There's no getting around it: to be successful in this industry, you're going to have to work hard. But that doesn't mean you can't do it smarter! It's a common misconception that working harder is better than working smarter. But in truth, the two are far from mutually exclusive. In fact, you can work harder AND smarter at the same time. How? It all comes down to three things: productivity, pricing, and outsourcing.
Here, we'll take a look at each one individually and see how it can help you get more done without working longer hours.
Working smarter means doing more in less time. Think about what kind of work you do on a daily basis. What are your key tasks? Auditioning? Working the gig? Editing? Marketing? Now break those tasks down into smaller steps and think about where you can save time and effort by simplifying or streamlining any of these processes. If there's a way to automate these processes, even better!
For auditioning, try to limit your time spent by only reading a set amount of takes. A lot of new talent will audition over and over for the same spot, second-guessing themselves every step of the way. Try to limit your reads to three, select your best one (or two), edit, and then send it and forget it!
For working the gig, and editing your audio, use tools such as audio editing hotkeys and effects stacks in your DAW, or consider a post-production audio suite like Izotope RX, or batch process your audio. If you are on a Mac platform, consider investing in an Apple Magic mouse so you can use the Multi-Touch surface to zoom in and out, left and right, with lightning speed when editing. For those working on PC's, consider a trackball or even a Wacom tablet. Find out more great options from audio experts in this great article.
Marketing tasks can also be automated. Utilize a CRM for helpful customer management and tracking. Create templated emails or email responses that you can easily customize for your potential clients. (You can do this easily in Gmail!). And schedule those social media posts so you don't get sucked into the vast wasteland of reading social media.
And speaking of social media - minimize distractions! YES. Turn off social media except for certain times!!! And while you're at it, turn off your notifications too while you're working, or if that sounds too extreme, only turn them off during the periods you need to be most focused. If you really want to make your life easy, you can give each app its own notification tone. That way, you know exactly what kind of alert it is without even looking at your device.
Finally, you can try the Pomodoro Technique. It's super simple - Set a timer for 25 minutes, work until it's up, and then take a 5-minute break—and repeat the whole process three more times. After that, you take a 15- to 30-minute break, depending on how you feel. That's one full Pomodoro cycle. I'm using it now to write this article! Check it out and use the free web-based app here: https://pomodor.app/
"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing." - Thomas Edison
The link between working smarter, not harder, and increasing your price should be obvious. I've said this time and time again - Know Your Worth. And price accordingly! When you price things too low, you won't have enough time to make money because of the sheer volume of customers you will need to make a decent living. There are only so many hours in the day! For more inspiration, listen to my recent VO BOSS podcast on Knowing your Worth.
It's not enough to just know how much money you're making every day. You also need to know how much money you're spending in order to keep your costs down and your business going. It's the difference between sales volume and profit. Don't forget to factor in those easy-to-forget costs such as monthly Internet and phone, web hosting, software or backup subscription services, healthcare, etc. The goal here is to increase your profit.
When was the last time you sat down with your books and gave them a good look over? It might be time for an audit, cut those costs for items and services you no longer need, and seriously consider a price increase for your services. Ask yourself - When was the last time you increased your prices? Is there any reason you can't increase your price? What do you need to do in order to level up? And most importantly, how much do you need to sell per month to make your required profit? How much if you increased your price?
Sometimes, it makes sense for us to do everything in-house—to keep our costs down and have greater control over the quality of the finished product. (I know! I am a certified control freak if you haven't figured that out by now LOL) But other times, outsourcing is the smarter choice. That's especially true when we consider opportunity cost—that is, what we could accomplish if we weren't busy doing the thing we're outsourcing.
It can be scary at first, I know. Especially when you are just starting out in the industry. Starving artist, you say? Well, let's change that to a smart, surviving, and thriving artist! I promise if you start small - baby steps, and just start with outsourcing one task, you will reap the benefits and see the light.
It can be as simple as hiring a babysitter or house cleaner to allow you more time to dedicate to your voiceover business, or it can be something more complex, like using a virtual assistant to handle your email and social media management. How about an editor for those long eLearning or audiobook jobs? Or even an accountant? (still one of my most worthwhile investments to date!). The point is to delegate the tasks to people who have the expertise to do them quicker than you could accomplish them yourself. Letting you focus on your strengths and core competencies.
A Balancing Act
In the end, it's all about finding the right balance of these three factors to suit your needs. Working smarter doesn't mean stopping working entirely. It simply means gaining a better understanding of your work habits and figuring out how you can work more efficiently. It may take some time and effort to find your groove, but the rewards will be worth it. I believe in you bosses!
Thanks for reading!
Keep on rocking your business like a #VOBOSS
Building & Sharpening Your Competitive Edge w/Scott Parkin
Improv for VO- Scott's improv classes are fast-paced, informational, and entertaining. This June, Scott will share advice from his 27 years in Voice Over/TV/Advertising & improvisation!
Improv for VO June 16, 2022
Because You're WORTH it!
As a voice actor, you are often given the power (and burden) of setting your own rates. Now, where to begin? Anne & Pilar have been through taking low-paying gigs, walking away from jobs, and even getting their way in financial negotiations. It all comes down to knowing your worth. Tune in to learn how to navigate price setting, negotiating with clients, finding strength in community, and getting paid as much as you are worth like a #VOBOSS.
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Anne Ganguzza is a professional voice actor and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voiceover and business skills - including voice over Coaching and Genre-based Demo Production. She specializes in conversational Commercial & Narration styles, including Corporate, eLearning, Technology, and On-Hold Messaging. Located in Orange County, California, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students via ipDTL and Zoom.