There has to be a better way to allocate my time. Lately I seem to be living in reaction mode. The BlackBerry has a lot to do with this I think.
Ever since I got the little pacifier, I am a slave to the flashing red light. It sits next to my keyboard while I am working on an edit or doing some research or marketing or bookkeeping - and when it starts to flash I am COMPELLED to stop what I am doing, pick it up, and see what emergency is calling.
OK, not very many emergencies in the voiceover business, but probably more than one would expect. But usually it is something like an ad for discount travel or hotels, chain letters from friends, Facebook updates, and auditions. I also get scripts from clients for jobs and requests for quotes for possible jobs.
The point is that instead of finishing up what I am doing, I very likely stop – and react to what has just come in my inbox. Many of us do this and we are training out clients to expect this kind of instant response.
But it can really mess with my usually top notch multi-tasking abilities. Suddenly I am playing catch up on the things I stopped doing before the “emergency” and playing the “what did I come into this room for” game.
On the other hand, I have seen people take this issue to the extreme the other way – by including auto-responders to emails with a specific time spelled out that they are checking email.
“Thank you for your email. I check email at 9AM and again at 3PM. If you are writing between those times, please know that I will address your issue as soon as I see it.” (Or words to that effect.)
Given the training that my clients have received, I think this would result in some of them going elsewhere.
So what the heck is FaffCon – that isn’t a real word. No. But it has deep significance for us voiceoverists. (At least those of us who hang out on the VO-BB.)
It comes from the word faff “which means to blow in gusts…..so to go nowhere in particular….to mess about. ” This is from a UK Yahoo Answers page.To some “faffing about” means – “To muck about, wasting time doing something not necessary.”
But this coming September it means a lot more than that. If you’re a working voice over professional, you’re invited to the first ever voiceover unconference in Portland Oregan (USA)! FaffCon!
Far from being just something the waste a bunch of time and money, FaffCon promises to be (according to Faffy*) …
You know all the meaningful encouragement, startling epiphanies, and blinding flashes of genius you get when you’re hanging around with your brightest and most creative friends?
It’s like that.
It’s a Bar Camp – if you know what that it. FaffCon is different from other conferences you’ve been to, because it uses Open Space Technology and is based on the belief that the sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of expertise of the people on stage.
I decided I would go – so I paid my $149 and I’ll see you there. But you will need to prove you are an actual working talent with some talent. Check out the site for the details. It’s the first time for something like this, so who knows what will happen, but the concept is grand.
September 11-12, 2010 in Portland, Oregon USA.
*Faffy is the FaffCon mascot – a delightful blue dolphin.
I have missed a bunch of Paul Strikwerda’s blogs recently, but this one caught my eye in an email update on one of my LinkedIn groups.
He postulates that you have to be many things to be a freelancer. Some things are diametric opposites and yet it is often best to do them both. He uses the Ying and the Yang concept.
His first question – should you Specialize or Generalize – big debate about this actually – but his advice – “find your own voice and be flexible” – works for me. Too narrow a focus and you limit yourself and end up doing the same thing over and over. Too broad and you risk being just another nameless faceless cog.
He ended the article with a nice long list of other “contradictions.” My favorites…
- Be personable and keep things strictly business.
- Be proud of your accomplishments and stay humble.
- Be confident, but doubt yourself enough to evaluate your performance.
- Sell yourself, but don’t make it look like you’re selling yourself.
- Be able to multi task and stay completely focused.
- Be in the moment and plan for the future.
- Admire without feeling threatened.
My dear friend and fellow voiceover talent Maxine Dunn had an article published on VoiceOverXtra discussing something near and dear to my heart – Cold Calling.
“Smiling and Dialing.” The act of picking up the phone and actually speaking to someone. People make a huge deal about the idea and the reality of “cold calls.” In reality – it ain’t that bad – and it can yield fabulous results.
Top message from the article:
Forget the “sales objective” training modules that lead you through a step-by-step trajectory to “get the sale.” People do business with people they know, like, and trust. So your cold call is opening the door and initiating that relationship.
Another great point from the article – once you are on the phone with someone – DON’T MULTI-TASK! Close your Facebook page. Stop checking email. Don’t click through your MyPoints offers. Pay attention to the conversation.
Good stuff Max! Thanks for the reminder – time for some calls.
One of the Social Media Networks on my radar is the Working Voice Actor group on LinkedIn. The group host is Ed Victor, a voice talent now in Florida. He tries to “whack the hornets nest” each week with a topic. This week he posted a question about competition or camaradarie. Are we competing against each other for the job? Or are we simply “trying out” to see if we’re the right fit?
The voiceover community seems to be heavy on being congenial with the competition – probably because we are all different. We offer advice to newbies who may end up auditioning for the same work. We actually like to travel – sometimes long distances – to have a chance to see each other face-to-face.
More and more – as the ways of doing business evolve away from in-person auditions to online – we don’t get the chance to ever meet our “competition.” I miss that.
I miss the days when I would see my local competition at auditions. (I posted some of this on that thread on Ed’s group.) It was a different time. There were no key words that made you show up on the top of a list of disassociated contenders. You had the chops to be with a good agent who sent you out. Networking and personal contacts helped to a degree. I remember seeing producers at the theater or at the store – and then getting a call from my agent for a gig because I happened to see that person when they were in that decision making mode.
My agent had a go-see list (or a call list) and I made it part of my personal marketing plan to smile and dial on a regular basis – after scouring the local trade mags to make sure I had something relevant to say instead of “got any work for me.”
Now you need to add so many other factors into the decision making process. Talent is just the smallest part it seems these days. Word of mouth is working well for me – for the bread and butter jobs – the work that pays my mortgage. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have had a website since 1996. But the really big gigs – the ones that would pay off the house in one fell swoop are still being cast the old-fashioned way for the most part. Big agents. Big casting calls. And the person who gets the gig had the good fortune to be the voice in their head that day. They were the right fit.
So, this trip to Europe that I just took – two weeks traveling around Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland – was part pleasure and part business. I was visiting my brother in Munich, but was headed to Italy to meet with a client. My mic and pre-amp were not on my packing list, because I knew I was going to be traveling quite a bit, and didn’t think I would have time for jobs or auditions.
As it turns out (see earlier post), my brother’s practice room was actually a sound booth, so I could have worked while I was in Munich – and a good audition did appear in the In Box. But there was a lot so see and do there before I headed off to Italy to meet my business associate.
I did check for jobs and auditions each day – had a loaner BlackBerry with global service - and was able to postpone most of the projects that popped up until I returned. However, one regular client needed something right away and as good luck would have it I was in Reggio Emilia that day and was able to record the project in MediaPiu Studios. Even managed to get an audition in as well.
Connie Records at MediaPiu in Italy
After the session, we chatted about the voiceover business in general and I was able to recommend a couple of American male mid-range voices for a project. While I was there, the studio recorded well over 100 video spots for an Italian Internet “Yellow Pages” type site. Studio owner Paolo Tonetto does the voicework for those spots and Jerry Kay edits. I also chatted on Skype with one of the studio’s regular British Voiceoverists and listened in on another Skype call working with a German talent on an upcoming script.
Paolo takes care of business with Skype
Jerry Kay editing one of about 100 or so spots recorded that day