Monday, July 30, 2018

Working on BRANDING!

I have met Celia Siegel a couple of times and I've worked with her on my branding. Recently I purchased her book Voiceover Achiever, and decided it was time to focus my brand.

Here's the thing. I have known that I have a lack of focus for years. Too many things interest me! I'm like a kid in a candy store, distracted by shiny objects.

FOCUS

Man, have I heard that word before. In grade school, teachers would tell my mother, "If he would only focus, he would be an amazing student."

I'll get back to that.

So consider Celia's book a workbook. It's not an idle read, you have to do some work. Write down ideas and try to distill yourself down to the essence of what makes you, YOU.

Sure, gee, that's easy. NOT.

The thing is, I believe that sometimes, you have to look outside of yourself to see yourself. If you look in a mirror, you only see that one angle. You don't see yourself as others see you.

So here's what I did, and it sounds like the most narcissistic thing ever, but I asked ten friends for ten words. Ten words that describe me. I also chose ten friends that didn't really know each other, separate circles of friends that have worked with me in one fashion or another. (Ok, some people do know each other, but they don't hang out together.)

Then I dropped those words into Wordle, and it took the common words, made them bigger. So I'm seen as a Trustworthy Creative Renaissance-Man, with a side of charisma as a loyal caring teddybear.

Now what?

I took a quiz. I took the How to Fascinate quiz developed by Sally Hogshead. It told me, that, according to my responses to the quiz, I'm a Rockstar personality. (The results cost me just over $50 to get the full print out. But I'm considering that part of my marketing research.)

Well put that in your imposter syndrome pipe and smoke it!

Back to FOCUS

So a little more research. And I keep coming back to images of things like Hemmingway, or Howard Hugues. Not the images of how they died, but how they lived. And a phrase kept coming back, over and over. 

Jack of all trades, Master of ONE. Which is different than what is usually said, which is Jack of all trades master of NONE

BRILLIANT! I have found an answer to what I've been struggling with. And it came through that word renaissance-man. Hemmingway, Hugues, and many others were jack of all trades, they dabbled in many things and were quite good at them. But they did FOCUS on one thing and mastered it. I'm allowed to be good at many things, as long as I can focus on being outstanding at one thing.

I'm an actor. I may be good at tech, fixing things, teaching and problem solving and all that, but the thing I ALWAYS find time for, even with my schedule, is acting. Voice, on-stage, commercial, film projects. It is what I put aside all other things to do. Directors do call me. I often don't audition. I'm good at it.

And to write that down feels wonderful to admit. (I can hear it now, Actors Anonymous, "Hi Monk!")

Back to BRAND

We're not done yet, but we're sharpening the spear. Getting to the point of boiling down to my 'essence' of what makes me, me. And what sets me apart from others. What makes me "brand-able" 

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 29, 2017

FaffCon Number 9, (number 9, number 9...)

Another FaffCon! Come and Gone!


"Growing your business is more about farming than hunting."

Wow. Hello. How brilliant is that!!

Instead of "hunting" for work, how about planting a few seeds and cultivating relationships and growing trust!

Why I Faff.

To those faithful reader of this blog-o-thingy, you know that once a year I surround myself with fellow Voice over people and talk about Voice Acting and how to get better and better.

It's my tribe, my "church" that I go to once a year to refuel and kick my ass back into gear.

This year was no exception. I left Charlotte with a serious "To do" list.
1. Update the website
2. Another session with Celia Siegel
3. Get that NYC agent.
4. Start using Evernote
5. A new CRM from Brad

and a few others.

My Big Golden Nugget

VO work is an interesting field. If you're good, you get work. I get work. If you're good on camera you get more work. I get camera work, to the point my agent in Rochester actually said, "I'm sick of seeing you on TV."

BUT, there's always that lingering doubt, "Am I good enough?" I know we can always improve, but at what point do you take the leap of faith and just stretch beyond the comfortable?

David H. Lawrence XVII gave a session about this. Talking about the Imposter Syndrome. That idea that you may be faking it. That someone is going to stand up at some point, point you out in a crowd and start the chant. Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!

It can be paralyzing. It can keep you from trying. Keep you from taking that chance to find out how great you really are.

The golden nugget I walked away with, was being told, I am ready. They knew. They saw it.

Sometimes all you need is someone saying, "Ya, you so totally got this." And they mean it. It's not mum saying, "You're the best!" I mean, it's great to get praise from mum. (Mum, it is!) But a fellow VO professional walking across the room and taking the time to pull a splinter of kyrptonite out of your ego. That's FaffCon magic!

David asked me if I was booking gigs, and getting work.  I said that I was. Then, in answer to my internal question "am I ready?" was his answer: "The evidence is mounting..."

Fear of Success?

I used to say, I have a fear of success. I now know, that's kind of chickenshit response. I am aware of the idea, "be careful of what you wish for." I get that. I truly think that a lot of people that enter social services have the best intentions, and then get overwhelmed by the real sorrow in the world. You couldn't pay me enough to be a police officer. Dealing with problems all day has to drain your energy.

Part of the problem is a lack of focus, I know that. I've written about it before. I'm good at a lot of things, but I'm finding I'm really good at Voice Acting and Acting in general. I've been tearing up the local stages. And I love it.

Bringing a script or character to life is amazing work. It's non-kinky role playing with applause. (Well I actually do a show yearly in drag, and I'm paid for it, with rave reviews, so I don't know what THAT means...)

I'm going to strip off these chains. How about you?



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Clearing the decks!

(aka the art of finishing projects and saying no.)

There's a certain wonderfulness about being a freelancing-independent-business owner. You never stop marketing and never stop pushing to keep the cue full of work that pays money.

The image of Sisyphus pushing that rock up a hill comes to mind. We work 80 hours a week to be our own boss.

BUT there is a skill that one has to learn at some point. Well, two skills actually. One skill is finishing a project.

There is going to be a time (or two) that you'll say "Yes" to a project that you would have rather have said "No." too. But, there was money tied to it, and you just couldn't resist. (Or power, or prestige, or fame, or some sort of ego boosting thingy.)

However it happens, for some reason, you said, "Yes, I'll do it." OR you volunteered your skills!!

Good for you. It's good karma and helps somebody out. 

BUT!


Ok here's the big but. (insert Sir Mix-A-Lot here) There's only one you and you need time for that 'you'.

How many projects are sitting in the wings that you started? Each one is a weight on your shoulders. 

That edit you promised. 
The script for a friend. 
The website changes.
The marketing material.
The siding on the house.
The project in the basement.

The list can go on and on!

WHAT TO DO?!


Ok here's the first REAL skill. Saying "No." once in a while. While it's true, if you want something done, ask someone who's busy. I'm very good at lists and getting things prioritized. But I'm terrible at saying "no." when someone asks me. 

That changes today. (actually it changed yesterday, the first time I did it.)

I'm starting with the free things. "We would love you to audition for this show, you'd be perfect for it!" 

Ok, go ahead, stroke my ego, that's wonderful! 

BUT, "I'd love too! I'm just overbooked right now, but please keep me in mind for your next show." is the new response.

The art of saying 'No.' or being more selective is HARD! Especially when you've had the mindset that you need to take on things to survive.

So I've started to throttle back on saying 'Yes.'

Clear the Decks!


I'm clearing out the projects I've promised to do. One by one by order of priority. 

Prop for a show? Done.
Cassette to DVD for a friend? Done.
Pop by and help a friend with his audio chain? This weekend.
Clean my workbench? Today.

Each project you finish, takes some of the weight off your shoulders. The trick is, DON'T ADD ANOTHER PROJECT RIGHT AWAY!

Try not to fill the void. Allow yourself time for yourself and the projects for YOU. 

Your website.
Your marketing.
Your motorcycle in the basement.
Your mental health.

Once everything is done, all the projects have been cleared and the backlog is gone, THEN (Carefully) say 'Yes.' again. But be selective!  

Your time is valuable and finite. Learn to say no once in a while. It's ok.

Friday, December 4, 2015

2015 Marketing update!

Okiedokie... it's DECEMBER.

December 4th to be precise. And I finally mailed out the first round of marketing packages!

WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?!?!


Finding time and energy... lame lame lame excuse. But there were a lot of factors, getting the introduction letter right, finding the right box and packing material, creating a client contact database, etc, etc.

New headshot, check. New demo recording, done. Good size boxes for shipping, done. (thank you Uline.com)

Marketing material isn't any good sitting on the floor. It needs to be in peoples hands.

And it has begun.

Now to keep the rhythm going and keep sending things out.


Friday, March 13, 2015

2015 Marketing

Ok, it's March, the temps are warming and we're shaking off the cabin fever. Time to get motivated!

Right now, I have to admit, I'm busy. The eLearning is cooking along, the commercial work comes in and out, (regular, but often enough) and the studio is sounding nice. But there's a plan to do more.

Several months ago there was a great meeting in NYC with a fellow "Voiceoverist" Philip Banks and he said something profound. A couple things actually.

Start at the Top!

If you start at the top, you can only work yourself down. So introduce yourself to the big wigs.

They Don't Know You Exist!

True, so if they have never heard of me, how in the world would they figure out how to hire me?

Make it Easy for Them!

People are so freakin' busy. Seriously. Make it easy.

The Plan.

Last year I hired Celia Siegel Management to give my marking a once over. (money well spent!) That was website, branding, message, etc. I had a new demo produced, revamped the website and had Lee Everett over at Fine Line Multimedia create a new graphic for my name.

So a bit of coding and some photography got the website up.

Philip mentioned sending out a USB with marketing. Sure! why not! But I decided to take it further with the branding. And had UBS's printed up with my new graphic, complete with contact information and dropped my new demo onto it.

It's a USB AND a bottle opener...
The next bit of marketing schwag was the mug.

I have used a mug for marketing for years. People don't toss out mugs. At a recent on-camera shoot, the producer had my mug on her desk. I had cleverly left it in the green room at a previous shoot.

HEY it works! I've had other producers call me, and say, "I have your mug, and had to call..."

People may toss out schwag, but damn, that mug has stuck around. So it needed an update as well, to match. A couple minutes in Photoshop with the new graphic and off to Bargainmugs.com. 144 mugs with shipping was just over $500. But completes the package.

New and shiny!

Next comes the tough part. Finding the names and places to send them to.

People will argue over all kinds of things in this business, "It's competitive!", "No it's not..." What I have found is that people are willing to share all kinds of secrets of the business, but they're not going to tell you who their client contacts are. Nope. No-sir-ee-bob.

THAT you have to find and build yourself. There are sources, but it's not going to be handed to you on a silver platter. (Unless you're a nationally known film and TV actor).

The Goal

These mugs and USB drives aren't going to mail themselves, so the plan is to create a list of production companies and agencies and introduce myself. Get things put together and get them out the door.

The more people who know me, and listen to my work, the more people who will know me and listen to my work.

As the amazing Bob Souer says, "Prepare for the avalanche."

I'm ready. And I'm going for it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A New Pre-Amp

Ok, ok, ok. There is a known thing out there called G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and it is a serious affliction that affects techie types.

First of all, to be successful in VO, you need talent and a way to capture that talent. You don't need ProTools and a $3000 microphone. You do need a quiet space and a quality microphone that fits that space that captures your dulcet tones and you'll need some sort of software to edit and get that audio out the door.

George Whittam is a great source for those looking to set up and make buckets of money. Keep it simple stupid. (KISS) And George has mentioned once or twice that the gear that's out there and available to you at a reasonable price is just fine for Voice Over work. To spend more money on more expensive gear starts to get into the minutia of audio.

An Audio Tecnica AT2020 USB microphone and a laptop running Audacity (FREE!) will get you started and from there you dream about a better microphone, and better software. That's how G.A.S. starts. If you're like me, you surf gearslutz.com and read reviews over at soundonsound.com or recordinghacks.com and start thinking about spending money. I say it's money burning a hole in your common sense.

Now that I've said all that!


I've been wanting to upgrade my ART MPA Gold preamp. I had put in some vintage Mullard tubes and it has been FINE. Nothing really wrong with it, it gets me work and is quiet and does the job.

But.


I started reading about EMI records, the Beatles and the famed Redd 47 preamp that EMI used in their console. Ok. So I have a Neumann U87ai microphone, and the Redd 47 is supposed to be a great match to it. Shoot.

So I start looking around. Drip Electronics has a nice kit, but presently out of stock, Phaedrus Audio in the UK further stoked the fire, but the present conversion rate of the pound to the dollar made the price a bit un-attractive. Then I find Dizengoff Audio and their D4. $599.00 of tube amp, Redd 47 clone magic.

So……


Howz it sound? I'm dialing it in, but right out of the box this is clean, clear and puts the vocals right into the center of a mix. Not as bass heavy as the ART MPA was, which is fine, I don't want to create a mix of mud. It has phantom power, which the Drip Electronics kit does not have. A pad to knock things down on the output and a phase inverter if needed. The rest is just a couple of gain knobs, rough and fine.

On the back is a XLR input and output. On the front is 1/4" input for an instrument. (hmmm, might have to pick up a cheap Les Paul) That's it. Nothing else in the signal path or any built in compressors or eq. Just a preamp.

So this sound file ABTest.mp3 is me reading first into the ART MPA then the Dizengoff D4, the first phrase is the ART, the repeat of the phrase is the D4. I'm going to continue dialing it in and working with it, but so far, I'm pretty happy. I think I'm done with G.A.S. for a little while.. (no. seriously.)

You may listen to the two preamps back to back and say, "They sound pretty much the same…" and that's true, they are VERY close. Going back to what George said, spending more gets you a tiny percentage higher quality, tiny. But I hear a difference and I like it, the key word for me is clarity, and this D4 has it in spades.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

ipDTL (I piddled?) No...

Ok, this is going to be short and sweet.


Go ahead, check it out. You'll need Google Chrome
I have tried, and tried to get ISDN in my studio and
have failed. My local phone company is Fairpoint
Communications, but the phone lines and connection is somehow owned by Verizon. Fairpoint was in bankruptcy proceedings, so they're really not interested in helping me get ISDN.

Fine.

But now… oh man, I hope it's as good as it says it is… ipDTL is available.

Yesterday I was able to connect over DSL, using Google Chrome and ipDTL to a studio in Birmingham Alabama. They said it sounded great!

I think it's witchcraft!

Seriously. It has to be magic. I'm in the woods, my computer is connected via WiFi, and then Fairpoint DSL, that audio stream is flying over the wire down to a studio and we're able to converse just as if I'm in the booth. At first I could here myself as they had me in the mix, once the removed me from the mix (mix-minus) it sounded normal, but even then, when I was in the mix, the delay was only a fraction of a second.

Magic.

For now, I've only done the monthly plan of $25.00 with the intention of going to a yearly $160.00 plan if I get one more gig out of it.

Give it a go, let the world know you can connect, and get busy!