A subtle, but important, distinction

Today was an office day.  No auditions or appointments were scheduled so I was able to spend a substantial amount of time working in the office.  Now I will admit there was a bit of faffing about.  And by faffing, I mean goofing.  It’s a VO term that’s currently in vogue and is the name of an unconference being put together by a wonderful group of VO professionals.  All the details can be found here.  Faffcon isn’t the purpose of this post but didn’t I work it in nicely?

Instead I want to talk about the cold calling I’ve been doing.  I know, exciting stuff.  I’ve been trying to make as many contacts for my Voiceover business so today was a research and cold calling day.  I try to set a goal of so many cold calls each week.  I hit my goal for the week today and I still had several hours of the business day available.  I had a momentary thought that I would stop for the week and save some for next week.  But then I realized, this is exactly what I would have done when I was working in corporate and I no longer wanted to work that way.  I wanted to make as many contacts as I could because there would be more contacts in the pipeline.  Always more people to contact.  Why stop at the week’s goal?  So I didn’t.  I made a few more calls and plan on making some in the morning tomorrow.  I mentioned this to a friend of mine,Bob Souer, who said this was the difference in being an entrepreneur and a corporate drone.  When you work for yourself, you don’t want to leave any stone unturned, any opportunity overlooked.  And just because you hit  your goal, you don’t stop.  You keep the momentum up.  I used to do this when I was selling local television time.  Once I achieved my goal, I wanted to see how much over I could achieve.  It’s a great way to approach the business of finding new business.  And I have tomorrow to add to my number.  It’s all good.

Back to Basics

As you know I’m an actress as well as a voicetalent.  I very often audition outside of my home but I also have a fully equipped home studio where I audition and record jobs from.  This is a wonderful improvement as my commute used to be 25 minutes driving and then walking about 1800 steps each way to get ot my office.  Now I just walk about 17 steps to my studio.  This has wrecked havoc on my daily goal of walking 10000 steps for my health but I’ve adjusted by adding a run now that the weather has finally broken.

So my day is spent, when I am able, auditioning for various voiceover jobs from my home studio.  I record, edit and email them off to various places and hope that people like what they hearand hire me to voice their job.  I get my auditions from various places-a few agents, some online sites and from a coach of mine, Nancy Wolfson.  Once they are sent off, I don’t think about them again unless I am awarded the job.  Except this time.  Fortunately Nancy followed up with the submission and found out that while my performance was spot on, technically what I’d sent in wasn’t up to standards.  To a layperson, what this means is since I would be recording the job in my studio and then sending it off to the client, this technical failure would eliminate me from consideration as it wasn’t up to broadcast standards.

One of the things that has occurred in this transition is I’ve had to become a wearer of many hats.  One of those hats is I’ve had to learn all about is audio production.  And quite frankly, all I’ve mastered is how to turn the dang equipment on.  I’ve done some other things but it’s like trying to do surgery having only cut a steak.  I really shouldn’t be allowed to touch the equipment.  It’s too dangerous!  Fortunately my friend Bob took pity on me and gave me some settings that I could lock into my system and process my auditions using these settings.  I also put up some additional sound absorption panels in my studio which should help the overall sound in the room.  I think the problem has been reduced somewhat.  Time will tell.

I’ve been so concerned with my performance recently that I overlooked a very basic requirement.  One that can eliminate you right away but is so easily fixed.  Thank heavens Nancy followed up and forwarded to me what she learned.  Otherwise I’d still be sending out a good performance that no one could hear. Paying attention to details like this are so important and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  It’s back to audio 101 for me.

Ain’t too proud…

Not to beg as the song intones.  But recently I’ve been hired by a fellow voice talent to direct him on several long form projects.  For those not in the Voiceover business, long form in narration could be anything from an audiobook to e-learning to a documentary.  These scripts can be very dense and very often contain complicated language.  Usually the project needs to be sent to the client in an edited form with all the correct pronunciations.  Another set of ears on the audio and eyes on the script allow fixes to be made right away, eliminating the need to go back and insert a fix, all the while trying to match the sound and flow of the original recording.  It’s much easier and better to correct as you go.

Anywho, Bob Souer is the voice talent who hired me.  In the midst of this big project he was being interviewed by Kristine Oller for one of her wonderful coffee date interviews.  His VO business has grown so much he’s had to reach out for help and I was fortunate to be the one he contacted.  He was telling me about the call and said that while he talked about the assistance I was providing, he’d kept my identity anonymous.  His reason for doing this was he wasn’t sure if I wanted everyone to know I was directing him.  While I appreciated him protecting my privacy, my thought was I have no problem with people knowing I was working for him.  I am a big believer in there is dignity in any work and if I can help a fellow VO meet a tight deadline, I’m more than happy to do so.  Besides I’m learning a lot, not just about the stuff he’s recording, but also how he records and tells the story.  And he is paying me for my time.  We used to say in my former television sales life when a piece of biz would come in from a less than marquee client, that their money was as green as everyone else’s.  It spends and saves the same way.

Do I want to do this all the time?  No, that wasn’t my purpose in leaving full time corporate work to pursue a freelance creative life.  But part of that freelance life is that work will come from many different sources at different times.  That’s the exciting part.  And if part of my work comes from directing and not performing, that’s perfectly fine with me.  I’m not too proud to accept that work.  Actors who direct always get better as actors.  This serves my learning process as well as serving my financial process.  In your quest to create a new business life for yourself, don’t overlook adjunct ways to earn and learn that push your  success even further.  Be wise in how your spend your time as it is a limited resource but don’t let pride get in the way of a good experience.

Looking for the upside

So often, I get to the end of a day and all I can focus on is what I didn’t get done that day.  Blog posting wasn’t written, demo wasn’t finished, meeting wasn’t scheduled.  All reminders of the failure that the day was.  But I recently read a quote on a friend’s blog and it reminded me that there is an opposite and even more compelling story to be told about the day.  The quote was from Ilan Shamir and it said “A thousand things went right today“.  And reading it flip flopped my perspective right on it’s collective patootie.  It made me think about all the things I did get accomplished that day.  Maybe not all of the things that I had planned to get done, but instead were opportunities that presented themselves and couldn’t be ignored.  Like the great TV show looking for a host in my age range that had remodeling skills.  Or the software I finally got installed properly in spite of being disconnected 6 times trying to reach the tech support people.  Or the sound effects put together for an audio book for my nephew that made me laugh.  Not quite a thousand things yet, but you get the picture.  Changing the inner monologue from the negative to the positive isn’t easy but it’s so necessary.  It’s too easy look at the glass half empty instead of half full. What doesn’t get accounted for in all of that is the chipping away of self esteem and confidence with each little nick at the “what didn’t get done” board.  The other things will still be there tomorrow and I’m pretty sure there is going to be a tomorrow.  Paying attention to what did get done instead of what didn’t starts the momentum in a positive direction.  And with momentum, it’s just as easy to build up as it is to tear down.  It takes discipline to focus on what did go right today instead of what didn’t happen but the payoff is well worth it.

Sexy Siren

Success is a wicked thing.  Experience even the smallest bit of it and suddenly you are in the grasp of it’s siren song.  That happened to me.  I started this blog in absolute obscurity.  No one knew I was posting because quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I would keep up with it.  When I was sure I was going to be disciplined in this endeavor and I had a few posts under my belt, I e-mailed my friend Bob Souer requesting that he add me to his blog roll.  Bob is an incredible aggregator of all things Voiceover and otherwise.  He was kind enough to add me in a post on his blog yesterday and in no time flat I went from invisible to quite a few reads. People commented on what they read.  I even got a ping back, although I’m not quite sure what a ping back is, but I got one.  I was found to be wise, witty and relevant.  What a rush!

The vast majority of people read the post that Bob referenced.  Only 1 other post was read.  I can tell because WordPress is kind enough to provide me with all sorts of statistics.  My immediate thought was the other posts weren’t all that good.  That I needed to write more in the style of the post Bob referenced.  In short order, I was lured by the success of that one post to alter the course I was on and pursue one that would be more popular.  Without a second thought I abandoned that which got me to the point of success and became a slave to getting more success.  She’s a sly one, that siren Success.  Most sirens in Mythology are female.  Thankfully, I too am female and after the fog cleared I was able to let go of the wee bit of glory I’d experienced and refocus on my original path.  I went back to what got me there in the first place.  Fortunately, my siren didn’t come in the form of George Clooney.  Then I’d be telling a far different tale.

Stupid cheap

Much to my annoyance and I’m sure my Father’s ever-loving delight, I have become a bit of a tightwad in my advancing years.  All those stern lectures about money not growing on trees in my youth are coming home to roost.  Yes Daddy, it does make a difference when it’s your own money you are spending.  Especially when you are launching your own business (Pam Tierney Voice Over) and the paycheck’s aren’t coming in every 2 weeks from the MAN.  Couple that with a strong feeling of “I can do that” and “How hard would it be to just to it myself” and you have a recipe for a lot of trains coming off tracks.  Bunnies being chased down rabbit holes.  Distractions that take away from building business and investing in success.

This was brought home to me recently when I was redoing my commercial demo (did I mention I was starting a business?) and the rates for local studios rental were higher than I wanted to pay.  I needed a studio with Source Connect so I could link with my producer, Nancy Wolfson, in LA.  After striking out with local talent private studios, I figured I’d just purchase the software myself and use my own private studio thus acting as my own engineer as well as talent.  Genius, right?  After all, I engineer my own auditions all the time.  Multitasking isn’t always the best idea, especially in an already stressful situation that a demo recording usually is.  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and I was strongly advised to not wear both hats.  I was able to negotiate a better rate for the studio, the demo recording went off without a hitch, and I could concentrate on performance alone.  Which is what the client will be evaluating when they look to hire me, not whether or not I used my own studio, saved money on rental or engineered it myself.

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should be doing something.  Sometimes I need to get out of my own way and let the pros do what they do best.  Being frugal is a smart thing, just don’t be stupid cheap.