consistency

Taking Daisy to New Skete

Daisy at New Skete Training CenterI have been blessed to have three precious dogs in my life, and each of them has brought me immeasurable joy. I had no idea, however, that when we got our Labrador Retriever Daisy, in addition to being super sweet and super smart, she would also be super challenging to walk without the right training. A neighbor with two Great Dane pups introduced me to the dog training books by the Monks of New Skete, who have been training dogs since the 1970s. We made the choice to send Daisy for a board and stay training program, and I learned from the brothers that there were a few keys essential to Daisy’s success. We needed to be consistent with her obedience every day and maintain her routine. She would need structured daily exercise. We needed to plan everything- even her walks, to set her up for success. As a small business owner, I realized that in voice over all the lessons that would lead to success for Daisy also hold true to maintaining a successful professional voiceover career.

Doing What’s Right, Not What’s Easy

Just like in Daisy’s dog training, doing what’s right in my voice over business instead of what is easy is essential to success. One of the most challenging aspects of running a VO business is determining rates with clients. Even though it can be awkward and is not fun to talk about money, it is really important to always maintain industry standard rates and hold your ground.

Another area that demands a good deal of time and attention, and I have put countless hours into, is audio quality. Again, like dog training, it is far from easy to sound pristine. I have worked with top sound engineers to perfect my setup and effects stacks. Even for my travel rig, I have made sure it sounds just like the audio in my booth. None of this is easy. None of these are quick fixes. Just like the dog training, this takes a lot of dedication, time, and work. In the end, though, I could never send out anything less.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine

Daisy and Violet sitting nicelyNow back from New Skete, every day Daisy has to run through her exercises, from leave it and heal to place. Similarly, working on my craft is essential every day. From warm up exercises to practicing cold reading, this is part of my daily routine. I recently reflected on this in my blog about the class that I am taking with Kim Handysides, but in order to stay strong in the reads that I submit both as auditions and as booked work, this daily work is essential to my success.

I have health rituals that are also essential to my voice over success. I steam with a personal steamer. I am also on a gluten free and dairy free diet. This consistency matters in how I sound.

Daily Exercises

Just as Daisy needs her purposeful walk, I need a certain amount of daily exercise to stay in shape for Daisy playing with toy in the grassvoice over, I walk four to five miles a day. I do pilates three times a week. All of that is in addition to my vocal warm ups. When your body is your instrument, you have to maintain your instrument every single day.

It’s All Building A Strong Relationship

The intent behind Daisy’s obedience training is to strengthen the relationship between the dog and her humans. Well, the most important thing that we do in voice over is build lasting relationships with our clients. Every single choice we make feeds and fuels that relationship. If we make the wrong choice, it can damage that relationship. If we stay out too late with friends and are at a loud restaurant with a live session the next morning, how will our client feel when we show up to the booking sounding like a much raspier version of ourselves? The answer is you do not want to find out. In voice over, we make choices in anticipation of the outcome they will have on our body and our voice. Being able to show up and perform Laura Schreiber with Daisy and Violet on Couchis the biggest part of the deal, and being honest and up front about it when we can’t is also essential. Being able to foster a strong relationship is really important to building a client base.

In the same way that communicating well with Daisy strengthens our family bonds, doing all of the above plus communicating well with clients strengthens our connections with them. As they can rely on our work being consistently good and being there when they need it, they will be able to trust us for their clients, and in the end that trust is what matters most. As a professional talent, a new booking is great, but when that new booking comes back, it’s almost as good as when Daisy comes galloping towards me.

…. When We Are the Voice Of the Brands Everyone Knows and Loves

Brand Identity

When I started working with my first voice over coach, Anne Ganguzza, I loved her website. It made her standout not just from other voice over actors but from other coaches. It was bold, it was easy to navigate, and it established Anne as a professional. In large part, because of the brand that Anne created on her website before ever speaking with her I trusted that Anne was a voice over professional and if I worked with her I would be successful. This is no accident. If you met Anne Ganguzza, then you know that she is a branding genius.

brand key wordsAs voice over actors, daily we play both the role of the talent and the role of the small business owner. Immediately in 2015 I decided that not only would I coach with Anne but I would hire her to help build my brand, as I needed to learn all that I could from her. She hit the nail on the head, working hard to get to know me so that the brand that we built for Laura Schreiber Voice is truly a reflection of the work that I do and what I bring to my clients. As a working creative, we are in a unique role because we ultimately get hired by other brands to represent them, but it is in solidly establishing our own unique brand that we can distinguish ourselves from others in our industry. According to Forbes article from March 2018,  “your brand often acts as a function of your reputation and visibility.” As a professional voice over actor, it is essential to establish your brand so that your clients will get to know you as an individual and will trust you as a professional.

Your Website

As a solopreneur, your brand begins with your website. It is your store front. Clients can listen to your demos, see Screenshot of www.lauraschreibervoice.comsamples of your booked work, and find out how to contact you. Those are the basics, but the fun begins when you use your website to do two things: show clients how you are different than other voice over actors and how you will best meet their needs. Kristin Wendys of The SelfEmployed.com advises “Think first with the eyes of a client and analyze what he is looking for, what are his biggest concerns, and what problems he needs to solve.” Some voice actors have brief summaries so that clients can quickly learn about their services, but much in the way that I am very chatty, my website is overflowing with long narrative explanations that I hope will help my clients connect with me.

Your Logo

Visual images help create your brand and your logo is very much a part of this. I have both an avatar that I love and a Laura Schreiber Voice Logologo. I use them both differently. My logo is on official correspondences like invoices with my avatar is on my business cards, thank you notes, return address labels, stickers… all marketing materials essential to establishing my business brand. According to Entrepreneur, “Simple branding is best, especially if you can make an association in people’s minds that helps them remember you.” My hope is that the feeling that people get when they see my logo and avatar will help build our connection. Everything associated with my brand is very pink and matches.

Why Clients Need To Understand Your Brand to Relate to You

The more clients feel that the know you, the more they will trust you and want to work with you. They want to know not just that you can do the job, but that you will make their life easier because they trusted you to do the job over someone with similar abilities and qualifications. It is wonderful to meet clients in person, but now more than ever this is not often possible, so your brand helps clients get to know you!

What Your Brand Enables you to Do When Marketing

As small business owners, building a brand that clients recognize enables them to hire us directly in lieu of going through a casting site or a talent agency. This direct rapport, booking through our website without our middleman, is the goal of our branding. If we are savvy enough to create a unique brand, we have an opportunity to book voice work directly.  According to Forbes in October 2019, “By definition, brand familiarity is the process of creating brand presence by providing awareness, emotional connection, value, accessibility and relevant differentiation for your audience. Building strong brand familiarity is one of the most significant hurdles companies face.” If you are getting direct bookings, this is a great sign you are doing a good job with your brand and if you are not you likely need to keep working on it.

 

Here are some useful links if you want to research more about branding for solopreneurs:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/349667

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2018/03/15/how-to-build-your-brand-as-a-solopreneur-in-2018/#3ce49ef69631

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223070

https://www.theselfemployed.com/10-branding-hacks-for-solopreneurs/https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/10/22/to-convert-more-customers-focus-on-brand-awareness/#f5d566d20759