you are calling a name.

I’m not going to tell you to say, or not say anything. That’s up to you. However, it’s important to consider the impact of your words, not just now, but also when people find them in the future. Try and consider another person’s perspective upon reading what you’ve written. You have a phenomenal advantage when putting things online, you can look at what you’ve written before hitting send, or post! Don’t waste it!

Next week: Although Winne the Pooh is pretty awesome, his buddy Eeyore is not someone you should be imitating.

Face on the Faceless

facelessThe single biggest disadvantage to online communication is that it removes a great deal of context from people’s daily interactions. I cannot count to you the number of times that I have seen arguments explode for days because people disagree on this or that thing. (Although, to be fair, the other element in this situation is that far more people who have the potential to disagree are now in contact with one another.) I understand that a certain number of disagreements are inevitable, however the phenomenon that troubles me is what I think of as ‘dehumanizing’.

Think about it like this. So you’re friends with various VO people on Facebook. Maybe you know them, did a tele-coaching session with them, maybe they just friended you and you accepted because they have a microphone as their picture. You see them post, perhaps about a gig they took, and didn’t charge ‘enough’ for, perhaps it’s a political or religious opinion you don’t agree with, and you decide to correct them or to air your opinion.

I’m not making excuses for anyone’s behavior, but if that person responds less than kindly to you, take a moment and try to see it from their perspective. To you, they are nothing more than a name, some bio details, and a picture. But they are a living, breathing person, with their own challenges and problems, and you really have no idea WHY they said what they did. You don’t know them, and you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt.

They’re faceless to you. They aren’t a real person with depth and feelings, they’re just the text on the page, and so you judge them, react quickly, and cause pain.

What you find funny could be so easily misunderstood, and just be seen as mean.

Yes, people in general should develop a thick skin when it comes to online comments. But rather than assuming what others should do, wouldn’t it be better to start your words with a little kindness?

Southern Hospitality

wavingOr how I learned to wave and smile at everyone I pass.

I moved to the South about 10 years ago, and several things struck me at the time. First was the funny accents, which sounded very strange to me. (I’m a Yankee.) Second was the fact that people I didn’t know were waving and smiling at me any time I would walk or ride somewhere. I found this very strange, and commented to people that I met that where I came from the only people who did such a thing were either drunk, or crazy!

Needless to say this attitude of mine didn’t win me a lot of admiration. Southerners are proud of their long tradition of kindness and hospitality to strangers, and justifiably so. No where else that I have lived have I met so many people who were willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, or offer a ride somewhere, or many other small niceties. It’s not an absolute standard of course, but the charm of the South won me over quickly in many ways.

I believe there is a lesson to learn from living here, and it is one of putting kindness first. In our culture today, and especially online, it’s easy to judge on the basis of words alone and make snap decisions that are neither kind nor deserved based on the intentions of the person. We are divided, not united over many things. It’s important I think, to choose to learn from others, to choose to adapt, and to choose to be kind.

Voiceover FAQ

faqThe constant inundation of new persons to the voice over industry means that there are certain questions that are asked many times on many platforms. I’m going to touch on three of the most common questions that I see, and link to some useful resources for the newbie. I should add though, that my answers are with hearty thanks to all the pros I have met and learned from in the last several years.

1. What mic/gear should I use?

Although there are a number of things that are common or standard, the answer to this question is pretty individual. Different mics have different sounds with individual voices. Doing some research, knowing the sound you produce, and having above all–a well treated room!–will get you in the right place here. I see a lot of people worry a great deal about specific gear sets, but speaking as an editor, I’d rather have a lower end mic in a great sounding room than a high end in an echo chamber!

2. What coach should I study with?

There are many, many coaches, and some of them are people who will promise you everything and just take your money. Some well known and regarded names are Pat Fraley, Nancy Wolfson, Marice Tobias, Terry Daniel, and Marc Cashman. Everyone you ask will have a different answer as to whom you should study with, but a useful metric is to look at a particular coaches’ students. How well are they doing? What kind of work do they engage in? If it’s obvious that they are getting and maintaining work, it’s a good point in the particular coaches’ favor.

3. P2P’s/How do I get work?

Now this is another tough one, and a highly individual answer. A lot of people I know start on the Pay to Play, or P2P sites. They are a viable way to get work, although they suffer from consistent low-balling, and the inevitable fact that the site itself is intended for someone else to make money. The single greatest thing I think a professional can do to help their career? Networking. Learn how to talk to people, whether potential clients or other folks in the business. I see too many people on a daily basis throwing negative slush in all directions, and never considering who might be reading it.

Useful Links:

Voice over entrance exam, Bill Dewees Youtube Videos, EWABS Show, Edge Studio both website and Youtube, Marc Scott’s Blog, Dave Courvo, Bob Souer, Voices of experience, Making Money in your PJ’s, More than Just a Voice, Nethervoice, Derek Chapell, Sound Advice, and many, many more!

Being Left-Handed Gives The Right Advantages

17d86d9218bf061f80808beba1575286Being left handed has taught me a lot over the course of my life. Things like: I will always have a smudge on my hand when I write with a pen. Scissors are a challenge. In high school and college, there was a certain kind of desk that was the bane of my existence.

But the most important thing it has taught me is how to be adaptable in my daily life. For me, many of the things (like paper notebooks and computer mice) that most people take for granted as easy to use are backwards. I’ve had to develop my own ways to use these things, my own way to move through the world.

I believe this adaptability is an important strength for anyone in the digital age, and especially for the freelancer. There is a constant flood of new things that bombard us every day, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your head above water when trying to stay abreast of everything. Should you try this new scheduling planner? Buy a new bit of gear that everyone seems to like? Go for a course with this coach that has great reviews?

Learning how to mesh new things with your established pattern is a powerful tool to take your business to another level. I see it every day with people in our community who don’t know or don’t understand something that could be a bountiful benefit to them in their career. Integration and adaptation are a challenge, but as the digital age continues to advance, anyone who doesn’t learn how will be left further and further behind.

(Even though the quote is about not being left handed, I had to figure out a way to reference the Princess Bride in this post.)

Put Your Blinders On

horse-blindersWhat are blinders?

blind·er

(blīn′dər)

n.

1. blinders A pair of leather flaps attached to a horse’s bridle to curtail side vision. Also called blinkers.

And what do these have to do with you? I believe they are a good illustration of an idea to decrease distraction in the work life. There’s so many of them, from the internet, to other jobs, and of course family and personal life. Obviously, it’s good to step away from your work sometimes, or to change the task you are working on to achieve some perspective. However, finding a way to achieve focus is equally important.

For me, the best way I’ve found to do this is to put on the aforementioned ‘blinders’. I create a space that has nothing in it but my work. My phone is in another room, I have no browser open, (Sometimes, on a particularly distraction-filled day, I have unplugged my internet cable as well!) and there’s no TV or other distractions. Then, I set a timer for the task I want to work on.

The timer helps address another problem I run into-I think too far ahead. While I’m working on one task, I will think about the 5 other things I want to do that day, and it’ll impair my efficiency on the current task. When I set a timer, I can turn any skip in my focus into how much time I’m working. I find that I focus better that way.

So if you need some help getting your focus lazer sharp, try putting some blinders on!

A Blast of Audiobook Innovation

LogoJeff Kafer is a well known audiobook narrator and VO. He’s done hundreds of books, and is an often sought source of advice in that arena. Now he’s developed a new resource for him and his fellow narrators. Audiobook Blast is a site where listeners can sign up to receive notice of free or discounted audiobook titles. This is a great place for the free codes narrators receive, and a great place for promotion any time your titles go on sale. It has the potential to carve a pretty good niche in the audiobook world.

Now, I know all of my readers don’t do audiobooks, but I think this is an interesting thing to highlight regardless. Innovation in our industry is a constant thing, and the valuable insight to Mr. Kafer’s new endeavor is the need for constant adaptation. I’ve met hundreds of voice talent in the relatively few years I’ve been doing this, and there is a pretty fair portion who are set in their ways. Although it’s not a bad thing to have a proven system, it’s wise to be careful that you’re not missing something that could really help your career. Better things often lie just outside of our comfort zone or established way of doing things.

What could you do better today?

And we’re back!

wereback1It’s always hard to leave my blog, no matter for how long or short a time. When I’m not writing, it feels like a part of my life is missing.

But a little break always does me good in the long run. It gives me a chance to let my brain percolate and come up with new ideas without the pressure of them having to be on a schedule. I highly recommend this approach when you’re feeling ‘stuck’ about something. Walking away and changing your mental track can really make a huge difference in completing the problem area. Beating your head against a problem is a sure road to frustration and second best work!

I’m so happy to be back on a regular schedule, and here again with you all. I’ve got some great ideas, which will be coming at you starting this Thursday! See you then.

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