As we approach Halloween the air (and the grocery stores) are filled with spooky sights and hair-raising experiences. Yet I can’t help but think that the scariest monsters aren’t lurking under my bed or hiding in the closet; they’re the fears that reside within me (although if you’ve seen my daughter’s closet floor … now that’s scary)!
In this blogpost, I’m doing something truly chilling. I’m confronting what keeps me up at night when it comes to working as a professional female voice over actor and on-camera talent in a world filled with AI options and iPhones that do it all (and faster … and younger).
Terrifying Technology Changes
While one might argue that the world of voiceover and entrepreneurship are constantly changing already, the evolution of technology and speed at which we see change, can definitely be scary. Don’t even get me started about artificial intelligence and how it has people literally shaking in their audio booths over the possibility that machines will replace humans. Believe it or not, AI doesn’t keep me up at night. We’ll learn to handle what’s new. As humans, we always do. What does keep me up at night … is the fact that the iPhone has a new model out before I can master the old one. I’m almost always late to the party when it comes to new social media platforms, and I don’t know what I don’t know when it comes to doing business better (and I’m certain there’s a lot I don’t know). The ways I keep the technological monster at bay:
1. Embrace Continuous Learning – Rather than fearing it, I’ve learned to love the process of continuous learning. Voiceover requires a certain level of competence when it comes to working with editing software, microphones, interfaces and more. Thankfully, technology can provide some amazing options for learning – from online courses to YouTube videos. Find what works for you, and embrace it!
2. Invest in the Right Tools – Let’s face it, as a voice actor I can’t do my job without some critical tools. I’m a proponent of choosing technology that can adapt and grow with you. You don’t have to buy the most expensive microphone, but you do have to find one that works for you and can offer long-term value.
3. Networking – I don’t mean in order to find jobs (although that’s always a good idea, too). It’s important to have a network of people who understand your challenges and can offer solutions that have worked for them. My favorite technology hacks have come from friends and colleagues who have faced the same issues and found solutions. We’re lucky in the world of voiceover to be surrounded by others who are walking the same walk, but are collaborative, kind and incredibly generous.
No One to Blame but Myself
I know it sounds ridiculous. Entrepreneurship requires a certain level of confidence and comfort with risk. I’m cool with all of that. But when you think about it; if I fail … it’s all me. No one else can be blamed. I don’t get a paycheck if I fail. Or a “goodbye and good luck” cake. Or hugs from supportive colleagues. That is terrifying. Here’s how I conquer this fear:
1. All about Accountability – Being accountable is empowering. Yes, fellow voice actors, video producers, and anyone else who works for themselves … it IS possible to have accountability when you’re working for YOU. If you don’t have an accountability group (which I highly recommend) you can always hold yourself accountable by writing down your daily (or weekly or monthly) goals and rewarding yourself when you meet them. It’s a million times better than trudging through each and every day without acknowledging what you’ve accomplished. The baby steps will get you where you need to go. Just make a plan … take those steps … and then make sure you recognize the progress as you continue to move forward.
2. Set Realistic Expectations – Voiceover is competitive. The likelihood that I’m going to be the voice of the next Nike commercial is not great (okay … it’s virtually zilch considering my VO projects focus more on corporate, explainers, political VO and some commercial). But, could I secure a new role in TV narration next month? Now that (along with the hard work part) could happen. I’m not setting myself up for failure … I’m being realistic which is much more likely to land a win and feel rewarding.
3. Learn from Mistakes – Wayne Gretzky said “You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take?” I love that. It’s a reminder that we should not be afraid to try new things and to make mistakes. We don’t always learn from the “win” but mistakes… that’s where the lessons are. Consider mistakes opportunity that’s hiding in a Halloween costume!
I have to-do lists, reminders … and reminders to check my to-do lists. Seriously, the fear of forgetting something important is REAL. It’s not uncommon to have a “quick turnaround” project (particularly when it comes to voicing political spots). I’ll drop what I do, whip out the latest campaign piece or candidate profile, and then … what was I doing? To exorcise this fear:
1. Use Technology – Hey remember that first fear? It can actually be used to combat this third fear. There are a ton of apps and digital tools that are amazing to work with, save time and certainly save some trees as they allow me to cut down that to-do list. I personally love the calendar app. My husband swears by the Serene app which helps block distractions (ie. That buzz of the cell phone or ding from your in-box). I hear great things ab out Clockify although I haven’t used it myself. What’s your favorite productivity app? I’d love to know!
2. Create a Daily Routine – This is critical for anyone, but particularly those who work for themselves and are solely responsible for keeping themselves on task. I do not allow myself to have lunch until I’ve completed my morning check-list.
3. Take breaks – They say taking short breaks doesn’t slow you down … it actually helps you be more productive, have an easier time focusing, and forget less. Do as the Europeans do … and make that lunch break two hours long (or if it’s more practical, just take a ten-minute walk around the block)!
There are plenty of fears and uncertainties when it comes to the world of voice acting, and to entrepreneurship of any type. While battling them head-on might be a terrifying thought, it’s also an empowering one. I choose to embrace the changing technology because it allows me to do my job as a voice actor better. It’s okay that I’m solely responsible for my own failure. I’ve just made it a mission not to fail! When it comes to forgetfulness, every once-in-a-while I need to remind myself just to grab a glass of wine … and forget about it! Navigating this ever-changing but always interesting world of voice acting is what I choose to be doing. It’s what I absolutely LOVE. I’ll leave the real horrors of my job to the True Crime podcast project I’d love to land someday!
Happy Halloween my festive friends!