goals

Septembers Here…But is It Actually Easier?

Ah September. If you can actually remember what life was like pre-pandemic, September used to feel like a huge shift for us Juggling Momworking moms, with an audible sigh of relief heard from coast to coast. While having our kids home to spend time by the pool and doing crafts is a time of joy, for solopreneurs who have always run our small businesses from home, summer has always involved juggling lots of balls. This year, 2020, has presented a whole new set of challenges, and if your family is like mine, your kids are “back in school” without leaving your house. While I confess that I am enjoying the extra time I have with my teens, it does present a lot of challenges for those of us whose career depends on quiet in the recording booth. Doors slamming, thumping and thudding on the steps, random proclamations- these barely scrape the barrel of what the new normal is like. The quietude is gone and with it I have, you guessed it, more balls to juggle as both my children and my husband are now in the house. All day. Every day. So no, this September, being a working mom and small business owner it is not easier, but I do have some strategies for coping in order to ensure that my goals stay in clear focus.

Re-Establishing Work Routines and Mom Routines.

The school year is nine months long. It is extremely likely that school kids will be home through June. So, Re-establishing a daily routine and maintaining rhythm is really important. As a working mom, we always wear two hats, and we need to keep balance. If one shifts out of balance, it effects the other and life suddenly becomes uneasy. For me, aspects of my work routine include:

  • auditions
  • meditation
  • completing booked work
  • thank you notes
  • marketing/client outreach
  • invoicing

Aspects of my mom routine include:

  • cooking
  • laundry
  • grocery shopping
  • cleaning the house
  • dog responsibilities: walking, preparing and freezing kongs, etc.
  • homework help
  • amazon orders

Focusing On Wellness

In order to maintain the balance between my role as a mom and my life as a professional voice over actor, accountability in my professional career is extremely important. I have blogged before about my group, but one of our touch points is health and wellness. When we started reporting on this years ago, I did not realize that the relevance of this area would increase in Laura Schreiber Walking Two Dogsimportance. Who could have predicted a pandemic? Every day wellness is a priority, including: steaming, supplements, eating well, etc.

Walking is one of the goals I focus on in my healthy living strategy. I love walking with my dogs and we walk four to five miles a day. My beloved dogs count on the movement and frankly, as I work in a padded foam booth, I need to get out and breath the fresh air. The pandemic can be so isolating, but when we walk I talk to my husband and kids. We also run into neighbors on the street and it is such a wonderful mental break. Walking, then, provides both an emotional and a physical benefit. The walking is essential to my wellness.

Pilates is another focus of mine. After a difficult twin pregnancy, I have spent years rebuilding my core. I love that through the pilates I work on my breathing and that the workouts are total body workouts. I am learning to make connections and to listen to myself. Work as a voice over actor so much depends on connecting with people and connecting with scripts, so if I am connected with myself as a foundation of it all, I work better. At the start of every session, my instructor asks how I am feeling and for me to be aware of where my body is starting. I wish that I had people teach be to be aware of my physical state in this way when I was 12 years old. I think I would have treated myself very differently. In any event, I am thankful for this journey that I am on and pilates helps me very much.

Strategies to Support Success

As a momtrepreneur, I try to set a framework for me to thrive and to make good choices. Here are a few of the things that have helped me during the pandemic:

  • Metabolism Mojo with Betsy Markle @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/334541130558104: Betsy is a brilliant nutritionist that I happened to grow up with in Pennsylvania. She is now based in Florida and I look forward to every post, recipe, and Facebook Live. She has made our shelter in place better with her recipes. I also highly encourage you to watch her recent coffee video.
  • Daily Harvest: I am so thankful to have found this site of healthy food options. We buy the grain bowls for lunch and the smoothies as go to breakfast sides or snack options. They are delicious and having a full stock of healthy choices makes life easier.
  • Meal Plan Prep: As a devotee of the Budget Mom, I have been focussed throughout the pandemic on planning our dinners. This has enabled me to both stay within budget and to have food in the house that fits our needs and is ready. This has been a huge help. I often use this meal prep sheet that the Budget Mom shares.

Focus On Goals

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” Ultimately all of this matters because working moms have goals. As a voice actor, I have spent years building my business. It isn’t about getting through September, it is about making life work so that I reach these goals for myself and for my family. If we can’t see the forest through the trees, we just won’t get where we have worked so hard to go. In the shadow of the passing of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we have a great torch to carry. She did it with such ease, and we must carry on for our children so that we can finish the work she set out to do.

My Breakthrough This Week When Walking my Dog

Some days I wake up with a burst of energy and ready to get to work. Other days I am less energetic, but regardless, the outcome is the same: I do my thang in the booth. I’ll explain. I am pretty regimented when it comes to sticking to my voice over routine, Laura walking her dogsand that routine enables me to balance both my mom tasks and my business tasks in a way that I am comfortable with. Most days follow the same pattern, with slight variation by day of the week. But some days, I am less “into it” than others. I was thinking it through the other morning and I thought this was a matter of inspiration. I was walking my dogs one day this week with my friend Melanie and she was telling me she felt the same way, that feeling when you just can’t get started. Melanie is a successful New York attorney who works extremely long days. While her career path is decidedly different than mine is as a working creative, this got my wheels turning. Both of us are working moms. Both of us work long days every day. And both of us build our household responsibilities into our professional goals. What, then, is the secret sauce? It came to me that while I often think of things only in terms of the presence and lack of inspiration, it is actually the ability to sustain the magic of the intersection of motivation and inspiration that makes success happen.

Common Challenges All Working Moms Face

So, let’s take a step back. It’s not just me as a voice actor who has a business to run that also has to think about how to feed my kids dinner at the end of a long work day. There are common challenges that every single working mom has to face regardless of our chosen profession and these challenges impact our work performance. Sure, these challenges vary depending on the age of our kids and the level of involvement of our life partner if we have one, but for the most part working moms still:

  • feed their families
  • manage household responsibilities including cleaning and home maintenance and repairs
  • have appointments like doctors visits
  • have errands like marketing, grocery shopping, household supplies, etc.
  • need to interact with school teachers

Just to list a few of these, and all of these responsibilities take time, energy, and emotional strength away from our professional responsibility. We can’t split ourselves in half. We have to be present for all of it, and there are only so many hours in the day.

Motivation vs. Inspiration

So, with so much on our plates as working moms, what keeps as working towards our end goals? Let’s consider the definitions of motivation and inspiration:

Definition of inspiration

 

Definition of motivationFor me, I could blog endlessly about my VO goals. I try to break them down and focus on immediate, short term, 6 month, 12 month, and long term goals. That is how I start to frame out the motivation. The inspiration has always been clear: it starts and ends with my children. They are my why. I was inspired to start my business for them. Everything I do is for them. Thinking of them and wanting them to be able to study abroad or open up their business helps me define solid financial goals that I am very motivated to reach. On a daily basis, I hold myself accountable with a google spreadsheet. On a weekly basis, I am accountable to my amazing VO Powerhouse Accountability Group. All of this is essential to spending time at this junction of motivation and inspiration and not floundering in between the two.

My Working Mom Interviews

A few years ago I also started doing a series of “Got Your Back” working mom interviews on YouTube. It occurred to me that I was just one of many and that maybe a lot of women had figured out this work life balance better than I had. I wanted to know what they struggled with and how they addressed those struggles to get it all done. These women were both inside the voiceover industry and beyond. One of them, Rebecca Gelman, has since evolved beyond her architecture business and now also owns an outdoor gear shop that boasts the largest collection of black bear collectables in our area which you can find at https://bigbeargearnj.com/. Talk about a gal who doesn’t waste a moment and somehow gets it all done, she is extremely motivated and Rebecca inspires me daily. All of the videos do! But if you are like me, you look to your tribe on those days when you are lacking, and, well, my tribe rocks.

 

What Needs to Line Up for me to Meet me Goals

Life as a full time voice actor is not as simple as being found and just sent bookings. Yes, it’s great when a repeat client does that, but if I were to sit back and rely on that every day my business would cease to exist. I recall hearing Dave Fennoy speak in 2016, and he talked about a time when he was so successful he stopped working to grow his business. Do you know what happened? He lost his business. He lost everything and Dave Fennoy, one of the biggest names in voice over, had to rebuild from the beginning. He told us at this conference that we needed to work every single day as if it were our first day. That is what I try to remember. I never sit back and count on the work pouring in. Every day matters and I will continue to work my hardest.

I will still also take care of myself too. I want to teach my children that is well. I will blow out my hair, put on some make up, do my nails, and do pilates. If I fall apart, how can I take care of the needs of so many others? Worse, what kind of example am I setting as a mother. So here I am, hanging out at this intersection I realized I love being at but only just named. And now that I’ve found it, I’m not going anywhere!!

An Opportunity for Jack

I’ll start out by saying that neither of my twins dream of becoming full time voice over actors like me. And though they do not share my dream, they support me in every way possible and are actually part of my small business team in integral ways this summer. In the past few weeks, one of my VO besties reached out and said that one of her regular clients needed 14-16 year old voices to do some eLearning narration, and my twins happen to be 16. So, they submitted demo reads. Again, it is not their life’s ambition, but in the summer of Covid-19 they realize that this is a great opportunity to learn and to do something that most kids never get a chance to do.

A script came in for Jack first. He was delighted. He booked his first paying eLearning voiceover gig, and he just needed a little coaching. I will point out a few things. Anyone who works in voice over knows that it is not really about the voice, although I happen to think he has a really nice one. My twins are both dyslexic. Reading fluently is not an easy thing for them. Jack also lacks the extensive coaching that I had that gave and continues to give me so much confidence every time I step up to the microphone. And that’s another thing, if you have never worked with a coach, you need to learn basic mic technique and basic Twisted Wave skills. I am pleased to say all of this came very naturally for Jack. I think much more than doing the actual voiceover, there are many life skills that kids get from having an opportunity to have a voice over gig.

Following Multi-Step Directions

Following multi-step directions is hard for many adults, and there are very specific directions unique to every voice over job. This booking was for sure an exercise in following multi-step directions for Jack. For Jack’s first booking:

  • He had a pace guide that he had to match.
  • He had a pronunciation guide for Mandarin names.
  • He was told to keep an upbeat, happy tone.

Jack also had a lengthy, four page script to narrate while keeping all this in mind for his first time in front of the mic. It’s a lot of balls to juggle for a seasoned pro, let alone a newbie.

How to Take Feedback

Taking feedback well is something important in many aspects of life, and as a working voice talent, taking feedback in a professional manner is part of the job. After Jack submitted his audio, within 48 hours we received a spreadsheet from the client with minor feedback. Jack had done great work. For four pages of audio, he had only four minor corrections. This is pretty incredible for anyone, and especially considering he is so untrained. I explained to Jack how feedback from client works and how important it is that they have what they need. I also explained that we, as talents, cannot get emotional about it, we simply record and send. As a student who is used to the writing process, this is familiar to him. He was able to go back in the booth and re-record. There was one line that was quite long and needed to be read with more fluidity and different intonation. I gave him direction on the line and instructed him on how to break it down. It sounded great. Learning to take feedback well is a really valuable lesson for kids in voice over.

Interacting Professionally

Maintaining a professional demeanor in the professional world is important. I remember meeting Michelle Sundholm’s sons Ashton and Everett at VO Atlanta in 2018.They were so polite and they were so composed. It is this exact behavior that I am talking about. For Jack, since his interaction was online, it meant several details. First, it meant performing his work in a timely manor. It meant taking pride in his performance and doing his best. It meant sending follow-ups and  hand written thank you notes, both to the client and to the friend who referred the opportunity to him. Jack had to carry himself the way the rest of us do, and he took pride in doing so.

How to Be Part of the Team

Doing all of the above is no small thing, and in doing so Jack took pride in being a part of this client’s team and of being part of the other VO’s team. He understood that they had a choice and that there were other kids who could have booked the gig. He did his best. He was kind and he let them know he was appreciative.

My Reflections

I think it is great that my son got this glimpse of what it is like to be in front of the microphone, to live in my world. As the kids have been working for me doing marketing and social media this summer, doing the actual voice work only helps to better understand what it is they are actually marketing. I also think that the tech skills are great for anyone. Lastly, we are living in an unusual time. Kids had to regroup and reshuffle their summer plans this year. Some people who are pursuing in voiceover audition and audition and never book. It is really great that in this odd time Jack got such an exciting opportunity and he is very thankful.

For those of Us Who Already Worked From Home….

As a full time voice over actor, I’ve been working for home for years. I loved being in my booth in total quiet with my dog, now dogs. Before Covid-19, I had the entire house to myself the majority of the day as both my husband and my twins commute for work and for school. Now, they are all home. The quiet his gone and there is pacing, lots of zoom sessions, conferences calls, endless meals and snacks, and even though we are a family of four humans and two dogs, it feels like what was once a delightful, calm haven is now as chaotic as a New York City train station in rush hour.

The crazy thing is that I feel like as a momtrepreneur I had really just found my groove in the past year or two. I had gotten the hang, finally, of what had to be done when, and figured out how to balance my family and professional responsibilities. And just as I got comfortable with my life, a pandemic struck and suddenly, like many, I find myself juggling many more balls than I want to manage, and none of these balls can be dropped. Really, each ball is much more like a fragile egg and represents an important segment of our life that now needs to be managed, or worse, micro-managed. From cleaning the bathrooms to grooming the dogs, all of these tasks that used to be done by others are now also mine. Not that I can’t do it, I just regret that I have to. I think we have all seen the tweet about our grandparents being called to war and we just have to sit on the couch, but with this sudden shift, at least for the mom in the family, there is not actually so much couch time.

Some Tips for Coping:

  • Establish boundaries. This is important both for kids and for clients. This actually is good advice that stemmed from a chat with one of my besties Shelley. Often outsiders looking in can see your family and say, “hey, you better stop that right now.” So, in my home I have always loved to work in my den and kitchen when I don’t have to be in my booth recording. Now that my twins are remote learning, they immediately wanted to spread out all over, including these spaces that I have always relished as my productive spaces. I immediately reminded them that they need to work in the dining room or there rooms. We cannot all remain silent while they are online with theirqw23 school. It just is not practical. This very important boundary has helped keep the sanity.

Likewise, clients are all working from home now and they may be testing the limits of professionalism.  While I have always accommodated different time zones, as my household responsibilities have now multiplied exponentially, I need to set boundaries to work hours.  It is ok to say “I wrk from 7 am to 7 pm.” These are unusual times and we have to make sure we take care of ourselves and our families.

  • Delegate Household Tasks. Typically, we are fortunate to have a cleaning lady. At present we are paying her not to come in. Our house is rather large and I simply cannot maintain it in the way that we are used to on my own, even if I did not have a business to run which I do. Further, as I want my kids to know how to maintain their own place and they’ll be living on their won sooner than I can believe, learning these life skills is actually really good for them. We have made a chore chart and a schedule. Certain chores are being done on certain days. Then the twins switch off. For example, yesterday Emma dusted the entire house and Jack cleaned all the knobs and handles with lysol and emptied all the trash. Today I will do all 6 bathrooms. Harlan will vacuum. Tomorrow Harlan and I will change the sheets together. As a family it is much easier than as individuals.
  • Plan Ahead. I have been doing meal planning for a while, but this involves a new level of planning. In our area, the markets and online services have terrible shortages. Planning ahead makes it posable to avoid going without.  It also makes it less stressful. My kids constantly want to know what we are having, so the schedule is reassuring to everyone.
  • Maintain Work/Family Schedule: Planning ahead is not just essential for meal planning, now that everyone is home and the kids need academic support and we all have to share a space, a schedule is essential to functioning as a unit and being considerate of everyone’s needs. Each member of the family, from my husband to the dogs, has a routine and needs that all overlap. Working together is a much better plan then a melt down. I mentioned at the start of this blog that I am juggling a lot more balls now. The kids teachers have been amazing about adapting the curriculum to being online, but they now want to discuss their work. They seem to be watching movies in everything from Music to History, and having a family schedule means we can enjoy these moments together. That leads me to my final point.
  • Find and Relish the Silver Linings: While we may all be social distancing to avail a life threatening virus, some really special time with our families and neighbors (at a distance of course) is the result of this time at home. In my family, right before this shut-in period we got a beautiful new puppy named Daisy, and she has been a great distraction. My husband typically commutes to NYC and works very long hours. Instead, he is here and each afternoon we are going for long walks together. I love every single minute with him and I know that I will miss this time so much when live as it was before resumes. I know that my kids really miss their time with their friends, and as soon as they can they will be out and about again, so I love every single moment I get that we are all together. I very much wish that this virus were not so scary and that I did not fear for the lives of the people I love the most, but in the mean time I try to focus on this gift of time with my family.

This is written for my twins, Emma and Jack. All I do is for them, all day. Every day.

The Actual Bottom Line

While most of us who work do it because we have an actual financial goal we need to hit, working moms with children at home have goals as role models as well. As my role in my family shifted from that of a stay-at-home mom, a role which I coveted for as long as I could, to a small-business owner who works full-time to contribute meaningfully to my family’s well-being, there is so much that I want my twins, now teens, to take away from this. I spend countless hours in a padded foam booth pursuing my passion for voiceover. There are so many life lessons in the hard work and interactions with both clients and industry friends and colleagues. My hope is the my kids can learn from my experience as a momtrepreneur so that when they have a family and they work they carry not only our family values and ethics with them, but they make good choices because of what I have gone through.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations and Know The Difference Between Your Starting Point and Your Goals

Every one starts somewhere. When I started, I spent a lot of time working on my goals and my business plan, which I reflected on in last week’s blog. You don’t reach your goals over night. Very few people start in life at the top. In an industry like voice over, the first booking, and each and every booking after that, is to be celebrated. As a business owner, building client relationships is essential to building a sustainable business, and relationships don’t happen from one email or from one phone call. It takes time, hard work, and perseverance. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes mistakes are made on either side.  But just because it is hard to reach your goals, reach for the stars and don’t be discouraged! According to both Fresh Books and the Houston Chronicle,  “In conventional terms it can take two to three years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing poorly.”  If you have a dream and a goal, don’t give up. If I had gotten discouraged easily, my voiceover business would never have been possible.

Don’t Get Bogged Down By What Others Think About What You Are Doing

When you have a job, everyone will have an opinion about it. Your friends will. Industry friends will. Random neighbors on the street will. Frankly the only voice that matters is your inner voice, the feeling in your gut. You have to decide whose guidance you value and filter out the rest. Once you start letting these voices in, they don’t stop. You have to have an inner compass that is stronger than all of these people who think they know what is right for you. It is almost mind-blowing how many people have opinions on subjects they know nothing about. Decide what is right for you and go for it. I spent a really long time deciding what I wanted to do before I decided to pursue voiceover. Some people thought it was great and were encouraging. Others’ comments ranged from skeptical to cruel. I had to turn a deaf ear to all of it and follow my gut. It felt right and I went for it. It was actually not that complicated. I had a well-researched plan and I was ready. If you are well-educated I know you will make good choices.

No Human Will Ever Love You Like Your Dog Does

And that’s ok, the dog will fill that void. The love that we have gotten from Barclay and Violet has been a great joy, and working in my studio with Violet by my side is a true gift every single day. Dogs are a blessing in this world. When humans have let me down, the dogs have always made everything better. There has never been a time in my adult life when the dog has not been there. You can trust them emotionally completely. Conversely, I would not trust a human who does not want a dog by his or her side. There must be something lacking in their soul.

 

 

Don’t Settle

If you work hard you can have everything you want and need in this world. Dreams do come true, and as a mom I know that to be true! Everything else that has happened in my life aside from the birth of my children is gravy, but knowing the small miracle that they both exist, I was blessed to be Barclay’s mom and that we have our precious Violet, if that can all happen then the jobs and the client relationships, all of that are possible.

The Ups and Downs of VO Bookings

When I started out in voice over years ago, I was told that the ups and downs of the industry are can be described as “feast or famine.” I was cautioned to always set money aside for the slow times, and I always thought about the ebb and flow in terms of the finances. The flaw in this thinking, sound though it may seem, is that when the feast comes, and the voiceover g-ds shine down, it’s not the money that we have to worry about, it’s having enough hours in a single day as a working solopreneur to get the work to our clients in a timely manor. In fact, it’s more that that. Here are some issues that come up when the work suddenly pours in at once as it often does:

  • What needs to be done first?
  • Will you actually be able to meet all of your deadlines?
  • Will your voice hold up? If your voice fatigues, is there a natural order that makes sense so that your more youthful sounding work is recorded first. This is likely not the order in which the work was sent to you as life is never that simple!
  • Do you have family responsibilities that you can delegate? Did you have to help a child with a project? Were you supposed to pick someone up from a soccer game that is now impossible?
  • Did you have any client calls scheduled that can be reshuffled?

This should get you thinking about how the unexpected is, well, unexpected and you never really know what the day will bring. Planning only gets you so far.

I Never Really Know What’s Coming

Sometimes I have clients tell me with excitement about a great project that never comes. Sometimes without any warning I get a huge eLearning job that may have 20 minutes of finished audio and of course needs to be done as soon as possible. No heads up, no phone call, it’s just there. Yay, except I then have to reshuffle. Sometimes I get the email asking my availability because a script is coming my way “that day.” And of course when they get it to me they need it right away. Even when they tell me it’s coming, often the final script doesn’t come right away. This happened this week. I heard a script was coming Tuesday. I waited much of the day, glued to my desk. It came around 4 pm.  It’s not their fault mind you, if the person sending it knew when it was coming, they would tell you. They have as much control as you do: none. So, we don’t know and life is hard to plan. It’s a great job for a type A person!

Not Just by Financial Goals, But actually A Crazy Amount of Time in the Booth

So, again, there is a difference between meeting your financial goal and a ton of working flooding in on a given day. I am talking about the latter, which makes the former possible, and is an entirely different ball of wax. Sometimes days go by with little work, and then all of the sudden, you might face the scenario that I faced on Wednesday, when as much work as I typically do in an entire week came in one day. I have a system when work comes in which involves entering the job into my CRM, carefully reviewing the script, preparing the invoice, recording the work, and then preparing a thoughtful delivery email, and that system is great when I have unlimited time.

But most of us in voiceover also have families. On Wednesday it happened to be my husband’s 46th birthday. My daughter Emma, 16, also happened to have an orthodontist appointment at 6 pm in a town about 20 minutes away. I had planned that we would go out for dinner that evening at the mall after the appointment. My kids also had Scarlet Letter essays due in English the next day and a History test, so I told them that when we got home I would help with both. I had not planned to be in my booth after dinner, working on of all things a Halloween spot (I can’t even… It’s November…)

So the work came pouring in. I was delighted. I was working as thoroughly as I could to do a beautiful job and get it done promptly so that I was not editing audio from an orthodontist’s waiting room. I finished with moments to spare, but I was far from calm and the horror from my Halloween script seemed to be bleeding out into real life. I felt working mom/wife guilt for my poor husband as his gift was not wrapped and did not even make it into the car when we were meeting for dinner. Again, I did not see this influx coming.

What I would Have Done in Hind Sight If I Saw it Coming..

So, on Friday it occurred to me that I should have had an outside editor who I have worked with in the past edit the eLearning work. Neither of those two jobs had an NDA and I could have outsourced. I honestly did not think of it in the moment because I did not know that the other work was coming. Outsourcing is really important for professional voice over actors. There is only one person who can be in the booth recording. What can be outsourced to lighted our load:

  • editing
  • marketing
  • social media
  • cold calling
  • follow ups/responses
  • lead/prospect development
  • website maintenance
  • SEO

Essentially anything that does not involve your voice can be outsourced. No one ever had an empire of one, and as you get busier it is really important. Another thing I should have done differently is given myself permission to hold some of the work until Friday. The fist job of the day, a PBS spot, actually was not on a time crunch. It may have come in first, but the client was not in a rush to get the audio back. I should have sent an upbeat email for the two commercials and let them know they would be delivered the next day.

Next, I often prepare dinner on my lunch break. Even though it was Harlan’s birthday, we should not have gone out to eat that night. It was frankly too much. We had already gone out twice the weekend before for his birthday, so this was unnecessary. In December I am doing a crockpot challenge! I cannot tell you how excited I am for this. I follow the Budget Mom on Social media and I think she is brilliant. My hope is that in having dinner ready to go in my crockpot several nights a week, I will both stay on budget and alleviate stress on these busy nights.

Final Thought

Everyone should prepare financially for our famine periods, but we need to plan mentally and emotionally for both the famines and the feasts. If we do not have supports in place in our personal lives we will not succeed as working creatives. I am blessed, I have a husband who gets it. We started discussing dinner for Monday night yesterday, Saturday, because I have to be on location much of the day Monday in Philly and the family still needs to eat. We, my husband and I, planned ahead. But a lot of people have to do it alone either because they are single or because their partner doesn’t get it. If your partner doesn’t get it, find friends who do get it and let them help you strategize, because the one thing I will tell you is that on your best days and on your worst you need people to get you through!  And in case you are wondering, Monday night we will be eating chicken drumsticks and sweet potatoes. This momtrepreneur keeps it simple.

Talking about it all at Sunday Brunch

My friends often remark about how much time my family spends together, but it is something I look forward to all week. Actually, when I travel for work, I have FOMO from being away from my family because we all have so much fun together and are so close. When I say my family is together, I am talking about me, my husband, our twins, my parents, my sister, my husband’s parents, my husband’s sister, and her family. That is a lot of people!  Our time together often involves lengthy conversations about where we should eat, and you can imagine with so much input it is hard to make everyone happy.

Anyway, last Sunday we were at a new South Orange hotspot opened by a well-known Brooklyn restauranteur called the Fox and the Falcon for our brunch. I was in my glory because I got to sit next to my four year old niece Emilia and she is quite precious.

As a small-business owner and professional voiceover actor, people in my family and in truth random acquaintances alike are always making “helpful”suggestions about potential clients I should pursue. So at brunch my dad said, in his heavy Philly accent, “Hey Laur, I was thinking. It would be really great if you could do a car commercial for Mercedes.”  Really dad? I am not a sarcastic person by nature, I am pretty much all rainbows and lollypops. But did he really think it never occurred to me that doing a television or radio commercial for a luxury brand like Mercedes would be a dream come true? Or that I did not already have such ambitions? There is only one way to make such voiceover dreams come true: to pursue them with all the ambition I have in me.

Delivering For Our Clients

The single most important thing to remember is that our clients have a dream. Perhaps vision or goal is more appropriate. They may have a personal career dream, but for the specific project we are supporting them with, they have a vision and it is up to us to bring that vision to life. Any voiceover actor who has had a live session recently can tell you that you will give multiple versions of the same line until your client hears what they need. They know what they are looking for and they want us to match what they have in their head. I have been told over and over that producers don’t know what they want but that is not my experience. We have to give them exactly what they want only better so that they are overjoyed when our session is over. We not only leave our clients feeling over joyed by providing amazing reads, but our studios must be broadcast ready and our sound has to be perfect. That is how we deliver their voiceover dreams.  We make it feel effortless to them so that they are delighted and thrilled and then we thank them for casting us. It’s that simple. We have to be a pleasure to work with and they have to have exactly what they need at the end of the session. So making our client’s dreams come true is entirely about the service that we provide for them.

 

How Do We Make Our VoiceOver Dreams Come True?

Making our voiceover dreams come true is a lot more complex! First, you must know what your dreams and ambitions are. The idea of “success” is far to vague. For me, I have always been extremely passionate about commercial work, so I cast a broad net in other areas of voiceover that were tangentially related, including radio imaging, promos, and telephony. That strategy has worked well for me. My dream is not just as vague as having consistent, sustainable income in this genre. Like my dad suggested, I do dream of specific clients and have been fortunate enough to work with them.

Roll Up our sleeves and work hard: Cold Calling and Cold Emailing

The only way to add new clients to our roster continually is to make cold calls and cold emails regularly. Yes you will have a lot of rejection, speak to a lot of morons who have no idea what you do, and feel like you are waisting a ton of time. But for the past year I have done countless phone messages for Whole Foods Markets. And guess what? That was the result of cold calling. I have been on Pandora Radio’s roster for several years. That was the result of cold emailing. I have more than 15 agents. All of them were from cold emails. Every day I typically email between 30 and 100 radio stations in hope of getting them to sign a retainer for ratio imaging. All of the stations I presently work with I have found this way, and with over 12,000 stations in the United States alone there are a lot to go after. It is imperative that you actively pursue your dream and if you are not willing to do this then you must question how dedicated and determined you really are.

LOTS of auditioning

Auditioning will also help your dreams come true. Whether they are for pay to plays, direct from clients, or for agents, this is your chance to showcase your abilities. I have heard other industry people say that the audition is the job and I could not agree more! You cannot audition too much and if you have a poor audition ratio than you likely need more coaching. Your auditions are a microcosm of your actual work, so you cannot fear auditions.

Sitting and waiting never helped anyone!

In any industry, have you ever heard of anyone who just sat home and waited for success to find them? That never works. In an industry filled with go getters and lots of legitimately talented folks, you must pursue your dreams with all of your ambition. Your dreams can come true, but they can only come true in voiceover with hard work, perseverance, and determination.